Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 3 : 5 May 2003

Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Associate Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.




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Copyright © 2001
M. S. Thirumalai

Loyalty and Attitudes

Annika Hohenthal


Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Spread of English Around the World
Chapter 3 A Historical Overview: English Travels to India
Chapter 4 Multilingualism in India
Chapter 5 English In India --
Who Speaks English To Whom And When?
Chapter 6 Measuring Language Attitudes
Chapter 7 Speech Repertoires in Multilingual Settings
Chapter 8 Methodology
Chapter 9 Attitudes towards the Use of English in India
Chapter 10 Conclusion

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Just a few centuries ago, English was spoken by just five to seven million people on one, relatively small island, and the language consisted of dialects spoken by monolinguals. Today there are more non-native than native users of English, and English has become the linguistic key used for opening borders: it is a global medium with local identities and messages (Kachru 1996: 11,14). English has become a world language, spoken by at least 750 million people. It is more widely spoken and written than any other language, even Latin, has ever been. It can, indeed, be said to be the first truly global language. English is nowadays the dominant or official language in over 60 countries.

Kachru, for instance (1997:68-69), states the increase in the use of English in Asia as "overwhelming": at present, the estimated population using English in Asia adds up to 350 million. India is the third largest English-using population in the world, after the USA and the UK. Literatures in English are nowadays recognized as part of the national literatures, and English is also recognized in the over-all language policy of the nation.

The language has penetrated deeply in the society, which has, in its turn, resulted in several varieties of English in India. The development of those new varieties is connected with historical and social factors. The new Englishes have all their own contexts of function and usage, and they have also, in their turn, affected the native varieties of English.

Indian English is used mainly by Indians whose native language it is not. It is a minority language, but yet a language of national affairs, and its status is often called into question by, as Bailey puts it, "not only by foreigners with their ideas of proper English, but also by Indians who remain ambivalent about its distinctive features and uncertain about its future" (Bailey 1991: 145). In fact, many of transplanted kinds of English are so attuned to the idea of a foreign standard of propriety that their independence remains partial.

The emergence of these new varieties has raised questions concerning the power of English language, questions of identity and new pragmatics of the language in new, foreign surroundings. The spread of English across different cultures and languages has meant the diversification of English, which, in turn, raises questions about the standardization of English.

The purpose of this study will be to study language attitudes in India (especially attitudes towards English) and to analyze the use of languages in different domains (family, friendship, neighbourhood, transactions, education, government, employment). Additionally, the aim is also to find out about the informants' preference for the model of the variety of English in India.




In the following, I will use Kachru's model of new Englishes (in e.g. The New Englishes: 1-5). He has visualized the spread of English around the world as three concentric circles representing different ways in which the language has been acquired and is currently used.

The Inner Circle refers to the traditional historical and sociolinguistic bases of English in the areas where it is the primary language (native or first language; UK, Ireland, Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand). The Outer Circle comprises regions colonized by Britain; the spread of English in non-native settings, where the language has become part of the country's chief institutions, and plays an important "second language" role in a multilingual setting (India, Singapore, Malawi). The Expanding Circle involves nations which recognize the importance of English as an international language, but they do not have the history of colonization, nor does English have any special status in their language policy. In these areas, English is primarily a foreign language.

The term "new Englishes" is used for the varieties which have developed in the Outer Circle, have been transplanted and, therefore, can also be called "diaspora varieties". In a historical and linguistic sense, these varieties are not new. They are called "new" because it is only recently that they have been linguistically, and literaturewise, recognized and institutionalized, although they have a long history of acculturation in geographical, cultural and linguistic contexts different from the English of the Inner Circle. There is a decline of competence from educated English to "broken" English (which is considerably mixed with local languages).


Kachru has discussed the power of English in many of his writings (e.g. Kachru 1986c). Bolinger (cited in Kachru 1986c: 121) has used a metaphor the loaded weapon to characterize language. According to Kachru, questions about language and power go beyond linguistics into history, sociology, attitude studies, politics and economic considerations. The power of language is intimately connected with societal power. It can be manifested by using persuasion, regulation, inducement or force to add a code to a speech community or by the suppression of a particular language variety and the elevation of another.

There are two hypotheses concerning language power: the intrinsic-power hypothesis and the acquired-power hypothesis. The first one claims that English would intrinsically possess certain linguistic characteristics which would make it a preferred language for international purposes (e.g. Jespersen 1905, quoted in Kachru 1986c). This position can, according to Kachru, to some seem similar to claims of racial superiority. The second hypothesis emphasizes the ways in which a language acquires power, and thus it is also easier to understand.

This is a fact that English has spread as a result of exploitation and colonisation. It is notable that, especially in many ex-colonies of Britain, English is still the language of an exclusive social elite. Cheshire, for instance, has discussed this (Cheshire 1991: 6).

Kachru (1986c: 128-129) has given various reasons for which languages are used in a society. They can be used to expand the speech community, as a vehicle of cultural or religious enlightenment to deculturize people from their own tradition (to the "civilizing process" also belonged distancing from native cultures: the colonizers wanted to introduce European literature to the natives, at the same time remaining ignorant of their indigenous literatures), to gain economic advantage, to control domains of knowledge and information, and for deception. The following statement by Charles Grant clearly demonstrates the attitudes of the British Raj in India (1831-1832; quoted in Kachru 1986c: 128):

The Hindoos err, because they are ignorant and their errors have never fairly been laid before them. The communication of our light and knowledge to them would prove the best remedy for their disorders.

The most important reason for the success of English is, according to Kachru (1986c:129-132), naturally the historical role of England as a colonial power. In India, for example, the political power naturally attributed a power to the language of the Raj (called the linguistic elitism strategy), and it also became a symbol of political power. English came to be the language of the legal system, higher education, pan-regional administrative network, science and technology, trade and commerce - either because the indigenous languages were not equipped for these roles and English provided for a convenient vocabulary, or because the use of English was considered prestigious and powerful. English became gradually a major tool for acquiring knowledge in the sciences and the humanities. It has come to represent modernization and development, and, as a link language, it has acquired intranational roles over the years.

Linguistic power can be manifested by using one of the following power strategies: persuasion, regulation, inducement and force. Kachru (1986c:123-127) has listed as examples of linguistic power suppression of a particular language (variety) and the elevation of another. Strategies can include crude linguistic power (e.g. the imposition of Japanese on the Koreans and the Malays during World War II), indirect psychological pressure (e.g. claims of "Other-World" power) and pragmatic power.

Kachru (1987:222) lists also some other reasons for the dominance of English around the world: its propensity for acquiring new identities, its power of assimilation, its adaptability to "decolonization" as a language, its manifestation in a range of lects, and its provision of a flexible medium for literary and other types of creativity across languages and cultures.


At present, English dominates functional domains in the widest possible register range. Kachru (1986c: 130) has presented some parameters of the power of English (which can also be understood as individual motivations for learning the language): Demographic and numerical Unprecedented spread across cultures and languages; on practically every continent Functional Provides access to most important scientific, technological, and cross-cultural domains of knowledge and interaction Attitudinal Symbolizes - certainly to a large group across cultures - one or more of the following: neutrality, liberalism, status and progressivism Accessibility Provides intranational accessibility in the Outer Circle and international mobility across regions (cf. "link language" and "complementary language") Pluricentricity has resulted in the nativization and acculturation of the language. These two are, then, responsible for the "assimilation" of English across cultures Material a tool for mobility, economic gains, and social status Table 1: Parameters for the power of English/individual motivations for learning English.

In the same country the English language can be characterized by different terms representing the power of the language: Positive/Negative, National identity, Anti-nationalism, Literary renaissance, Anti-native culture, Cultural mirror (for native cultures), Materialism, Modernization, Westernization, Liberalism, Rootlesness, Universalism, Ethnocentrism, Technology, Permissiveness, Science, Divisiveness, Mobility, Alienation, etc.

Often the same term may be used both in a positive and in a negative sense, depending on who uses it. The bad effects of the increasing power of English have been conscious and unconscious lingocide and dislocation of native cultural traditions by introducing Westernization. English is often seen as a tool of economic exploitation and domination. On the other hand, the Outer Circle sees English also as a tool of national identity and political awakening (as in the independence struggle in India), a window on the world, and a link language (Kachru 1986c: 136).

According to Bailey, too, English involves both positive and negative cultural values: economic development yet exploitation, political and cultural ideas and institutions, enrichment of English but possibly this at the cost of indigenous languages, opportunities to communicate with readers around the world yet at the expense of one's own language (Bailey 1991: 165).

Cheshire (1991:6) points out that although the spread of English has often been associated with the death of indigenous languages in those countries to which it has been transplanted, in India this was not the case. In Saghal's (1991:300) view, too, the role of English in India has not been replacive: it has not driven out any of the indigenous languages. Rather, she claims, English has enriched Indian languages (as well as it has been enriched by them).

According to Kachru (1986c:137), the power bases of English have to be seen in both material terms and psychological terms. English is supported in the Outer Circle for cultural renaissance, spread of nationalism, pan-regional literary creativity and neutrality, and there is a strong emotional attachment to the language. The psychological factors are important also because they are vital for creating an identity.

Kachru (see e.g. Kachru 1986a:9) stresses the neutrality of English as one clear advantage of using it: English is free from any undesirable (e.g. ethnic or religious) connotations native languages may have. The pros of using English have wiped away the fact that it originally was the colonizer's language (Kachru 1986a: 9).


Kachru (1986c:132-133) mentions four basic areas in which the power of English manifests itself: linguistic, literary, attitudinal and pedagogical. Linguistic control is reflected, for example, in the codification of a language, the attitudes toward linguistic innovation and lexicographical research. The literary aspect refers to the ethnocentric attitude toward literary creativity in the Outer Circle. The attitudinal aspect is involved in issues concerning the identities of individuals and speech communities.

Kachru, for instance, stresses the importance of attitudes when determining the power of a language: what one thinks the language will do for him or her and what others think of a person when he or she uses the language. The pedagogical aspect deals with teaching of English in global contexts (the concerns including the model and the methods for teaching of English, which are often commercially motivated and quite seldom consider the local needs of different countries).




In this section, I will briefly go through the story of British India. The information below is mainly from The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (NEB; 1974), Kachru (1982 and 1983), Bailey (1991). It was Vasco da Gama who, in 1498, came ashore at Calicut, and restored a link between Europe and the East. India was "a land of spices and of marvels" to European people. Portugal's control of the Indian Ocean lasted throughout the 16th century. The turning point came in the 1580s: in 1580 Portugal was annexed to Spain. Spain was not too interested in former interests of Portugal, and gradually the control of the East fell through their hands. The route to the East was opened to the Dutch and English. The Dutch were first ones to arrive in 1595. The Dutch objective was, plain and simply, the trade. They were not so interested in proselytizing people, or trying to expand their empire; they were monopolists rather than imperialists (NEB 392).

The document establishing the British contact with the Indian subcontinent was the Charter of December 31, 1600, granted by Queen Elizabeth I. It granted a monopoly on trade with India and the East to some merchants of London - the East India Company was formed (Kachru 1982:353). The company's objective was actually the spices of Indonesia, but because of Dutch opposition (e.g. massacre of Amboina in 1623), they decided to change plans and go to India instead. The English won victory over some Portuguese territories in India as well, and the Mughal court, which resented the Portuguese, granted the English the right to trade and to establish factories in return for becoming the virtual naval auxiliaries of the empire (NEB 393).

The English trade became more profitable than that of the Dutch, and the region gradually fell under British contact and domination. In 1818, the British Empire became the British Empire of India, instead of the British Empire in India. The diplomatic settlement remained in force until 1947 (401).

