Indian English

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“Purani: Our people in Calcutta have asked whether, in the proof of “The Life Divine”, it shouldn't be “founded on” instead of “founded in”. Not only that but in anticipation they have already put “founded on” in the final proof.

Sri Aurobindo: In the context concerned it must be “founded in” and not “on”.

Purani: It makes a big difference: “in” or “on”.

A big difference and quite a different meaning.

Purani: I came to know afterwards that they had already changed it.
Satyendra: Perhaps some Calcutta persons have pointed it out thinking it unusual.

What idiots some people can become.

Purani: They are familiar only with “founded on”, it seems.

All these people think that they know better English than I do.

Nirodbaran: They perhaps think that it may be an oversight or some mistake in typing or printing.

I have used the same expression in the previous pages and there I said it must be “in” and again they change it! Indians, when they write English, use stock phrases and conventional usages while a good writer will never do that. That is why their English is so flat and lifeless and gives the impression that they have learned English. A good writer will always avoid stock expressions and vary the usages. (Smiling) Stephen Phillips, the poet, said that the English language is like a woman who will only love if you take liberties with her. (Laughter. After a pause) Sir Dinshaw Wacha sent a book here he had written. I found on every page almost forty stock phrases — what are called clichés — and all the papers were praising it, saying, “What a wonderful style!” To an Englishman it would seem horrible.”[1]




  1. Talks with Sri Aurobindo (Vol. 2), p.757, 27 June 1940

See also