The English Language in India
Before Asian Indians could write poetry in English, two related conditions were necessary. First, the English language had to be sufficiently Indianized to be able to express the reality of the Indian situation; second, Indians had to be sufficiently Anglicized to use the English language to express themselves. The first of these two conditions, the Indianization of the English language, began much before the second, the Anglicization of Indians. Hence, though the first Indian poet to write in English was Henry Derozio, in the early nineteenth century, the Indianization of English had begun about three centuries earlier, in 1498, when Vasco da Gama, sailing from Lisbon, landed in Kerala. It was almost another century before the first Englishman came to India, but by the time Father Thomas Stephens arrived in Goa in 1579, a considerable body of Indo-Portuguese words were already being assimilated into English. Such lexical borrowing accelerated with the increasing British presence in India after 1599, when the East India Company was launched. For nearly 150 years after the charter of the East India Company, Englishmen in India wrote only travel books for the public and journals and letters in private. Nevertheless, by the end of the seventeenth century, a number of Indian words had been naturalized into English. The following is a selection from G. Subba Rao’s catalog in his book Indian Words in English (1969): Amuck, Arrack, Bazaar, Bandicoot, Brahmin, Bungalow, Calico, Cash, Cheroot, Chintz, Chit, Compound, Cooly, Dhobi, Divan, Dungaree, Fakir, Ghee, Guru, Gunny, Hakim, Hookah, Imam, Jaggery, Juggernaut, Maharaja, Mongoose, Nabob, Pariah, Pucka, Punch, Pundit, Shampoo, Shawl, Tank, Toddy, Yogi, Zamindar.
Because the functional and pragmatic context of the language changed in India, English began to adapt itself to its new environment. This nativization process continued as the use of English increased, as schools were established to...
(The entire section is 799 words.)