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INDIANIZATION OF ENGLISH MEDIA IN INDIA : AN OVERVIEW
M. J. Warsi, Ph.D.
1. THE BEGINNINGS OF INDIANIZATION OF ENGLISH
Indianization of English media has become a reality nowadays, which cannot be overlooked. It is a bi-product of the Indian cultural renaissance of the nineteenth century.
The root of English in the Indian sub-continent can be traced back to the incident of 31st December, 1600, when Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to a few merchants of London, giving them a monopoly of trade with India. Initially English had to contend with the competition of the Portuguese language which was widely used by all European traders in India. Slowly but steadily, however, with the annexation of Indian princely states, English became the language of education in India in 1835, and was made the official language of the then government in 1837.
Confronted with a new, exotic, and diverse culture, the British rulers were really at a loss to express themselves their own experience in India and to communicate effectively with the natives. Their subjects found themselves equally at a loss to communicate with them. (An interesting record of earlier nuances of Indianization is found in Henry Yule, A. C. Burnell, Hobson-Jobson: a glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical,geographical and discursive. London: Murray, 1903. New edition by William Crooke. Reprints: London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985. Hobson-Jobson: the Anglo-Indian dictionary. Ware: Wordsworth, 1996. First edition: 1886.)
In some sense, Indianization started as a matter of convenience, but soon it took on its own life and became an independent process with other primary purposes. One such purpose is ardently pursued by the English newspapers in India and other South Asian nations: communicating in a style and language that is easily understood by the growing reading public.
2. IMPACT OF SOCIO-CULTURAL NORMS
The Indian variety of English is significantly different from the native English varieties. In choices of words, in imagery, and in the nuances of meaning, the communicative strategy of Indian English newspapers have more or less an Indian flavor. Braj Kachru 1984, who has considered the process of Indianization of English in detail, maintains that features of the English language in India have been considerably influenced by the Indian socio-cultural norms that stipulate rules by which word symbols are related to each other to transmit messages.
3. A COMPLEX NETWORK OF RELATIONSHIPS AND MEANINGS
More often than not, word and meaning are interwoven into a complex network of relationship. Therefore, to appreciate an expression fully, a decoder must know not only what it refers to, but also where the boundaries are that separate form from the expressions of related meanings.
The importance of recognizing the boundaries between lexical items can further be illustrated by a brief look at polysemy: a term, which is used to describe a single word with several different but closely related meanings. Simply put, polysemy refers to any word having multiple meanings. In English, for example, we can talk about the 'head' of a person, the 'head of a pin,' or the 'head of an organization'. Knowing that a single word denotes a particular set of things in one language is, however, no guarantee that it will denote the same set of things in another language! Unfortunately, this assumption runs heavily through the Indianization process of English.
4. IMPORTANCE OF SOCIO-CULTURAL ASSOCIATIONS
The socio-cultural association of lexical items is an important area of study in communication research. Native speakers of a language have a whole series of associations with certain items and these associations are common to the society as whole. Those who are not fully familiar with the socio-cultural norms of the society cannot fully appreciate these associations. Lack of acquaintance or inadequate understanding of these socio-culturally specific concepts reduces the communicative affectivity of a message.
5. PRIMARY SOURCES OF INDIANIZATION OF ENGLISH
These days the English news editors in India tend to use native words and this makes an interesting study. A close look at the Indian words used in leading English newspapers reveals that they are drawn mainly from two sources: (i) Hindi-Urdu, and (ii) the regional language. Interpolation of indigenous items especially where there are no near equivalents in English is a dominating phenomenon of the language of English newspapers. Words such as Hawala, Lathicharge, Khadi, Satyagraha, bandh, dharna, gherao, etc. are among the commonest of items in English newspapers. Note that such words come from a variety of meaning domains, not necessarily only from the political discourse. The interpolation of indigenous words in English dailies is a transparent phenomenon that no one can fail to notice.
6. REDUCTION IN INCONGRUENCE
The use of Indian words in English newspapers is a part of pre-figurative force, which is used as a strategy of communication. The application of this force makes the language use simpler, easily adaptable, and highly effective. It is a conscious effort of reducing incongruence. If we look at the examples, the preference has been given to simple, adaptable, and highly communicative expressions like,
- We have come to ask for Insaf.
- Vote for Vikas nothing else.
- Bandh disrupts life in the valley.
- Mulayam: An officer in the family of Jawans.
- I am protecting Izzat for everybody.
- Dumpy may have the reputation of being Goonda.
- Dharna against the construction of Tehri dam.
- Chandraswami gave Ashirwad to bride.
- Bandh cripples life in Darjeeling.
- A group of Sadhus to campaign against Pilot.
- Amarnath Yatra from August 16.
7. THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND INDIANIZATION
The notion of timelessness again goes in favor of these expressions because the mind easily selects it as a suitable label from the billions of traces stored in our minds. It also indicates that the management of the language of these newspapers is mainly based on the principles of accuracy, digging up of facts, and thoroughness of news coverage, rather than "proper" English usage. These newspapers have employed different mechanisms of practical force to make their language simpler, adaptable, and highly communicative.
8. LOAN WORDS
The most common mechanism is a straight borrowing from Indian languages. The news editors of English dailies seem to prefer these Indian words because of their brevity, wide currency, and ease in pronunciation. In some sense, these function more as idioms than as individual words. A few examples are: dharma, fatwa, hindutva, hawala, bandh, manuwad, hartal, ashirwad, burkha, talaq, mazedar, swad.
Borrowing to a greater extent is responsible for the blending of expressions. The process of blending is used in Indian English news media to nativize the expression. A foreign word along with the native word reduces the intensity of the foreignness of expression and thus becomes naturalized and nativized in course of time. Kachru rightly observes that there is certain structural and contextual constraints on blended items. For example, in expressions such as Lathi-charge the Indianized element lathi cannot be substituted by another Indian expression danda. Nowhere in Indian English newspapers has an expression like danda-charge been used!
However, there are certain blended expressions where elements are interchangeable. For example, police-station and police-thana are equally acceptable in Indian English newspapers. Such expressions have become an integral part of the language of Indian English news media. The blended expressions such as: Perfect swad for Perfect Taste; Police chowki for Police Station; Police thana for Police Station; Mazdoor Union for Labour Union; Meat masala for Meat Spice; Rice thali for Rice Plate; Complete bandh for Complete Closure; Conditional samjhauta for Conditional Agreement; Nine puriah for Nine Packet; Kitab Centre for Book Centre; Railway fatak for Railway Crossing; Political pandit for Political pundit (!); Block parmukh for Head of a geographical Block.
10. LOAN TRANSLATION
Loan translation is a linguistic process that helps in lexical innovations in the language. An analysis of the vocabulary of the English newspapers reveals that loan translation helps in coining new expressions in Indian English through the process of imitation of Indian languages. For example, the expression like "dumb millions," "your good name" "any service for me," "Rice eating ceremony," "Bride showing," "village elders," "Marriage season," etc., are literal translations of Indian expressions, and they have become expressive in the language of English news media.
11. LOAN CREATION
The mechanism of loan creation has also helped the language of English news media in India and South Asia to fashion new expressions that are stimulated by the needs to match the existing demand. For example, the expressions like Goondaism, Nehru Socialism, Brahmanism, Mandalism of politics, Hinduism, Manuwad or Manuism, have primarily been established in Indian English through the newspaper usage. Manipulating the Indian concept has created these expressions.
The language of English newspapers which is the media for communicating local, national, and international events is, therefore, a fascinating area underlying the formation of new expressions and styles which are intended to bring information within the reach of English news readers.
12. STRUCTURE OF OUR MENTAL LEXICON : SOME THEORETICAL IMPLICATIONS FROM THE INDIANIZATION PROCESS
Here, we may say that our mental lexicon is highly organized and efficient. Psycholinguistic researches provide evidences that semantically related items are stored together. Most of the scholars appear to agree that those items are arranged in a series of associative networks. They are possibly organized in one large master file, and there is a variety of peripheral access file which contain information about spelling, phonology, and syntax.
News editors prefer all such expressions that can easily be recognized and retrieved. Thus, a lexicon item, which occurs most frequently, enhances the communicability of expressions. The Indian expressions with high frequency of occurrence are therefore kept at the top of the pile in the minds of the news editors. Recency of use is another variable, which increases the use of these expressions in the language of English news media.
The term 'Recency of use' here refers to the expressions which are more recently used. The high frequency of occurrence of Indian words attests our hypothesis that Indian words have enough semantic potentialities to communicate the inner feelings of the news editors.
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A BRIEF SURVEY OF HEBBAR TAMIL'S VERB MORPHOLOGY | SOCIAL ASPECTS OF MOODS IN MALAYALAM | INDIANIZATION OF ENGLISH MEDIA IN INDIA : AN OVERVIEW | I WANT TO LEARN TIBETAN | LEARNING KANNADA BY STUDENTS WHOSE MOTHER TONGUE IS KANNADA - SOME PROBLEMS | LANGUAGE NEWS THIS MONTH - The Case of a Missing Preposition, etc. | AN EXPLORATION INTO LINGUISTIC MAJORITY-MINORITY RELATIONS IN INDIA | A LINGUISTIC STUDY OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE CURRICULUM AT THE SECONDARY LEVEL IN BANGLADESH - A COMMUNICATIVE APPROACH TO CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
M. J. Warsi, Ph.D.
Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
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