Speaking in half-English half-Hindi has become the norm in India now
I hear that amongst Brahmin chucking in a bit (or a lot) of English here and there is considered classy
— Adam Fitchett (@fitchett_adam) November 29, 2018
It's not so great for participants from the LBQT+ community and certain belief systems.
— Chris Hammerschmidt (@chrshmmmr) November 28, 2018
For context and thread click on the links but I will say this:
- Incidentally both these individuals tangentially touch on V’s field. The chap in the first status does something that is related to her department (though it’s UCL not Cambridge) and in the second tweet below we are having a discussion on NIPS, which is the big-daddy of ML conferences (which is LV’s field).
- The chap in the first status is casually throwing around the word “Brahmins.” This immediately set me off since why should a Coloniser rudely opine on Caste, which is a South Asian phenomenon. We would not presume to have opinions on their sub-communities.
- The chap in the second status has no idea what Passport Privilege is. If you hold a passport from a second world / third world country getting a visa to a developed country can be an ordeal and a half. I suggested Dubai as a midway point because I was sensitive for Asian conference participants.
- While I agree that Dubai is not the best place for LGBTQ+ individuals the fact is that Westerners (of whatever orientations) have it pretty good in Dubai. Unless they are openly displaying their orientation they won’t face any hassle.
- I agree that ideally a better place should be found but it shows a profound lack of sensitivity and understanding to contrast what South Asian passport holders have to go through in order to get into these critical conferences.
These are the intersectional wars and what’s happening is that Intersectional Whites (Women + LGBTQ+) are pushing back against Brownz, who have a lot of Intersectional Privilege (We were colonised for a few hundred years). As we surge into Model Minority status (at least the dhimmi among us) there will be a profound lack of sympathy for our problems (that we get mistaken for taxi drivers, uber drivers or that our kin back home don’t get visas).
Like the Tory Party I usually holding two fronts; one on Diaspora issues and the other on Home Issues. Izzat is paramount and Brahmin Izzat is important to protect since they are the nucleus (for better or for worse) of South Asian civilisation. Caste is a problem (or not) for South Asians but it is something we must internally resolve; we don’t need a new batch of Coloniers (only sympathisers) to involve themselves.
30 thoughts on “Protecting Brahmin Izzat”
Good point Zack. The point ie salience of English in conversations in India especially in urban areas is real, connecting it to Brahmins is ridiculous, perhaps worse as you point out. This is only slightly different from the Twitter guy holding the placard about brahminical patriarchy. Both are looking for scapegoat.
It’s not just in India
Beirut Arabic has great infusions of French and English and Beirut is hardly brahminical.
brah u just jealee of them? 😉
also, is izzat an urdu word or something?
U have discovered my Coloniser Complex 😉
inter-sectionalism is about infiltration by left ,using a type of rhetoric to deny agency to the targeted group. Of course the problem with western ideas is that while they dont do as much damage in west which is incredibly powerful on per capita basis. It does damage in developing countries where such virus can wreck havoc on already weak country/structure. I generally hate the left as it reinforces the power of the west, they are the misleading party of the west who in the name of resistance ask others to follow ideas that would weaken them rather ,instead if you wish to be strong you should do as west does and not things it says. Here Gandhi/congress are false positives. It is entirely due to this false credit India is open to left mimetic virus of being the acceptable “Idealized brown servant”, one half works for the west in dutiful ways, other half resists the way the west tells them to. Left is part of colonialism project as I see it. Not intentionally perhaps, but by consequence, it most certainly is.
If you really wish to screw someone and make them your puppet, you should do as ramsay did. Attack and promise an escape route/resistance which also crumbles. That way you will make them believe resistance is futile. Their identity is worthless and they should just surrender.
-English is an essential language for upward social and economic mobility in present India but that is not limited to brahmins and is also true for other prominent castes like rajputs, khatris,kayastha, reddy, nairs etc.
Every Indian you are going to come across went to an English medium school, so why would expect otherwise ? They simply never learnt to express complex thought in Hindi or any other Indian language.
Yes , with a caveat. Lot of English medium schools in India are not necessarily good, that s why you see a proliferation of English speaking courses in all B and C towns now. At least they still converse in their native language with friends, family. I would argue even now a majority of them still think in the native language and then try to translate it into English.
The complex thought thing has to do with phrases which they pick up from peers, media etc and then use it under any given circumstances.
So neither proficient in English nor in the Indian language… That’s how it goes when the orientation becomes “na ghar ka, na ghat ka”
I don’t know. I went to an English medium school in the 80s and 90s, did 10 years of Hindi, and all us kids could string together conversations in either language without having to sprinkle words of the other. But things seem to have changed now (I noticed it after an interlude abroad), at least in the metro cities; in my smaller hometown, the ordinary person can still speak in mostly pure (colloquial) Hindi.
I’ve watched few Bollywood movies since, I guess, the turn of the century, but I see this “Hinglish” conversational style (or dialect) predominating there. Perhaps that’s rubbed off on the public? And why did Bollywood’s working dialect change? Perhaps because it wanted to appeal to NRIs, which I noticed it consciously started to do in the late 90s.
It also changed because of increasing migration. Many more non-Hindi folks coming in contact with Hindi folks. The centre of gravity shifts towards having English phrases thrown in so that everyone can understand.
I can see remarkable difference between how the conversation happens in my purely Delhi/UP/Haryana/Bihar friends group vs that same group with some Telugu folks added.
Yes, this is a key driver.
I can see remarkable difference between how the conversation happens in my purely Delhi/UP/Haryana/Bihar friends group vs that same group with some Telugu folks added.
Great point! I saw similar dynamics among mixed groups of Indians in the US.
I visit Mumbai (a metro city) and Indore (smaller city in middle India) often. English vocabulary is pervasive. This is structural, related to economics and schooling, and has nothing to do with Bollywood or any other entertainment industry.
Fair enough. Bollywood was just a suggestion; I don’t want to ascribe too much influence to it. I’ll add that this kind of mixed (creole?) language seems to be prevalent now in the news media too, at least on the English channels. The Hindi channels seem to be a lot “purer”.
Count me out, I can express myself well in Tamil.
I can express myself well in Hindi too, not as well in Marathi. But this did need a specific effort, was not natural at all. And baring a couple of other interested people, the larger Indian group I hang out has no interest in being able to do this. I do understand this.
I was watching a Malayalam film (Urumi) and the posh rich girl kept inserting random English phrases into the dialog. It was really annoying. IIRC the posh rich girl was working with the big evil corporation trying to steal tribal land, so perhaps in Kerala it isn’t seen as a good thing.
Every Indian you are going to come across went to an English medium school
Not true in Sri Lanka specially after 1956 with free education for the whole country
As a Sinhalese or Tamil you had to study in Sinhala or Tamil medium if you wanted to compete for University Entrance. Burgers/Eurasian, Mixed parentage and Muslims were exempt. There were only 3 State Unis, no private. Only a handful could afford to send children abroad for uni. 3 English medium classmates (One Sindhi and two Eurasian) entered Colombo Uni.
I went to what was a old “English Medium” school. i.e. students spoke English at school and at home. I was technically Tamil not mixed parentage as my mothers father was a Tamil (my mother was culturally Sinhalese/Eurasian without a word of Tamil).
My father decided that I was going to be in the Sinhalese medium. Had a few other Tamil cousins who also chose Sinhala medium. Sinhala medium meant all subject matter (Science, Geography the works). However for English and English Lit we did some heavy stuff, like Macbeth, Emma by Grade 9. I am reasonably competent in Sinhala, i.e ability to write project reports for Govt grants/Loans. Seems like quite a few of my classmates (Tamil and Sinhalese) have lost that ability.
In Uni (science and engineering) significant portion were from rural schools and not comfortable in English. However, Uni Sciences are taught in English. By the time they got their Bachelors they were competent in English. Quite a few are now top academics in the US, UK etc. The handful I associate very closely are still proficient in Sinhala, i.e ability to write essays, reviews and poetry.
Pre 1956 the sliver of upper class English educated Sinhalese could speak Sinhala but very weak reading/writing in Sinhala. The Tamils seemed to have retained Tamil writing skills (eg Paternal Grandfather and aunts). In later years my father struggled to read the high flown Tamil letters my aunts would write to him. To be fair few non Jaffna Tamils could read that high flown grammatical language.
Now it seems every other word is English even among Sinhala speakers. Even on TV.
It appears most of my classmates have their children Educated in the English medium with rudimentary Sinhala reading and writing skill. The State Unis (free) still have the requirement for O/L and A/L to be done in Sinhala or Tamil. However, plenty of private Unis (and “International” schools) have mushroomed of the last two decades or so.
This means that the English medium educated cannot enter govt jobs. Proficiency (passed O/L) in Sinhala AND Tamil is an absolute requirement.
Good, I think. You need to be competent in the local language.
The reality is that English fluency grants easy access to the large and sophisticated economies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. No Indian language offers that. Fluency in any Indian language is worth little apart from sentimental value. Even the literature produced in English is of greater breadth and depth.
The reality is that English fluency grants easy access to the large and sophisticated economies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. No Indian language offers that.
No question that fluency in English with other skills will open doors to the “West”.
So educate the whole country (India/Sri Lanka) and export them to the West.
Can it be argued that the 1956 educational reforms created the quake lines between Tamils and Sinhala? With English having a reduced role, and few Tamils able to read or write Sinhala, the Tamils were quickly marginalized.
To start with English speakers was a very very small portion of Ceylon. Jaffna Velalla caste politicians prevented teaching of Sinhalese to lower castes.
Vijay, SJV Chelvanayagam became SJV because he married my fathers cousin sister. In my opinion some of these guys were worse than what happened in India.
Maybe my father whitewashed his father, but I still recall my father saying how his uncle would whip all and sundry off the road.
I think you are taking this the wrong way. There are two major differences between Srilanka and India.
First, agriculture and rural India is in inverted relationship with GDP, with a large population and small contribution. The economy is continuously moving towards a bizarre combination of low and high tech. Almost all engineering and tecnology proceeds in English, and any company has workers that speak in 6 or seven languages. How do you speak and train your staff to make a SiC inverter without English?
Next is not only the country is EU on steroids, but each state is multilingual. You would think Karnataka speaks Kannada but no, only 75% does, there are tulu, Konkani, Urdu, teluguand tamil speakers in Karnataka.
You may ask why not Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, etc etc, but it was done but that generation wants their children to do English. This is not related to moving to English speaking nations.
Can it be argued that the 1956 educational reforms created the quake lines between Tamils and Sinhala? With English having a reduced role, and few Tamils able to read or write Sinhala, the Tamils were quickly marginalized. The situation is similar to India, where attempts to make Hindi the language of education caused friction with the states where Hindi was too foreign; it can be argued that educating entirely in the majority language, marginalizes both, the majority and the minority, but in different ways.
As a state, TN has been through all this; as Tamil-based education took hold, it brought out the first wave of people into state and other jobs; but they quickly realized the limits, and educated their children in English (or at the minimum, HS in Tamil with English as a second language, and all English in college; Tamil in college has almost disappeared)to move out of the limits that local language sets. Education in English tends to reduce friction with other states, there is no particular alienation similar to that a Tamil feels in Srilanka. Sadly, today, it is the Hindi-educated (or uneducated) who feels out of place in the nation.
The ridiculousness of ascribing English superstratal influence on the spoken registers of Indian languages to the evil Brahmins is not even worthy to discuss. As if only Brahmins participate in modern India and none else. LOL!
With respect to code mixing and code switching, my personal code mixing is absolutely limited to taking the support of English vocabulary (much of it Latinate) while speaking Telugu and when discussing certain types of subjects (sometimes I tend to replace existing vocabulary that I am aware of with Latinate vocabulary too but I have been increasingly becoming more disciplined. I also make it a point to incorporate the system of using synonyms from the three languages of Pure Telugu, the Sanskrit component of Telugu plus unfamiliar Sanskrit and Latinate+Germanic English, at various times during a same conversation). The concept of throwing in full Germanic phrases and sentences in the middle of my South Dravidic-II is unknown to me personally. But I do tend to read that that sort of a register is present in some pockets of cities like Mumbai and Delhi and as others have noted above, it may also be a natural result when a group of a Hindi-speaking people have to interact suddenly with a few Telugu people (majority of whom are familiar with both basic Hindi and basic English) thrown in the mix suddenly.
