IX. Language Use

Various domains of use

The parameters in fixing the choice of a language in case of a multilingual (for monolingual, * there is only one language and there is no question of ‘choice’) are:

	1.  The speaker’s educational background
	2.  The listener’s educational background
	3.  Power relationship between the speaker and the listener 
	4.  Personal relationship 
	5.  Place
	6.  Topic
	7.  Presence of others
	8.  Speaker’s linguistic competencies in different egs. 
	9.  Intention of the speaker 
	10.  Speaker’s perception of the listener’s linguistic competencies 

* Even for monolinguals, the choice of ‘Style’, which includes choice of ‘words’, depends upon the above ten parameters. For Telugu speakers, more so for people residing in Hyderabad, style factor stretches over a wide range, incorporating regional ‘accents’, caste dialects, other tongue influences etc. The speaker selects his linguistic repertoire, i.e., a specific style of Telugu or combination of styles, depending upon the situation. Thus the speech process among Hyderabad Telugu speakers is a dynamic one. This dynamic nature reduces as one moves away from Hyderabad to other districts.

Language use in the home domain

With Grand Parents

If grandparents are not highly educated, Telugu is the only language used for communication. But if grandparents are fluent in English, English is used along with Telugu. The general tendency is, grandfather’s are more likely to speak English, whereas grandmothers lean more towards Telugu. This is the urban scene. In semi-urban and rural areas, Telugu is the only language used for communicative purpose.

With Parents

Generally uneducated mothers speak only Telugu with their children. But educated mothers who are fluent in English, make a point to converse both in English and Telugu. In Hyderabad, it is a trilingual situation where parents and children, use one or more languages namely, English and Hindi other than Telugu. Actually it is more likely to be a mixed language. Code-switching and code-sliding are often used along with mixing. However, outside Hyderabad, only code-mixing is used.

Among peer group

The school/college-going students converse in whatever medium, instruction is given to them in the school. Here it is to be noted that the school claims English as the medium of instruction even when that is not the case. There are different types of schools and there is a gradation of “Englishness”. The language that children speak among themselves depends upon the level of the school. They speak either English or English-Telugu mixture or pure Telugu, which is rather rare. The general trend among the youngsters is to speak a mixed-code. In case of Hyderabad the trend is to speak Hindi-English mixture, (at times it is English-Telugu-Hindi mix) and in case of other regions, it is Telugu-English mix. If a ‘pure’ variety is ever spoken by youngster, the ‘pure’ is more likely to be English than Telugu.


The traditional concept of neighbourhood holds good in rural and to some extent in semi-urban areas. In urban centers, how individuals relate to their neighbours is very much dependent on the socio-economic background. As the economic level increases, the bonding with neighbours gradually decreases and communication becomes minimal. On the other hand, in small towns, people take the trouble of learning a new language if the neighbours speak a different mother tongue.

Inter-group language use

If the groups comprising different mother tongues share the same neighbourhood, the tendency is to speak Telugu, which is a majority language. Sometimes, all groups speak second (or a third even) language, which is quite often Hindi or English.

Thus code-mixing factor due to Register + Factor, due to the desire to hide one’s identity + Factor, due to motivation to project a particular identity + Factor, due to linguistic “in-facility” (because of in-frequency of that particular language i.e. mother tongue) +Factor, the opposite of the previous factor – i.e., the frequency with which English is spoken by the individual in the work-sphere, as it is the medium through which work is carried out and within the friends circle when they happen to be non-Telugu speakers, which is not infrequent in cosmopolitan centers like Hyderabad , social sphere + Chance factor.

Intra-group language use

Even when the entire group consists of Telugu speakers, the educated speakers, especially men, use English to the maximum extent. Hindi doesn’t feature much in a Telugu neighbourhood, though its possibility is not ruled out.

Assumptions tacit among Hyderabadis

	1.  There are differences in the varieties of Telugu spoken by different groups or even families. 
	2.  Mixing English words is common to all categories of Telugu speakers from illiterate workers to sophisticated intellectuals and even Telugu 
	3.  Market language is expected to be Hindi/Urdu especially with auto-drivers, bus conductors, roadside vendors and small shop assistants. 
	4.  Code-[mix-switch-shid]ing is a very common phenomenon outside home especially when college going students are around.  This situation 
	     occurs even in homes. 
	5.  TV anchors in Telugu channels have been promoting this kind of CMSSing. 
	6.  In recent years English newspapers have started squeezing one or two Telugu words in order to create satiric or other special effects. 
	7.  The language or the variety spoken by the youngsters mainly depends on two factors. 
	8.  The type of school/college one is attending.
	9.  Educational and occupational status of parents. 

Language Management

* In multi-lingual, multi-dialectal and pluri-cultural country like India, language planning acquires immense relevance. Language is the medium through which all social interactions, all economic activities, every commercial negotiation etc., take place. Any society cannot exist without communication and language is the channel through which communications and negotiations take place. Even in a monolingual society, despite having a single language, individuals indulge in a variety of styles. Everyone chooses a particular style of language depending upon the situations and on one’s own competence level. Thus variety is the spice of language in a multi-layered, multi-cultured democratic set up. Originality and individual creativity are welcomed / tolerated/ appreciated so long as the communicability is not lost, native genius is nurtured and beauty and elegance of the language are enhanced. Nevertheless, choice of a variety needs to be streamlined, regularized, standardized and encouraged in view of wider communicability, elite acceptance and economic viability.

* The general attitude among the Indian intelligentia is that India should aim at a “balanced bilingualism”. English should not flourish at the cost of mother tongue. Similarly “patriotism” and “mother tongue fervor” should not result in throwing away English as it is an important second language and it should be considered as a twin language to the mother tongue.

