Indian English

Indian English
अंग्रेज़ी (Hindi)
ইংরেজি (Bengali)
અંગ્રેજી (Gujarati)
ಆಂಗ್ಲ (Kannada)
ഇംഗ്ലീഷ് (Malayalam)
इंग्रजी (Marathi)
ଇଂରାଜୀ (Odia)
ਅੰਗਰੇਜ਼ੀ (Punjabi)
ஆங்கிலம் (Tamil)
ఆంగ్లం (Telugu)
انگریزی (Urdu)
Native toRepublic of India,
Islamic Republic of Pakistan (as Pakistani English),
People's Republic of Bangladesh (as Bangladeshi English),
related: Republic of the Union of Myanmar (as Burmese English)
RegionIndian subcontinent
Native speakers
~100,000 (as L1 speakers)[1] (2001 Census of India)
86 million Indians (as L2 speakers)[2]
39 million (as L3 speakers)
rarely in local scripts[3]
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Indian English refers to dialects of the English language characteristic of the Republic of India. Alongside Hindi, the Constitution of India designates the co-official language of the Government of India as English.[5]


Hindi is one of the official languages of the Union Government of India. However, English is also still retained as an official language as a legacy of British rule.[6] Only a few hundred thousand Indians, or less than 0.1% of the total population, have English as their first language.[7][8][9][10]

According to the 2001 Census, 12.6% of Indians knew English.[11][not in citation given] An analysis of the 2001 Census of India[12] concluded that approximately 86 million Indians reported English as their second language, and another 39 million reported it as their third language. No data were available whether these individuals were English speakers or users.[clarification needed]

According to the 2005 India Human Development Survey,[13] of the 41,554 surveyed, households reported that 72% of men (29,918) did not speak any English, 28% (11,635) spoke at least some English, and 5% (2,077, roughly 17.9% of those who spoke at least some English) spoke fluent English. Among women, the corresponding percentages were 83% (34,489) speaking no English, 17% (7,064) speaking at least some English, and 3% (1,246, roughly 17.6% of those who spoke at least some English) speaking English fluently.[14] According to statistics of District Information System for Education (DISE) of National University of Educational Planning and Administration under Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, enrollment in English-medium schools increased by 50% between 2008–09 and 2013–14. The number of English-medium school students in India increased from over 15 million in 2008–09 to 29 million by 2013–14.[15]

India ranks 22 out of 72 countries in the 2016 EF English Proficiency Index published by the EF Education First. The index gives the country a score of 57.30 indicating "moderate proficiency". India ranks 4th out of 19 Asian countries included in the index.[16] Among Asian countries, Singapore (63.52), Malaysia (60.70) and the Philippines (60.33) received higher scores than India.

Court language[]

English, according to the Indian Constitution, is the language of the Supreme Court and all the High Courts of India.[17] However, in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan there is use of Hindi in courts because of Presidential approval.[18] In 2018, the Punjab and Haryana High Court also await Presidential approval for Hindi use as well.[19]


Indian English generally uses the Indian numbering system. Idiomatic forms derived from Indian literary languages and vernaculars have been absorbed into Indian English. Nevertheless, there remains general homogeneity in phonetics, vocabulary, and phraseology between various dialects of Indian English.[20][21][22][23]


English language public instruction began in India in the 1830s during the rule of the East India Company (India was then, and is today, one of the most linguistically diverse regions of the world[24]). In 1835, English replaced Persian as the official language of the Company. Lord Macaulay played a major role in introducing English and western concepts to education in India. He supported the replacement of Persian by English as the official language, the use of English as the medium of instruction in all schools, and the training of English-speaking Indians as teachers.[25] Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, primary-, middle-, and high-schools were opened in many districts of British India, with most high schools offering English language instruction in some subjects. In 1857, just before the end of Company rule, universities modelled on the University of London and using English as the medium of instruction were established in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. During subsequent Crown Rule in India, or the British Raj, lasting from 1858 to 1947, English language penetration increased throughout India. This was driven in part by the gradually increasing hiring of Indians in the civil services. At the time of India's independence in 1947, English was the only functional lingua franca in the country.