A question that has frequently been asked is: How was this sort of subjection of a whole subcontinent possible? Probably the answer lies in the innate divisiveness of Hindu society (class and caste divisions); for the Indians the neighbours were more unwelcome than outsiders; and the outsiders could actually help in defeating the neighbour. The outsiders were, in the end, accepted as masters; the Indians would rather be mastered by them than dominated by a rivaling family inside India (402).


According to Kachru, there have been three phases in the introduction of bilingualism in English in India. The first one of them, the missionary phase, was initiated around 1614 by Christian missionaries. The second phase, the demand from the South Asian public (in the eighteenth century) was considered to come about through local demand, as some scholars were of the opinion that the spread of English was the result of the demand and willingness of local people to learn the language. There were prominent spokesmen for English. Kachru mentions two of them, Raja Rammohan Roy (1772-1833) and Rajunath Hari Navalkar (fl.1770). Roy and Navalkar, among others, were persuading the officials of the East India Company to give instruction in English, rather than in Sanskrit or Arabic. They thought that English would open the way for people to find out about scientific developments of the West. Knowledge of Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic or of Indian vernaculars would not contribute to this goal (Kachru 1983: 67-68).

A letter of Raja Rammohun Roy addressed to Lord Amherst (1773-1857) from the year 1823 is often presented as evidence of local demand for English. Roy embraced European learning, and in his opinion, English provided Indians with "the key to all knowledge -- all the really useful knowledge which the world contains" (quoted in Bailey 1991: 136). In the letter, Roy expresses his opinion that the available funds should be used for employing European gentlemen of talent and education to instruct the natives of India in mathematics, natural philosophy, chemistry, anatomy, and other useful sciences, which the natives of Europe have carried to a degree of perfection that has raised them above the inhabitants of other parts of the world (quoted in Kachru 1983: 68).

Roy's letter has been claimed to be responsible for starting the Oriental-Anglicist controversy, the controversy over which educational policy would be suitable for India. The third phase, the Government policy, begun in 1765, when the East India Company's authority was stabilized (Kachru 1983: 21-22). English was established firmly as the medium of instruction and administration. The English language became popular, because it opened paths to employment and influence (NEB 1974: 406). English of the subject Indians became gradually a widespread means of communication.

During the governor generalship Lord William Bentinck in the early nineteenth century, India saw many social reforms. English became the language of record of government and higher courts, and government support was given to the cultivation of Western learning and science through the medium of English. In this he was supported by Lord Macaulay (ibid, 403).


Lord Macaulay was a central figure in the language debate over which language(s) should be used as the medium of education in India. The Orientalists were in the favour of use of classical languages of Indian tradition, such as Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic, which were not spoken as native languages. The Anglicists, on the other hand, supported English. Neither of these groups wanted to suppress the local vernaculars, mother tongues of the people. Both the groups agreed that education would be conducted in the vernacular during the first years of education. The Anglicist group included Charles Grant (1746-1823), Lord Moira (1754-1826) and T.B. Macaulay (1800-59); H.T. Prinsep (1792-1878) acted as the spokesman for the Orientalists" group (Kachru 1986a: 35). (Click on the following link on Macaulay for Macaulay's brief biography, additional historical documents, information, and analysis: LORD MACAULAY: THE MAN WHO STARTED IT ALL AND HIS MINUTE, and also go to for some historical documents.)

The Anglicist group's views were expressed in the Minute of Macaulay, which is said to mark "the real beginnings of bilingualism in India" (McCrum et al. 1988: 325). According to the document, which had been prepared for the governor general William Bentinck, after listening to the argument of the two sides, a class should be formed in India, a group of people who would act as interpreters between the British and Indians, "a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in morals and in intellect" (Bailey 1991: 138). Macaulay's proposal was a success; and the following year Lord Bentinck expressed his full support for the minute, declaring that the funds "administered on Public Instruction should be henceforth employed in imparting to the native population a knowledge of English literature and science through the medium of the English language" (ibid).

According to Bailey, in Macaulay's thinking Indian languages would be enriched by English, so that they could become vehicles for European scientific, historical and literary expression (ibid, 140). English gradually became the language of government, education, advancement, "a symbol of imperial rule and of self-improvement" (McCrum et al. 1988: 325).

Macaulay justified the imposition of British power on the country by simply arguing that although this policy in India might seem controversial and strange sometimes, it can be so, for the Empire is itself the strangest of all political anomalies...that we should govern a territory ten thousand miles from us, a territory larger and more populous than France, Spain, Italy and Germany put together...a territory inhabited by men differing from us in race, colour, language, manners, morals, religion; these are prodigies to which the world has seen nothing similar. Reason is confounded...General rules are useless where the whole is one vast exception. The Company is anomaly, but it is part of a system where everything is anomaly. It is strangest of all governments; but it is designed for the strangest of all Empires. (Bailey 1991: 137).

According to Kachru, the far-reaching Minute was highly controversial because of disagreement about whether it was correct to impose an alien language on Indians. The Orientalists expressed their disagreement in a note dated 15 February 1835, but they could not stop it from passing and had to give way (Kachru 1983: 68-69). On 7 March 1835, the Minute received a Seal of Approval from Lord William Bentinck (1774-1839), and an official resolution on Macaulay's resolution was passed. This resolution "formed the cornerstone of the implementation of a language policy in India and ultimately resulted in the diffusion of bilingualism in English" (68).

There are many sharing the view of Alastair Pennycook that in fact both Anglicism and Orientalism really worked together towards the same direction. He rejects the view that Orientalism was somehow a "good and innocent project that only had the rights of the colonized people at heart". He claims that, in reality, Orientalism was as much part of colonialism as was Anglicism (Pennycook 1994: 103). Although Orientalism is usually considered more sympathetic towards the local languages and cultures than Anglicism, it acknowledged the superiority of Western literature and learning, and it was a means to exercise social control over the people, and imposing of western ideas (Pennycook 1994: 102).

Pennycook claims, too, that although Macaulay is credited the most influential individual in the language question, the issue is more complex than simply Macaulay arriving in India, writing the Minute on education. and then heading off back to England with having English firmly transplanted in the colony. In his view, then, it is important to understand that Macaulay just articulated a position which had been discussed for a long time already (Pennycook 1994: 77). He goes on further to argue that the Indian bourgeoisie was demanding English-language education as much as the missionaries and educators (79), seeing knowledge of English as an essential tool in gaining social and economic prestige (76).


In the following years, English was established firmly as the medium of instruction and administration by the British Raj (1765-1947). Indian education was ever greater anglicized as the English language became rooted in an alien linguistic, cultural, administrative and educational setting. The first universities were established in India in 1857 (in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras). English became accepted as the language of the élite, of the administration, and of the pan-Indian press. English newspapers had an influential reading public. Indian literature in English was also developing (Kachru 1983: 69).

India, after becoming independent in 1947, was left with a colonial language, in this case English, as the language of government. It was thought that the end of the British Raj would mean the slow but sure demise of the English language in South Asia. This, of course, has not happened. The penetration of English in these societies is greater that it has ever been (Kachru 1994: 542).

Nationalist imperative wanted that English continue to be used. Nationalist motivations were of the opinion that an indigenous Indian language should be adopted as the official language. Hindi seemed most qualified for that, since it had more native speakers than any other Indian language and was already widely used in interethnic communication (Fasold 1984: 24).

In addition, it was thought that linguistic unity was a prerequisite for political and national unity. Thus, Hindi was designated by the constitution as the language of communication between and within the states. It was to replace English within 15 years. The plan was that Hindi would be promoted so that it might express all parts of the "composite culture of India" (Spolsky 1978: 56).

There were, however, several problems with selecting Hindi, and since the protests were often violent (e.g. the riots in Tamil Nadu in May 1963, protesting against the imposition of Hindi), the government wanted to adapt a policy which would help to maintain the status quo. Firstly, Hindi is not evenly distributed throughout the country; e.g. in Tamil Nadu, in the south, only 0.0002 per cent of the people claimed knowledge of Hindi or Urdu, whereas in the northern states this figure can rise up to 96.7 per cent. Secondly, it was thought that the speakers of other languages would be offended by its selection; other Indian languages, for example Tamil and Bengali, had as much right to be national languages as Hindi. The other Indian communities felt they would be professionally, politically and socially disadvantaged were Hindi given the central role. Thirdly, Hindi was thought to need vocabulary development before it could be used efficiently as a language of government. In spite of these problems, Hindi was chosen as the national language in the constitution, and English was to be replaced by Hindi in fifteen years' time. However, due to the continuous opposition in the south, this replacement was not politically possible. In 1967 a law was passed which allowed the use of both Hindi and English for all official purposes - and that situation still exists (Fasold 1984: 24).

The controversy between Hindi, Urdu and Hindustani made the case for Hindi even worse. Support for Hindustani almost ended with independence; Hindi's supporters' enthusiasm was not, also, channeled in a constructive direction. As a result, English continues to be a language of both power and prestige (Kachru 1986a: 8).


The British were given a lot of political stature due to their political power, and they were required to adopt a pose that would fit their status. Language became a marker of the white man's power. Kachru quotes E. M. Forster in A Passage to India (Kachru 1986: 5): "India likes gods. And Englishmen like posing as gods". The English language was part of the pose and power. Indians accepted it, too (ibid).

English was used in India and elsewhere in the colonies as a tool of power to cultivate a group of people who identify with the cultural and other norms of the political elite. (Click on the following link for Macaulay's Minute on Indian Education and for Macaulay's brief biography, additional historical documents, information, and analysis: LORD MACAULAY: THE MAN WHO STARTED IT ALL AND HIS MINUTE, and also go to for some historical documents.) European values were, naturally, considered somehow inherently better whereas the indigenous culture was often considered somehow barbaric. English was considered as a "road to the light", a tool of "civilization". The Europeans thought that they can bring emancipation to the souls; they considered this as their duty. They sincerely thought they would contribute to the well-being of the native people in the colonies, and their language was elevated into being almost divine (6).

English provided a medium for understanding technology and scientific development. Non-western intellectuals admired accomplishments of the west. European literature was made available in colonies. Macaulay shows his ignorance towards the native languages in India by saying (cited in Kachru 1986a: 7):

I have never found one amongst them (the Orientalists) who would deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.

In India, English gradually acquired socially and administratively the most dominant roles: the power and prestige of language was defined by the domains of language use. Ultimately the legal system, the national media and important professions were conducted in English (Kachru 1986a: 7). In the words of Kachru, skilled professional Indian became the symbol of Westernization and modernization. Raja Rammohan Roy was committed to the idea that the "European gentlemen of talent and education" should be appointed to instruct the natives of India. English came to be used by Indians, as well. (Kachru 1986a:7).

By the 1920s English had become the language of political discourse, intra-national administration, and law, a language associated with liberal thinking. Even after the colonial period ended, English maintained its power over local languages (8).

English was eventually used against Englishmen, their roles and intentions as it became the language of resurgence of nationalism and political awakening: the medium, ironically, was the alien language. Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), for instance, although struggled to create consensus for an acceptable native variety as the national language, expressed his message to the elite in English (8).




Linguistic diversity -- multilingualism -- is, according to Mahapatra, found in most present-day nations (Mahapatra 1990: 1). In the Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language (1996: 940), a multilingual person is defined as one "able to speak more than two languages with approximately equal facility". Kachru describes the same phenomenon as the "linguistic behavior of the members of a speech community which alternately uses two, three or more languages depending on the situation and function". (Kachru 1986a: 159).

