Just a few centuries ago English was spoken by just five to seven million people on one, relatively small island, and the language consisted of dialects spoken by monolinguals. Today there are more non-native than native users of English, and English has become the linguistic key used for opening borders: it is a global medium with local identities and messages (Kachru 1996: 11,14). English has become a world language, spoken by at least 750 million people. It is more widely spoken and written than any other language, even Latin, has ever been. It can, indeed, be said to be the first truly global language. English is nowadays the dominant or official language in over 60 countries.
Kachru, for instance (1997:68-69), states the increase in the use of English in Asia as "overwhelming": at present, the estimated population using English in Asia adds up to 350 million. India is the third largest English-using population in the world, after the USA and the UK. Literatures in English are nowadays recognized as part of the national literatures, and English is also recognized in the over-all language policy of the nation.
The language has penetrated deeply in the society, which has, in its turn, resulted in several varieties of English in India. The development of those new varieties is connected with historical and social factors. The new Englishes have all their own contexts of function and usage, and they have also, in their turn, affected the native varieties of English.
Indian English is used mainly by Indians whose native language it is not. It is a minority language, but yet a language of national affairs, and its status is often called into question by, as Bailey puts it, "not only by foreigners with their ideas of proper English, but also by Indians who remain ambivalent about its distinctive features and uncertain about its future" (Bailey 1991: 145). In fact, many of transplanted kinds of English are so attuned to the idea of a foreign standard of propriety that their independence remains partial.
The emergence of these new varieties has raised questions concerning the power of English language, questions of identity and new pragmatics of the language in new, foreign surroundings. The spread of English across different cultures and languages has meant the diversification of English, which, in turn, raises questions about the standardization of English.
The purpose of this study will be to study language attitudes in India (especially attitudes towards English) and to analyze the use of languages in different domains (family, friendship, neighbourhood, transactions, education, government, employment). Additionally, the aim is also to find out about the informants' preference for the model of the variety of English in India.