How Indian is Indian English?: Indian Words in Registers of Indian English

  • Chandrika Balasubramanian


The rising status of English as a world language has led to the emergence of several non-native or new varieties of English, with Indian English being a major new variety.  Much work on Indian English has focused on establishing the Indianness of the language. As Kachru points out, studies of Indian English consider “linguistic interference and the Indian cultural context as essential for the understanding and description of the Indianness in this variety of English” (The Indianness of Indian English 391). Other early research on the Indianness of Indian English includes Verma, Dubey, Hosali, and Bhatt, to name just a few. The work represented by most previous studies on Indian English, which focus largely on the nature and degree of difference of Indian English from external norms, does not, however, provide a clear picture of the system underlying Indian English. The current study focuses on the Indianness of Indian English, but tests Kachru’s claims regarding the progressive Indianisation of Indian English.  The first part of the study is an empirical investigation of Indian words in three spoken and three written registers of the language from a corpus compiled in the year 2000 and earlier, and identifies distinct semantic categories of words in the registers. Based on the results of this first analysis, the second part of the study analyses the occurrence of Indian words in a smaller corpus of a register of written Indian English compiled in 2016. The first part of the study shows that there are marked differences in the degree of Indianisation of Indian English among different registers, and the second part of the study shows that with respect to the register studied, written Indian English seems to be undergoing a process of un-Indianisation.


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Author Biography

Chandrika Balasubramanian
Chandrika Balasubramanian (PhD) is an assistant professor at Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, where she has been teaching since 2013. Her research focuses on variation in international Englishes, with a specific focus on the English used in the Indian subcontinent. Her 2009 publication, Register Variation in Indian English, was the first large-scale empirical investigation of variation within this international variety.
How to Cite
Balasubramanian, C. (2016). How Indian is Indian English?: Indian Words in Registers of Indian English. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 10(2). Retrieved from
Section II: Review Articles