Cadences of divergence

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POSTED: January 3, 2020

I have noted the nature of written English in Indian newspapers before, and so I note it again this time as an additional aide-memoire.

I note it because I find it tricky to reproduce in a way that does not begin rapidly to descend into a generalised and stereotypical lampooning, and I do not intend that at all.

The language carries the flavour and cadences of the prose of adventure stories from the nineteen twenties and thirties. It reminds me of John Buchan or Edgar Wallace. It has the air of a language that diverged from the English spoken in Britain some decades ago, and it seems in many respects all the better for that.

On January 1, for example, The New Indian Express reported on the front page that

Days after Railway Board Chairman VK Yadav indicated rationalisation of fares to enhance revenue, the cost of passenger tickets went up a tad with immediate effect.

It was certainly not a New Year’s gift, as fares were jacked up from 1 to 4 paise per km in all categories except suburban sections and season tickets. Yadav though received the gift of an extension of tenure by a year.

In addition, the newspaper quoted General Manoj Mukund Naravane, the newly appointed army chief, as saying:

A new normal in our response mechanism has been emphatically underlined.

Let me say again: I do not post this to make fun of Indian journalism. Rather I want to remember it as it actually appears on the page, and not let my memory distort it.

I find its divergence from the language of current British newspapers both interesting and refreshing.