According to Fasold (1984: 9), there are four different kinds of historical patterns that can lead to societal multilingualism. These patterns are migration, imperialism, federation and border area multilingualism. In this context, I will concentrate on the pattern of imperialism.

The subtypes of imperialism are colonization, annexation, and economic imperialism. Typical of imperialist processes is that relatively few people from the controlling nationality take up residence in the new area. Former British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch colonies in Africa, Asia and South America can serve as examples (ibid, 10).

Although relatively few people come to live in the subjugated territories, the language becomes very important in the territory (ibid, 10). Spolsky, too, remarks that the larger the scale of colonization from the homeland is, the more secure place the conquerors' language will be in the new land, although even a small ruling group may be able to maintain their language, provided they have contact with the homeland. Often in this case, the conquered people will be forced to learn the language of the conquerors (Spolsky 1978: 24).

In annexation and colonization, the imperialist language is likely to be used in government and education; in economic imperialism, the imperialist language is necessary for international commerce and finance: a foreign language will become widely used because of the economic advantage associated with it (Fasold 1984: 10).


A regional language has its geographical bounds defined within the state (Spolsky 1978: 26). In addition to the designation of Hindi as an official language and fourteen others as national languages, each state can choose its own regional language for use in local government affairs and in education among the languages spoken in its territory. India's constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to communicate in their own language with any governmental agency (Bonvillain 1993: 304).

There are over 900 million people and more than one thousand languages in India; the area is thus one of the most diverse linguistic and cultural areas in the world. Thus, it comes as no surprise that there are many problems in classifying and labeling languages in India. One reason is that languages tend to fade into other ones, so that it is difficult to say which are different languages, or which are just dialects of one language (Fasold 1984: 22).

In 1971, it was estimated that the rate of bilingualism in India was 13%. 99% of English speakers are second-language speakers, whereas in many other languages there are no non-native speakers at all (although there are large numbers of native speakers) (Mahapatra 1990: 7).

Spolsky describes the situation on the Indian subcontinent as one highlighting the "multitude of problems facing a political unit that contains a great number of languages". He further points out that it comes as no surprise that India has some difficulty in setting up a language policy: the constitution, for example, avoids choosing a single official language (Spolsky 1978: 42-43).

D.P. Pattanayak describes Indian societal multilingualism as a non-conflicting type, in which different languages are allocated different functions. He describes mother tongue as the "expression of primary identity and of group solidarity". People are identified with certain linguistic, ethnic, religious or cultural groups through ones mother tongue. "Mother tongue anchors the child to culture", Pattanayak continues. In his view of multilingualism, it can be successful only if there is respect for multiplicity, "respect for the different", in a society (Pattanayak 1990: viii-xii).

Spolsky points out that although there are so many languages in India, most of the people do not know any other Indian language than their own. English is most widely spoken second language , followed by Hindi. English is more useful as a "lingua franca"; the usefulness of Hindi as a lingua franca is regionally limited (Spolsky 1978: 42).


Following Platt, I would like to distinguish between national and official langages: national language -- a language that is considered representative of a nation or nationality. The term connotes belonging to a nation, of ethnic and/or cultural identity. Usually it is a local language spoken as native language by at least some of the population of a nation (Platt 1984: 19).

Official language -- language generally used for government administration and the Higher Courts of Law, in the media and as one of the languages of education, at least of secondary and higher education on a nationwide basis (ibid, 19).

Eighteen National Languages

In the early 1950s, a serious problem of linguistic and ethnic diversity was recognized by the Indian government. As a solution to the problem, states were established along linguistic lines, so that in all but two of India's eighteen states the majority spoke a common language (Bonvillain 1993: 303).

Originally, 15 national languages were recognized by the Indian government. At present 18 languages are included in the Constitution of India (See Languages According to the 1991 Census of India.). In many cases the State boundaries have been drawn on linguistic lines. The acknowledged languages are: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telegu and Urdu. India is divided linguistically into two major language families, the Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian languages (Indian Culture. 1998) (appendices 1 and 2). The most widely spoken national languages in India are (in addition to Hindi): Bengali (7.5%), Telugu (7.4%), Marathi (7.2%), Tamil (6.9%), Urdu (5.1%), Gujarati (4.2%), Malayalam (3.8%), Kannada (3.8%), and Oriya (3.4%) (India 1996:18).

The Indo-Aryan languages are a branch of the Indo-European group of languages, and were the language of the central Asian peoples who invaded India. Most of Indian languages of the north belong to this group. The Dravidian languages, on the other hand, (e.g. Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam), are native to south India (although they are influenced by Sanskrit and Hindi) (Culture on commercenetindia. 1998).

There is an ongoing fear that Indian languages will be ignored as English is becoming more and more popular in India. One should be cautious about this, since Mark Tully claims (Tully 1997:160) one can obtain a deeper knowledge of the culture only through the knowledge of the language (or one of the languages) of that culture. He quotes Robert Phillipson and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (1996), according to whom the consequence of the current language policy is that many among the younger generations of Indians are being deprived of familiarity with their cultural heritage, and quite probably of an education that would enable them to contribute to the solution of Indian problems in the future.

Nowadays, however, something is being done to keep Indian native languages alive. Computer applications, for instance, are appearing in Indian languages, and training centres have been set up to teach them to people in Indian languages (The Bline on Indiaserver. 1997.). Motorola has also been reported to have launched pagers in three Indian languages (which was the first time a pager which can display messages in Indian languages has been launched). This means that people who do not know English very well are able to send or receive messages in their mother tongue (The Hindu on Indiaserver. 1997).


Hindi descends directly from Sanskrit. More than 180 million people in India regard Hindi as their mother tongue. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of languages (Hindi. 1998). It is, according to the Article 343 (1) of the Constitution, the Official Language of the Union (India Constitution. 1998.)

The position of Hindi as the Official Language of the Union becomes problematic the souther in India one gets: while it is the predominant language in the north, in the south very few people speak it. The most ferocious opposition toward the adoption of Hindi comes from the south; along with the strongest support for the retention of English (Culture on Commercenetindia. 1998).




In terms of numbers of English speakers, the Indian subcontinent ranks third in the world, after the USA and UK. An estimated 4% of the Indian population use English; although the number might seem small, out of the total population that is about 35 million people (in 1994)(Crystal 1995:101). Although the number of speakers of English in India is somewhat limited (as compared to the total population), that small segment of the population controls domains that have professional prestige (Kachru 1986a: 8).

English is virtually the first language for many educated Indians, and for many, who speak more than one language, English is the second one. Indian speakers of English are primarily bi- or multilingual Indians who use English as a second language in contexts in which English is used among Indians as a "link" or an "official" language. Only a minimal fraction of the English-using Indian population has any interaction with native speakers of English. According to Kachru's survey (the population of which was graduate faculty of English in the universities and colleges), only 65.64 percent had occasional interaction with native speakers of English; 11.79 percent had no interaction and 5.12 percent claimed to have daily interaction with native speakers of English (ibid, 110).


English serves two purposes. First, it provides a linguistic tool for the administrative cohesiveness of a country, and, secondly, it serves as a language of wider communication. (Kachru 1986a: 8). English functions in the Indian socio-cultural context to perform roles relevant and appropriate to the social, educational and administrative network of India (Kachru 1986a: 111).

English is used in both public and personal domains and its functions "extend far beyond those normally associated with an outside language, including the instrumental, the regulative, the interpersonal and the innovative, self-expressive function" (Kachru 1986a: 37). As pointed out before, the role of English is not replacive: it overlaps with local languages in certain domains (Kandiah citing Sridhar, 1985;Shridhar and Shridhar, 1986; 1991: 273).


English is not classified as one of the 15 national languages of India (NEB:286). Although Hindi is the Official Language of the Union, provision was made in the Constitution that English would be used in official work until 1965, after which Hindi would replace it. Because of the opposition of the Dravidian south against Hindi, the Indian Government decided to further extend the role of English as an additional language with Hindi to be used for purposes of the Union and in Parliament. (See the provisions made in the Official Languages Act of 1963, as amended in 1967.) English is now recognized as an associate official language, with Hindi the official language. It is recognized as the official language in four states (Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura) and in eight Union territories.

Various political and nationalistic pressures continue to push for the choice of Hindi as a national language. However, it is hard to remove English from its place as a language of wider communication, lingua franca, especially among the educated elite, or to replace the regional languages in mass communication by Hindi.

Fasold (1984:139) suggests that English lacks the symbolic power required to be chosen as the sole official language in India, although it does have a high communicativity necessary for the successful function of a nationalist language.

English plays a dominant role in the media; it has been used as a medium for inter-state communication, the pan-Indian press and broadcasting both before and since India's independence. The impact of English is not only continuing but increasing.

The English press in India initiated serious journalism in the country. The number of English newspapers, journals and magazines is on the increase. According to Kachru (1986b:12), at present there are 3,582 Indian newspapers in English. English-language newspapers are published in practically all states of the Republic. Of a total of 19,144 newspapers registered in India in 1982, those in English accounted for 18.7 percent, whereas the newspapers in Hindi accounted for 27.8 percent.


English is the state language of two states in eastern India, Meghalaya and Nagaland. It is the main medium of instruction at the postgraduate level, and it is taught as a second language at every stage of education in all states of India.

In India, as in other linguistically and culturally pluralistic societies, the position of English is determined by various political, cultural and social considerations. Kachru (1986b:20) sees primarily three questions which continue to be discussed. The first question concerns the position of English in early and in higher education. The second question is concerned with the roles of the regional language, Hindi and English. The third question deals with the model of English presented to Indian learners, and how that presentation can be made uniformly and effectively. The Government of India has primarily been concerned with the first two questions, which are directly related to language planning at both the national and state levels. There are, as yet, no acceptable answers to any of these questions (Kachru 1986b:20).

In the 1960s a bitter conflict considering the status of various languages in India arose from concerns of the southern states (in which Hindi is not widely spoken) that the use of Hindi in the government services would disadvantage them for employment in those areas. They thought, also, that it was unfair for them having to learn both Hindi and English, whereas native speakers of Hindi would only have to learn English.

Consequently, the Three Language Formula was developed for the educational load to be more fair, to promote national integration, and, to provide wider language choice in the school curriculum (Srivastava 1990: 43). According to the formula, people from non-Hindi areas study their regional language, Hindi, and English. Hindi speakers, on the other hand, study Hindi, English and another language. Baldridge quotes Kamal Sridhar (1989):

The Three Language Formula is a compromise between the demands of the various pressure groups and has been hailed as a masterly - if imperfect - solution to a complicated problem. It seeks to accommodate the interests of group identity (mother tongues and regional languages), national pride and unity (Hindi), and administrative efficiency and technological progress (English). (Baldridge 1996: 12).

Although the formula sounds fine in theory, Baldridge (ibid) states that the Three Language Formula has proved to be a failure in India as a whole, since it has not been followed in practice. Hindi states did not enforce the curriculum, and the anti-Hindi DMK government in Madras removed all teaching of Hindi from schools in Tamil Nadu.

Thus, in India, there is a great number of sociolinguistic pressures influencing the development of language education; Spolsky (1978: 55-64) has stated that the language policy of the school system is both a result of the pressures and a source of pressure itself. He, too, claims education to be the strongest weapon for enforcing language policy , listing the following pressures to have an effect on language planning in a society: family (attitudes at home), religion (if the maintenance of a language is based on a belief in a "holy tongue"), ethnicity, political pressures (aiming at establishing national unity; a language tradition is acknowledged as a powerful force within a nationalist movement), cultural pressures, economic pressures (which include commerce, advanced science and technology: the idea is that not all languages have modern technological vocabulary and it is more rational to adopt a language such as English for this purpose), the mass media (e.g., if there is no media in a particular language, there will be strong pressure to learn another language which is better provided), legal pressures (lack of the official language can often become the basis for discrimination), military pressure (desirability to use one common language) (Spolsky 1978: 53-63).

