In UK and US English, we would say ‘me too’ to emphatically demonstrate empathy. For example:
-I can’t wait to see Anil Kapoor’s performance in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
In India, ‘even I’ takes its place, meaning ‘even I think/feel the same as what you just said’.
-I thought Anil Kapoor’s performance in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was one of the most cringeworthy experiences I’ve ever had -- and yet, I feel a perverse sense of pride.
The ‘even’ suggests to me that the empathy, from this of all people, is supposed to seem unexpected. I think this makes it even stronger, like you’re both consoling the other person for having expressed themselves so openly while also humbling yourself by falling into line behind them.
-I think all Indian menzzzzz are hottttt.
Bonus Combo: ‘even I’ + ‘only’ (discussed in a prior Indian English article, this is used to add emphasis at the end of a sentence) for a wondrous Indian english phrase: ‘even I am like that only’.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DARLING
This is what one friend posted on another friend’s Facebook wall recently. Why did I break into a broad grin? Because they were both male - big, very masculine guys. And as we learned from Blackadder Goes Forth, a man who says ‘darling’ in the presence of another man leaves himself open to ridicule. Indeed, for much of the English-speaking world, ‘darling’ as a term of endearment has such intimate connotations that it’s used almost exclusively between lovers.
In India, intimate forms of address like ‘darling’ and ‘dear’ are a bit like hand-holding between men: weird at first, understandable and even quite sweet after a while. If you’re going to show someone you care about them, why not show them you reallycare?
It’s coming up to a year since I had to leave India but I still get plenty of ‘hi dear’ on Facebook chat from the folks back in Kerala, and that’s fine by me.
This one means the same as ‘not only that’ in Indian English and is used to provide additional information that is even more surprising than the information that came immediately before it. Example:
-Anil Kapoor was a total embarrassment in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol -- that too, he actually seems to be proud of his work!
I feel like that second part of the sentence is round the wrong way: ‘that too’ should come at the end, when ‘that’ has been defined as Anil Kapoor’s pride in his work. In fact, all you really need to is to put ‘too’ at the end and do away with ‘that’ altogether.
-But then it wouldn’t be Indian English -- that too, you wouldn’t have an article to write... and that too, I’ll bet you’ve said it yourself sometimes!
Yes, yes, all right. *
Your good name?
This question, asked of every single foreigner who visits India, gets kind of a bum rap among expat circles. Many find it tiresome and wish people would just ask them for their name; some contrast it with the notion of a ‘bad name’, which is (not surprisingly) never asked for.
But here, I’m coming out in defence of ‘your good name’. Why? It’s nice. Quirky, but nice, and often (in my experience at least) accompanied with a genuine expectation that you are also a good person. After all, isn’t it good of you to agree to speak to a stranger? And on the flip side, isn’t it good of them to approach you and address you with confidence and respect?
The only problem is the sense of colonial deference that surrounds it, like they’re prostrating themselves before you because you are a foreigner. That’s negligible these days, though. This is just what people learning English in India are taught.
Previous posts on Indian English are here, here and here.