English as a lingua franca

Beth Lee Simon bsimon at LOCL.NET
Sat Apr 28 23:42:49 UTC 2001

Actually, the English named in the Constitution was/is much more in the
vein of lingua franca than the variety known as Indian English.

The current BJP, and its political predecessors, promote Hindi as the
lingua franca of India. Gandhi wrote a piece on the important of having
a single national language and in it, he suggests, as a language
acquisition method, that all schools, regardless of regional language,
use devanagari alphabet (the alphabet in which Hindi (and Sanskrit) is
written). Then, once everyone has learned to read devanagari script, it
will be easy to substitute Hindi for the other language. A great
political strategist, Gandhi, but not such a good linguist.

In south India (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka & Kerala), English
was the neutral choice, Hindi the politicized one. In Tamil Nadu and in
Karnataka, Hindi is called "that wolf."

(Sorry, but I'm a South Asian linguist, converted to American


beth lee simon
associate professor, linguistics and english
indiana university purdue university

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