It is very normal for many Indians to use common Indianisms at work. Many of these Indianisms are used subconsciously and some of them are quite weird. It makes sense to identify these Indianisms and then eliminate them from your vocabulary. Here is a look at the 7 most common Indianisms that you should avoid in the workplace.
- ‘Kindly’ instead of Please
When you need some information, it is not so common in English to use the Indianism ‘kindly’ to when asking. This is because kindly has a number of synonyms like warmly or affectionately or even tenderly. Indians may be accustomed to saying kindly tell me where I can find the toilet but to someone who is not an Indian, this could be confusing. All that you have to do is substitute the word kindly with ‘please.’ Not only will you not confuse anybody but this is the normal way of requesting something in a polite manner.
- ‘Plus 2’ instead of A Levels
Another common Indianism used by Indians at the workplace is using the term “plus 2” to describe their educational qualification. Not many people would understand this unless they too are Indians. You can correct this mistake easily. Simply refer to the educational qualification as A Level – or Year 13. Everyone knows what A Levels are and so you won’t end up confusing anyone.
- ‘Eating my brain’ instead of ‘Chewing my ear off’
Indians also have a sense of drama. So, you should not be surprised to hear an Indian say that someone was eating their brain on a certain day of the week. This is quite a scary term that fortunately does not have anything to do with zombie movies. It is a term that has extrasensory connotations and describes a thing that is bothering the speaker. Fortunately, there is no need to use such a term. However, it is funny how these things have a way of translating in a similar way across languages. The saying in British English is that someone is ‘chewing your/my ear off’. Alternatively you can explain that they are not letting you get a word in ‘edge ways’. Both convey the fact that the person should stop for breath and let you speak!
- ‘Cent percent’ instead of 100%
At work, Indians tend to use the term cent percent and they will regularly use this term to find out whether something is absolutely true. Don’t make the common mistake of saying I am cent percent sure I am right. What you should be saying is that you are absolutely sure that you are right. You can also say 100 percent sure to convey just how absolutely sure you are.
- ‘Level Best’ instead of Best
If you have to make a promise to someone, don’t use the common Indianism ‘level best’. It is quite tempting for an Indian to say that they will do their level best to complete a task. The term level best is deadweight. So, do not use it and instead use a term that is much more common and easy to use. All that you have to do is say you will do your best to complete the task. Everyone knows what this means. Not only will it help you get the message across but you won’t end up confusing anyone, especially those who are not Indians.
- Biodata instead of CV
Indians tend to refer to their ‘CV’ as their biodata. Whether they are trying to impress a future employer or prospective better half, they tend to use the old-world term biodata. Unfortunately, this term is normally reserved for describing an animal’s pedigree. Although there is nothing wrong with using biodata, in British English, the more common reference is to call it your ‘CV’, which stands for Curriculum Vitae. In American English, you can expect to see it more often referred to as a Resume.
- ‘Passed out’ instead of Graduated
When referring to time, Indians seem to be infatuated with using an Indianism – Passed out. Using passed out may suggest to others that you had too much to drink and passed out as a result! Or, it could signify a medical condition such as when you are low on sugar and pass out. Unfortunately, passing out refers to the act of fainting. So, if you are trying to tell someone that you passed out from school this year, you would be confusing them. Instead of using this Indianism, you should simply say that you graduated from school this year.
For many Indians, using Indianisms is a way of showing how patriotic they are. However, the meanings of such Indianisms frequently used by Indians have no meaning in other English-speaking countries and certainly not in the West. These Indianisms could be misunderstood or their meaning could be very confusing and not at all useful.
It is time to acknowledge these common Indianisms and learn to substitute them with the correct terms that are universally understood and used. Even the most highly qualified Indians who have graduated from IIMs in India and who have attained top positions in companies use these Indianisms.
I don’t mean to say that we have to master the English language at work. What we do have to do is understand the fine nuances and learn to avoid making mistakes. Remember, that a properly written and error-free email or letter is far more effective than one that is full of Indianisms. The sooner you identify these 7 most common Indianisms at work, the easier it becomes for you to replace them with the correct terms and words.