Indian names but English nicknames?

Perhaps as a part of the globalization, India and Indians are also starting to take on English or Americanized nicknames. It is even more popular amongst the desi generation living overseas. A brainwash, or adaptation to the demands of the society?

Overseas Living: The Trend of Americanized/European nicknames instead of desi names!
At a desi wedding parties or other similar functions abroad, you are bound to run into some guests with interesting names; I mean the English version of Indian names. If someone introduce himself as Gary Singh, you know right away that his parents did not name him Gary. Now, is his real name Gurdip, Gurjit, Gurdev….? That could be a good guessing game if you get bored of the party!

Nicknames are very common amongst American and European people, but those are often predictable. Jim is generally short for James, Tony is nickname for Anthony, Bob is probably Robert and so on…. White people are used to the nicknames. However, when Indians use nicknames, they are often questioned. “You are forgetting your root”, you grandma will probably remind you. Others will call you ABCD – ‘American born confused desi’, or even worse!

Also, if you introduce yourself with Americanized/westernized nickname, some people may get confused, or they want to know more. “So, what is your real name? You don’t look like ‘Gary’!” Now, don’t take it the wrong way, that could be a sincere question. They just want to know more about you; many people use such conversation as ice breakers.

The general question that many have: should we be using Americanized nicknames? Does that make you hypocrite or shallow amongst your hardcore Indian circle?
Continue reading “Indian names but English nicknames?”

The top executives in America… and the path

One field where Indians have not fully caught up is the top executive tier of the US companies. While we continue to move into the middle class management, the success in the top tier jobs is not that prevalent. Here is the key information and a summary of available resources…

Climbing the corporate ladder: The ‘top executives’ in USA and the path to the top jobs
A job in the IT field or a small businesses ownership – when it comes to the favorite employment preferences of the Indian Americans, these are the two most common perception.  The new generations of Indian engineers and medical professionals are crowding the US industries. The thrifty approach of first generation Indians over the decades continue to contributed towards successful family businesses as well well as upbringing of a highly educated second generation of American Indians.
One field where Indians have not fully caught up is the top executive tier of the US companies. While we continue to move into the middle class management, the success in the top tier jobs is not that prevalent.
One thing to keep in mind, there are only limited numbers of top executive jobs. There is only one CEO, CFO or COO in a company – large or small. There could be many head-of-department positions in larger corporations but the numbers are relatively small. So, this could be one of the reason for limited success beyond middle management; there are just not that many jobs for top executives and competition is fierce for this cream of the crop.

The ‘top executives’: A summary
Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (US Department of Labor), here is an insight into the American ‘top executives’:

What Top Executives Do
Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations. Continue reading “The top executives in America… and the path”

Accent improvement for Indian Speakers – the sounds of p, t, ch and k

In American or European English, the sounds of p, t, ch and k are pronounced somewhat differently than an Indian speaker is used to these pronunciations. The English p t ch and k are ‘aspirated’, accompanied by a puff of breath air…

English accent improvement for Indian speakers
In American or European English, the sounds of p, t, ch and k are pronounced somewhat differently than an Indian speaker is used to these pronunciations. The English sounds  of p, t, ch and k are ‘aspirated’ at the beginning of a syllable that has the accent. For example –  pin, tin, chin, kin are supposed to be aspirated.

Now, what in the world is an aspirated sound, you may ask?

The aspirated sound is the pronunciation with an initial release of breath air. For example h, as in hurry, is aspirated. Also, the rule is equally noticeable in English sounds like pit or kit where a puff of breath is clearly audible in the pronunciation of p and k sounds.
You can try pronouncing “pit” out loud and hold your hand in front of your mouth, or a lit candle if you need a more dramatic effect. You will feel a puff of breath, or see a flicker of the candle flame, that accompanies the “p” of “pit,” because it’s automatically aspirated in English. That is, of course, if you are pronouncing it with American accent.

In Indian speakers, the speakers with Indian accent, the required aspiration is missing by habit. This is because we are used to our speaking habits based on Hindi, Sanskrit or other mother tongues from India. In Indian English p, t, k are well-known to be unaspirated. If no flicker of candle flame in the above experiment, then you need some practice!

