One statement by one of the USA’s Presidential Candidates, Mr Donald Trump has caused stir in India and also caused Indians to introspect them as far as English language is concerned. He had said during one of his campaigns – Indians are very difficult to understand. Here his target was the poor pronunciation of Indians’ English.
Yes, it’s true when the pronunciation is wrong not only of English but also of any other language, it becomes very difficult for the listeners to understand . Now let’s come to the main issue – Why are the Indians so poor in English pronunciation despite the fact that they have been living with this Britons’ Soul, Queen’s English for the last 3 centuries or more.
The first reason is that India is a multilingual country where Hindi dominates. Most of the Indians are bilingual or multilingual. Even the pronunciation of Hindi gets changed from one area to another. Hindi is highly accented also. So it is not possible that if the Indians are learning English, they are unaffected by Hindi. Hindi affects the tone or pronunciation of English to a great extent.
Indians try their best to learn English, they learn Grammar, prepare vocabulary and this is quite amazing that in Grammar and Vocab, most of the Indians are better than the English. But there is no proper work in improving pronunciation or you can say in learning Standard Pronunciation which Mr Donald Trump was talking about.
Here standard pronunciation means Pronunciation by the English ( Received Pronunciation). At present American Accent also dominates. But why should Indian learn that Pronunciation. A person learns a language as per his/her social requirements. He also makes some changes in that language as per his profession/occupation which is also called Register.There are many registers such as Medical Register, Legal Register and so on.
English is regarded as the second language in India and is almost treated as lingua franka. So its pronunciation has been neutralized as per the needs, local requirements. No two languages have the same pronunciation ? Some languages are highly phonetic and the others are not. Hindi is more accented than English and we Indians enjoy that phonetic character of Hindi for English as well. Such Hinglish Pronunciation is OK in the domestic sector.
Very few Indians have to deal at International level. Such Indians are expected to be trained in the Standard Pronunciation of English. There is nothing wrong if non-speakers make a bit of changes in the pronunciation of English language as per their requirements. Americans have also done so. There is much difference in the pronunciations of English spoken by Americans and that spoken by the English.
Most of the difference occurs in the vowel system. The words like class, dance etc are spoken differently. In RP, R is always silent after the vowels or at the final positions but in American English R is highly phonetic. But nobody has the objections to that. Nor does anybody ask – Why do Americans speak differently from the English ?