* In Hyderabad, Telugu code-mixing (switching + sliding included) happens not on the basis of ‘socio-linguistically motivated’ strategy. Nevertheless, it needs to be explained – if not in socio-linguistic terms, definitely it happens in terms of psycho-social factors. However, one cannot rule out every socio-linguistic reason from the explanations. On the other hand it requires a kind of sieving of various social as well as linguistic factors such as the following:

(i) Register-specific mixing: Administrative terminology, scientific and technological terms, sports, trade and commerce jargon- all these heavily depend on English and that is the case even in newspaper reporting. Quite often only English terms are used and sometimes they are accompanied with loan translations. As they are more easily understandable than the tongue-twisting Telugu technical terms, Mass media show a marked preference to English terms even when “Terminologies” prepared by government-sponsored academies are available.

(ii) To project an identity as that of an English – educated individual and also flaunt one’s facility with English.

(iii) To hide one’s own mother tongue – variety identification, which places the individual in a particular region or in a particular caste group or both simultaneously.

(iv) Hyderabadi’s penchant for infusing Hindi-Urdu words into their Telugu can also be considered as an identity-marker as a Hyderabadi and to exhibit their distinctness from the rest of the people in Andhra Pradesh.

* Despite the fact established by polity that Telugu, the regional language of Andhra Pradesh, is considered the language of administration within the state and the medium of instruction in schools and colleges in government-run schools and colleges, polity has allowed the market principle of demand and supply to prevail over policy, resulting in a deal system of schooling like Telugu medium Vs English medium and also a mushroom growth of English Teaching institutes.

* The discourse on the language policy today is not about educational problems involved in teaching through Telugu medium or English medium but rather about political discourse. It doesn’t reflect any rational concerns like identifying the level and areas of professional and public life where English is found necessary and replaced by Telugu. Also, there is no scientific evaluation of the outcomes of the language polity in Education and Administration.

* The discourse on the language policy has now been linked to the wider conflict over power in the society, it has been linked between two elite groups: the nationally entrenched, pan-Indian English-educated elite and the new but ascendant elites who have lately emerged on the national scene but sans the trappings of an English education. They trend to project their facility with English as a symbol of patriotic price.

* The regional language polity has produced a whole generation of educated youth with little or no exposure to English and whose parents are either illiterate or at best first generation literate. These youngsters are facing drawbacks or are weak, when compared to the metropolitan youth who have acquired their English through its use as a medium of education in ‘public schools’ and they face an unequal competition in social mobility in the society in which English continues to be the mark of education. This divide between the metropolitan and the vernacular youth has given a new twist to the language issue. The frustration of the non-English-educated youth find political expression in linguistic and regional chauvinism. The other side of the coin is equally bleak. The “public-school English-medium educated” youth have become more or less alienated from the mother-tongue literature and its culture as English has become virtually their first language.

Borrowing: The term ‘borrowing’ is a fairly recent label for what used to be called ‘mixing of languages’. The donor need not be aware of the loan and nor the recipient need to repay the loan. But since the alternative metaphors like ‘stealing’ or ‘adoption’ is equally absurd we may as well stick to “borrowing”. Why do speakers borrow from a different language? There must be some gain:

(i)    Social gain: speakers generally borrow material from a prestigious group. 
(ii)   Lexical gap in the native language
(iii)  Cultural borrowing 
(iv)  Economy of speech: Using ready-made expressions from a different language is more economical than creating expressions in one’s own language. 

Borrowing is a natural process in the use and growth of a language. The notion of keeping one’s language ‘pure’ and ‘free’ from foreign trait reveals a profound misunderstanding of the dynamic natural languages which are always in a flux and do change adapting to new conditions and requirements.

Language choice in Hyderabad

In offices and banks, the general trend among the officials is to speak English-Hindi / Urdu code-mixing whereas the language spoken in public is Telugu-English or Hindi / Urdu – English code-mixing.

Choice of language from English, Telugu, English/Urdu symbolizes the social and cultural contrasts between the traditional and the modern and describes the socio linguistic set-up of Hyderabad city. However, there is variation between speakers as well as in one individual’s language choice depending on the interlocutors.

Hyderabadis, due to historical reasons, have increased the available linguistic means so as to express social meaning. Today just as in previous generations, the range of functions to be expressed linguistically remains unchanged.

People still want to present themselves as individuals with a particular social stature and indirectly they still want to convey a variety of meanings such as anger, respect, intimacy, authority and formality. They still want to accomplish interactional goals such as winning an argument or impressing others.

When language choice is available, the deliberate choice of a language reflects the speaker’s claim to a social status. Whatever reasons may individuals have for presenting themselves as members of social category, it is the choice of language that symbolizes such membership in verbal interaction. All other functions are served by style-shifting within the invariably chosen language. So when a language is chosen for particular interaction, the variation within that language remains as a source for conveying a variety of meanings, apart from social status.

If the values, customs and traditions within a family or a community remain the same as they were 50 years ago, the language choice does not change in that community and family. Whereas one can find the dramatic change either because of mobility upwards in social status or higher education or from marriage. The change in lifestyle brings about the choice in language, only if choice is available. If they have no choice, style variation will occur or else they will indulge in more code-mixing. In Telugu, changes occurs in phonological patterns and other supra-segmental features.

Some conjunctives:

	1.  More English lexemes will be found. 
	2.  Open vowels will become less open. 
	3.  Loudness and pitch will be reduced 	
	4.  Less and less use of colloquialisms and idioms from Telugu
	5.  More incidence of code switching 	

For youngsters, peer group influence a lot. Family background is central for girls, whereas the influence of peer group is vital for boys. 