Mark Tully (1997:161-162) points out that the élitist status of English in India creates problems for the economic development because that means that the education of the mass of people will be ignored. He argues that the solution for the situation would be that the spread of English throughout India would be encouraged so that it would become a "genuine link language of the country, not just, as it is at present, the link language of the élite".


India is the third largest English book-producing country after the United States and the United Kingdom, and the largest number of books are published in English. Creative writing in English is considered an integral part of the literary traditions in South Asia. Indeed, according to the words of an Indian critic Iyengar three decades ago, quoted by Kachru, there seems to be an acceptance of Indian English literature as "one of the voices in which India is a new voice, no doubt, but it is as much Indian as the others" (Kachru 1994:528-529). Sanyal claims, too, that Indian writing represents a new form of Indian culture. It has become assimilated and is today a dynamic element of the culture (Sanyal 1987: 7).

It can be said to be a challenge for the Indian novelist to write about his experiences in a language which has developed in a very different cultural setting; in a "foreign" language; how to create sense of reality and intensity of Indian life in the medium of English language (Sanyal 1987: 7). The integrity of the writers writing in English is often suspect in their own country, and in other English-speaking countries they are treated as marginal to the mainstream of English literature (Kachru 1986b:19). Indian English writers are sometimes accused of abandoning the national or regional language and writing in a western, "foreign", language; their commitment to the nation is considered suspect. Indian writing in English dates back to the 1830s, to Kashiprasad Ghosh, who is considered the first Indian poet writing in English. Sochee Chunder Dutt was the first writer of fiction. In the beginning, however, political writing was dominant (Kachru 1994: 530-531) (e.g. Rammohan Roy wrote about social reform and religion in the medium of English (Sanyal 1987:19).

Stylistic influence from the local languages seems to be a particular feature of much Indian literature in English; the local language structure is reflected as e.g. the literal translation of local idioms (Platt et. al: 1984: 181). According to Kachru, however, South Asian novelists have not only nativized the language in terms of stylistic features; they have also acculturated English in terms of the South Asian context (Kachru 1994: 530).

A view of the mother tongue being the primary medium of literary creativity is still generally held across cultures. Creativity in another tongue is often considered as a deviation from the norm. The native language is considered pure, it is treated as a norm. This causes difficulties for non-native writers of English: it is not rarely that they have to defend themselves writing in English (Kachru 1997:66-87).

The thematic range of literatures has been extended in India: in fact, Kachru points out that English has functioned "as the main agent for releasing the South Asian languages from the rigorous constraints of the classical literary traditions". English has created new experimentation in the field of Indian writing (Kachru 1994: 535-536). Kachru points out that the linguistic centre of English has shifted. This means that English no longer only represents the Judeo-Christian traditions and Western concepts of literary creativity. The ranges of English have expanded, as the varieties within a variety have been formed (Kachru 1986a: 130-131).


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).


The idea of corruption and barbarity of transplanted kinds of English became accepted by the end of the eighteenth century. The evaluation of different kinds of transplanted English is based on the fate of American English, the first transplanted variety to be despised. According to Bailey,

attitudes toward transplanted varieties of English have taken many forms, from categorical denunciation of an entire national variety to niggling criticism of minute details of local usage...Received wisdom declares that transplanted English must be somehow different, and probably worse; the image, in short, anticipates the evidence.(Bailey 1991: 133).

Indians in their use of English have always been restrained in comparison to Americans, for instance. In India numerous British teachers and officials have been quick to censure all departures from the Standard British English forms. "Imperfections" in Indian English were held up to scorn (ibid, 142).


A standard variety has undergone at least some degree of regularisation or codification, it is recognized as a prestigious variety or code by a community, and it is used for high functions alongside a diversity of low varieties (Holmes 1992:83). It provides a means of communication across areas with various different dialects. According to Saghal, a rather nebulous educated Indian English variety close to the native standard is favoured as a model for Indian English by the general consensus (Saghal 1991: 303).

According to Kachru, the spread of English and its intercultural uses raise questions concerning diversification, codification, identities, cross-cultural intelligibility and power and ideology. The ultimate danger could be decay or even loss of international intelligibility, some have argued (Kachru 1987:220-221). In the multilinguistic and culturally pluralistic context of India, the English language has developed its regional, social and occupational varieties: typically Indian registers of legal system, business, newspapers, creative writing (Kachru 1986a: 110).

The fact that English has acquired multiple identities and a broad spectrum of cross-cultural interactional contexts of use is, according to Kachru, "a purists' and pedagogues' nightmare and a variationists' blessing". As a consequence of the spread of English, there are "various semiotic systems, several linguistic conventions and numerous cultural traditions: English absorbs and unfolds meanings and values from diverse cultures" (Kachru 1987: 207-211). Kachru points out that the contexts of diversification of English are not just deficiencies, but that there are deeper sociological, linguistic and cultural reasons. The diversification often, then, is symbolic of "subtle sociolinguistic messages" (ibid, 218).

Crystal points out that while, on one hand, English-speaking communities are striving to nativize the language to reflect their own experiences, on the other hand many are of the view that a universally intelligible, more ore less standardized medium would be desirable (Crystal 1988: 261-262). Not the least because "British English is now, numerically speaking, a minority dialect, compared with American, or even Indian English" (ibid, 10).

Samuel Ahulu suggests that the concept of Standard English be redefined. According to his view, Standard English is usually associated with British and/or American English. English, however, as an international language, has developed, and continues to develop forms or features divergent from British and/or American English. As arguments that any divergence from British or American English is an error appear unrealistic, Standard English, in Ahulu's view, should accommodate to the developments of new Englishes. The variability of non-native Englishes should, ideally, be seen as styles of speech or expression which makes a part of the speakers' repertoire; they should not be thought of as errors. English lacks standard codification which would reflect its international character adequately. Thus, one of the major problems with new Englishes appears to be the issue of codification (Ahulu 1997: 17-19),

The variation manifested in the use of English as an international language should be subsumed within the concept of "Standard English", and the divergent forms should be recognised as standard practice or styles of Standard English; styles of speech or expression to which speakers of English as an international language will be exposed, and which will constitute their repertoire.

Cheshire points out that sociolinguistic analyses can contribute to English language teaching issues

by ensuring that descriptions of world varieties of English have a sounder empirical base. Current descriptions are all too often given as lists of assorted departures from southern British standard English or American standard English with no attempt at determining the extent to which the local linguistic features function as part of an autonomous system (1991:7).




Some language attitudes studies are strictly limited to attitudes toward the language itself. However, most often the concept of language attitudes includes attitudes towards speakers of a particular language; if the definition is even further broadened, it can allow all kinds of behavior concerning language to be treated (e.g. attitudes toward language maintenance and planning efforts) (Fasold 1984: 148).

Attitudes are crucial in language growth or decay, restoration or destruction: the status and importance of a language in society and within an individual derives largely from adopted or learnt attitudes. An attitude is individual, but it has origins in collective behaviour. Attitude is something an individual has which defines or promotes certain behaviours. Although an attitude is a hypothetical psychological construct, it touches the reality of language life. Baker stresses the importance of attitudes in the discussion of bilingualism. Attitudes are learned predispositions, not inherited, and are likely to be relatively stable; they have a tendency to persist. However, attitudes are affected by experience; thus, attitude change is an important notion in bilingualism. Attitudes vary from favourability to unfavourability. Attitudes are complex constructs; e.g. there may be both positive and negative feelings attached to, e.g. a language situation (Baker 1988:112- 115).

According to Lambert (1967), attitudes consist of three components: the cognitive, affective and conative components (Dittmar 1976: 181). The cognitive component refers to an individual's belief structure, the affective to emotional reactions and the conative component comprehends the tendency to behave in a certain way towards the attitude (Gardner 1985).

The major dimensions along which views about languages can vary are social status and group solidarity. The distinction of standard/nonstandard reflects the relative social status or power of the groups of speakers, and the forces held responsible for vitality of a language can be contributed to the solidarity value of it. Another dimension, called ingroup solidarity or language loyalty, reflects the social pressures to maintain languages/language varieties, even one without social prestige (Edwards 1982:20).

Fishman and Agheyisi (1970) have suggested that there is a mentalist and behaviourist viewpoint to language attitudes. According to the mentalist view, attitudes are a "mental and neutral state of readiness which cannot be observed directly, but must be inferred from the subject's introspection". Difficulties arising from this viewpoint include the question that from what data can attitudes be derived, and in what way are they quantifiable. According to behaviourism, attitudes are a dependent variable that can be statistically determined by observing actual behaviour in social situations. This also causes problems; it can be questioned whether attitudes can be defined entirely in terms of the observable data (Dittmar 1976: 181).

Fasold suggests that attitudes toward a language are often the reflection of attitudes towards members of various ethnic groups (Fasold 1984: 148): people's reactions to language varieties reveal much of their perception of the speakers of these varieties (Edwards 1982: 20).

Many studies have demonstrated that judgements of the quality and prestige of language varieties depend on a knowledge of the social connotations which they possess. Thus, for instance, the use of dialects and accents would be expressions of social preference, which reflect an awareness of the status and prestige accorded to the speakers of these varieties. A prestige standard form of a language has no inherent aesthetic or linguistic advantage over nonstandard varieties. The prestige is usually the product of culture-bound stereotypes passed on from one generation to the other (ibid., 21).

Le Page and Tabouret-Keller (1985) stress the importance of the nature of intergroup relations in the discussion of language attitudes and uses: they vary as the nature of intergroup relations changes. When relations change, status relationships, and therefore perceptions, attitudes and uses, change. Speakers select their code from a variety of socially marked models. Change takes place when the social values of the models change and the behaviour of the speech community also changes (ibid, 172).

When studying language attitudes, the concept of motives is important. Two basic motives are called instrumental and integrative motives. If L2 acquisition is considered as instrumental, the knowledge in a language is considered as a "passport to prestige and success". The speaker/learner considers the speaking/learning of English as functional (Ellis 1991: 117). On the other hand, if a learner wishes to identify with the target community; to learn the language and the culture of the speakers of that language in order to perhaps be able to become a member of the group, the motivation is called integrative. In generally, research has proved the integrative motivation to have been more beneficial for the learning of another language (Loveday 1982: 17-18). On the other hand, Gardner & Lambert, for instance, have found out that where the L2 functions as a second language (i.e. it is used widely in the society), instrumental motivation seems to be more effective. Moreover, motivation derived from a sense of academic or communicative success is more likely to motivate one to speak a foreign/second language (Ellis 1991: 118).


There are three assessment techniques relevant to the study of language attitudes: content analysis of societal treatment, direct measurement and indirect measurement (Sebastian 1982: 7).

In the content analysis of societal treatment, language maintenance and shift are examined on the basis of analyses of laws and policies regarding language use in the public domain. An example of this type of language attitude study could be Fishman's (1966) Language Loyalty in the United States. These kind of studies provide the basis for descriptions of the standard language, as well as of language change (ibid, 7).

Another important method is the direct measurement technique, which observes language attitudes by the use of questionnaires (either in written form or in individual interviews). Frequently asked questions concern language evaluation, language preference, desirability and reasons for learning a particular language, evaluation of social groups who use a particular variety, self-reports concerning language use, desirability of bilingualism and bilingual education, and opinions concerning shifting or maintaining language policies. The method tends to focus upon beliefs (ibid, 7).

