Saturday, Dec 03, 2022
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Frown Jewels

Frown Jewels

This thoroughly entertaining and informative book reminds us of the jewel we snatched from the British crown: the English language.

Binoo K. John’s thoroughly entertaining and informative book reminds us of the jewel we snatched from the British crown: the English language.

As John shows us through innumerable examples and personal observations, India is home to thriving colonies of different Englishes, many of them surprisingly robust. The journey he takes us on goes from the most humble instances of the language, the classified advertisements of Raj-era journals, to the nasal twang of call centre-speak and on upwards to the heights of Booker-prize-winning prose. In the course of his extensive research, John argues persuasively that a desire to align ourselves with the ruling elite was the single most powerful reason for the great speed with which the weak little English seedling, with its dainty consonants and fussy grammar, took root in the richly variegated linguistic soil of nineteenth century India.

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