Nativization of Indian English

Annika Hohenthal, Department of English, University of Turku, Finland

The process of nativization is due both to transfer from local language as well as to the new cultural environment and communicative needs (Saghal 1991: 300). Because of deep social penetration and the extended range of functions of English in diverse sociolinguistic contexts there are several varieties, localized registers and genres for articulating local social, cultural and religious identities (Kachru 1997:69). Also, factors such as the absence of a native group, inadequate teaching and acquisitional limitations (e.g. lack of exposure and facilities, learning under compulsion) contribute to the process (Saghal 1991: 300).

Scholars (such as Kachru, Halverson, Verma, Mehrotra and Sridhar) have all concluded that the South Asian varieties of English are being nativized by acquiring new identities in new socio-cultural contexts. They have emerged as autonomous local varieties with their own set of rules that make it impossible to treat them simply as mistakes of deficient Englishes (Kandiah 1991: 275).

South Asian English has developed to a more distinctive level than in other countries where English is used as a second language (Crystal 1988: 258). English in India has evolved characteristic features at the phonological, lexical, syntactic and even at discourse level. Initially, these innovations were rejected by purists, but they are becoming increasingly accepted: English is not anymore treated as a foreign language; it is part of the cultural identity of India. These innovations have led to some problems related to pedagogical standards, national and international intelligibility and typology (Saghal 1991: 303).

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