Earlier researchers approached code-switching as a universal pattern of relationships between form, function and context. Now it is considered more as a verbal strategy. In a mixed group, extra-linguistic messages and cues are sent across individuals or groups through judicious use of code-switching.

For instance, if a student tries to speak in Telugu when the teacher responds in English or if a subordinate speaks in Telugu when the boss responds in English then the student (or the subordinate) will take it in a way, that her superior (teacher or boss) is not willing to allow intimacy to develop between and that she is expected to maintain a social distance appropriate to the (relational) roles. Thus code-switching is a verbal strategy for defining, establishing or maintaining role-relationships associated with different languages.

Language Teaching

In English medium schools, a child will have the ability to compose a simple sentence in English , by the time it is 9 or 10 years old. But the same child will not able to construct sentences in Telugu on a given topic despite the fact it speaks Telugu as its mother tongue. This difficulty is experienced mostly by Hyderabad children. Whereas in districts like Krishna and Guntur, even small children speak and write in Telugu. They use idiomatic Telugu, they exhibit more fluency and they speak in full sentences which is very rare among Hyderabad children.


First of all, we need to realize the basic DIVIDE that exists between rural and urban Andhra Pradesh. Urban metropolis centers like Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam etc., share many common features and they distinctly differ from the rural areas like interior Telangana or Srikakulam district etc.

Another DIVIDE that one needs to keep in mind in the context of Andhra Pradesh is the distinction between predominantly mono-lingual areas where only Telugu is spoken like in most villages of Andhra Pradesh and coastal districts and the bi-lingual and multi-lingual areas like Kuppam where grass-root multi-lingualism has been continuing for generations and mother tongues are maintained despite various social pressures and lopsided governmental language policies.

First let us consider a predominantly monolingual area like a remote village in an interior area of Andhra Pradesh. However small the village may be, it still consists of different caste groups with different speech varieties. These varieties are individually maintained despite their years together of co-existence. The marriage pattern that disallows inter-caste marriages is responsible for this co-existence. Since, mutual intelligibility exists between different varieties communication is not hampered.

In urban centers like Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam etc. (Hyderabad is different because of its unique history), people of different language varieties (and languages even) are thrown together at work place for a major part of one’s working time. But Indian psyches are perfect at maintaining their “duplicity” or “social schizophrenia” or “cultural and academic diglossia”, so much so, they go home from the work place, and change their clothes to domesticity. Perhaps this Indian attitude has been responsible for the diglossic situation between the standard Telugu and various non-standard varieties of Telugu.

In Hyderabad persons of different mother tongues are thrown together in work and the companionship extends to families i.e., to home domain. Each group solves the problem in its own way. Either one party learns to speak the other party’s language or both sharpen their language skills in a third language which is generally English or Hindi/Urdu.

Just as there are differences between rural and multi-lingual behaviour patterns, there are differences between literate bilingualism and non-literate bilingualism. Among the many differences, one distinct feature is that the language convergence is contributed more by the illiterate people than the literate who borrow, but don’t assimilate.

Dialect mixing is inevitable because speaking continuously in a “standard” variety tires the brain, especially when that standard is of “imposed” variety. (despite the fact that there is a need for a “standard” or a “model” since people are not always “formal”, “correct”, “precise” etc.) There is a part of nature that is creative, relaxed, joyous or just plain lazy. Perhaps code-mixing/switching caters to this need.

In Hyderabad, despite Matrubhasha Samiti and regardless of government patronage to regional languages, English is seen, as the key towards better life and people will acquire English for their children sake if not for themselves. The so-called “hegemony” of English does not mean any sinister design on the part of English language, but a simple fact that “human beings are fond of butter on both sides of their bread and if possible a little jam as well.” However, the desire for better life is responsible for people’s loyalty to their own language.

Multilingualism among Telugu speakers

On the basis of its origin, Personal bilingualism can be divided into three types.  We may call these:  

	(i)   natural bilingualism 
	(ii)   voluntary bilingualism
	(iii)  decreed bilingualism 

Natural bilingualism

This will usually arise in one of the following ways 

	•   as a result of mixed marriages, 
	•   as a result of living in a multilingual area and 
	•   as a result of living very close to the boundary line separating two language areas 

Acquiring bilingualism through marriage is rather minimal among Telugu speakers. By and large marriages are arranged by parents, within the community, preferably among the relatives -after verifying whether horoscopes match or not. So there is hardly any scope for bilingualism through marriage. Even bidiabetalism is ruled out.

Multilingual areas like Hyderabad, Kuppam and the border areas influencing their neighbouring areas do contribute towards natural bilingualism. Kuppam stands out as a shining example for natural bilingualism. Almost everyone is a multilingual in this place. Mixed marriages are sometimes responsible for this multilingualism, as many Kuppal parents are amorous towards Tamilnadu girls. The harmonious living with other mother tongue group people also contributes towards multilingualism.

In Hyderabad, people with two different mother tongues are more likely to speak in a third language, say Hindi or English or both, instead of speaking and learning each other’s mother tongue.

Voluntary bilingualism

In most of the cosmopolitan areas, Hindi is taught as a subject in schools. One should be thankful to the governmental policy of three-language formula. It is through its efforts that ‘Dakshina Bharata Hindi Prachara Sabha’, is encouraging many people, especially women to write exams and thereby acquire proficiency. Also Hindi cinemas and Hindi cinema songs which are popular among college students encourages them to acquire knowledge of Hindi. In general, there is no antipathy towards Hindi. An ability to speak Hindi is considered as an asset.

