Conclusion

Annika Hohenthal, Department of English, University of Turku, Finland

According to the present study, different languages are definitely being allocated different roles in India; languages are used differently according to the domain in question. I was especially interested in the role of English, but as languages can not exist in a vacuum, also the uses of other languages in the society have to be taken into account.

English in India has, indeed, come far from its original uses in the colonial times when it was mostly used as the language of the government. Nowadays, English has spread into many new domains, also the more personal ones, such as the family and friendship. English has, also, acquired new functions, including the self-expressive or innovative function. Today, in fact, it is hard, almost impossible to think of English as it is used in India only simply as another foreign language.

English in India is a diglossically high language. The reasons for this lie in the colonial times when the power was attributed to English, the language of the Raj. From then on, English became a symbol of political power, the position of which it holds, still: English, today, represents the scientific knowledge, modernization and development.

The use of English clearly increases in the more formal domains. Also, the more formal the situation is, the bigger the number of languages possible for each occasion. In the domains of education, government and employment it is, without doubt, the most preferred medium. It is, however, making its way to more informal domains, as well: about 40% of the informants claim to speak English with friends, and people get introduced to each other most often in English. Over half of all personal letters, too, are written in English. In the neighborhood domain English is the most preferred option when people's languages differ. Thus, the usefulness of Hindi as a lingua franca seems to be regionally limited, as Spolsky has claimed (Spolsky 1978: 43)). In the domains of education, government and employment English shows itself, without doubt, as the most preferred medium.

In the domain of transactions, L1 is used more often than English at both the market place and in shops and at the railway station. This is quite natural when one is reminded that English is, really, a language of the educated: quite possibly the people selling goods and food in the market place do not often know a word of English.

Attitudes about a language are important, for they more or less determine its place in the multilingualism of a country. English has traditionally been the language of the government and other domains with prestige, and still today it carries more prestige than Hindi in India and it is, too, considered important and an advantage to the country as a whole.

People's motives for supporting English are mostly instrumental: the results of the study reveal that English is perceived as a useful language to know mostly because of job opportunities: English is considered necessary would one want to have a job. On the other hand, Hindi is not perceived important when it comes to getting a job: only one informant claimed he/she could not get a job without the knowledge of Hindi. The informants, too, support the role of English as an associate official language, for 62% of them require a person to be able to speak English to be admitted to a public post. Education is an important proof of the status of a language in a society, and if this is true, in the case of English its status seems quite secure: over 90% of the informants are of the opinion that all children should learn English at school.

Whereas English was considered important to India in most of the responses (90%), Hindi is perceived important for the development of the country only in 33% of them.

The informants strongly identified themselves with their mother tongue and the group that speaks it; this is important for the maintenance of the native languages of the country: especially in the case of varieties with less official acknowledgement group solidarity becomes very important. The maintenance of a group's language makes one part of it.

Integrative motivation seems to be very important for maintaining Hindi as the official language of India. It is, also, beneficial for the maintenance of a language to be associated with positive cultural values; especially when a less prestigious language is in question. Although, as mentioned earlier, English is clearly perceived as a more useful language to know, people on the other hand can identify themselves more easily with Hindi (only 17% said they identified themselves with British and Anglo-American culture, whereas about 67% of the informants feel proud to speak the language and consider it a big part of their culture and identity). Most of the informants would like the use of Hindi to be encouraged in India, as well as they would like to see it as the official language also in future. Most of them thought, too, that they would miss out on many enjoyable parts of culture could they not speak Hindi.

Although Spolsky has claimed that people rarely know any other language other than their own, this was clearly not the case in my study: people reported, on average, four different languages. The usefulness of Hindi as a lingua franca, however, appeared to be regionally limited, as in some areas few people know it or they dislike speaking it. Many people do not see any reason why Hindi would be any better as an official language than their mother tongue.

Indian English has definitely emerged as a variety of its own in the eyes of the Indian people themselves. Although many acknowledged RP (Received Pronunciation: BBC English; Standard English in Britain) as the best model for Indians to strive for, almost as many supported variety in a language arguing that because of linguistic and cultural reasons, Indian English is naturally different from, say, the British standard variety of English. Some people, though, expressed their view of Indian variety as somehow "deviant" by talking about corrections which should take place in the variety, and also by comparing Indian English to the more standard and orthodox type of standard variety of English as used in Britain. People, indeed, seem to be somewhat ambivalent about Indian English and its features. Some people would even divide the use of English so that RP would be reserved for more formal uses, whereas "Indian English" (whatever one understands with it) is considered suitable for, as one informant puts it, "informal conversation".

As we can see from the results of the study, English has become more nativized in the Indian environment: it seems that English now belongs to India's linguistic repertoire in a very natural way. English, however, is still clearly a language of "ideas, not of emotions", as one informant put it.


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