Despite attempts immediately after independence to reduce the importance of English as a major language in India, it continues to be used widely. Its most important domains are public contexts such as education, administration, business and politics, but it is also used widely by Indians who travel or reside in a region whose local language they do not speak. English is the primary domestic language for only a small minority, although many others use it at home when discussing topics belonging to the public domain, as for example when a parent asks their child what happened at school that day. Around 23 % of the population of India have at least basic knowledge of English, and 4 % are fluent. Based on the 2011 census, this means there are 50 million fluent speakers (Desai et al. 2010, Sailaja 2009, 2012, Fuchs 2014).
While it is widely recognised that English in India is not a monolithic entity and that there is variation across, among others, variables such as education and first language/mother tongue, there is a growing consensus that there is an identifiable variety of English spoken in India. This variety is sometimes called “neutral accent” and is locally prestigious as it shows only a small degree of clearly identifiable traces of mother tongue influence. It is often spoken by and aspired to by educated Indians (Cowie 2007, Maxwell & Fletcher 2009, 2012, Sirsa & Redford 2013, Fuchs 2016). However, the existing evidence is still limited in a number of ways, among them by the number of phonological variables, the number of distinct mother tongue groups and educational backgrounds that have been investigated. A related field of inquiry is the study of Indian Englishes spoken in the diaspora (e.g. Kirkham 2011), which, despite its early successes, covers only some phonological variables and geographic areas (with the bulk of the studies focusing on the United Kingdom, notwithstanding exceptions such as Leung & Deuber 2014).
This workshop will provide a forum for empirical studies on the phonetics and phonology of English in India and Indian Englishes in the diaspora. A particular aim of the workshop is to encourage exchange and collaboration between Indian and international researchers. Dr. Olga Maxwell, University of Melbourne, will give a keynote on future perspectives in the study of the phonology of Indian English.
Cowie, C. 2007. The accents of outsourcing: The meanings of “neutral” in the Indian call centre industry. World Englishes, 26(3), 316-330.
Desai, S.B., A. Dubey, B. L. Joshi, M. Sen, A. Shariff, and R. Vanneman, Human Development in India. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Fuchs, R. 2014. Integrating variability in loudness and duration in a multidimensional model of speech rhythm: Evidence from Indian English and British English. In Campbell, Nick, Dafydd Gibbon and Daniel Hirst, eds. Social and Linguistic Speech Prosody. Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody, 290-294. Dublin.
Fuchs, R. 2016. Speech Rhythm in Varieties of English. Evidence from Educated Indian English and British English. Singapore: Springer.
Kirkham, S. 2011. The acoustics of coronal stops in British Asian English. Proceedings of the XVII. ICPhS, Hong Kong, 1102-5.
Leung, G. A. & D. Deuber. 2014. Indo-Trinidadian speech. In Hundt, M. & D. Sharma, Eds., English in the Indian Diaspora. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 9-27.
Maxwell, O., & Fletcher, J. 2009. Acoustic and durational properties of Indian English vowels. World Englishes, 28(1), 52-69.
Maxwell, O., & Fletcher, J. 2010. The acoustic characteristics of diphthongs in Indian English. World Englishes, 29(1), 27-44.
Sailaja, P. 2009. Indian English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Sailaja, P. 2012. Indian English: Features and sociolinguistic aspects. Language and Linguistics Compass, 6(6), 359-370.
Sirsa, H., & Redford, M. A. 2013. The effects of native language on Indian English sounds and timing patterns. Journal of Phonetics, 41(6), 393-406.