In other words, the American “p” sound is much harsher than Indian sound where a speaker tries to pronounce it quietly without accompanied burst of air. The same distinction applies for t, ch and k sounds.
The Indian speakers don’t have this problem with many other aspirated sounds, included the pronunciation of h, as in hurry.

The Indian speakers can overcome this pronunciation habit, the lack of aspiration, by repeatedly and consciously practicing the correct sounds of p, t, ch and k. Continue reading “Accent improvement for Indian Speakers – the sounds of p, t, ch and k”

What do foreigners find most annoying about Indians overseas?

Every culture, every race, every lineage, every ethnic group has some quirks that irk the outsiders.Here are some of the desi traits about people from India that foreigners find annoying or not-so-pleasant:

Every culture, every race, every lineage, every ethnic group has some quirks that irk the outsiders.Here are some of the desi traits about the people from India that foreigners find annoying or not-so-pleasant:

1. Self-isolation and slow to adapt: Indians are known for their reserve nature. They don’t mingle well unless you are part of their social circle; and the social circle is mostly Indian friends. Sometimes this behavior is mistaken for aloofness and showing general disdain, and others may find it annoying. Socializing is a skill that Indians need to acquire more and improve.

2. Parental overshadow (momma’s boy syndrome): Many westerns (Western meaning Americans and Europeans, not cowboys and cowgirls) avoid dating Indians because most of them don’t move out of their parents houses even after the college is done. And, parents try their best to hold on to their kids and ‘baby’ them even when the ‘kids’ are in their 20s or beyond. Annoying? – probably not, but lack of independent living? – yes.

3. Big houses and cheap clothes: The Indians love the concept of mortgage – saving every penny for down-payment and then spending everything on a big house, bigger than their cousins’ or brothers’ houses nearby. And in the process, if you have to penny pinch from everywhere else – that’s okay.

4. Body odor and dental hygiene: Some Indians (and then the perception becomes for all the Indians) do have the problem of body odor, bad smell from the mouth and the dental hygiene. This problem is not-so-common among the younger generation, but a perception is there. Continue reading “What do foreigners find most annoying about Indians overseas?”

Indian values or right values?

It does not matter if you raise an Indian kid, or ‘not so Indian’ kid as long as he or she grow up to be a good kid – a good human being. Perhaps, more than Indian or global values, it is important to instill the right values.

Learning the mother tongue…
The Sunday classes in the temple or Gurudwara…
Attending religious recitals even if you don’t understand what the priest is saying….

Growing-up abroad is a challenge in itself, not that we realize it when we are kids. Being a minority has its own offshoot effects that you cannot control.You cannot change your skin tone, unless you are Michael Jackson – not so easy, and you are still the same person inside! 🙂

Being an Indian overseas comes with its own demands. You not only have to worry about the the bigots and the racist idiots on the street, but your parents and elders are paranoid to the point of obsession; the obsession with raising the kids with ‘Indian values’.

Growing up in India – you are amongst your own kind; you are immersed in your own culture. As a child in India, the social values are spoon-fed over the years; you are surrounded by your own kind; you are the majority. No confusion, no duplicity.

Living abroad however, our culture at home is often different than the culture on the street. We are dealing with a multicultural society. Our social settings are totally different and multidimensional. As a kid growing up, we adapt to the surroundings, to the society we grow-up in.

Growing up in American or any other Western society, the Indian American families tend to hold on to the inherited culture and Indian social values much more closely. The parents cling to the carried-over traditions from India, holding on to the Indian roots very dearly. The Indian families make a very conscious effort to instill the Indian values into their kids. Continue reading “Indian values or right values?”

Accent improvement for Indian speakers – the ‘V ’ vs. ‘W’ sound

There is a clear difference between ‘w’ and ‘v’ sounds. Even though most of Indians understand the difference, the distinction is often not carried out in spoken English… Here is the correct pronunciation..

