Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

Language

Posted by Chris on October 12, 2007

Almost everyone here speaks Bengali. It is similar to Hindi but to my understanding is a distinct language. They both use the same kind of script writing. I have learned some of the basic phrases in both languages but stopped during my period of disillusionment last week and now I figure I won’t learn or need much more due to my abbreviated stay.

Surprisingly, English competency is low. More people in the city speak it than out here where I am. And if you go to a computer or electronics shop, they are more likely to speak it than someone selling produce. Generally, my basic questions are understood. I was under many false impressions, widespread English being one of them. In other Indian cities that would be the case, but not here. As I’ve mentioned in some other posts, they just started teaching English in the government schools here. And the government is dominated by the Communist party which would make them less likely to emphasize the language of Western democracies.

I had noticed in the US that some Indians invert the sounds for ‘V’ and ‘W’. Bengalis also have a quirk in that they invert, if you wrote a word in our alphabet, ‘S’ and ‘Sh’. So I am Chrish. Subran, who works here at IITD, is Shubran.

Of course, they think I have a funny accent. I guess it’s just the American accent, no one has mentioned in particular quirks that I have in my speech.

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