English, like it or not, is a world language. Therefore, it is unwise to associate the language with British colonialism. Leaving aside the quality of English, India has the world’s largest population speaking it. However, the English that is in vogue in several parts of the country, especially in the North East, is appalling, in both spoken and written forms – and Arunachal Pradesh is no exception.
A friend says, “We only have ‘Hinglish’ – and since it’s an alien language, there is no shame whether or not one speaks or writes fluent English.” It is not only grammar that makes English a tough language; the use and meaning of certain words make it more difficult to grasp.
The kind of English used by the print media and television channels is a source of anxiety and despair as it has a wider and deeper impact on the people. Needless to say, the dip in the quality of English can be attributed to television and mobile phones with text messaging apps which have killed the language.
Moreover, the deterioration in English can be chiefly attributed to the educational system. In many states, English is taken up only at the secondary level of schooling. For instance, in Assam and West Bengal, prominence is given to the promotion of Assamese and Bengali languages.
In the absence of a proper foundation during in the early stages of schooling, many youths are finding it hard to cope with the realities. Most join English coaching classes which cannot even get the word ‘grammar’ correct. Even if one graduates from such classes, the rustiness is always there and can be gauged by anyone.
Needless to say, there is an immediate need to improve English usage skills in our schools and colleges. Students must be taught from a young age that they cannot understand literature without an understanding of basic grammar. Otherwise our students would not be able to understand which is correct between ‘bad English’ and ‘poor English’.