Developments in the linguistic description of Indian English
State of the art
Keywords:Indian English, phonology, grammar, lexis, lexicogrammar, pragmatics
This article provides a survey of the developments that have taken place in the description of Indian English in the past two centuries, with particular attention to the phenomena of language (e.g. phonology, lexicogrammar, and pragmatics) that have been examined from a descriptive perspective. The evolution of English in India through centuries of use, first during the colonial period and then as the “associate official language” of independent India, stimulated the development of descriptions of all aspects of the language. The critical review in this article, however, demonstrates that the linguistic descriptions except those in relation to society are scant and the often-made intuitive observation that IndE is extensively studied does not apply to the description of linguistic phenomena. While providing lists of features based on impressionistic or small-scale data dominated the later part of the 20th century, the focus of current research has shifted to corpus-based and quantitative investigations. This article explores the systems of IndE that have been studied in descriptive research, shows that the attitude towards linguistic descriptions is linked to the growth and use of English over time, and aims to stimulate further research by posing key questions that need to be answered.
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