English in the Real World
Typically Indian-English phrases
As you may know, people in the United Kingdom and the United States speak
slightly different versions of English. Not only is their accent different, but there are
also some variations in their vocabulary and grammar. However, this variation in
English is not only limited to the US and Britain. It also applies to the English spoken
in many other countries around the world, especially when words and concepts
from the native language are adopted into English. Let’s take a look at some of the
unique words and phrases that are used in Indian-English.
1. Himalayan Blunder – The Himalaya Mountains are very large mountains
with some of the biggest peaks in the world. If someone commits a blunder
the size of the Himalaya Mountains, then it is a very big blunder. That is why
Indians use the phrase “Himalayan Blunder” to describe a very big mistake or
problem that has happened.
2. Cousin-sister/cousin-brother – For many years in India, people did not
refer to each other as ‘cousins’ but instead everyone was a ‘sister’ or
‘brother.’ In fact, I remember going to India in 2000, and when I would refer
to my cousins as ‘cousins’, they would take offense and would always refer to
me as ‘sister’. In the past few years, people have started being more clear
about relationships, yet the translation for ‘cousin’ in Hindi is literally
‘cousin-brother’ or ‘cousin-sister.’
3. Good name – If you ever travel to India, you will often be asked the question,
“What is your good name?” This question comes from another literal
translation from Hindi. So when someone asks you this question, just answer
by telling the person your full name: first and last.
4. I have a doubt – This is another common phrase that you will hear Indians
use. It is used when something is suspicious or questioning. While in
American English one might say, “I have a suspicion”, in Indian English the
same phase is: “I have a doubt.”
5. Lakh/Crore – In American and British English we use the words ‘hundred
thousand’ and ‘million’. In India, ‘lakh’ and ‘crore’ are commonly used
instead, and are accepted as English words. ‘Lakh’ is used to represent
numbers that have 6-7 digits in them. For example, 100,000 would be 1 lakh
and 1,000,000 would be 10 lakhs. Any number with 8 or 9 digit is
represented as ‘crore’. For example, 10,000,000 would be 1 crore and
100,000,000 would be 10 crores.
These are some basic Indian English phrases. Have you come across any others?