Nativization of English in India and its effect on multilingualism
Multilingualism is defined by the functional relationship between languages. The relationship of English with Indian languages is legitimized by its nativization. English has been nativized in grammar, semantics and pragmatics acquiring the features of Indian languages, as well documented in sociolinguistic literature. It is also adopted as a tool in native politics by some non-Hindi speaking communities to keep the largest Indian language — Hindi — from becoming the sole official language of the Union and by the linguistic minorities to curtail the dominance of the majority language in the states. The oppressed social groups want to appropriate English to serve them in their battle against upper castes, who have come to control the major Indian languages and the benefits from them. While becoming a powerful cousin to help the disadvantaged, English has simultaneously acquired a native elite cutting across regions and castes, and has spread from cerebral domains to expressive domains, which have been exclusive to Indian languages, in the name of modernity and cosmopolitanism. Such extended functions of English have a profound effect on the nature of multilingualism in India.
Keywords: India, Multilingualism, Nativization, English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Power
Published online: 27 May 2004
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