Englishization is a bonus
By Sajan Kumar Karn, NELTA Birgunj
Do you agree that ‘Englishization is a boon in Nepal? What makes you think so? Do the following rationales speak your heart and mind? If not, why? Feel free to comment. The platform is yours.
What is Englishization?
The English language in Nepal is said to have two faces i.e. Englishization of the Nepalese languages and nativization of English. Minimally, the term Englishization can be interpreted as the influence exercised by the English language upon non-English languages such as Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Newar, Limbu etc. The adoption and adaptation of English words and phrases in Nepalese literary writings (true to say, in all sorts of writing) and daily conversation is perceived rampantly which has led to the increasing hybridization of languages (English+Nepali, English+Maithili, English+Bhojpuri etc.). Likewise, the other close manifestation of English is its nativization. Nativization of English has already been sprouting by leaps and bounds in Nepal. Many papers have been presented and articles have been written to argue that a distinct variety English is budding in Nepal. Englishization and nativization have become global phenomena today, however. Hinglish, Singlish, Anglish, Menglish, Philippine English, Nenglish etc. are some of the instances of Nativized Englishes used in different parts of the world. This interfulence (Englishization and nativization) of English and Nepalese languages is observed at all levels -phonological, grammatical and semantic and at both the modes–speech and writing, which is not the concern of this article, however. The rest of this article uses the term Englishization to refer to both-Englishization and nativization since both seem to have similar effect ultimately(for many) and also in order to be economical. Many people have argued that the interfluence caused by Englishization does not only confine to the language (speech or writing) of the speaker, rather it escalates gradually and weighs upon her lifestyle, education, culture, identity, and virtually on her entire personality in such a way that she virtually becomes Englishized (Westernised or Americanised) goodbyeing her own original identity and culture. However, Englishization has become an inevitable global phenomenon and world’s numerous languages have been hybridized and there is little evidence that people have utterly been denativized. Adoption (Owning English and giving it a native perfume) and adaptation (use of English words and phrases in different way) are speeding so massively today that it can hardly be impeded in near future. Whereas some nations embraced English because of colonization in the past, others have acknowledged it owing to its instrumental value and still others seem to have owned and nurtured it unintentionally. Whatever may be the reason in the wake of Englishization, the issue has stimulated heated controversies amongst intellectuals. Whereas some have labeled Englishization as neo-colonization, others have taken it as a productive indicator for the prosperity of the country and people.
Let us observe the following expressions collected from new generation Nepalese speeches on different occasions:
a. Yo mahina ko salary kahile dine hola-malai kasto khancho parisakyo?The equivalent for salary-talab is almost non-existent in new generation Nepali speech.
b. Nepal ma ta kehi system nai chaina bhanya? Who uses parnali?
c. NELTA le every year international conference organize garchaa.
Out of seven words, how many are Nepali?
d. British council charity organization ho.
e. Final exam ko lagi ramro preparation gara.
f. TU ta aba certificate distribution centre banisakyo.
g. Sthapit sir ko way of teaching nikai down –to- earth thiyo.
h. Look! ma creative writer banna chahanchu tara family circumstance le diraheko chaina.
i. Aajako weather kati sunny chha
j. Langauge institute gaeko, tuition fee ta ekdum high –pay garnai nasakne.
These are only some instances of the Englishized Nepali. English words have become so overriding in the mother tongue expressions(above) that equivalent mother tongue words are gradually disappearing form young generation conversation, which has become a matter of concern for many of us.
Let us now observe some Nepalised English:
a. Sunil looked at the speaker and namested him……(Rai, 2008: New Generation English)
b. My daughter reads in Nursery.
c. Gita Miss is so strict but Bina Miss is good.
d. Heartly welcome to Tribhuvan University.
e. Ram is very proudy.
f. One ladies teacher asked my name and went away.
g. Thousands of people sacrificed for Loktantra in Nepal.
h. Ram sir did not teach us today, Shyam sir engaged his class, instead.
i. Could you give me your dot pen please?
j. Loadshedding is killing us.
It would be very interesting to calculate the percent o f Nepali in (so-called) Nepali expressions and that of English in (so called) English expressions. This makes me often ask myself (and everyone I believe): what language do we speak? The noticeable thing in the above example sentences is that Englishization and Nepalization have occurred not because of obligation but because of will. Even if Nepali possesses the words, English equivalents are used and even if English has the words, equivalent Nepali words are used but intentionally. Is it because the speakers want to appear elegant, intelligent, and erudite? Or English is so much used that it has become extremely common to use pidginized language across the world? Should we let it go? If yes, why? If not, why? This article seeks to find the answers to these questions.
Should Englishization be promoted?
The following could be the reasons why Englishization should be promoted in Nepal.
The almighty has gifted Nepalese with a flair for using so many languages and if they use English, the most extensively used language in the universe; they commit no sin. A Slovakian proverb highlights the importance of learning a new language in these words “With each newly learnt language, you acquire a new soul”. Similarly, a French proverb adds: “A man who knows two languages is worth two men”. Knowing and using English, we enrich ourselves with English arts, culture and trades, and we also add a new personality (Crystal, 2000:44).
English linguistic imperialism ends with nativization
Philipson (2007:47.) defines English linguistic imperialism as “the dominance of English asserted and maintained by the establishment and continuous reconstitution of structural and cultural inequalities between English and other languages”. Nevertheless, linguistic imperialism as advocated by Phllipson (2007) ends with the owning of English. A lot of people such as Gandhi (1927) protested against the intoxication, denationalization and mental slavery induced by English in the past. Nevertheless, when the matter of nativization of the English language comes to the fore, linguistic and cultural imperialism seems to fade away gradually. The only need is to shape the English language in accordance with our own culture and soil. Further, with the new Englishes growing around the world, the ideology must end and English should rather be treated as a means of empowerment.
English fetches success
Englishization and prosperity are interlinked. Larsen- Freeman (2007) says ‘English is the key to successes’. Everyone wants success in life. If it is English which fetches success, what wrong is there in adopting and adapting it? Further she maintains “English is regarded as gateway to wealth for national economies, organizations and individuals”.
English is a killer language?
Many have said that English is a killer language and therefore promotion of it infers the loss of linguistic diversity of a country, which, however, has proved wrong. Graddol (2006) maintains “English is not the main reason for global language loss. The impact of English is mainly on the status of other national languages”. In other words, spread of English is not the direct cause of language endangerment. English in fact had its effects on national (major languages) not on regional and minority languages. In many countries, it is the national language, such as Nepali that threatens local languages, not English.
Colonization has proved advantageous
Although people criticize the European colonization in the past, the countries that were colonized are also found to have been luckier to those which were not. This is because in many cases, the victim countries could exploit English speaking colonial heritage and which connected them to global economy, for instance, India (Graddol, 2006). We have heard many Nepalese lamenting that it would have been better for Nepal, had it been colonized. However, it does not conclude that we expect any form of colonization in the future but it only suggests that English proved better for them.
English widens our horizons
Use of English internationalizes us. Our horizon of knowledge does not remain localized rather our potentiality and prospects get widened. The world is narrowing down into a global village and therefore, it is only English that links Nepalese to the non-Nepali communities. At the time when the concept of world citizen is in vogue, narrowing down ourselves would be nothing but chauvinism.
Nepal can house one more
A home to enormous linguistic diversity, the greater Himalayan region’s lap does not fall short to house one more language (English). The country which has accommodated 123 languages can accommodate one more. Continuing with English, we do not subtract from our repertoires.
English is the treasure
English is the treasure of knowledge available in the world. Avoiding English, we will only put ourselves at semi-darkness. More than half of the world books are written in English. About a third of world newspapers are published in English. Do not we want to read and obtain information and pleasure out of them?
One more but new identity
Who says: using English we lose our own identity and culture? We rather add to us one more language, one additional culture and thus one extra but new identity. Further, learning English does not mean forgetting our own culture and language. There is little evidence that core values of Nepalese have been changed owing to influence of English. Therefore, there is no question of Englishized ( Westernised or Americanised) identity of Nepalese students or people. The growth of nativized Englishes does not pose the problem of identity crisis, rather has facilitated the speakers to signal identity through English.
English is our appendage
English is no longer the exclusive possession of any English speaking countries like the UK, the USA or Australia or Canada; instead it has become our own asset today. We also know very well that non-native speakers of English have already outnumbered the native speakers. Today, we are at the juncture from where we can not imagine Nepal without English. Our observation should be, “we need English and we need more English, our forthcoming generations need even more English to survive at both national and international spheres”.
Do not pluck the bud
You can not preserve and promote one language suppressing or killing others. Therefore, our efforts should be geared towards how English can be owned. English is budding in Nepal and it should be reared carefully to meet our linguistic needs.
Whereas some are of the opinion that English is the need of the nation: others have strongly criticized the Englishization. They have every right to use sharp words to criticize English such as hegemony, linguistic colonization, linguistic and cultural imperialism and so forth , but they should not close the eyes to the reality that English has become the flesh and blood of academia and deprived of which the educational world would feel underprivileged. The use of Englishized Nepali or Nepalese languages should neither surprise and nor worry us as it is something like a universal phenomenon today. Purity in languages is hard to find at post-modern era. Also, the invasion is mutual i.e. not only Nepali and other Nepalese languages have been invaded by English but English has ever adopted inclusive attitude towards loan words. As Crystal(2004:27) puts “English is a vacuum-cleaner of a language, readily sucking in words from whichever languages it meets-well over 350 of them in the history of British English”. Further, since English is in the process of becoming our own language, it is futile to protest against the alienation that can be induced by English. Upon scrutiny, Englishization can prove advantageous if planned cautiously to meet national linguistic and cultural needs. New English in Nepal can serve the function of expressing national identity if Nepalese cultural heritage is added to it. Further, the role of the new English language in the New Nepal can hardly exaggerated as this can stand as the icon of unity and national harmony since all other languages have been alleged to belong to specific communities. English can be a fair instrument to strengthen loktantra and promote human rights.
Crystal, D. 2000. Language Death. Cambridge: CUP.
Crystal, D. 2004. The Language Revolution. Cambridge: Polity
Graddol, D.2006. English Next. London: The British Council.
Larsen-Freeman, D. 2007. Teaching and Learning English: From Ideology to Empowerment. In
Journal of NELTA. Kathmandu: NELTA.
Philipson, R. 2007. Linguistic Imperialism. New Delhi: OUP.
Rai, V.S. 2006. English, Hinglish and Nenglish. In Journal of NELTA. Kathmandu: NELTA.