English as a lingua franca

George Thompson gt1 at NYU.EDU
Mon Apr 30 17:55:49 UTC 2001

One of my primary responsibilities here at Bobst is to select literature
written in English.  I was actually hired to select English and American
Literature, but I have for years attempted to pay some at least fleeting
attention to the fiction and poetry published in English worldwide.
This interest once led me to ask a member of the English Dept. who was
born and raised in India whether there were any communities of native
English speakers in India.  I had in mind whether there were any
communities of Anglos who had not repatriated when India became
independent.  She didn't answer to that purpose, but said that she
herself spoke English as her first language, because her parents were
from different parts of India and spoke as their native languages
different Indic languages, and so spoke at home the mutual language they
were most fluent in -- English.  I still am curious whether there are
many second or third generation Anglo communities or neighborhoods in


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African
Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

----- Original Message -----
From: Beth Lee Simon <bsimon at LOCL.NET>
Date: Saturday, April 28, 2001 7:42 pm
Subject: Re: English as a lingua franca

> 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
> havinga 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),
> Englishwas 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
> languages.)
> beth
> beth lee simon
> associate professor, linguistics and english
> indiana university purdue university

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