South Asian English is the English accent of many modern-day South Asian countries, inherited from British English dialect. Also known as Anglo-Indian English during the British Raj, the English language was introduced to the Indian subcontinent in the early 17th century and reinforced by the long rule of the British Empire. Today it is spoken as a second language by about 350 million people, 20% of the total population.[1]

Although it is fairly homogeneous across the subcontinent, sharing "linguistic features and tendencies at virtually all linguistic levels", there are some differences based on various regional factors.[2]

South Asian English is sometimes just called "Indian English", as British India included most of modern-day South Asia (except Afghanistan). But today, the varieties of English are officially divided according to the modern states:


British India

See also: Glossary of the British Raj

English-language public instruction began in the subcontinent in the 1830s during the rule of the British East India Company. In 1835, English replaced Persian as the official language of the East India Company. Lord Macaulay played a major role in introducing English and Western concepts into educational institutions in British-India. He supported the replacement of Persian by English as the official language, the use of English as the medium of instruction in all schools, and the training of English-speaking Indians as teachers.[3] Throughout the 1840s and 1850s, primary, middle, and high schools were opened in many districts of British India, with most high schools offering English language instruction in some subjects. In 1857, just before the end of East India Company rule, universities that were modeled on the University of London and used English as the medium of instruction were established in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. During the British Raj (1858 to 1947), English-language penetration increased throughout the subcontinent. This was driven in part by the gradually increasing hiring of Indians in the civil services. At the time of Indian independence in 1947, English was the only functional lingua franca in the region.

See also


  1. ^ Baumgardner, p. 1
  2. ^ Marco Schilk, Tobias Bernaisch, Joybrato Mukherjee, "Mapping unity and diversity in South Asian English lexicogrammar: Verb-complementational preferences across varieties", in Marianne Hundt, Ulrike Gut, Mapping Unity and Diversity World-Wide: Corpus-Based Studies of New Englishes, 2012, ISBN 9027274940, p. 140f
  3. ^ MacKenzie, John (January 2013). "A family empire", BBC History Magazine.