Language in Indian Writing in English

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Language in Indian Writing in English

I am here to present on the topic ‘Language in Indian Writing in English’. Basically I will be talking about the usage of language, the writing style, of blending language and culture and my analysis of it in the text - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The story of the Indian English novel is really the story of a changing India. There was a time when education was a rare opportunity and speaking English was unnecessary. The stories were already there- in the myths, in the folklore and the umpteen languages and cultures that gossiped, conversed, laughed and cried all over the subcontinent. India has always been a land of stories, the demarcation between ritual and reality being very narrow. The Indian English novel erupted in the fiery talks of Henry Derozio, the spiritual prose of Tagore and the pacifist dictums preached by Gandhi. With the coming of Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao and R.K. Narayan, the Indian English novel had begun its journey. Now to talk about Indian Writing in English Christopher Rollason defines Indian Writing in English as “original creative writing produced in English by Indian writers or writers of Indian origin, resident or expatriate, for whom English will normally be a second language but who have in all probability been educated, even within India, in English-medium schools and universities, and are likely to write English more fluently than any native Indian language. This very particular set of conditions, inherited from the Raj but carried on beyond Independence to the present day, in no way makes these writers any less Indian: in most cases they are representing the lives, conversations and thoughts of Indian characters who more often than not are presumed to be speaking and thinking not in English at all, but in a plurality of Indian languages.” The use of English by Indian authors has always been to suit their tastes and needs. Raja Rao, the author of Kanthapura famously argued in 1938 for using English, but an English adapted to an Indian conditions. He said “English is not really an alien language to us. It is the language of our intellectual make-up - like Sanskrit or Persian was before - but not of our emotional make-up. We are all instinctively bilingual, many of us in our own language and in English. We cannot write like the English. We should not. We can only write as Indians… our method of expression…will some day prove to be as distinctive and colourful as the Irish or the American.” The use of English language in Indian writing has been different for different authors. If we look at the works of Rushdie, Gosh, Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy and other Indian authors writing in English we will note that their writing styles are different. Salman Rushdie fascinates critics with his ‘chutnification’ of history and language as well. Amitav Ghosh dabbles in postcolonial realities and Vikram Seth fuses poetry and prose with an air of Victorian grandeur. Women writers explore old wives’ tales, condemn exploitation and try to make sense of the fast changing pace of the new world. Kamala Das explores women’s plight in India and the world and others like Shashi Deshpande paint characters who blame their own complacence for their sorry condition. Arundhathi Roy, on the other hand, begins her story without a beginning and does not really end it in The God of Small Things. Upon the first read of The God of Small Things, one cannot help but be drawn into the story that Roy has created, wondering, with each succeeding chapter, what could possibly happen next. There are questions about who these characters are; where the plot line is going; and what the missing details are that the author has purposefully left out, taunting the reader to hurriedly move forward. Even the setting of the story is alluring with its freshly conceived scenery, unusual town names, striking tropical flora and fauna, as well as the strange social customs. The storyline twists...
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