Do You Understand Malayalam?

My efforts to learn Malayalam have been pretty minimal. In two years, I know maybe 100 words and about three points of grammar. This isn’t because it’s one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, as I am often told; it’s because everyone speaks English. Thinking about my (lack of) Malayalam ability led me to consider its wider value, and also to think about how there is one language I have picked up since being here: Kerala English.

If I speak with my normal accent – Kiwi with flat vowels and mumbling at a mile a minute – very few are likely to understand. Instead, I’ve adopted a kind of attempted Malayali accent, and often seek assistance from my colleagues in perfecting it. For example, the number ‘twelve’ more closely resembles ‘toll’, while ‘po-TAY-to’ becomes ‘PO-te-to’ (needless to say, these are very rough approximations). It’s a source of great amusement for the others at work, and a genuinely valuable communication tool when speaking to a stranger or asking for something in a shop.

Read more at The NRI…

Indian English Class 2 (This Is What I Am Telling)

Since the previous Indian English lesson brought a greater response than expected, The NRI has decided to schedule a second lesson – starting now. After the freeform approach of the first class, let’s try and be a little more focused this time. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and make comments at the end of the lesson.

To get you back into the spirit, let’s complete a brief exercise. In the following passage, there are a number of examples of Indian English we learned last time. Identify them.

‘Kind Madam/Sir, details of concerned products would be arriving in your mail today itself. Orders for Green Bay Packers Hand Glove should be filled at the earliest as product is likely to get over quickly due to demand. Deadline for all orders is by 3:00 PM Friday. Kindly do the needful.’

…read more at The NRI…