English Pronunciation for Indian and South-Asian Speakers: ‘v’ vs. ‘w’

Listen carefully to Americans/British speakers when they say words with the letter ‘V’  and ‘W’. Notice how the ‘V’ sounds very different from the ‘W’; there is a clear difference between ‘w’ and ‘v’ sounds. Even though most of Indians understand the difference, the distinction is often not carried out in spoken English.

In Hindi, Punjabi and many other native languages from India, we do use ‘V’ sound. The absence of ‘W’ sound in our mother-tongue may be the reason that we often confuse/mix-up the two sounds in English language.

The ‘V’ sound:  To pronounce the ‘V’ sound correctly, place lower lip gently against the upper front teeth and make the sound. Don’t press it hard, you should be able to exhale through, while making the sound. You will need lots of practice if you are not used to it.
Remember, ‘V’ is a “hard” sound; make a tone, don’t just breathe out. Just breathing out makes the ‘F’ sound. Continue reading “Accent improvement for Indian speakers – the ‘V ’ vs. ‘W’ sound”

Accent improvement for Indian speakers – the ‘R’ sound

The American/English ‘r’ pronunciation and sound is very different from the way many Indians sound it. Without realizing, many Indians put extra stress on ‘r’ or ‘roll’ it. Here is a simple way to practice proper r sound, to pronounce the American way.

Accent and pronunciation improvement for Indian speakers – avoid ‘rolling R’

When it comes to English language, especially for a novice speaker from India, many sounds and pronunciations need extra attention. The ‘r’ sound is one such challenge for many Indians treading the English speaking universe.
The American/English ‘r’ sound is very different from the way many Indians pronounce it. Without realizing, some of us put extra stress on ‘r’; this extra stress/pronunciation may sound similar to ‘rolling r’. Continue reading “Accent improvement for Indian speakers – the ‘R’ sound”

How to improve your body language

Watch any great speaker; the body language plays a key role in our communication. Depending on the circumstances and who you talk to, the body language will differ. However, here are some important tips on how to improve your body language…

Ten tip on improving your body language

Watch any great and effective speaker; the body language plays a key role in our communication. Body language includes non-verbal communication such as body posture, gestures, facial expressions and eye movements.

Depending on the circumstances and who you talk to, the body language will differ. However, here are some important tips on how to improve your body language for effective communication:

1. Make eye contact, but don’t stare: Make eye contact while speaking or listening but not too much. Too much eye contact may look like staring and may distract the other person. You can find a happy medium with practice.

2. Relax your body, don’t fidget: Relax, don’t be nervous. Maintain a relaxed pose instead of all stiffened up. Avoid or minimize fidgety movement and nervous ticks. Do not shake your leg or tap your fingers against some surface.

3. Maintain some distance: In many cultures, people get too close or even all touchy feely. If other person starts to step back, you know that you are invading their space. You can lean forward to make a point or listen, but don’t be in other person’s face. Continue reading “How to improve your body language”

The art of elocution

Elocution is the basis of effective communication skills. Elocution is the art of clear and concise manner of speaking. For a meaningful message, the art of elocution plays a significant role. Your voice, the style, formulation of the words, the gestures and the accent – different elements of elocution add up to the art of communication.

Elocution – The secret of effective speaking

In movie The King’s Speech (2010), while watching a clip of Hitler speaking in German language:
Lilibet: What’s he saying?
King George VI: I don’t know but… he seems to be saying it rather well….

And, you ofter hear people saying:
“Choose your words carefully; you may have to eat them!”….

“Be careful what you say; it may come back to bite you!”….

Yes, it is important what you say. But equally important, perhaps more important is how you say it. After all, it is not what comes out of your mouth, but how you deliver it. Your style, your tone, your body language….all that adds up to the actual message.

Elocution is the basis of effective communication skills. Elocution is the art of clear and concise manner of speaking, with clarity of meaning and thought. Elocution originates from the word ‘eloquence’ – fluent, elegant or persuasive speaking. It is the knowledge of expressing strong emotions in striking and appropriate language and with the power of persuasion.