In a totally indirect method the subjects are not aware that it is their language attitudes that are being studied. Indirect language attitude techniques comprise speaker evaluation studies, such as matched-guise studies, in which hearers have to evaluate different varieties of a language spoken by the same speakers. Speaker evaluation studies form the basis of the socio-psychological perspective on language attitudes (ibid, 8).




Pandit (1979) has given an example of how a multilingual speaker might use the different codes in his repertoire. He describes an Indian businessman living in a suburb of Bombay. His mother tongue and home language is a dialect of Gujarati; in the market he uses a familiar variety of Marathi, the state language; at the railway station he speaks the pan-Indian lingua franca, Hindustani; the language of work is Kachi, the code of the spice trade; in the evening he will watch a film in Hindi or in English and listen to a cricket-match commentary on the radio in English. One can ask: what roles does each of these different languages and varieties perform in the community and the individual (ibid, 172-173)?

In a multilingual speech community a whole range of languages, or repertoire, is available to speakers, who choose to use some of them in their linguistic interaction to perform particular social roles. Repertoire applies at two different levels to both the community and the individual. A speaker does not usually control the whole range of the codes of a community's repertoire continuum but only a number of these (Hamers & Blanc 1989: 172-173).


The various codes in a multilingual speech community usually fulfill complementary functions. They are used differentially according to the interlocutor, domain, topic and role, and the choice of one rather than the other involves an act of identity. on the part of the speaker. Diglossia is at hand if different varieties or languages co-occur throughout a speech community, each with a distinct range of social functions in complementary distribution (Hamers and Blanc 1989: 173-174).

Ferguson first introduced the term diglossia in 1959 to refer to a relationship between varieties of the same language, but nowadays the term covers also relationships between different languages used in a society (ibid, 33-35). The variant reserved for informal uses within a speech community, the low variety, enjoys less social prestige: it is the language of informal interactions (such as ones family life). The high variety, in its turn, is used in formal and outgroup situations (Sebastian 1982: 8). The low variety is typically acquired at home as a mother tongue, the high variety, on the other hand, is learned later, normally at school, never at home. It is a language of institutions outside the home (Hamers & Blanc 1982: 34).

Fishman distinguished in 1971 between a high and low language, where the high language corresponds to status, high culture, strong aspirations toward upward social mobility, whereas the low language is more associated with solidarity, comradeship and intimacy by its speakers (Carranza 1982: 64).

Carranza has come to the conclusion that the level of prestige which languages/language varieties enjoy is influenced by two factors: social structure and cultural value systems: the social structure is an important determinant of how a language is regarded by members of the society. Cultural values, on the other hand, are important especially in the case of a less prestigious language for it to be maintained: it must be associated with positive values with which its speakers can identify themselves (ibid).


Joshua Fishman has introduced domain analysis which describes the use of languages in various institutional contexts in a multilingual society. Fishman suggests that one language is more likely to be appropriate in some specific contexts than another (Fasold 1984: 183).

Proper usage indicates that only one of the theoretically co-available languages or varieties will be chosen by particular classes or interlocutors on particular kinds of occasions to discuss particular kinds of topics. (Fishman 1972: 15).

Domains are defined in terms of institutional contexts or socio-ecological co-occurrences. They attempt to designate the major clusters of interaction situations that occur in particular multilingual settings. Domains enable us to understand that language choice and topic...are...related to widespread socio-cultural norms and expectations (Fishman 1972: 19).

According to Fishman, there is no invariant set of domains applicable to all multilingual settings, as language behavior reflects the socio-cultural patterning. Domains can thus be defined intuitively, theoretically or empirically. They, too, can differ in terms of socio-psychological and societal-institutional level. Socio-psychological analysis distinguishes intimate, informal, formal and intergroup domains. These domains can then be identified with domains at the societal-institutional level (such as home, school, etc.): which coincide with which activities (ibid, 19-20). Barker claims (ibid, 29) that domains are as real as the very social institutions of a speech community and they show a marked paralleling with such major institutions. (ibid, 22).

In a research of the Puerto Rican community in New York (in 1971), Fishman, Cooper and Ma arrived at a list of five domains: family, friendship, religion, employment and education (Romaine 1995: 30). Anju Saghal, on the other hand, in her study on language use in India, described the language use in India in the three domains of Family, Friendship and Institution (Saghal 1991: 299).

Görlach (1991: 29) points out that in countries in which English is a native language, societies have used English for various functions, whereas in countries, such as India, in which English has been a second language, a foreign language, it has been restricted to the domains of administration, law and parts of education, and the media, some forms of literature, other uses of language being reserved to the mother tongue.

Bayer describes, as a deciding factor for the development of different status and functions of languages, a hierarchy of identities which can be found in all multilingual societies: identities are stressed differing degrees of attachment, primary attachment being stressed to one identity. Languages are allocated specific roles and they are used in different contexts: the use of the mother tongue, for instance, is generally restricted to the home and in-group interaction, whereas the dominant language of the environment is the language of administration, education and mass communication. Thus language acts as a "token of cultural identity of individuals and groups" (Bayer 1990: 101).

Bonvillain states, too, that one language is usually having greater prestige than others in a society. Factors such as the social status of native speakers and economic, political and social contexts of contact contribute to this (Bonvillain 1993: 303). Bailey (1991: 117) quotes Matthews (1908) who claims that the success of the spread of a language and its general acceptance depend very little upon the qualities of the language, but is very much dependent on the qualities of the race that has it as a mother tongue, and on the position the race holds in the society.




My hypothesis is that English and one's mother tongue are used in different domains and for different purposes in India. The status of English in India is high among the élite by which it is used mostly in the formal domains (such as education, government and employment); more informal domains (such as the family, friendship and neighbourhood) are reserved for the mother tongue. Still, the use of English as a medium for creative self-expression is also on the increase; and English has become nativized in the Indian environment.

According to my hypothesis, instrumental motivation can be mentioned as the most important kind of motivation for the use of English in India. Hindi has more cultural symbolic value than English: English is spoken because it is useful to a person, or even, in a sense, obligatory to know to advance, while Hindi is in the cultural sense closer to people and easier to be identified with.

I assume, too, that even though English is acquiring new identities in new cultural contexts, such as in India (which in itself should be a natural phenomenon), often the new Englishes are considered as deviations of the standard British or American English norm, and Indian people, too, are quite ambivalent about their variety of the language. Thus, I think that to my question about the suitable norm for the English in India, many people will answer: RP (Received Pronunciation: BBC English; Standard English in Britain) or General American English.


The study was conducted with the help of internet and e-mail. The group of informants was collected by announcing at home pages of Indian universities for people interested in taking part in the study about Indian multilingualism. The surveys were e-mailed to the informants, who filled it in and e-mailed it back to me. This method of collecting the data worked smoothly: e-mail was a fast way to correspond with the informants.

The informants were asked to fill in a survey about multilingualism in India. It was not specified that the attitudes towards the use of English were being studied. The first part of the survey included statements related to domains such as family, friendship, neighborhood, transactions, education, government and employment. The informants' duty was to fill in the language he most often uses for each occasion. The aim was to do a domain analysis of the use of English in India to find out which language(s) does an Indian person use in which situations.

The second part of the study comprised of 35 statements related to attitudes towards English and other languages of India. The third part of the was related to the model of English: the respondents had to give their opinion as to which model of English would suit India best.

Domain analysis and a study of language attitudes are strongly interlinked: the attitudes, which develop in a society during a course of time can determine the domains in which a particular language is used in a society. They determine the place a language holds in a society. By including a domain analysis in the study, it is possible to get a better, and probably a more realistic idea of the language situation in India. Consequently, domain analysis is an effective method to find out about the use of different languages in different domains of life.

The third part of the study, the question about the model for Indian English is also connected with attitudes: it shows the preference for either the domestic Indian variety, or the "foreign" one (such as RP or American English).

With the three separate parts I wanted to ensure that (the three parts, although separate, are still very closely connected) it would be harder for people to try to give "politically correct" answers (or answers which an informant might think would be expected to be given by him) because there is a bigger possibility that they will be noticed in other parts of the study. In my opinion, also, the inclusion of such a big number of questions (the number of which no informant actually complained about) made the study more reliable. I think that had I had a smaller number of questions, the treatment of the topic would have been considerably more narrow.


The total number of informants was thirty, which, in my opinion, proved to be an adequate number. Only two of the informants are female, all the others are males. One of the reasons to the small number of female informants may be that most of the universities where the informants are studying/have studied are institutions of technology (28 had studied/were currently studying technical subjects, such as engineering and computer sciences), and these institutions most probably are male-dominated; thus there is simply a greater possibility of finding male informants. One informant was pursuing her PhD studies in psychology and one has a Master's degree in Philosophy. All the informants have either Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degree (11 Bachelors', 17 Masters', 2 Ph.Ds').

The informants come from nine different states in India. This made the study more interesting but, on the other hand, one cannot draw too far-reaching conclusions, for instance, about the attitudes of people who live in Maharastra on the basis of just two informants. That is, also, one reason why I have not concentrated so much on the states where the informants come from. Nine of them are from Andhra Pradesh, seven from Tamil Nadu, six from West Bengal, two from Kerala and another two from Maharastra. There is, too, one informant from each of the following states: Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.

In India, the state where one comes from is important, for some of the states are more pro-English or pro-Hindi,or pro-regional language than others. Traditionally, the opposition of Hindi has been the most fervent in the south (such as in Tamil Nadu, for instance). One reason to this may be that Hindi belongs to a different language group than the Dravidian languages which are native to the south of India, and it is thought of as unfair to have such an unfamiliar language as an official language. Sometimes, however, the use of Hindi is opposed simply because people do not want to appoint any special role to Hindi. They do not see why Hindi would be more special than any other language.

The mother tongues of the informants vary; mostly following the states' borders (which is not surprising, for, in India, states are divided along linguistic lines). Only three people out of the thirty informants reported as having Hindi as their mother tongue (the informants from Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh). Thus, in my study, about 10 percent had Hindi as their mother tongue: in the whole of India the percentage is, however, 20 percent (180 million). The other informants speak the following languages:

  • Andhra Pradesh: Telugu
  • Tamil Nadu: Tamil (plus one Marathi, one Telugu)
  • West Bengal: Bengali
  • Kerala: Malayalam
  • Maharastra: Telugu, Marathi
  • Jammu and Kashmir: Kashmiri

Telugu is thus spoken by the majority (37%), Bengali comes next (20%), Tamil follows with 17%, Hindi 10%, Malayalam and Marathi (10% both) and Kashmiri (3%).

All the informants speak at least three languages (English included); some claim to speak even up to six languages. One informant reports that he writes only in English, another one that she only speaks her mother tongue, but does not write in it.

One informant claims she has spoken English since she learnt to speak, so it is almost like a mother tongue for her. 19 informants report that they started to learn English when they were between two to six years old (in kindergarten/at school). The rest of the people do not mention any specific age (only saying, for instance, that they learnt English at school or "very young"). One says he started learning English when he was eight. The majority of the people have had their education in the medium of English (most of them since kindergarten).




The survey included statements related to domains such as family, friendship, neighborhood, transactions, education, government and employment. The informants' duty was to fill in the language he/she most often uses for each occasion (grading the frequency of use from one to four, four indicating the highest frequency). The aim was to analyze the use of English in India in different domains.