Decreed Bilingualism

Decreed state authorities back Bilingualism and they run against the wishes of citizens. Such a situation does not arise except for students in schools and colleges.


Language borrowing depends on the type of contact that exists between two languages. Contact might be geographical, social or technical as English and Telugu in Hyderabad. Borrowing is more commonly found at the higher levels of language, first in vocabulary, and then in syntactic patterns. Morphological patterns are rarely borrowed and phonological patterns are very less borrowed. Commonly loan words retain the phonemic shape of the donor language. Loan shifts / loan translations / calques reproduce the morphemes of the donor language using native material.

Eg. 	‘catwalk’ -  Marjala nadaka 
 	‘Violin’ -  Vayuleenamu 

in borrowed words, phonological and morphological modifications are brought about in the borrowed items according to the structure of the borrowing language. ‘Road’ – roddu ‘peppermint’ – pippermentu ‘Torch’ – torchu ‘schools’ – skuullu

Syntactic borrowings

When a speaker learns a new prestigious language, he will be under the social pressure of acquiring it without flaws. English is introduced into Telugu much more readily than Telugu into English. Firstly, because English is a more prestigious language (throughout A.P.) than Telugu and secondly, speakers modify the language they are certain about much more enthusiastically than they do a language which they know imperfectly and ‘prestige’ is the secondary factor responsible for this borrowing. Hindi mixing much more than Hindi-Telugu mixing.

Even the political factors like government and administration influence the sphere of borrowing. Borrowing from English and Urdu into Telugu demonstrate this fact very clearly. Originally the borrowings were mainly for soldiers, officers, court employees etc. But gradually vegetable names entered Telugu in the case of English and the names of dress materials and dress items entered Telugu in the case of Urdu. However, now, English is being used to express the private aspects such as emotions and even core or basic vocabulary is being replaced with English words like counting, dates – including months, body parts, kinship terms etc., (now diseases are mostly English only!)

The difference in social status of the two languages can be illustrated in contrasting words e.g. ‘a small theft’- dongatanam, ‘a bigger crime’ - decoity. Telugu terms for animals in the field or birds in the farm are Aavulu, Raallu, Yetlo chepalu on the table - fish; chicken, egg, beef, meat, pork etc., for formal eating- breakfast, lunch, dinner, casual talk - bonchesara.

The numerical strength of speakers, which in turn have lead to its political strength/power, is responsible for the survival and maintenance of less prestige languages. Nevertheless, the language of greater prestige has great effect on certain segments of vocabulary. Generally, all that is modern gets expressed through English. ‘Doctor’, ‘Nurse’, ‘Tailor’, ‘Driver’, ‘Conductor’ etc., whereas traditional items most often retain the original words in Telugu .e.g: Kummari, Chakali, Kamsali, Mangali etc.

Borrowings will be concentrated in the semantic fields where the more prestigious speakers wield the greatest influence.


In the year 1948, Hyderabad state got merged with the Indian union. Urdu ceased to be the medium of instruction in OU and was replaced by English. Telugu got its official patronage in 1956, with the formation of Andhra Pradesh, a merging of two regions with enormous dialectical differences.

The Telangana dialect of Telugu is so thoroughly bilingualised that it is loaded with innumerable Urdu phonological and morphological features.

e.x. (i) If any customer asks- ‘whether a particular item is available in the shop’, the shopkeepers of Telangana dialect reply : Vundikada – which sounds somewhat rude to non-Telangana customer.

(ii) A Maid-servant makes her entry into the house by asking Ayya Poyinda? which the lady of the house finds objectionable.

	(a)  Aspiration is a socio-linguistic variable 
	(b)  Ch-sa distinction
	(c)  Verb morphlogy: vachadu, vachindu, vachinadu, vachadu 	

A socio-linguistic variable is a linguistic feature or element which covers not only linguistic elements but also a number of extra-linguistic independent variables such as class, caste, educational level etc. while purely linguistic variables are those which are determined completely by the linguistic environment in which they occur. E.g. the allomorphic realization of “o” (sunna) in Telugu as anke. Pancha, panta, andamu, dimpu, samshayalu, kamsudu.

We should dispense labeling people as lower/middle/upper classes on the basis of our outdated concepts. Terming people as educated and uneducated should also be dispensed. We can merely mention the level of formal education as college/university level. Considering “speech form” as a “strong group identity” may be a myth. When “standard” variety is available why do people persist in non-standard varieties? Because it is too much of a bother – vocal inertia is a better reason than “group loyalty”.

Individual Hyderabadi speech shows more switching/sliding. Whereas groups have tendency to go monolingual (English or Telugu) with high-level of English mixing.

From an early period we have evidence of the existence of a functional diglossia involving the existence of SANSKRIT (literally, the ‘refined’ language) and PRAKRIT. The (‘natural or crude’ speech) former being used for ritual and formal occasions and the latter for the casual routine of worldly life.

A predictable outcome of the Indian diglossic situations: The upper class while fiercely maintaining the purity of their ritual language, afforded to take a much more relaxed attitude about their language of worldly intercourse, which has no religious or intellectual significance. One can expect to find the upper class much more tolerant of modifications in Prakrit introduced by others, and less motivated to preserve its purity. However, in modern Telugu, the reverse is happening. The elite are ‘downloading’ English ‘lock, stock, banet’ into Telugu. They are doing it to preserve their elitism, so that common people (Aan Janata) cannot catch up with them. As a result social stratification is still intact despite secularism and universal (mother tongue medium) education.