Effective speech has deep roots in elocution – the pronunciation, the accent, the grammar, the tone and the gestures play a key role in forming a meaningful and desired message. Elocution is been considered a key aspect of learning the art of communications. The art of elocution has been dissected, studied and taught in the schools for a long time. According to McGuffey’s New Sixth Eclectic Reader of 1857, the key principles of elocution are:
I. Articulation
II. Inflections
III. Accent and Emphasis
IV. The Voice
V. Gesture
VI. Instructions for Reading Verse

I. Articulation: How you phrase your message and enunciate it, how you put your thoughts into proper words is the most important aspect of effective speech. By definition, articulation is the act of vocal expression and enunciation; it is the act or manner of producing a speech sound. Continue reading “The art of elocution”

Hinglish – Indian English idioms and phrases – II

The Indian English – combined with heavy influence of Hindi and other local languages – is called Hinglish. Here are some commonly used Hinglish words and phrases…

As mentioned in many previous posts, spoken English in India is very different as compared to the same language overseas. The Indian English – combined with heavy influence of Hindi and other local languages – is also called Hinglish. There are many related posts on this web-site on Hinglish usage and Hinglish words, and here is another one.

Quite a few commonly used Hinglish words and phrases are listed in the article:Hinglish of India – Indian idioms and phrases. This is the follow-up, part II.

Adding to the previous list, here are some commonly used Hinglish words and phrases:

Equation has changed :- Relationship has changed, e.g. “My equation with my brother has changed.”
Road-side Romeo – Refer to a boys/man waiting near the street entrances to colleges and universities, or to those cruising the city streets in search of women to impress
Rubber :- Pencil eraser
Cent per cent :- 100 per cent
Where do you put up? :- Where are you currently staying?.
Wheatish (complexion) :- Light, creamy brown, or having a light brown complexion.
Flat :- Apartment
Shirt-pant or pant-shirt :- Shirt and Trousers
Tight slap :- Hard slap Continue reading “Hinglish – Indian English idioms and phrases – II”

From desi Hinglish to fluent English

Hinglish – a hybrid of English with influence of Indian languages, especially Hindi. This is a compilation of many resources on the topics related to language barriers, accent improvement and the Hinglish usage. Take a look at all the resources available on the related topics, the help is only a few clicks away…

Those of us born and raised in India speak a very different English than the one spoken in Europe or North America or Australia..a plain fact.If you don’t believe, record yourself and listen!Try it!!

And it is natural, we are molded and shaped by our surroundings; we are always influenced by our mother tongue. As a result, the influence of our first language – often Hindi, is naturally present in our English speech, hence the term Hinglish.

On this site – The Indians Abroad, there are quite a few articles that address the usage of Hinglish and how to minimize it. Speaking Hinglish is not a mistake or something to be overly concerned about, it is just a habit – the way we speak in our own neighborhood. Think about it, even Australian spoken English is far different than the American English. The local factors and the local slangs are bound to influence the way we speak.

Hinglish usage is quite common in India, it is natural. No one cares, and no one should, as long as two parties can understand each-other. However, when we speak the same Hinglish abroad, not everybody is able to understand or comprehend the complete meaning, especially for those who are not familiar with desi terms and desi idioms. Continue reading “From desi Hinglish to fluent English”

Self-help tips on minimizing Hinglish usage abroad

Just like any other habit, the usage of Hinglish is not so easy to get rid of. Habits die hard.There are many simple things that we can do to speed up this adaptation to local English slang and language instead of Hinglish – the desi English India. Here are some the most effective tips…

10 easy Tips on how to minimize the usage of Hinglish (Indian English) overseas

Many of us, especially those who grew up in India, speak ‘Indian English’. This version of desi English – the Hinglishis, is heavily influenced by Hindi, other languages from India and desi terms. It is a common habit; and like many other habits, some times we don’t even realize that our English speech is often affected by our mother tongue.