After Indian Independence in 1947, Hindi was declared the first official language, and attempts were made to declare Hindi the sole national language of India. Due to protests from Tamil Nadu and other non-Hindi-speaking states, it was decided to temporarily retain English for official purposes until at least 1965. By the end of this period, however, opposition from non-Hindi states was still too strong to have Hindi declared the sole language. With this in mind, the English Language Amendment Bill declared English to be an associate language "until such time as all non-Hindi States had agreed to its being dropped." This has not yet occurred, and it is still widely used. For instance, it is the only reliable means of day-to-day communication between the central government and the non-Hindi states.

The view of the English language among many Indians has gone from associating it with colonialism to associating it with economic progress, and English continues to be an official language of India.[26]

While there is an assumption that English is readily available in India, available studies show that its usage is actually restricted to the elite,[27] because of inadequate education to large parts of the Indian population. The use of outdated teaching methods and the poor grasp of English exhibited by the authors of many guidebooks, disadvantage students who rely on these books.[28]

Hinglish and other hybrid languages[]

The term, "Hinglish", is a portmanteau of the languages English and Hindi. This typically refers to the macaronic hybrid use of Hindi and English. It is often the growing preferred language of the urban and semi-urban educated Indian youth, as well as the Indian diaspora abroad.[29] The Hindi film industry, more popularly known as Bollywood, incorporates considerable amounts of Hinglish as well.[30] Many internet platforms and voice commands on Google also recognize Hinglish.[29]

Other macaronic hybrids such as Manglish (Malayalam and English), Kanglish (Kannada and English), Tenglish (Telugu and English), and Tanglish or Tamglish (Tamil and English) exist in South India.


Most Indians speak with a native tinted accent for their English speech, whereas the modern generation tends to speak with an accent similar to the Received Pronunciation.

Indian English phonology is ultimately based on Received Pronunciation.


In general, Indian English has fewer peculiarities in its vowel sounds than the consonants, especially as spoken by native speakers of languages like Hindi, the vowel phoneme system having some similarities with that of English. Among the distinctive features of the vowel-sounds employed by some Indian English speakers:

The following are the variations in Indian English resulting from inability to articulate few vowels


The following are the characteristics of dialect of Indian English most similar to RP:

The following are the variations in Indian English:

The following are the variations in Indian English that are often discouraged:

Spelling pronunciation[]

A number of distinctive features of Indian English are due to "the vagaries of English spelling".[37] Most Indian languages, unlike English, have a nearly phonetic spelling, so the spelling of a word is a highly reliable guide to its modern pronunciation. Indians' tendency to pronounce English phonetically as well can cause divergence from Western English. This phenomenon is known as spelling pronunciation.

Supra-segmental features[]

English is a stress-timed language. Both syllable stress and word stress—where only certain words in a sentence or phrase are stressed—are important features of received pronunciation. Indian native languages are actually syllable-timed languages, like French. Indian-English speakers usually speak with a syllabic rhythm.[41] Further, in some Indian languages, stress is associated with a low pitch,[42] whereas in most English dialects, stressed syllables are generally pronounced with a higher pitch. Thus, when some Indian speakers speak, they appear to put the stress accents at the wrong syllables, or accentuate all the syllables of a long English word. Certain Indian accents possess a "sing-song" quality, a feature seen in a few English dialects of Britain, such as Scouse and Welsh English.[43]

Numbering system[]

The Indian numbering system is preferred for digit grouping. When written in words, or when spoken, numbers less than 100,000/100 000 are expressed just as they are in Standard English. Numbers including and beyond 100,000 / 100 000 are expressed in a subset of the Indian numbering system. Thus, the following scale is used:

In digits (International system) In digits (Indian system) In words (long and short scales) In words (Indian system)
10 ten
1,000 one thousand
10,000 ten thousand
100,000 1,00,000 one hundred thousand one lakh (from lākh लाख)
1,000,000 10,00,000 one million ten lakh (from lākh लाख)
10,000,000 1,00,00,000 ten million one crore (from karoṛ करोड़)
100,000,000 10,00,00,000 hundred million ten crore
1,000,000,000 1,00,00,00,000 one billion one arab
10,000,000,000 10,00,00,00,000 ten billion ten arab
100,000,000,000 1,00,00,00,00,000 hundred billion one kharab

Larger numbers are generally expressed as multiples of the above (for example, one lakh crores for one trillion).[44][45]


Indian English has political, sociological, and administrative terms of modern India: dharna, hartal, eve-teasing, vote bank, swaraj, swadeshi, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, NRI; it has words of Anglo-India such as tiffin, hill station, gymkhana; and it has slang.

Some examples unique to, or chiefly used in, standard written Indian English include:

Spelling and national differences[]

Indian English uses the same British English spelling as Commonwealth nations such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and South Africa.[which?][citation needed]

See also[]


Further reading[]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ in local vernaculars such as Hinglish, Tanglish etc.
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Indian English". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ "CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS | Department of Official Language | Ministry of Home Affairs | GoI". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Wayback Machine" (PDF). 9 September 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  7. ^ Census of India's Indian Census Archived 14 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Issue 25, 2003, pp 8–10, (Feature: Languages of West Bengal in Census and Surveys, Bilingualism and Trilingualism).
  8. ^ FAMILY-WISE GROUPING OF THE 122 SCHEDULED AND NON-SCHEDULED LANGUAGES Archived 7 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine2001 Census of India
  9. ^ Tropf, Herbert S. 2005. India and its Languages Archived 8 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Siemens AG, Munich
  10. ^ For the distinction between "English Speakers," and "English Users," please see: TESOL-India (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages), India is World's Second Largest English-Speaking Country Archived 4 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Their article explains the difference between the 350 million number mentioned in a previous version of this Wikipedia article and the current number:
  11. ^ "These four charts break down India's complex relationship with Hindi".
  12. ^ "published in 2010". 14 March 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  13. ^ "EF English Proficiency Index – A comprehensive ranking of countries by English skills". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  14. ^ Desai, Dubey; Joshi, Sen; Sharif, Vanneman (2010). "Human development in india" (PDF). Oxford University Press. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Number of children studying in English doubles in 5 years".
  16. ^ "EF English Proficiency Index – India". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Court language is English, says Supreme Court". The Economic Times. 7 December 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  18. ^ Delhi (28 April 2016). "Use of Hindi Language in Courts". Business Standard India. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Haryana to approach guv for promoting use of Hindi in HC - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  20. ^ Mukesh Ranjan Verma and Krishna Autar Agrawal: Reflections on Indian English literature (2002), page 163: "Some of the words in American English have spelling pronunciation and also pronunciation spelling. These are also characteristic features of Indian English as well. The novels of Mulk Raj Anand, in particular, are full of examples of ..."
  21. ^ Pingali Sailaja: Indian English (2009), page 116: "So what was Cauvery is now Kaveri. Some residual spellings left by the British do exist such as the use of ee for /i:/ as in Mukherjee. Also, some place names such as Cuddapah and Punjab"
  22. ^ Edward Carney: Survey of English Spelling (2012), page 56: "Not all distributional differences, however, have important consequences for spelling. For instance, the ... Naturally enough, Indian English is heavily influenced by the native language of the area in which it is spoken."
  23. ^ Indian English Literature (2002), page 300: "The use of Indian words with English spellings: e.g. 'Mundus,' 'raksha'; 'Ed Cherukka,' 'Chacko Saar Vannu'"
  24. ^ Lalmalsawma, David (7 September 2013), India speaks 780 languages, 220 lost in last 50 years – survey, Reuters
  25. ^ John MacKenzie, "A family empire," BBC History Magazine (Jan 2013)
  26. ^ Annamalai, E. (2006). "India: Language Situation". In Brown, Keith (ed.). Encyclopedia of language & linguistics. Elsevier. pp. 610–613. doi:10.1016/B0-08-044854-2/04611-3. ISBN 978-0-08-044299-0. Retrieved 6 February 2015. Lay summary (6 February 2015). – via ScienceDirect (Subscription may be required or content may be available in libraries.)
  27. ^ "The rise of Hinglish: How the media created a new lingua franca for India's elites".
  28. ^ Chelliah, Shobhana L. (July 2001). "Constructs of Indian English in language 'guidebooks'". World Englishes. 20 (2): 161–178. doi:10.1111/1467-971X.00207.
  29. ^ a b "Hinglish gets the most laughs, say Mumbai's standup comics - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  30. ^ "Decoding the Bollywood poster - National Science and Media Museum blog". Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  31. ^ a b Reddy, C. Rammanohar. "The Readers' Editor writes: Why is American English becoming part of everyday usage in India?". Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  32. ^ Wells, pp. 627–628
  33. ^ a b c d Wells, p. 628
  34. ^ Ball & Muller 2014: The comments on retroflex consonants also apply to southern Indian languages such as Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam. and Kannada. Speakers of these languages tend to use their own retroflex consonants in place of English alveolar It, d, n/. Although these languages do have nonretroflex stops, these are dental, and it seems that English alveolar stops are perceived as closer to the retroflex stops than to the dental ones.
  35. ^ Ball & Muller 2014, p. 289b: This use of retroflex consonants is very characteristic of Indian English, and the retroflex resonance is very pervasive ...
  36. ^ Sailaja 2007, p. 252: 1.4 Indian (Telugu) English: All the adults who participated in this study spoke a Telugu variety of Indian English. Telugu pronunciation of English is heavily influenced by the spelling. Two identical letters in a word are articulated as geminates. The articulation is also mostly rhotic ... In place of the alveolar stops, retroflex sounds are used. Some speakers would also use a retroflex nasal in place of the alveolar nasal, and a retroflex lateral in place of the alveolar lateral.
  37. ^ a b c d e Wells, p. 629
  38. ^ Wells, J. C. (1982). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 629. ISBN 0-521-28541-0.
  39. ^ Wells, p. 627
  40. ^ Wells, p. 630
  41. ^ Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (Cambridge University Press, 1995), page 360
  42. ^ [1] Archived 1 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ Varshney, R.L., "An Introductory Textbook of Linguistics and Phonetics", 15th Ed. (2005), Student Store, Bareilly.
  44. ^ "Investors lose Rs 4.4 lakh crore in four days | Business Standard". 27 November 2010. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  45. ^ "Corporate chiefs getting crores in salaries: 100 and counting! – The Smart Investor". Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  46. ^ academic (noun), 6, Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, December 2011
  47. ^ airdash (in air, Compounds, C2) (verb, transitive, Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, December 2008
  48. ^ "cinema hall Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary". Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  49. ^ "UP cinema halls to show Kumbh logo before screening movies | india news | Hindustan Times". 22 April 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  50. ^ "YOGI ACCUSES OPPOSITION OF RANKING UP INFLATION". The Pioneer. 27 May 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  51. ^ English-knowing (adj). Compound, C2, Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, December 2008
  52. ^ "freeship". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  53. ^ freeship, 4., Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, March 2008
  54. ^ matrimonial (noun) B. 3b., Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, March 2001
  55. ^ press (noun), Compound, Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, March 2007
  56. ^ redressal (noun), Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, September 2009
  57. ^ upgradation (noun), Oxford English Dictionary, 1993

External links[]