Tuesday, 11 February 2014

English Vinglish

Every human being should know two languages: the language of society and language of signs. One serves to communicate with other people, the other serves to understand God’s message.
―Paulo Coelho

Literally speaking, the world eats, speaks and sleeps English these days. And there is no argument here. With 67 countries using English as their first or second language, English automatically scores over Mandarin as the language of the society. It is the most WIDELY SPOKEN, most WIDELY READ, and most WIDELY WRITTEN language of the world, a language that's capable of single-handedly linking several nations together. In fact, going forward, Chinese will speak more of English than Mandarin, thereby becoming the number one English speaking country in the world.

Flags of English speaking countries

So, when Coelho spoke about language of society, in all probability, he meant English. It is no more considered an elitist language, but the language of a common man…language of AAM AADM in India...the language of the masses… a language that’s powering the growth of modern India.

The rise of BPO and KPO culture in India, in turn, the rise of urban middle class can be solely credited to increased use of English language. The city of Bengaluru is best known as the “The silicone Valley Of India” because of its ever growing English speaking IT populace. Little wonder, even Narendra Modi, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate, keeps harping upon the importance of English education in all his election speeches. 

For us Indians English is our second language. But some of us are so fluent in English that we can give any native speaker a run for their money. Many from affluent families have, in fact, ditched their native tongue and have taken to speaking English almost all the time: and I proudly proclaim that I am one of them.  I speak English at every given opportunity. Some people, including my dearest mom is not in favor for this. As she calls me: ANGREZ KI BETI.  But what I want to tell her is: "Mommy dear why don’t you understand that if i know the language what’s wrong in flaunting it, more so when English is being treated as the IT language of this century. Moreover, you made it a point to get me educated in an English medium school, so you too, in a way, acknowledge the rising importance of English across the globe.  So, then why bother me now."   

Why should you learn Queen’s Lingo?

    You become a part of the educated and sophisticated crowd. Your status gets elevated automatically. 

     Your confidence level shoots up and it positively contributes to your personality.

     You can earn your bread and butter with ease, what with IT companies coming up in every nook and cranny.

     You get to read the best of the books, from Salman Rushdie to William Faulkner.

     You can travel anywhere in the world for work and education as universe becomes a level playing field. 

Inspired by its growing importance and acceptance, all my non-English speaking neighbors have put their children in English medium schools. Though they are pakka Gujjus and can hardly speak and read the language, but these locals have not let these disadvantages deter their spirit. On the other hand, their steely determination to introduce their kids to the word’s most widely used language has inspired them hire tutors to help their kids cope with it. 

So if given an opportunity to go to UK for further studies, i look forward to pursuing English literature and creative writing; that too from none other than Oxford University. Yes, to be the best, you've to be among the best. Yours truly  being an aspiring author, a degree in English literature from UK, I believe, will help me polish my skills as a writer and probably will be my passport to international fame and prosperity. Considering the Queen’s Lingo originated here, I believe this is the best country to polish my English reading, writing skills.

About a year ago, I thought my English was par excellence, until one of my colleagues pointed out that I make silly punctuation errors. Okay, fine, I will work on it, I told her.  This colleague of mine is quite allergic to Indian authors and being an editor for a decade this female finds all Indian authors BELOW AVERAGE. In her words “the kind of punctuation errors these published authors make is really sickening. How could they? Indian writers are really pathetic in grammar, and that’s the reason why I don’t read them. I only read foreign authors”.

Point taken. For this colleague of mine,  grammar is the be all and end all of English. "Damn with the story" she says, " first of all, get your grammar correct." So of late, influenced by her pep talk I’ve started  Grishaming a lot. Mitch Albom and Dan Browns have taken  over Chetan Bhagat and Preeti Shenoy.  But then we do have good Indian English writers, and plenty of them in fact, who have made us proud on the international scene. These extraordinary writers of Indian origin  include Salman Rushdie, Jhumpa Lahri, Arvind Adiga, Amitav Ghosh etc, etc. And who’s the writer of  'A Suitable Boy? Ya, Vikram Seth. All these Indian authors have great  body of work to their credit. But one common thing that binds these authors is their foreign degrees. So, you see, they are not purely home bred authors. If it were not for their foreign degrees, I don't think these authors could have come this far. In other words, it is by virtue of their foreign degrees they could come up with truly great work of art that got them international attention and accolades.

So, if at all, I am given an opportunity to travel to UK on study visa, I look forward to studying English Literature and creative writing in the company of greats. Who knows if i am able to pursue this course, i  may even bag the Man Booker Prize, going forward. Ouch!!!Did i say that.

This post is part of Knowledge is Great contest being held on Indiblogger. 


  1. What you say about Indian authors is absolutely true but I would like to add R.K. Narayan to your list of authors who have made Indians proud. He may be not well known internationally, but his stories are beautiful. Do read him.

    Hope you do get an opportunity to study English Literature in UK. All the Best for the contest :)

    1. Khushboo I've read R.K Narayan's 'Swami and Friends' and the book was really, really good. Looking forward to read his popular classic Malgudi days as well,

  2. Good write up, Jini. And I second Khushboo on what she's said above. R K Narayan is well known internationally, for a fact. And Kamala Das, the Love Queen of Malabar was once nominated for The Nobel Prize with none other than Nadine Gordimer, if I'm right. So , there are very good Indian authors as well.
    And to your list, I include V S Naipaul :)


If my words are worthy of your valuable views, do share it here. Thanks a ton for stopping by.

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

This Booker prize winner was on my bookshelf I don’t for how long. Attempted reading it before, but then dumped it because t...