The domains used in the study could be divided into formal and informal domains: education, employment and government are formal; family, friendship, neighborhood and transactions more informal domains.


Although some informants seem to be quite polyglots, even in the family domain (such as Ker1, who reported the use of English and mother tongue just as common, Tamil1, Mah1, and few others), all in all, mother tongue was, as could be expected, the most common language used at home (for 87% of the informants). English was the second most common reported language (English 3%, En/L1 10%). It was, perhaps surprisingly, most popular (17%) when "discussing a personal matter/problem", although even then L1 was far more popular, with 79%. Discussions with family members at dinner are usually carried out in the mother tongue (90%).

Among West Bengalis, L1 was reserved, almost exclusively, for the family domain. Tamils, on the other hand, mentioned English most often (even though as a secondary option after the L1) ­ thus, here, too, we can see the preference of the people of Tamil Nadu to English, rather than Hindi. Hindi is mentioned only once in groups other than for which it is a mother tongue, when "commenting on a TV program which is in your mother tongue/Hindi". Probably then, too, the reason was that one of the options given for the medium of the TV program was Hindi; perhaps it feels natural to comment on a TV program in the same language as it is in. It was interesting to note, however, that the use of Hindi did not increase (in general) even though it was the medium of a TV program: mother tongue was also then the most popular option. Hindi was mentioned as an option in very few papers.

Hindi does not seem to be very popular among Tamils. The reason to this is fairly obvious, since Hindi has traditionally not been very popular in the south; Hindi is not one of the languages spoken in the area. Tamils, in general, support the use of English. Their reasons for favouring English have been explained earlier on in the study.

Bengalis are not too keen supporters of Hindi, either. They are very proud of their own language; many think that it would have the same right as Hindi has to be the official language of the country (it is surprising, however, that Hindi is reported as the second most common language used at home by a West Bengali (perhaps, for instance, one of the family members of the informant speaks Hindi as his/her mother tongue)). The Bengalis were supporting English for the same reason during the Anglicist-Orientalist controversy in the beginning of the 19th century.


In this domain, the responses are divided more evenly between different languages than in the family domain, and many, too, reported use of several different languages in the same situation. English was clearly quite popular (41% of all the situations). If you include the answers in which English was mentioned together with Hindi or L1, the percentage will be even higher (65%). As a comparison, L1 was used 27% of the time, and Hindi 5 % of the time. Hindi does not seem to work as a lingua franca, or a link language equivalent of English, in India.

Over half of all personal letters are written in English (62%). People are also introduced to each other most often in English (L1 29%, Hindi:6%). People who have not met before, too, prefer English as the common language of conversation (40%; L1 33%, Hindi 6%).

Personal problems are not talked about in English (21%), but usually in L1 (31%). On the other hand, many informants report several different languages; combinations such as L1/E (17%) and L1/E/H (14%) are quite common. Maybe this is due to the fact that many have friends and acquaintances with a different language from them (considering how many different languages there are in India). General topics are usually conversed in English (33%), after which come L1 (27%) and E/L1 (17%). Hindi is not popular here, either. 11.1.3 9.1.3 Neighbourhood In 67% of the cases, English is reported as the most commonly used language when conversing with neighbours. Hindi and E/H (both 13%) come next, followed by L1 and regional language (both 3%).

In case the mother tongues of the neighbours differ, English serves as the link language most of the time (67%). Hindi and H/E are reported second most common languages (13% both). If, however, the mother tongues of the neighbours are same, only one informant claims to resort to English, others report that they would use it together with Hindi (3%) or L1 (7%).


L1 and Hindi are most commonly used languages of transaction in this study. This is not unexpected, for many common Indian people do not speak English much at all (in India English is, as mentioned earlier, the language of the élite and the educated).

The informants reported that they most often use L1 when in shops, at the railway station etc. (29%). Hindi comes next (25%), after which English (18%). In the market place L1 is more clearly the most commonly used language (with 50%; Hindi 18%). L1/H/E and regional language both 7%. If combinations such as L1/H/E, L1/E and E/H are counted together, English is used at the market place 20% of the time.


In education, English is the most common medium (87% of all the situations). At school, friends who spoke the same language usually talked in L1 (45%), although English comes next (25%), and Hindi third (14%). English was considered the best medium of communication in the instances in which the languages of the parties in question differed (75%; Hindi 14%).


English dominates in the domain of government, both when it comes to writing letters (93% are written in English) and also as a general language of the domain (70%; Hindi 7%). But, when meeting government officials, there is more division: English is still the most common language (37%), but L1 is also used quite often (23%), as well as Hindi (10%) and a regional language (10%).


As well as job interviews are without exception carried out in English (100%), so are also business letters written in English. If one's and one's boss's languages differ, the common language will most often (97%) be English. E/H comes second (3%). When it comes to talking to one's colleagues who come from different parts of India, 67% of the time one would resort to English (Hindi 17%, E/H 17%, H/L1/E 3%).


There were 35 questions related to attitudes towards different languages of India. I also wanted to include questions related to languages other than English to have a wider perspective of the position and status of English in India. The informants were asked to grade the statements from one to four, depending on how much one agrees/disagrees with a given statement.

The attitudes of Indian informants towards the use of English (and other languages) are studied from mainly two different perspectives:

  1. Affective/integrative dimension
  2. Pragmatic/instrumental dimension

I have also reserved one perspective for (3) the attitudes towards Hindi and other native languages (although those attitudes will be commented upon in other dimensions, as well. There is, too, a fourth dimension; other findings of the study (under which those attitudes have been placed which could not appropriately be included anywhere else).


Statement 3 ("I like speaking English"), 10 ("I identify myself with British and the Anglo-American culture") and 14 ("English provides a range of aesthetic experiences in literature") are related to affective/integrative dimension.

(1=strongly disagrees, 2=disagrees, 3=agrees, 4=strongly agrees with the statement.)

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I like speaking English." 1 5 10 14

80% of the informants like speaking English; 20% report not to. Those 20% seem to consider speaking English not as a matter of option or willingness; it is just plain reality.

The informants do not identify themselves with British and Anglo-American culture (83%); only one reports that he/she identifies him/herself strongly with the culture, and 13% said that they somewhat identified themselves with it. Indian values seem to be still important to the informants; 73% of the informants do not identify themselves with western values (only two people say they identify themselves with western values).

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I identify myself with British
and Anglo-American culture."
18 7 4 1

However, English does provide a range of aesthetic experiences in literature for over half (53%) of the informants; for 47% it does not (with 7% strongly disagreeing).

Statement 1 2 3 4
"English provides a range of
aesthetic experiences in literature"
2 12 10 6


Speaking English is considered an advantage by 93% of the informants (with 60% strongly agree). The informants strongly disagreeing with the statement included one person with Hindi as his/her mother tongue and one ardent supporter of Bengali.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"Speaking English is an advantage" -- 2 10 18

Statements number 11 and 12 had to do with the role of English with employment opportunities. Most of the people admitted (93%) that it is useful to know English when looking for a job. Only two people strongly disagreed with the statement.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"English offers advantages in seeking
good job opportunities."
2 -- 6 22

People are, too, fairly convinced that without the knowledge of English their job opportunities would be relatively limited; 76% thinks that without the knowledge of English they could not get a job at all (53% strongly agreeing). However, still 23% of the informants, almost one fourth, disagreed with the statement (13% strongly). One interesting ambivalence must be noted: some informants, claiming that English is not needed when looking for a job, reported, however, in the domain analysis very frequent use of English in the domain of employment. Thus, it can be concluded that the informants perhaps wanted to answer to these questions in the way which, for instance, show loyalty towards a certain language, or in the way the situation ideally (in his view) would look like.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"Without the knowledge of English
I could not get a job."
4 3 7 16

87% of the informants think of English as one way of securing one's chances to get a good job (although, as one informant put it, "It depends on what kind of job"). Hindi is, in general, too, perceived as "less useful to know than English" (57%). 41% disagree with this, though. One informant did not give his/her answer to this question at all.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"Hindi is less useful to know
than English."
5 7 10 7

The great majority (97%) of the informants think that even if they did not know Hindi, they still would get a job. Only one informant claimed that he/she could not get a job without the knowledge of Hindi (one informant did not answer in the question).

Statement 1 2 3 4
"Without the knowledge of Hindi
I could not get a job."
15 13 -- 1

The informants seem to support the role of English as an associate official language, for 62% of them say that "to be admitted to a public post, one should be able to speak English". One informant did not give his/her answer.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"To be admitted to a public post,
one should be able
to speak English."
-- 11 9 9

Most (94%) of the informants think all children should learn English at school (however, some acknowledged the illusion of that statement:"Wish, but I don't think it's possible"). Only two people disagree with the statement. Also, English would be chosen as the medium of instruction in the majority of cases (93%).

Only 24% (10% strongly agreeing) think that children resent having to learn English (67% of the people strongly agreeing come from West Bengal). Two informants did not answer this question.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"Most children resent
having to learn English."
11 11 3 3


The informants would prefer using their mother tongue in most situations, whenever possible (83%; 53% strongly agreeing). 16% disagree with the statement, however (maybe because they use different languages according to the situation and the people they are with).

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I prefer using my mother tongue
in most situations,
whenever possible."
1 4 9 16

Hindi was not quite as popular: only 10% of the informants (all of whom actually speak Hindi as their L1) would like to speak Hindi whenever possible. 67% disagreed with the statement (17% strongly). Most (72%) of the people who disagreed with the statement come from either Tamil Nadu of West Bengal. One informant argued:"Hindi is someone else's regional language, it's not mine. Why should I use it? Why is Hindi special? Why not Bengali, or Tamil, or Malayalam, or any of the wonderful Indian languages?"

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I prefer using Hindi in all situations,
whenever possible."
5 15 7 3

The maintenance of Hindi is perceived as important for the development of India in 33% of the responses. 64% disagrees with the statement (27% strongly). Three of the four informants who strongly agreed with the statement speak Hindi as their mother tongue; one person who also strongly agreed comes from Jammu and Kashmir. Perhaps as one reason for her ardent support for Hindi (his/her mother tongue is Kashmir) could be given that she would quite clearly like to be identified with the Hindi-speaking rather than with the Urdu-speaking population (and the culture) in the area. Language is, after all, an important marker of identity.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I think it's important to maintain
Hindi to enable India to develop."
8 11 7 4

It can be mentioned, too, that, quite surprisingly, two Tamils and one West Bengali also agreed that Hindi is indeed important for the development of India. One who disagreed with the statement wrote:"You should not bias a multicultural, multiethnic country by favouring one native language over the other. It leads to domination of other regions by one region".

44% of the informants think that they owe it to their forefathers to preserve Hindi, whereas 55% disagree with the statement (with remarks such as "Well I believe in the survival of the fittest" and India is a multilingual country and each region has its own predominant linguistic loyalties". One Bengali wrote:"I owe it to my forefathers to preserve BENGALI. A person whose mother tongue is Hindi owes it to HIS forefathers to preserve his language!"). Again, the ones who strongly agree are the ones mentioned in connection with the previous statement. One person did not give his answer to this question.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"We owe it to our forefathers
to preserve Hindi."
8 11 7 4

People do feel that they owe it to their forefathers to try to preserve the mother tongue of their people: 83% agrees with the statement (55% strongly). 17% disagree on this one; one comment was quite straightforward:"If most people can communicate in a language then I don't think other languages need to be preserved as antique items". One person did not give his view of the matter.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"We owe it to our forefathers
to try to preserve the mother tongue
of our people."
2 3 8 16

The statement "I strongly identify myself with my mother tongue and the group that speaks it" is maybe the most important one for this section. 72% claims identification with their mother tongue and the group that speaks it. Still, 21% of the informants claim they do not identify with the mother tongue at all. Most identified themselves more with the mother tongue and the group that speaks it than British and Anglo-American culture; only two informants claimed the opposite. Two informants claimed no identification with neither.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I strongly identify myself
with my mother tongue and
the group that speaks it."
6 2 11 10

A little over half of the informants (60%) thought that creative writing can be done in a foreign language; the language does not matter, as long as the person is a skilled writer: "It depends on personal skills" and "You can be comfortable with many languages, it depends on the individual". Still, 40% of the people are of the opinion that creative writing should preferably be done in one's mother tongue, 17% were strongly agreeing (one informant wrote: "I feel so as I can not express my feelings as I want in English".)

