You’d think English is English is English, but that’s not the case. British English, Canadian English, Australian English, and American English all have their slight differences, but when it comes to Indian English, the differences are far more pronounced because its evolution has been shaped by very different forces.
India saw the arrival of its first Brits back in the 1600s when they established trading posts that would later become part of the East India Company. By 1765, that company had become highly influential and dominated most of the country. This British rule continued until India gained independence in 1947. During that time The Brits set up Chrisitan schools to provide Indians with an English Education, and English became India’s official and academic language used by government, the elite, and the national press.
When India gained independence, there was a move toward replacing English with Hindi, but they soon realized that, with so many languages in the country, choosing Hindi as the national language would give those who had learned it as their mother tongue an unfair advantage in positions of power and influence. So, English remained. Today, English is widely used in the media, higher education and government and remains a common neutral communication medium for Indians who don’t speak the same language.
Indian English includes:
- A preference for the continuous tenses. In Canadian English, the simple tenses make up over 90% of tense usage, but in Indian English, the opposite seems to apply. Whereas Canadians would say, “I live in Canada”, speakers of Indian English would normally say, “I am living in Canada”. Similarly, they would say, “All winter, I am feeling cold” rather than, “All winter, I feel cold”.
- Using a combination of the present continuous tense with ‘will’ to show routine. In other words, an Indian English speaker would say, “We are parking on the street and will walk to the store.” Rather than including the routine nature of the action in the tense by saying ‘we park on the street and walk to the store”.
- An absence of articles. Often, the articles that accompany nouns in Canadian English are missing in Indian English. For example, “the car outside my house” becomes “car outside my house”, and “an apple” simply becomes “apple”.
- Replacing the simple past tense’s ‘d’ sound with time markers like yesterday, last week, or last year. That is to say, an Indian English speaker would say “yesterday, it rain.” rather than, “It rained.”
- The use of plural forms of uncountable nouns. In other words, rather than saying, ”the luggage is in the car.” It’s not uncommon to hear, “the luggages are in the car.
- Using the question form in positive statements. For example, in Indian English, “I know where is the car” is more common than, “I know where the car is.”
Hopefully, knowing some of these key differences between Indian English and Canadian English will help you, as an Indian English speaker, understand and tackle critical areas as you prepare for your language tests.