Indianisms we Indians could do without when speaking or writing English

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At 125 million people, India has way more English speakers than the United Kingdom, the original home of English and is only second in the world after the United States which has the most English speakers in the world at 283 million. The English language has been around in our country for a couple of centuries now and despite being a language imposed upon us by a colonial power it has more or less served us well.

Access to and knowledge of English has provided a bridge to the best of Western education to Indians allowing us to rise across sectors and industries on a global scale. As we often recall with pride many of the leading global CEOs across industries are Indians. Now one of us, has become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, our erstwhile colonial masters.

Some of the very best writers in English have been Indian, many of them being Booker prize winners. There is no doubt about the fact that a very large number of people are extremely good at it. It helps that substantial numbers of Indians go to schools where the medium of instruction is English. No wonder the English language standards are extraordinarily high for a nation that is primarily and overwhelmingly non-English speaking.

While undoubtedly, many Indians speak and write English as well as the natives, almost all of us, incorporate what are known as Indianisms into the way we use the language. Indianism are words, terms and expressions in the English language that are used and understood only by Indians.

Most of us are not aware that these are Indianism and use them unconsciously without realizing that by doing so we are speaking or writing incorrect English that may be totally unintelligible to native speakers of the language. Here is what we have to watch out for-

  1. Prepone- There is no such word in English. You may advance the time of a meeting or bring it forward but certainly not prepone it.
  2. Passed out- It is okay to say passed out, if someone has fainted, but certainly not if you have completed school or college.
  3. Don’t eat my head- This one sounds really bad. Just say, “Don’t bother me.” What makes sense in Hindi doesn’t naturally make sense in English.
  4. Discuss about- You don’t discuss about. You just discuss.
  5. Co-brother- That relationship does not exist in the English language. Don’t use it.
  6. Do one thing- That is not said in English. You may say “why don’t you try doing this” instead.
  7. Don’t sit on my head- This sounds ridiculous in English. Say, “Don’t hassle me” instead.
  8. Sleep is coming-Don’t say that. Say, “I am feeling sleepy.”
  9. Do the needful- This may have been used during the British raj, but nobody cares for it anymore.

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