R. K. Narayan

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Why is R.K. Narayan's essay titled "Toasted English"?

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The title "Toasted English" in R.K. Narayan's essay refers to the American adaptation of the English language, making it more suited to their culture and society. Narayan uses the term "toasted" to indicate the modifications made to the language, such as the use of more informal phrases, a narrower vocabulary, and the elimination of the passive voice. The essay suggests that India might also consider creating its own version of "toasted" English.

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Narayan begins by observing that in American restaurants customers order English muffins by calling for "toasted English." He then says that the English language in America may be said to have gone through a process of "toasting" to render it more suited to American palates.

Toasted English is more informal and lacks the passive voice, substituting the exclamatory "Don't Walk!" for "Trespassing Prohibited." The vocabulary is also narrowed, with certain all-purpose words taking the place of many different words by which shades of meaning used to be conveyed. Narayan gives the example of "check," which replaces "find out, investigate, examine, scrutinize, verify or probe." He notes various other ways in which Americans have made minor changes in English so that it is more apposite for their society and culture.

Narayan ends by wondering whether it is time for a Bharat brand of English, which will accommodate Indian needs, as "toasted English" does in America. The use of the verb "toast" to mean "adapt to local requirements" is precisely the type of flexibility he suggests, hence the suitability of the essay's title.

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