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A lesser globalisation

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Abstract

This paper makes a case for the comparative study of Indian English vocabulary in diaspora. Comparing characteristic usage of Indian terms in their new environments reveals socio-cultural niceties that may not always be possible in studies of syntax and phonetics. The domains of food, music, kinship and clothing are particularly rich in showing cultural retentions as well as degrees of change, adaptation and hybridity. The change and adaptation is not only due to ‘host community – diasporic community’ contact dynamics, but to the relative proportions of migrants from different parts of India, their regiono-cultural differences and mutual influences in diaspora. The main examples come from selected food, music, kinship and clothing terms drawn from the Dictionary of South African Indian English (Mesthrie 2010), with some preliminary comparisons with Indian communities elsewhere. Attention is also paid to notions of scale now prominent in the globalisation literature (Blommaert 2010), as certain terms are upscaled or downscaled in a new social environment.

References

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