Linguistics and English Language

Language variation and change

Speaker: Claire Cowie (University of Edinburgh)

Title: Why you don’t leave? English dominant speakers in Bollywood films

Abstract: When characters in commercial Hindi (Bollywood) films speak English, it is typically in alternation with Hindi (Sailaja 2011). English clauses are less common than Hindi clauses, and English words tend to appear as insertions in Hindi matrices (Si 2010). This is key to the representation of urban elites, whose real-life counterparts may not be as Hindi dominant (Chand 2011, Pai 2018). They must appear to be modern, yet true to their roots. The features associated with Indian English (IndE) are not on display, due to this Hindi dominance. Rare scenes which demand English only are very standard. It is unusual for Hindi cinema to feature monolingual or English dominant characters, and they are usually presented as Christian (D’Souza’s 2019). This paper offers a close analysis of some of the language of Goan Catholic characters from films such as Finding Fanny (Homi Adjania, 2014) and Love per Square Foot (Anand Tiwari, 2018).  What is striking about these stereotypes is that they display a very wide range of IndE syntactic features, typically associated with L2 speakers, for example article deletion (Sharma 2005), and also widely used pragmatic markers such as no/na (Lange 2012). I consider what this stylistic choice reveals about perceptions of and attitudes towards Indian English. 

Contact details

May 29 2023 -

Language variation and change

2023-05-29: Why you don’t leave? English dominant speakers in Bollywood films

Room 7.01, Dugald Stewart Building, 3 Charles Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD