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Do you use these Indianisms?

By Senthil Thangavelu
Last updated on: May 30, 2020 10:42 IST
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You'll be looking at your e-mails in a different light after reading this.

Indianisms to avoid using

Image published for representational purposes only. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

As a nation, India has contributed immensely to every field under the fun.

Scientists, computer engineers, businessmen, and lawyers - we've done it all. But perhaps our greatest contribution to the world has been the concept of 'Jugaad'.

Used to describe an innovative solution or hack, a 'jugaad' solution can be found for any problem.

But sometimes, this jugaad approach to matters can be taken a little too literally.

According to a survey conducted by English-learning app Cambly, India has taken this concept and run with it, tweaking the English language to their liking with a unique collection of words and phrases.

And while updating a language is all well and good, here are ten instances where we'd be better off sticking with the basics:

1. Prepone

Perhaps the most widely recognised 'Indianism' of all, prepone was coined to fill a glaring gap in the English language.

After all, if 'to postpone a meeting' means to push it to a later date, why shouldn't prepone be used to mean the opposite?

A more acceptable option might be to substitute this with 'advanced to'.

The rules were all in place -- all we did was carry them forward to their logical conclusion.

2. Kindly/please revert

Revert is frequently used in place of 'reply' or 'respond' in formal communications.

However, when you realise that the dictionary defines it as 'returning to a former state of being', it changes the entire context of your communication, doesn't it?

You'll be looking at your e-mails in a different light after this.

3. Timepass

A commonly used refrain familiar to schoolchildren, it is the act of passing the time in an aimless or unproductive way.

'Just passing the time' is a perfectly suitable alternative. 

4. Mugging

To an uninformed observer, the frequency with which Indian schoolchildren mention the act of 'mugging' would prove a cause for concern.

To those of us from India, it's a vital and unavoidable portion of our childhoods.

Rather than referring to an act of violent robbery, mugging in India refers to the act of memorisation and rote learning, especially with reference to our gruelling exam system.

Draw from that what you will. A less alarming word to use is 'cramming'.

5. Very

'Thank you very much'; 'I'm very sorry'; 'It's very urgent.'

All of us use these phrases on an almost daily basis even when there's no need.

Thank you, sorry, and urgent are all definitive terms and unmeasurable.

The use of 'very' is futile in these contexts.

6. Reply back

Much like revert, 'reply back' is often used when seeking a response to a query or an e-mail.

For a more grammatically appropriate alternative, opt for 'please respond.' 

7. Expire

Although traditionally used to describe the death of an individual, in recent times expire is primarily used to refer to the end of a contract or usability of an item.

As such, a more up-to-date way to describe someone's passing would be to say, 'They have passed away.'  

8. Do the needful

This term is frequently used to request the completion of a necessary task, and while it may tick all the right grammatical boxes, it remains a needlessly archaic and formal phrase.

Instead, use 'please do what's necessary' to convey the same sentiment while not sounding so rude.

9. Eat my head

The phrase is frequently used to express extreme irritation with an individual.

Colourful and descriptive though it may be, perhaps it's time to phase this one out.

'Stop annoying me' is more straightforward, and more likely to be taken seriously. 

10. Out of station

While this phrase was ideally suited to the golden age of train travel, it makes slightly less sense in today's global world.

'Out of town' is just as brief, and infinitely more suited to the 21st century.  

Senthil Thangavelu is country head for Cambly India,  an English learning app with tutors from the US, Canada, UK and Australia. He can be contacted on .

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