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I think it is better for
an Indian person to write
creative writing (e.g. books, poems)
in his/her mother tongue,
rather than in English.
In English, it seems so artificial."
3 15 7 5

In most of the informants' views (70%), the use of Hindi should be encouraged throughout India. One informant stated further: "At least till higher literacy rate is obtained". (Yet, the same informant would like to educate his child rather in the medium of English because of "globalization".)

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I think the use of Hindi
should really be encouraged
throughout India as a whole."
5 4 13 8

A little more than half of the informants (60%) would like to see Hindi as the official language of India also in the future.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"Hindi should always remain
as the official language of India."
4 8 9 9

Most (67%) of the informants feel proud to speak the language and consider it a big part of their culture and identity (although 13% of them strongly disagreed with the statement: one informant added:"I assume "our" implies North India" and one Bengali commented:"It is a regional language. It is no greater or less than BENGALI". One person from Tamil Nadu explained the linguistic situation in the south as follows: "Hindi is not at all prevalent in the Southern states, especially Tamil in the Southern states, English is more often the common language if people of different languages meet").

Statement 1 2 3 4
"I feel proud to say
I can speak Hindi:
it is such a big part of our culture,
heritage and identity. I could
almost say, it symbolizes those."
6 4 11 9

A little more than half of the informants disagreed with the statement "by speaking Hindi I show commitment to my country" (one added "and I show commitment to my soul"). Two people did not answer.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"By speaking Hindi
I show commitment to my country."
7 9 8 4

Hindi is clearly associated with Indian culture: most (74%) of the informants think they would miss out on many enjoyable parts of the culture, such as folk music and literature, without the knowledge of Hindi. It is surprising that one of the informants who disagreed with the statement speaks Hindi as his/her mother tongue! All informants of the Andhra Pradesh group agreed with the statement, all the other Hindi-speakers, as well as the person from Jammu and Kashmir agree (as expected), almost all (75%) informants from Kerala and Maharastra groups agree (with Mah2 strongly disagreeing), in the Tamil group 57% agree with the statement. The West Bengalis most strongly disagree with the statement (with 67%; of which 75% strongly disagreeing).

Statement 1 2 3 4
"Without the knowledge of Hindi,
I would miss out on many rewarding
and enjoyable parts of culture,
such as folk music and indigenous literature."
5 3 11 11


The clear majority of the informants considers speaking both Hindi and English an advantage. Although both the languages are thus considered important, they are important in different domains and for different purposes.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"Speaking both Hindi and
English is an advantage."
1 -- 9 20

English is considered important to India as a whole. Only 10% disagreed somewhat with the statement (two Tamils and one West Bengali).

Statement 1 2 3 4
"English is important to India
as a whole."
-- 3 14 13

Most informants do not feel the need for more TV and radio programs available in English. 44% of the informants, however, would like to have more broadcasting in English.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"There should be more TV
and radio programs available in English."
-- 17 8 5

The majority (80%) would like to see English always on public signs, notices and ads, although, as one informant adds: "along with regional languages".

Statement 1 2 3 4
"English should be used on public signs,
notices and adverts, always."
2 4 15 9

According to the majority of the informants (63%), English carries higher status than Hindi in India.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"The status of Hindi is higher
than that of English in India."
7 12 8 3

English is perceived, on the whole, advantageous to the country. As much as 93% think this way, with the exception of one informant from Tamil Nadu and another from West Bengal.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"On the whole, I can say that
English has been and continues
to be an advantage to India."
2 -- 13 15

English, on the other hand, in the informants' opinion (74%), does not make up a significant part of the country's history and identity: only 23% (3% strongly) think it does. Two informants did not give their answers.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"English makes up a significant part
of our history and identity."
11 11 5 1

The belief that Indian people most often use English with other Indians is also confirmed in the study . One third uses English most often with foreigners. One person did not answer to this question.

Statement 1 2 3 4
"When I use English, it is most often
with native speakers or foreigners,
not with Indian people."
5 15 7 2


At the end of the survey, there were additional questions dealing with the preferred model for Indian English. The informants had to state the model of English they aim for, and which, in their opinion, would best be suited for India.

Earlier on in the study, Saghal stated that educated Indian English variety close to the native standard would be favoured as a model for Indian English by the general consensus (Saghal 1991: 303). In this study it turned out, however, that in fact the majority of the informants (70%) felt that RP (Received Pronunciation: BBC English; Standard English in Britain) would serve as the best model for Indian English, 10 % thought General American English would be better, and 17% preferred the Indian variety of English.

The reason to the result may be that most of the informants do not seem to acknowledge their own, Indian, variety of English, but automatically assume that the model has to come from outside; people somehow feel compelled to refer to an outside variety. Crystal thus seemed to be right in pointing out that when, on one hand, the English-speaking communities do acknowledge a language should reflect their own experiences, on the other hand many are of the view that there should be one, universally intelligible, more or less standardized medium (Crystal 1988: 261-262). In the following, a sample of answers will be presented.

The informants gave reasons for the preference of RP as follows:

  1. "The English in India has a British background...Standard English in India has strong influence on Indian English and I think that is best for India."
  2. "Why not follow the standards set by, say, Oxford, to have uniformity? We are still taught colonial English at school and a good lot of us still prefer J.R.R. Tolkien to Jeffrey Archer."

But, also some people supported the Indian variety:

  1. "I would think that the Indian kind of English with a generous use of Indian slangs thrown in is the one that is mostly used and I don"t see any problem in continuing it....formal written English has also been Indianized to a large extent and I would prefer it that way."
  2. "For a general Indian, I think Indian variety of English is best suited since it is understood properly by a huge number".
  3. "Indian English - cause locals more comfortavle with it. Also leads to better creativity and self-expression..."

Supporters of General American English argued that:

"I guess till a decade ago, people wanted to follow British English. But you know, after this software boom, and the opportunities in the USA for Indian professionals, this changed the situation and now the younger generation aims at General American English...I think American English suits us well."

In support of uniformity (and an international standard) in English around the world, some of the informants argued:

  1. "I think RP would be a reference which everyone can follow. Otherwise different states and regions in India would develop different usages, which may not be desirable....the basic language structure shouldn't be changed irreversibly."
  2. "All of us cannot speak with the same accent but I think there should be uniformity as far as spelling of words is concerned...we should definitely give importance to spelling, grammar and the likes which I think forms the basis of a language. I think British English should be the role model."
  3. "... though there may be local versions of English there should be a definite and fixed form of English to be followed for formal and inter-nation exchanges wherever possible."

Some people claimed they had both RP and the Indianized variety as the model, depending on the situation:

  1. "I'd consider RP as my model in all official, business transactions, but everywhere else the Indian variety goes...most people stick to RP for official work and the Indian variety for informal conversation."
  2. "One should adopt the King's English which can be well understood throughout the world. At the same time Indian English works extremely well within the country."

In support of variation in a language:

  1. "... it is natural that language develops. But it would be nice if there was a body to standardize it the world over (so that we don't have some people speaking one version and the others some other version). Again, pride, cultural influences and some other things make it impossible to force one version on others. My personal opinion is that, as long as you can get your message across effectively, it does not matter what version you use (I presume languages were developed for the soul purpose of communication and expression".
  2. "There is so much of variation that it's quite difficult to make a generalized statement which can qualify as fair."
  3. "Non-native Englishes are NOT deviant...They add richness to the original language, help it to grow, and are VERY NATURAL - this is NOT my mother tongue. My mother tongue WILL dominate."
  4. "Well...if anybody has any problem with coping up with so many accents of English...they probably don't approve of their ancestors who sailed thousands of miles across the globe spreading the language in the first place!"
  5. "I don't think RP has any relevance anymore as far as the growth and acceptance of the language is concerned. The richness and fun that diversity brings along is tremendous!"
  6. "I like the little different English versions which could be more close to the culture than one standard. But I don't like them to be too different which makes life tough for new comer".
  7. "... in this dynamic world, a language gets richer by absorbing different words from different languages to describe a phenomenon more convincingly...there should not be a snobbish restriction on the variation of English."

The idea of correctness of a variety over others was also expressed:

  1. "I can understand English customed to India quite well but I think that it would be preferable for us to use the correct phonetics and grammar, which I think the awareness of is growing".
  2. "BBC English is easy and... taught in schools in India... I personally feel a language should be taught in purest form... it is better to follow single English."
  3. "...the English which the new generation speaks has American slangs and they want to follow the Western culture. This was not the case during our fathers' college days (say 60's) wherein they learnt the RP correctly and had a better English."
Some people also expressed in their view that Indian English is somehow deviant:
  1. "With the increased exposure to the international media I'm sure some accent corrections will take place..."
  2. "I would prefer the Indian variety...Though the English in the BBC would be of a more standard and orthodox type still I think it would be difficult to get the accent. Indians have been good in vocabulary and grammar (as good as the British sometimes), the only difference being that all good writers might not be so good in spoken English and even if they are good they may not follow the accent exactly."

One explained the nature of English in India:

"Here we express only ideas in English, not emotions. Our English here is more for ideas and official communication than for expressing our feeling."


Cheshire stresses that language attitude surveys are important to language planning, teaching and the status of a language in public life generally (Cheshire 1991: 8).

Baker has listed some possible difficulties connected with measuring an individual's attitudes. The most relevant for my study are that people may, consciously or unconsciously, give socially desirable answers, or, for instance, the purpose of the research may affect them (Baker 1988: 117). To eliminate this, I have used a questionnaire which consists of three parts, all of which are independent, though closely interconnected. With this I wanted to ensure that it would be more difficult to try to give, for instance, "politically correct" answers. Also, to eliminate the effect of knowing the purpose of the research, it was not specified to the informants that their attitudes towards English were being studied.

Although attitude scores are imperfect representations of individuals' attitudes, if the attitude test has been constructed well, its' results can be relatively reliable. Baker believes in attitude tests, claiming that "in attitude change lies one hope for language life and resurrection". Attitudes, once recognized, can be turned into action (ibid, 141).

In Fasold's view, even the question of one's mother tongue may present the first problem in attitude surveys in multilingual countries: an Indian person's answer to the question can be based on the desire to be associated with a particular language, to appear patriotic, or to show belonging to a local ethnic group (Fasold 1984: 23).

The study was, indeed not wholly unproblematic: some people clearly wanted to give socially desirable answers, the kind of answers they thought would be expected from them, or maybe the kind of answers they ideally would like the language use to be like. In my opinion, however, domain analysis helped to minimize this problem, because ambivalencies in people's language use in different domains and their claimed attitudes could be compared with each other. Some informants, argued, for instance, that English was not at all important to them when, e.g. looking for a job: in the domain analysis, however, it turned out that the same people claimed very high frequencies for the use of English in that particular situation.



