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To Write in English

Yes the British brought English to the Subcontinent. That was a while back. English here to stay. And yet what does it mean to write our stories, our lives in English. What does it mean that for some of us English may be the only language we know while those of us with bi or multi lingual tongues choose to write in English. When a mother tells her daughter in Urdu ‘dimagh pigladeeyah’ and we need to transliterate this phrase into English and say ‘my brain is melting’, what is lost? Is anything gained? Is this just weird? Wrong?

The article and interview below probe the importance, or not, of English, the glass ceilings it can pose and how India is changing English.

How English Ruined Indian Literature by Aatish Taseer.

“English is not a language in India,” a friend once told me. “It is a class.” This friend, an aspiring Bollywood actor, knew firsthand

what it meant to be from the wrong class. Absurd as it must sound, he was frequently denied work in the Hindi film industry for not knowing English. “They want you to walk in the door speaking English. Then if you switch to Hindi, they like it. Otherwise they say, ‘the look doesn’t fit.’ ” My friend, who comes from a small town in the Hindi-speaking north, knew very well why his look didn’t fit.” read here

Balchandra Nemade interview in scroll.in by Devpriya Roy

“What is the metaphor you had used at the time that became so controversial – the footwear metaphor for English? Do you want to elaborate upon this?

It is a metaphor through which you can make these two different things – the different uses of language – meet. You walk through the gutters, the rain, dust and dirt – the world outside. You need different shoes for that purpose. When you enter your house though, you leave them outside. English is like that. You walk through the gutter by way of English, but don’t bring it to your kitchen.

When you are bilingual, each language must be assigned a function. When I go to a station or the airport, if I go to Assam or Bengal, I can’t carry Marathi with me. I will carry those shoes of English. But inside the house, where I don’t need those shoes, it must be Marathi. What is wrong with this?” read here

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