Babu English

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  • Intro

    British commentators during the colonial period sometimes expressed amusement at the kinds of English used by their subject populations. Babu, or Baboo, English of India attracted particular attention because it aspired to poetic heights in vocabulary and learning, despite being full of errors. Arnold Wright, the author of this study of Babu, might have been surprised to hear that linguists today find a great deal in common between Babu English and the ornate style used by many British writers in past centuries.

     

     

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    Baboo English as ’tis Writ, first published in 1891, considers the language of Indian newspapers. It reproduces begging letters, characterised by their indirectness and excessive politeness. The writer of this letter – an Indian local – is pleading with a gentleman to give him work. Job applications today are phrased very differently.

     

    Shelfmark: T 39184.

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