Interference is a speaker-specific deviation in the spoken language that occurs due to the influence of the other ‘deactivated’ language. Interference can occur at all levels of language.

e.x.      phonological  :   	jero instead of ‘zero.’ 
	syllabic 	:	varald for ‘world’ 
	lexical	:	ayipahanu.  I was stunned 
	syntactic	:	“comer are coming, goers are going” 
	semantic	:	variki thanks cheppanu (semantic borrowing) 
	Pragmatic	:	manam ee mata cheppamante ‘Aa bail mujhe maar’
			annatu avutundi. 

In Hyderabad, why hasn’t an Urdu-Telugu pidgin evolved? 


Hyderabad is the smallest district (area wise) of Andra Pradesh. In 1978 Hyderabad district was split up into Hyderabad urban and Hyderabad rural. Hyderabad rural was later named as Ranga Reddy district.

Hyderabad urban comprises of four taluks, namely., Charminar, Musheerabad, Secunderabad and Golconda.

It was until the merge of Hyderabad state with the Indian union, Urdu dominated the scene. But later on English and then Telugu and very slowly Telugu and ‘sarkari’ Hindi started eroding the Hyderabadi sands under the feet of Urdu.

If one goes to a shop and asks for any commodity saying, ‘X unda?’ the shopkeeper immediately could say undi kada. Such an interaction is similar to Hindi, yeh koi puuchne ka baat hai or in some cases, as ‘how dare you think that I may not have X in my shop?’

Mode of Address

Hyderabadis call each other by names without adding any appendages (like dada or didi in Bengal). In Telangana, the term ‘anna’ is very common. In rural areas we find caste names like pantulugaru, nayudugaru, reddigaru or relational tunes like akkyyagaru, annayyagaru etc. are commonly found. In Andra Pradesh Garu is suffixed to a name, even as a mark of respect.

Sir, and Madam are very commonly used as ayya and amma. 	

Selection of adjectives and adverbs are more from Hindi/Urdu and conjunctions are always from English. 

Verbal games owing to bilingualism 

	(i)    sInter language puns 
	(ii)   Mixing metaphors 
	(iii)  Playfully interchanging “literal” and “metaphorical senses” and translating them into other languages. 	

Languages in contact:

The linguistic situation in Hyderabad is much more dynamic than a typical diglossia.

Linguistic variation is generally described in terms of social variables. But in Hyderabad, besides social variation, language choice is engineered and balanced by the languages themselves. Telugu newsreader somewhat ‘Teluguises’ words from other languages.

The phonetic change is brought about by the language context. Changes are not only recognized in phonetics, but in morphemes even. Even bound morphemes get “glutinated” to words from other languages. For eg: She ‘pataoed’ him. Buttify, ratify, marofy, etc. Adding Telugu plural marker ‘lu’ to English words is quite common. But in Hyderabad, even the reverse happens: adding plural ‘s’ to Telugu words, applying sandhi rules to English words (e.g. post + office – postoffice) or joining one English word to the other Telugu word is generally found.

e.g.  	more + amma   	-	moramma
	doubt + undi  	-	doubtundi
	night + out  	-	nightoutu
	computer + raakarana - 	computerikarana 

	moguds, pellams is a title of a TV programme. 

(*)  Telugu kashtam + nashtam  -  kashtam nashtam 	

A complete and thorough (survey and) analysis is needed in order to study Language interference. Linguistic tradition has approached this phenomenon from the point of view of interference and some observations have been recorded either. But what is missing is its dynamic nature. Even the interference is context bound and the degree of interference is sometimes deliberately monitored whereas at other times it is implemented unconsciously.

Studies on language contact concentrate on what “happens” to language systems in contact, assuming that what all is happening is happening unconsciously and unintentionally. But in case of Hyderabadis (youth in particular) the resultant forms of language contact of Telugu, Hindi/Urdu; Telugu-English) are intended and controlled. The speakers are not hapless victims of languages in context rather they are deliberate harbingers of language change.

English learning (and even Hindi) in non-urban areas is mostly through formal means and is restricted only to the classroom. Whereas in urban places like Hyderabad, the English medium schools insists the teachers and the student to speak only in English except while learning other languages. Children from these schools tend to speak English even outside the school and among themselves. Dialectic differences and difference in mother tongues is responsible for this. In order to transcend the differences, school children prefer to speak in English even outside their classrooms. As a student spends his/her six hours in a day in the classroom, speaking English becomes a common phenomenon.

The place for mother tongue education is a conspiracy perpetuated by one track minded linguists and politically motivated educators or rather education policy makers to maintain the privileged elite group. It is perpetuated by denying bilingualism to certain sections of the society, forfeiting them of their right to efficient accessibility to the world language, English and also the accruing cognitive benefits from early bilingualism.

Multilinguals, even when they have equal competence in different languages, exhibit a value system for the language under control. It is quite likely that they feel English is a better language of communication, Hindi/Urdu is good for poetry, Telugu is suitable for intonations, conversations etc.

At present in colloquial Telugu there are many lexical gaps to describe the urban socio-cultural events in one’s life. For instance, it is not easy to say, “please”, “sorry”, “thank you” in Telugu – even to say in spoken Telugu, “I passed the test” – nevertheless, we are required to say these things to fill these lexical lacunae – to fill these lexical lacunae, some languages have to step into Telugu – (urban + educated) speaker’s repertoire. Also there is tremendous prestige associated with speaking fluent English, even if it is not “good” English.

Code-switching is resorted when an utterance is too small and is with loaded heavy meaning.

Nuvvante Naakishtan– ‘I really love you.’

Many educated Telugu speakers have a tendency to use English (i) adjectives, (ii) numbers, dates, months, (iii) kinship terms. etc. Counting has become “secular” by using English ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’ etc., One need not manifest features in argument with the nouns they qualify. E.g. Two girls, two pins whereas in Telugu iddaru ammayilu, rendu pinnulu.

Code-mixing allows the speaker to innovate and to experiment with ‘form’ which a single language use does not permit because of its well-developed norms.

Code-alternation at different levels:

(i)  lexical level  	(a) Maa cook food baaga prepare chestadu 
		(b) Ee typist chaala mistakes type chestadu
		(c) Veedi driving chaala fast. 

(ii)  phrase level	(a) to be on the safe side nenu vastanu
		(b) as far as possible vallani avoid chddam 
		(c) Naam ke vaste NIITlo cheranu.

(iii) clause level	(a) Suppose I go there.  Vallem chestaru? 
		(b) Eee pelli jaripinchedam provided they agree to our conditions 
		(c) Jahan bhee ho, try to write to us once in a while. 

(iv) Sentence levels	(a) akkada chaala godava undi.  ‘I don’t want to go there’.
		(b) nuvvu vacheyi. ‘You come over here’.
		(c) nuvvu chala manchivadivi. ‘ I mean it’. 	

* Grandhika Telugu is confined only to classroom whereas in other situations varieties of vyakaran Telugu is used. Telugu thus offers an example of a truncated diglossia, in which a high variety is restricted only to the classroom contexts, while in all other contexts such as public speaking, mass media, polite conversation, the vyakaran is used. The history of this truncated diglossic situation may be illuminating. It explains how the social forces anest a diglossia, confining it to a very restricted area.

* The argument is about a different kind of diglossia, emerging in Telugu: Code mixed variety Vs pure variety. Pure variety is used in formal writing and very formal speech whereas code-mixing is common in all other situations including public speeches.

* Borrowing: Nouns are the largest category of borrowings. Morpho-syntactic integration takes place in borrowing. Borrowing of conjunctions does not seem to alter the rest of the syntactic structure in Telugu.

The language of the finite verb as the base language

In Telugu people’s speech, the language of the morpho-phonological element of the finite may be taken as the base language.

e.g.	record play chesanu	-  	Telugu sentence with English mixing. 
	Chess play kiya	-	Hindi with English mixing 	

What verbs can be code-mixed and what cannot? 

(i)  All verbs in English can be nouns and they can also be readily mixed into Telugu along with the auxiliary Telugu verbs Cheyu + Aagu. 
	e.g.   Aame ee sar pareeksha pass ayindi 
	         Computerni ikkadiki move cheyandi. 

(ii) If the verbs cannot take the auxiilaries , the Telugu verb, Cheyi/Aagu cannot be code-mixed easily. 

	e.g.  Nenu ballini kinda (put) cheshanu
	        Aame ..... give chesindi
	        Nenu put ayyanu

(iii) But if there is a preposition along with the verb, that is, if it is a verb phase (verb + preposition), it is acceptable in Telugu as a code-mix item:  


Most adjectives are permitted but some are not: 

	‘beautiful’  -  ammayi			‘useless’  -  abbayi
	‘interesting’  -  kadha			‘clever’  -  padhakam
	‘generous’ -  svalabham		‘mean’  -  aalochana

	*  good  manishi 			*  matalu 

By adding ‘ga’ to an adjective, adverb can be generated. 

	Uglyga kanipinchindi 		kadha realisticga vundi etc. 		

Generally it is assumed that borrowing is morphologically and syntactically integrated, whereas code-mixing is not. But in Telugu, a lot of variation in morphlogical patterns, for ‘imported’ items can be found.

For instance, the addition of plural marker to a borrowed English noun can take various forms, even within the same context (and by the same speaker too!)

demands: demandulu, demandlu, demandslu

Even noun borrowings, code mixes/switches – all exhibit variation and some unpredictability with respect to the linguistic environment but exhibit correlation with social factors.


Attitudes towards bilingualism differ widely according to individuals being or not being the native speaker of the prestige language. The prestige concepts of a language are based not on the intrinsic linguistic factors but on extra linguistic properties and may therefore change as these properties change. The status of Telugu in Hyderabad at different periods amply demonstrates this. Prior to Independence, under the Nizam rule, Urdu was the language for education, administration and cultural activities. The upper echelons of Non-Muslim community were too eager to acquire proficiency. The lower out of sheer necessity, learnt Urdu as the means for economic survival. However, after Independence and subsequent merge of Hyderabad state into Indian Union, English replaced Urdu and gradually Telugu is gaining ground albeit slowly. Now it is Urdu speakers’ turn to become bilinguals in Telugu for their own good. Though bilingualism is reciprocated by Hyderabadi Telugus it is more of Hindi than of Urdu.

* Along with ‘economic capital’ and ‘cultural capital’, ‘language capital’ is also a potent resource.

* Through exposure to various languages within home and community, upper class children bring to school positive values for language learning and familiarity with multilingual usage. But this is restricted only to urban centers. In rural areas, grass-root bilingualism is much more prevalent in other Indian languages in contact situations that exist at state boundaries. Kuppam in A.P. offers a fine point of illustration. In Kuppam, majority of the people, especially people at lower rungs of the social ladder who are likely to interact with neighbours and co-workers, are multilinguals. Since speech communities are not segregated and also marriages across different language groups are not unusual, individuals are exposed to more than one language even within the home domain and definitely in the neighbourhood and that has lead to a large extent of multilingualism. However, among children, this multilingual tendencies are giving way to monolingualism as Telugu happens to be the medium of instruction. The vast syllabus and the day-long study schedule are not in favour of nourishing the ‘cultural life’ of the students. Their ‘academic life’ is devouring all their time and energy. Whatever time is left out is drained away in front of TV sets, leaving no time or inclination for intellectual growth or cultural exchanges.