And everyone I tend to know speaks Telugu like me only, only having English loanwords mostly and their structures tend to be very robustly Telugu. Perhaps because I’m quite a sheltered person from one of the umpteen outskirts of Hyd.
I do code-switch too, just like everyone does (like speaking to a colleague with same native language in English during work hours and in Telugu outside, etc. etc.), but also in some other idiosyncratic ways. I try to speak with my mother in a Telugu register with English and if possible Sanskrit vocabulary content decreased, but the flow of such conversations tends to be such that it is annoying to everybody involved. So I do that with my mother only because she is patient that way and knows by now that I’m quite hopeless.
In cases where I want the Telugu conversation to be very natural and unforced and solely for the purpose of communication of ideas, which is the majority of situations, I do it with the register of Telugu (Pure Telugu+Sanskrit component)+unfamiliar but useful new Sanskrit +English vocabulary on Telugu structure. In fact, this register is the language that my being is most comfortable with as opposed to both a purer Telugu and also English, as I acquired the Telugu structure as my first language during childhood and my acquring of English grammar later on was not very good and it is not any better even now as you all can see. With proper training the situation might improve and I can succeed in removing a lot of Telugu structural substratum in my English but I have been so utterly lazy about this so far.
I see Zack going off on a “colonizer” for some unknown reason; what he says is not entirely wrong. The British arrived in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta, and Bengali, Marathi and Tamil Brahmins dominated positions in all presidencies using English and appointing themselves as principal interlocutors between the rulers and ruled (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/33ed/8dc504e4f0c3eb8188a844de565c532fe30d.pdf, Table 9 and 10 pf http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/135439/9/09_chapter%203.pdf)
During the congress-ruled post independence period they transitioned to central government and PSu jobs and to cities like Bangalore, Jamshedpur, Bhilai, Bokaro, and to Mumbai. Subsequently, as educational opportunities opened up for OBCs, the Brahmin diaspora moved to IT and US/UK.
Why would it be hard for an American observer, or for that matter, even a Razib Khan to visualize the Indian diaspora to be made of Brahmins and Gujarati Patels, speaking in English/Hindi?
Secondly, what is wrong in replacing Hindi by English as a link language? At least for those who move between Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune-Mumbai corridor, English is now the dominant method of communication. The contrsat with Sri Lanka has to be made, once Ceylon dropped English, the Sinhalas and Tamils just broke apart as a nation. There is no major impetus in India, except among Sanghis, to replace English by Hindi as a language of higher education and commerce. The rule of UP Pandits is long gone.
Droll dude – Brahmins do not make up the “Indian diaspora” when u say Indian diaspora I think Gujju + Sikh + Tamil (order of magnitudes lower)..
Brahmins are the only ones who speak Hinglish/English India; seriously?
You are providing a nuanced view; the Coloniser simply told me to piss off.
You can never please the Vijays – I am in the hothouse with one or the other.
Hello Vijay, what you have written with respect to history might be true but the original tweeter suggested that there is some conscious English -speaking-related snobbery going on with the Brahmins in a kind of exclusive manner that does not include other caste background people. This is most certainly not correct, at least currently. There are nativists, English-speaking-related snobs, etc. in all castes (probably the former much more in number than the latter because there is a high level of contempt for English in India, limited to the older generations only probably though). The English influence on all the Indian languages is an unconscious process, at least mostly, and I think it most certainly does not have any weird causes like snobbery on the part of British-government-employed early Brahmins or such things.
And regarding the lingua franca business, my general understanding is that there are 2 lingua francas that operate on two tiers and differing between each in terms of scale and the spheres in which they are used. The bigger one overall is English which helps the educational elite all over the country to communicate. Hindi also does this perhaps but to a limited extent in large parts of north India. Hindi also does the linking business at a lower level in the same large parts of north India without the help of English while some kind of Urdu/Hindi and Broken English (very rarely perhaps) or the broken version of a host language itself is necessary for communication to lower class people of different native languages, like Telugu labourer migrants to Bengaluru, etc. I don’t know about the situation in the far south but the lower classes of those areas use English as link too? And overall, it appears that the trend is increasing presence of English only, and quite unconsciously again (that is, it at least does not have any conspiratorial things going on behind it).
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