According to the present study, different languages are definitely being allocated different roles in India; languages are used differently according to the domain in question. I was especially interested in the role of English, but as languages can not exist in a vacuum, also the uses of other languages in the society have to be taken into account.

English in India has, indeed, come far from its original uses in the colonial times when it was mostly used as the language of the government. Nowadays, English has spread into many new domains, also the more personal ones, such as the family and friendship. English has, also, acquired new functions, including the self-expressive or innovative function. Today, in fact, it is hard, almost impossible to think of English as it is used in India only simply as another foreign language.

English in India is a diglossically high language. The reasons for this lie in the colonial times when the power was attributed to English, the language of the Raj. From then on, English became a symbol of political power, the position of which it holds, still: English, today, represents the scientific knowledge, modernization and development.

The use of English clearly increases in the more formal domains. Also, the more formal the situation is, the bigger the number of languages possible for each occasion. In the domains of education, government and employment it is, without doubt, the most preferred medium. It is, however, making its way to more informal domains, as well: about 40% of the informants claim to speak English with friends, and people get introduced to each other most often in English. Over half of all personal letters, too, are written in English. In the neighborhood domain English is the most preferred option when people's languages differ. Thus, the usefulness of Hindi as a lingua franca seems to be regionally limited, as Spolsky has claimed (Spolsky 1978: 43)). In the domains of education, government and employment English shows itself, without doubt, as the most preferred medium.

In the domain of transactions, L1 is used more often than English at both the market place and in shops and at the railway station. This is quite natural when one is reminded that English is, really, a language of the educated: quite possibly the people selling goods and food in the market place do not often know a word of English.

Attitudes about a language are important, for they more or less determine its place in the multilingualism of a country. English has traditionally been the language of the government and other domains with prestige, and still today it carries more prestige than Hindi in India and it is, too, considered important and an advantage to the country as a whole.

People's motives for supporting English are mostly instrumental: the results of the study reveal that English is perceived as a useful language to know mostly because of job opportunities: English is considered necessary would one want to have a job. On the other hand, Hindi is not perceived important when it comes to getting a job: only one informant claimed he/she could not get a job without the knowledge of Hindi. The informants, too, support the role of English as an associate official language, for 62% of them require a person to be able to speak English to be admitted to a public post. Education is an important proof of the status of a language in a society, and if this is true, in the case of English its status seems quite secure: over 90% of the informants are of the opinion that all children should learn English at school.

Whereas English was considered important to India in most of the responses (90%), Hindi is perceived important for the development of the country only by 33% of them.

The informants strongly identified themselves with their mother tongue and the group that speaks it; this is important for the maintenance of the native languages of the country: especially in the case of varieties with less official acknowledgement group solidarity becomes very important. The maintenance of a group's language makes one part of it.

Integrative motivation seems to be very important for maintaining Hindi as the official language of India. It is, also, beneficial for the maintenance of a language to be associated with positive cultural values; especially when a less prestigious language is in question. Although, as mentioned earlier, English is clearly perceived as a more useful language to know, people on the other hand can identify themselves more easily with Hindi (only 17% said they identified themselves with British and Anglo-American culture, whereas about 67% of the informants feel proud to speak the language and consider it a big part of their culture and identity). Most of the informants would like the use of Hindi to be encouraged in India, as well as they would like to see it as the official language also in future. Most of them thought, too, that they would miss out on many enjoyable parts of culture could they not speak Hindi.

Although Spolsky has claimed that people rarely know any other language other than their own, this was clearly not the case in my study: people reported, on average, four different languages. The usefulness of Hindi as a lingua franca, however, appeared to be regionally limited, as in some areas few people know it ­ or they dislike speaking it. Many people do not see any reason why Hindi would be any better as an official language than their mother tongue.

Indian English has definitely emerged as a variety of its own in the eyes of the Indian people themselves. Although many acknowledged RP (Received Pronunciation: BBC English; Standard English in Britain) as the best model for Indians to strive for, almost as many supported variety in a language arguing that because of linguistic and cultural reasons, Indian English is naturally different from, say, the British standard variety of English. Some people, though, expressed their view of Indian variety as somehow "deviant" by talking about corrections which should take place in the variety, and also by comparing Indian English to the more standard and orthodox type of standard variety of English as used in Britain. People, indeed, seem to be somewhat ambivalent about Indian English and its features. Some people would even divide the use of English so that RP would be reserved for more formal uses, whereas "Indian English" (whatever one understands with it) is considered suitable for, as one informant puts it, "informal conversation".

As we can see from the results of the study, English has become more nativized in the Indian environment: it seems that English now belongs to India's linguistic repertoire in a very natural way. English, however, is still clearly a language of "ideas, not of emotions", as one informant put it.



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Dear Recipient,

I would like to find out more about language use and attitudes towards different languages in India.

I would really appreciate it if you could participate in the study by filling in this questionnaire, and thus help me gather data for my thesis.

It is VERY important that you are as accurate and honest as possible with your responses. It is only in that case that this study might have some value!

All the replies will remain absolutely confidential.

THANK YOU for your time!

My age:________
Home state in India:__________________ Occupation:__________
Highest Qualification (level of education):_________________
When did you start to learn English (age), or how did you learn it (at school/at home, or some other way)?___________________________________________
Were you educated in English or in some other language (please specify)?_________
What is your mother tongue?__________________________
List (in the order of confidence) all the other languages you can communicate (speak, read, write) in:__________

First Part of the Questionnaire (Domain Analysis): Language Use in Different Areas of Life

Which of the following languages: English (EN), mother tongue or first language (L1), the regional language (eg. Punjabi) (REG), Hindi (HI), or any other language (please specify!) do you use in the following situations?

Also, mark each statement from 1 to 5, depending on how often you use each language: 1=sometimes, 2=often 3=usually, 4=always (eg. EN 2, L1 3; which means that one uses English often in that situation, but the first language usually)

a) discussing with your family members at dinner___________________
b) commenting on a TV program which is in English__________________
c) commenting on a TV program which is in your mother tongue/Hindi_____
d) the language I mostly use at home is_____________
e) discussing a personal matter/problem_______________

a) conversing and discussing general topics with friends/acquaintances_________________
b) discussing personal matters with friends/acquaintances__________
c) conversing with people I haven't met before in my home town at clubs/social gatherings_________
d) introducing friends to others____________
e) writing a personal letter__________________

a) I talk in ______to my neighbour whose mother tongue is different from mine.
b) I talk in ________to my neighbour whose mother tongue is same as mine.
c) Imagine a situation that in your neighbourhood, the mother tongue of the people in most cases differs. Which language do you use in eg. meetings or gatherings as a common language?________

a) in shops, at the railway station etc. I mostly use ____________.
b) at the market place, I use __________.

a) My medium of education was mostly ___________.
b) At high school I talked with my friends who spoke the same language as I do in ___________.
c) At high school I talked with my friends who spoke a different language than I did in_____________

a) I would always write official letters in ___________________.
b) If I was working for the government, I would probably mostly use ________________in my work.
c) If I went to see a government official, he would automatically talk to me in _________________________.

Employment a) At a job interview, the language used would normally be ______. b) With my colleagues who come form different parts of India, I would normally talk in __________. c) If my boss and me had different languages as mother tongues, we would speak with each other in ____________________________. d) I'd write a business letter in __________________________.


Please tick the appropriate number from 1 to 4, depending on how much you agree/disagree with the statement.

1= I strongly disagree 2=I disagree 3=I agree 4=I strongly agree
Statement 1 2 3 4

1. Speaking both Hindi and English is an advantage.
2. Speaking English is an advantage.
3. I like speaking English.
4. I prefer using my mother tongue in most situations,whenever possible.
5. I prefer using Hindi in all situations, whenever possible.
6. I think it's important to maintain Hindi to enable India to develop.
7. We owe it to our forefathers to preserve Hindi.
8. We owe it to our forefathers to try to preservethe mother tongue of our people.
9. I strongly identify myself with my mother tongue, and the group that speaks it.
10. I identify myself with British and the Angloamerican culture.
11. English offers advantages in seeking good job opportunities.
12. Without the knowledge of English I could not get a job.
13. Without a knowledge of Hindi I could not get a job.
14. English provides a range of aesthetic experiences in literature.
15. I think it is better for an Indian person to write creative writing (eg. books, poems) in his/her mother tongue, rather than in English. In English, it seems so artificial.
16. English is important to India as a whole.
17. To be admitted to a public post, one should be able to speak English.
18. There should be more TV and radio programs available in English.
19. English should be used on public signs, notices and adverts, always.
20. All children should be required to learn English at school.
21. If I had to choose whether my child would be educated in the medium of English or Hindi, I would definitely choose English.
22. I think that the use of Hindi should really be encouraged throughout India as a whole.
23. People who know English well have a significantly better chance of getting a good job.
24. Hindi is less useful to know than English.
25. Hindi should always remain as the official language of India.
26. I feel proud to say I can speak Hindi: it is such a big part of our culture, heritage and identity. I could almost say, it symbolizes those.
27. Most children resent having to learn English.
28. The status of Hindi is higher than that of English in India.
29. I would feel embarrassed if I couldn't speak any English.
30. By speaking Hindi I show commitment to my country. 31. I identify myself with modern, western values and thus I also find the knowledge of English important.
32. 3Without the knowledge of Hindi, I would miss out on many rewarding and enjoyable parts of culture, such as folk music and indigenous literature.
33. On the whole, I can say that English has been and continues to be an advantage to India.
34. English makes up a significant part of our history and identity.
35. When I use English, it is most often with native speakers or foreigners, not with Indian people.


Finally, I would like to know how you perceive the Indianized variety of English (with its specific phonetic, lexical and grammatical features).

Which of the following would you say you aim for; which would you like to consider as your model: Received Pronunciation (BBC English; Standard English in Britain) General American English Indian variety of English Or some other variety of English?

Also, do you think one of the above mentioned suits India better than other ones (and if so, then, possibly, why?)?

Do you think that it is still possible to say that eg. RP (Received Pronunciation: BBC English; Standard English in Britain) would be the one and only right kind of English which everybody else should follow and strive for? (Some people are saying that it creates problems in intelligibility if we don't stick to one uniform form of English and they hate the thought of having several, more or less equal varieties of English. They sometimes also consider non-native Englishes (such as Indian English) as somehow deviant). However, could you not argue that we do not live in a static world and situations change; therefore, it's only natural that English language also develops into different directions. Comments on this?


Best wishes, Annika Hohenthal (University of Turku, Finland)


The survey included statements related to domains such as family, friendship, neighborhood, transactions, education, government and employment. The informants' duty was to fill in the language he/she most often uses for each occasion (grading the frequency of use from one to four, four indicating the highest frequency).

The abbreviations stand for:

ˇ L1 = mother tongue
ˇ E = English
ˇ Hi = Hindi
ˇ R = Regional language
ˇ AndhraPra = Andhra Pradesh
ˇ J&K = Jammu and Kashmir
ˇ Tamil = Tamil Nadu
ˇ Uttar Pra = Uttar Pradesh
ˇ WestB = West Bengal


The informants were asked to grade the statements from one to four, depending on how much one agrees/disagrees with a given statement. Abbreviations used:

ˇ AP = Andhra Pradesh
ˇ Har = Haryana
ˇ J&K = Jammu and Kashmir
ˇ Mah = Maharashtra
ˇ Raj = Rajasthan
ˇ Tamil = Tamil Nadu
ˇ UttPra = Uttar Pradesh
ˇ WB = West Bengal


This is my Master's dissertation done at the Department of English, University of Turku, Finland, 1998.

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