* It is the western idea that without a solid foundation in the mother tongue, if a new language is picked up in school, the consequences are often negative to the social, emotional and educational development of children. But this is not true at least in Indian context, especially in Andhra Pradesh.

* The increasing influence of English on Telugu is exhibiting a tendency of looking forward towards modernity. However at the same time, it is constant looking back towards the rich tradition of the past. Thus tradition is being modernized and modernization is being traditionalised. English is lapped up by one and all and yet there is no dearth of individuals aspiring to learn Sanskrit, acquire traditional knowledge (through English language of course), revive traditional dance and music and in the same breath, encourage pop and rap music. Seeing this phenomenon, some foreign scholars compare Indian society to two-faced Janus, but this is a prejudiced view. Indian society can more aptly be compared to a banyan tree whose branches go upwards towards modernity while the roots go deeper into tradition. The roots bring sustenance to the tree and the branches with its myriad leaves provide for healthy growth.

* Colloquial Telugu is not open to Englishization through

	(i)    loan words 
	(ii)   loan shifts  (a) loan extensions, 	(b) loan translations
	(iii)  neologisms : bhootaddam, karuvu bettam
	(iv)  hybridization : appealu cheyu, curfew vidhinchu, write darakhastu
	(v)  doublets : ‘radio’ – akashavani; ‘lock’ avuta muusiveta; ‘cinima’ – chalanachitram
	(vi) Kinship terms in English are generally over simplified like uncle, aunty, and cousin replacing various Telugu terms which describe the 
	      relationship in detail. 	

* Mass media react in their own ingenious ways, leading to the rapid language changes and modernization trends. In Telugu newspapers, the language is very open to English while the radio Telugu is heavily sanskritised. TV, owing to the multiplicity of channels and programmes adopts an all-inclusive approach. In that it borrows from a variety of language styles depending on the context and content of the TV programme.

Despite the extensive research on code-switching, some researchers still tend to designate different types of code-alternation under one label, code-switching. However recent research on multilingualism found in Hyderabad has led to formulation of three types of code-alternation:

	(a)  code-mixing 
	(b)  code-switching 
	(c)  code-sliding (all the three types are referred to by the acronym CMSSing). 	

(a) Code-mixing

Whenever a sentence in one language incorporates elements from another language, by retaining its basic structure, it is termed as code-mixing. The imported elements may be :

(i) 	a single word as in 
	ex. they are all going for gruha pravesham. 

(ii)	a phrase as in 
	ex.  every now and then idi ila jargutuu vuntundi 
(iii)	a clause as in 
	ex. idi vallaki chepte they will kill us. 	

(b) Code-switching

Code-switching occurs when a speaker changes the code within the utterance, after having completed a sentence grammatically. 

Ex.:  nenu veltanu- ‘you also come with me’ 	

(c) Code-sliding

In code-sliding, an utterance (more specifically, a sentence) starts in one language and then gradually slides into another language. It happens without closing the sentence either semantically or grammatically.

Ex. 	(i) Whichever place you go to uttaralu raastuu vundu.
	(ii) Alantappudu mana government edo cheyyali, so that they get better opportunities	 

In earlier literature of code-switching, a distinction has been made between the base-language and embedded language. But no clear-cut definitions or criteria are provided to decide which is the base or the native language and which is the embedded language in a code-mixed utterance. It has been suggested by earlier researchers that one may go by frequency counts to decide the matrix language. But this definition fails, in case of Telugu-English sentences, wherein sometimes all the content words are in English and only the auxiliary verb with Telugu inflexions completes the sentence and the English words are sequenced according to Telugu syntax.

e.g. Political situation day-by-day deteriorate ayipotundi. Thus in case of Telugu-English-Hindi CMSSing, defining amtrix language in a mixed code as the language to which the finite verb or the morphology of the finite verb belongs, provides an unambiguous criterion to decide the matrix language in a CMSSed utterance.

The Speech samples observed in Hyderabad city demonstrates that, all three varieties of language alternations namely, mixing, switching and sliding, coexist and the bilinguals can be layered into all three stratas where each situation is predominantly of one category. This stratification is predictable in terms of sociological variables such as schooling and home environment.

Another point clearly noticed is, in Hyderabad the original tri-glossic situation is modifying into a diglossic one where one variety is a mixed variety and the other is a ‘pure’ variety (which is Telugu or English or Hindi/Urdu). It is important to note here that in such a situation it is always possible to pick samples to illustrate attrition of a language, especially of Telugu.

Code-MSSing and Speech Dynamics in Hyderabadi

In Hyderabad, code-MSSing simply happens. It is not always a socio-linguistically motivated strategy. Nevertheless it needs to be explained – in terms of psycho-social factor, if not on socio-linguistic terms.

Register-Specific mixing

Administrative terminology and technical terms on sports, trade, commerce etc., heavily depend on English. In newspaper reporting, English terms are quite common and sometimes, they are accompanied with loan translations into Telugu. Even when terminologies prepared by government sponsored academies are available, mass media exhibit a marked preference to English terms because they are more easily understandable than the tongue-twisting Telugu technical terms which are generally derived from Sanskrit. (tatsam words).

Identity factor

English terms are sometimes used to hide one’s own mother tongue – variety – identification, which places the individual in a particular region or in a particular caste group or in both simultaneously.

Projecting an image 

Projecting an Image is to project oneself as an English-educated individual and to flaunt one’s own faculty or English fluency. 

Mother tongue deficiency 

Mother Tongue deficiency is caused due to its infrequent use. 

