Indians are considered native English speakers

Indian English in your technical documentation?

The English language is considered a world language, as s. G. Lingua franca. Due to increasing globalization and internationalization, English is playing an increasingly important role in many companies. More and more companies are also using English as the source language for technical documentation. But how is such a changeover from the source language German to the source language English implemented?

Often the own technical writers are asked to write in English. Retraining is necessary for this. If that doesn't work, you try to get technically competent support in-house. However, technical writers with a native level of English are difficult to find on the job market. If all else fails, you hire external service providers. Indian documentation service providers are particularly popular. Because they usually sell their services cheaply and speak English at native speaker level. Or?

Why do Indians speak English?

English not only functions as a common language on an international level, but also in some countries, e.g. B. in India, also at the national level. There are over 100 languages ​​that act as mother tongues in India. These include Bengali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu, to name a few. Because of this diversity of mother tongues, it was necessary to introduce two common official and teaching languages: Hindi and English.

On the one hand, this means that in India you come into contact with English much earlier and more frequently than it is, for example, B. is the case in Germany. On the other hand, although English is learned at an early age, it is usually not the native language of Indian citizens. This results in a very good, but not native, knowledge of the English language.

Indian English = Standard English?

It is nothing new that a language that is not one's own mother tongue is usually not completely correct. It's not just the accent in English that occasionally blows you up as a German, French, Italian - or Indian. There are also sentence structure, choice of words and certain grammatical errors that are typical for certain countries of origin. This means that “Indian English” is not entirely free from deviations from standard English.

Doubtful use of "doubt"

In texts by Indian authors, the word "doubt" is often found in places where one would rather find the word "question" appropriate, e.g. B .:

Doubtful: If there is any doubt, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Better: If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

This is not grammatically wrong, but it can certainly cause misunderstandings. The word “doubt” can mean both “suspicion” and “insecurity”. In most English-speaking countries, the word is used more to express suspicion. In Indian English, on the other hand, it tends to express uncertainty. Therefore, Indian authors use “doubt” and “question” synonymously, v. a. can lead to confusion among non-native speakers of English.

Excessive use of commas

Another peculiarity of Indian authors is that commas are placed in places where no comma is normally used, e.g. B .:

Not correct: Switch on the device, by pressing the green button.

Correctly: Switch on the device by pressing the green button.

Unnecessary commas can, as in this case, have a negative impact on the readability of the sentence. Also, there are cases where missing or redundant commas can even affect the meaning of the sentence. Therefore, you must always pay attention to the correct setting of commas.

A common cause of such errors in English can be one's own mother tongue. Often there is a tendency to transfer rules that are known from the mother tongue into the foreign language. It may be common in some languages ​​that are native to India to put punctuation marks in different places than is the case in English.

Economical use of articles

It can also be observed that relatively few articles appear in texts by Indian authors. While this is not grammatically incorrect, it can make sentences ambiguous. Due to the noun-verb ambiguity in English, articles are important to distinguish whether the word is a noun or a verb.

Example: return switch to center position.

Both the words “switch” and “center” and the word “position” can be used as nouns or verbs, respectively. The missing articles make it difficult to understand what the sentence means. There are two possibilities.

Either: return the switch to the center position. (Set the switch back to the middle position.)

Or: return the switch to center the position. (Reset the switch to center the position.)

It is only through the use of articles that it becomes clear which word is the verb and which words are nouns. If you want to avoid ambiguity, you always have to pay attention to the use of articles.

Conclusion

The English of Indian authors has a few linguistic peculiarities that can cause misunderstandings in the reader. This is due to the fact that a very special variety of English has developed in India due to the special political language situation.

Despite the aforementioned peculiarities of Indian English, we do not want to advise against hiring Indian documentation service providers for your projects. Every author makes mistakes at one point or another. In this respect one has to strive for a decent quality check of his texts one way or another.

An alternative to the widespread human editing is the machine language test. The whole range is possible here: everything from spelling and grammar to style is checked. In this way, linguistic peculiarities and errors can be ironed out through machine editing.