Fictionalized Indian English Speech and the Representations of Ideology in Indian Novels in English

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I investigate the spoken dialogue of four Indian novels in English: Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable (1935), Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan (1956), Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan's The World of Nagaraj (1990), and Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters (2002). Roger Fowler has said that literature, as a form of discourse, articulates ideology; it is through linguistic criticism (combination of literary criticism and linguistic analyses) that the ideologies in a literary text are uncovered. Shobhana Chelliah in her study of Indian novels in English concludes that the authors use Indian English (IndE) as a device to characterize buffoons and villains. Drawing upon Fowler's and ... continued below

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Muthiah, Kalaivahni August 2009.

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  • Muthiah, Kalaivahni

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I investigate the spoken dialogue of four Indian novels in English: Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable (1935), Khushwant Singh's Train to Pakistan (1956), Rasipuram Krishnaswami Narayan's The World of Nagaraj (1990), and Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters (2002). Roger Fowler has said that literature, as a form of discourse, articulates ideology; it is through linguistic criticism (combination of literary criticism and linguistic analyses) that the ideologies in a literary text are uncovered. Shobhana Chelliah in her study of Indian novels in English concludes that the authors use Indian English (IndE) as a device to characterize buffoons and villains. Drawing upon Fowler's and Chelliah's framework, my investigation employs linguistic criticism of the four novels to expose the ideologies reflected in the use of fictionalized English in the Indian context. A quantitative inquiry based on thirty-five IndE features reveals that the authors appropriate these features, either to a greater or lesser degree, to almost all their characters, suggesting that IndE functions as the mainstream variety in these novels and creating an illusion that the authors are merely representing the characters' unique Indian worldviews. But within this dialect range, the appropriation of higher percentages of IndE features to specific characters or groups of characters reveal the authors' manipulation of IndE as a counter-realist and ideological device to portray deviant and defective characters. This subordinating of IndE as a substandard variety of English functions as the dominant ideology in my investigation of the four novels. Nevertheless, I also uncover the appropriation of a higher percentage of IndE features to foreground the masculinity of specific characters and to heighten the quintessentially traditional values of the older Brahmin generation, which justifies a contesting ideology about IndE that elevates it as the prestigious variety, not an aberration. Using an approach which combines literary criticism with linguistic analysis, I map and recommend a multidisciplinary methodology, which allows for a reevaluation of fictionalized IndE speech that goes beyond impressionistic analyses.

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  • August 2009

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  • March 17, 2010, 11:40 a.m.

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  • April 6, 2010, 12:30 p.m.

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Muthiah, Kalaivahni. Fictionalized Indian English Speech and the Representations of Ideology in Indian Novels in English, dissertation, August 2009; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc12168/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .