Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 9 : 2 February 2009
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.



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Indianized English in
Shashi Deshpande's That Long Silence

J. Sundarsingh, M.A., M. Phil., Ph.D.

The language of Shashi Deshpande's That Long Silence is evaluated based on Braj B. Kachru's theory of Indianization and the finding unravels the inevitable truth that English language is no longer a foreign language but very much the language of Indian society. The study also confirms Deshpande's view that Indian expressions can be easily managed in English language. Especially women writers find themselves more comfortable while writing in English as they are free from cultural complications of their first language. Thus Shashi Deshpande is able to bring out the inner feelings of Indian male self and female self without any restriction of authorial self in her That Long Silence.


Writing in English grants an Indian writer an advantageous position of distancing himself/herself from the readers so that he/she could express his/her views without any social, spiritual or personal inhibitions. However, India is known for cultural diversity as well as linguistic diversity, which result in disintegrated national identity of English language.

The primary function of a language is to facilitate effective communication. In Indian diverse society, if a person is successful in expressing himself in a particular language, it is his language, no matter whether it is his first language or second language. Whether it is formal situation or informal situation, some of the learned people in India get inclined to English expressions more frequently. It is a familiar scene in regional TV shows, market places, booking counters and common places.

Shashi Deshpande says that she found herself comfortable in using English language for all of her expressions. However she admits that as a writer, she faces a lot of 'problems and paradoxes' of the English language in India (2003:65). It is interesting to note that she is still writing in English. Language is a vehicle that carries the load of one's ideas and emotion and interests. Language is used in a way in which it is assimilated by the speaker. But in double-language or triple-language social system, it is difficult to ascertain which language carries more loads - either first or second or third. In the Indian context, the first language plays a vital role in sharing one's intimate emotions, whereas the second language helps him to acquire more knowledge as it is the language of higher learning.

"There is a growing realization that English is needed to interact internationally in trade, industry, tourism, politics and higher education" (1998:2). Thus in India, languages are selected for expressions according to situations as the land has many regional languages. It may be either first language or second language or bilingual or third language.

For example, the people from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala are familiar with three languages, viz. their mother tongue, Hindi or the language of neighbouring state and English. In Tamil Nadu Hindi is still approached indifferently and hence English and neighbouring languages dominate more.

Similar situation prevails in North India wherein either three-language system or two-language system is followed. Hence it may be suggested that one's first language (L1) is used for expressing one's personal ideas, second language (L2) for professional ideas and another language (L3) to interact with the people of neighbouring/other states. The following diagram (given in the printer-friendly pdf version) throws more light on the language situation in India.

As it is shown in the above diagram, the languages are primarily meant for communication and there is a possibility of using all of them in both formal and informal situations. In such a situation there is always a conflict among these languages in achieving prominence in usage and public recognition. At the same time there is a chance of one language interfering with another language. Thus language interference influences both the speaker and the language itself.


It is found that English in India is complicated contextually and its role in Indian fiction is yet to be explored effectively. While expressing her views on writing in English, Deshpande reveals that she has chosen English for her writing since it has come to her naturally (2003:65). She also adds that after having chosen English for her writing, she is concerned of her audience who knows simple English. Thus she makes her characters speak the language of common men and women. G.V. Desani, a notable Indian writer describes his own stylistic experimentation in the following lines: "I have chosen the craft of writing. And my entire linguistic creed… is simply to find a suitable medium. I find the English language is that kind of medium. It needs to be modified to suit my purpose." (quoted in Ann Lowry, "Style Range in New English Literature", 1996:284).

There is another aspect of using English in Indian fiction. Indian writers are conscious of the speakers of English in their novels. The characters are both illiterate and educated. The writers are conscious of the characters and allow the characters to speak the language in their own way. In other words they make the characters speak English which has mother tongue interference. Ann Lowry in "Style Range in New English Literatures" says "All three authors (R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Annan and V.S. Naipaul) … are quite capable of writing and speaking standard English, but this is not true of their fictional creations…." (1996:287). It is obvious that the standard of English gets altered to suit the local condition. At the same time English helps the authors to educe the Indian society and make it known to the world.


This paper analyses That Long Silence based on Kachru's examination of the linguistic aspects of the Indianization of the English language in India with special reference to his contexualization, Indianness and lexical innovations. "The Indianization of the English language is a consequence of what linguists have traditionally termed interference" (1983:1). As English has been used by Indians in Indian society for years, it is possible that the language gets Indianized or gets used to Indian society. As Raja Rao says:

As long as we are Indian - that is not nationalists, but truly Indians of the Indian psyche - we shall have the English language with us and amongst us, and not as guest or friend, but as one of our own, of our caste, our creed, our sect and of our tradition (as quoted in 1983:2).

It is obvious that English affects the 'thought life' of Indians in a way that impacts his/her personal situation, professional situation and interpersonal situation. Kachru again says, "Indianisms in Indian English are, then, linguistic manifestations of pragmatic needs for appropriate language use in a new linguistic and cultural context" (1983:2).

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Development of Stroop Effect in Bilinguals | Subtlety, Mockery and Dharma in Shashi Tharoor's The Great Indian Novel | Language Alternation Strategies in Nigerian Hip Hop and Rap Texts | Faithfulness and Adequacy in Translation - A Case Study of the Translation of a Poem Written by Bharathiar | Indianized English in Shashi Deshpande's That Long Silence | Naipaul's Perception of India | Teaching English Word Formation in Academic Writing - Analysis and Remedy | Sabotaged Submission - Interpreting the Role of Women in Scriptures | Socio-economic Profile of Women Prisoners | Study on the Levels of Living of Self-help Groups in Coimbatore District, with Particular Reference to Thondamuthur and Perianaicken Palayam Blocks | Agreement in Tamil and Telugu | Etymological Analysis for Some Words of Body Parts in Semitic Languages (Especially in Arabic & Hebrew) | HOME PAGE of February 2009 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

J. Sundarsingh, M.A., M. Phil., Ph.D.
Karunya University
Coimbatore - 641 114
Tamilnadu, India

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