More facility with English

In case of English medium educated working people.

Chance factor

Definitely, there appears to exist, a probabilistic element in code-MSSing of Telugu and English because it is not always possible to attribute to already known factors that contribute to code-alternation.

Hyderabad city qualifies to serve as an interesting laboratory for research on multilingualism with its multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-dialectal population and a history which is markedly different from the rest of the state and yet the city serves as the state’s capital.

Hyderabad triangular situation gets adequately reflected in the following official notice:

Income tax schemu :china vyaparastulu tailorlu, auto mariyu, taxi yajamanulu, mechanics, barterlu modalagu vari vaarshika turnover 6 lakshalu leda adayamu Rs.47,000 daatina yedala vartinchunu. Income tax officeku raanakkarledu. Khaatalu akkaraledu, vicharanaledu. Tanikkilu levu.

It is interesting to note that, in this official notice (supposed to be in Telugu) Telugu words are (roughly) half in number and the other half contains English words. Three Urdu words tanikhi, khata and jama are legacies from the earlier administrative terminology.

In the above given notice, there are possibilities of replacing some English words with Telugu words that are in current use. For example, ‘Income Tax’ can be replaced with aadayapu pannu. However, in official notices English words do get used, not because of any dearth of vocabulary in Telugu but because of the popularity and familiarity of English administrative terminology. Also, the state being multi-cultural and multi-lingual, over-Sankritised (i.e., tatsama) Telugu terminology may not be all that intelligible to non-Telugu, especially Urdu-speaking population. This may be the reason for the preference of English terms (in official notices) which are neutral to all language groups, intelligible to all educated people and easily accessible to everybody. Behind the half-hearted (‘half-hearted’ because in general, the extent of English vocabulary is nearly 50%) attempts of the Government to introduce the regional language at all levels (at least upto Taluk level) of administration, there is a lurking doubt (so it appears) that the heavy sounding Telugu terminology with its Sanskrit base may not be understandable even to the Telugu speakers (of non-standard varieties), let alone other mother tongue groups.

When one observes the alacrity with which every stratum of the Telugu speech community infuses English into their linguistic act, one is sure to get the feeling that in their minds there is a deep rooted feeling that, the so-called ‘standard’ Telugu is more non-native to them than the once-colonial language, English.

In Hyderabad city, multilingualism is quite comfortably taken towards their stride, by the whole range of society, from the high-profile executives to “never-had-been-to school” street hawkers. There are no battles for linguistic hegemony on the streets of Hyderabad. Dialectal variations are expected rather than aborted, multiple languages make their presence felt, not by throwing their weight around, but simply, by co-existing and sewing the day-to-day mundane matters. Language contact in Hyderabad is not for competition and conflict but for peaceful and comfortable co-existence.

Children on the streets speak in Telugu and as well as Hindi-Urdu, with wide-ranging competencies depending on the home background. When adolescents interact, their language choices are Telugu, Hindi-Urdu, English or Hyderabadi, which refers to the variety exhibiting high concentration of CMSSing where the proportion of languages depend upon the level of educational attainment. The other social factors such as socio-economic levels and gender distinctions are subsumed under the domain social factor which is schooling. For instance those who have had the privilege of going to elitist English medium schools, choose English more often. Those who studied through Telugu use Telugu more often.

Hyderabadis are aware of their linguistic habit of CMSSing Telugu, English and Hindi-Urdu and they take this as a matter of pride. They are also proud of the fact that they use more English in their professional as well as private activities, than the other people of the state. Many people claim that they use all three languages equally.

For many youngsters in urban centers, especially Hyderabad, the productive use of Telugu is getting restricted to talking to parents. The reason for their discomfort in speaking Telugu is their awareness that they don’t speak the standard variety – so those who are very fluent in English, would not like to reveal their non-standard Telugu and prefer to speak in English over which they have better control and that gives them a sense of pride.

Another problem of these youngsters is that they can’t handle idiomatic expressions, metaphors and literary allusions in Telugu because they have not been exposed to good literature in Telugu.


The Telugu textbooks in schools are beyond children’s comprehension as the content is far removed from their daily life and the language used in the text is full of archaic expressions if the context represents ancient culture and if it happens to be scientific literature it is full of technical terminology.

Film songs:

Some film songs are very poetic with high literary value and so are incomprehensible to ordinary people, the rest are so trite and highly code-mixed that many people don’t even bother to decode the words which are lost in the cacophony of absurd music. In spite of all these ‘linguistic suicidal attempts’ of Telugu-speaking youngsters in Hyderabad, monolinguals don’t generally act as ‘gate keepers’ of language purity and correctness.

Telugu Writers

Many accept the fact of code-CMSSing in Telugu and they even believe that communication becomes more effective and powerful through code-mixing.

	•    Using a language does not simply mean using a set of words and sentences but it means understanding the world around oneself in subtle
	      ways.  To use a language is to participate in a social fabric and thereby sink into its cultural milieu.
	•    When we look at India’s linguistic history we notice prominently linguistic continuity as well as linguistic convergence.
	•    Language is as much a medium of cognition as it is a vehicle of communication.
	•    Language is not merely a vehicle of communication or transfer of messages, but it also serves to give shape to the contents of what is being
	•    Growth and development of language goes hand in hand with the growth and development of the culture, which that language serves.
	•    Assimilating western or other non-Indian influences will work to advantage only if we retain our intellectual initiative through our respective     
	      mother tongues and not otherwise.
	•    Whatever Indians are, is “Indian reality”. “Indianness” has to get a dynamic notion.  It cannot be a predetermined fossilized concept.	


Copyright CIIL-India Mysore