Just like any other habit, the use of Hinglish is not so easy to get rid of. Habits die hard. In many cases, it may take a lot longer to get used to avoiding Hinglish completely. It needs a conscious effort to navigate away from any set routines, especially the ones developed during childhood –  our communicating or speaking habits.

While living overseas and away from India, we may not realize this but we are always adapting to the local ways of life. This process goes on even when we are not trying. This is a human nature; we are always adapting to our surroundings. Our language, our communication style and even our thinking – every aspect of our day-to-day life is slowly but surely impacted by the local culture and the society we live in. However, this adaptation and change is often very slow. The same applies to our habit of speaking Hinglish, the change is very slow unless we consciously try.

Listed below are some of the most effective ways to minimize the use of Hinglish. There are many simple things that we can do to speed up this adaptation to local English slang and language instead of continued habit of speaking in desi English – the Hinglish. Continue reading “Self-help tips on minimizing Hinglish usage abroad”

21 Topics for Small Talk Conversation for all occasions

Making small talk is a perfect replacement for an awkward and drawn out silence. But, what would you talk about – during small talk? Here are some of the most common topics to start a conversation, or keep it going:

Small talk – a conversation or chit chat without any specific topic – is a necessity in any social or professional life. In fact, making small is a perfect replacement for an awkward and drawn out silence. But, what would you talk about, during small talk?

Well, be creative. Look around and comment on something. Or introduce yourself, or ask an ice-breaking question…. you got the idea.

Here are some of the most common topics to start a conversation, or keep it going:

1. Hello/Hi: A simple hello is good way to start any small talk; a basic greeting of mutual acknowledgement.

2. Introduction: If meeting for the first time, make sure to introduce yourself. It shows your interest in the meeting, and put a name to the face.

3. Situation and surroundings: Talk about the surroundings or the venue: ‘Nice place, huh!’ or ‘I like this cafe!’

4. Weather talk: This is all time classic, may be a bit too much used. However, a talk about weather always gets the conversation started.

5. How was your day? : If the meeting is in the late day or in the evening, talk about how your day was, there is always something to share: ‘how is your day going so far?’

6. So what are you up to today/tonight? : Ask about short term plans for the day, or the night or the next day. This is always good way to keep the chit-chat alive. Continue reading “21 Topics for Small Talk Conversation for all occasions”

Hinglish of India – Indian idioms and phrases

Hinglish: Indian English lost in translations abroad – Idioms and phrases from India!
Many English words, Idioms and phrases have different meaning in India or are used only in India. When used abroad, they don’t feel right or mean something very different…

Hinglish: Indian English lost-in-translations abroad – Idioms and phrases from India

“What is your good name, sir?”
“Steve”
“It is nice knowing you, Steve Ji!”
…..
“Hey Boss, are you enjoying the fair?”
“Simply! Enjoying to the maximum!”
….
“How was the movie?”
“First-class!”

“I will give you a ring over the week-end.”
“OK boss”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this conversation as long as both parties are on the same page. The exchange above is perfectly understandable between two Indians in certain Indian regions.

English in India is spoken very differently as compared to the same language overseas. Our Indian mother-language and the grammar has significant impact on English – taught as a second or third language throughout the country. Sometime, the Indian English – due to the influence of Hindi and other local languages – is also called Hinglish.

Just like the conversation above, ‘Hinglish’  is quite common within Indian communities, ( “Tired, kya?” = “Are you tired?”). There is no harm, no foul if both sides understand it.

However, we tend to include some ‘Hinglish’ even when talking to American or English audience abroad. That is where we run into trouble, some miscommunication to say the least.

Many English words, Idioms and Phrases have different meaning in India or are used only in India. When used overseas, they don’t feel right or mean something entirely different.

Here are some of the common idioms and phrases, and their closest (or alternatives) usage in proper English when outside India:

What is your good name?: A polite way of asking someone’s name; it comes from translation of Hindi phrase – Shubh naam (good name). Politeness still intact, ‘May I know your name’ or ‘You name please?’ is more appropriate in non-Indian settings.

Eve teasing: It refer to sexual harassment of females, or taunting them – as in schools or colleges or in bazaars etc.

Poor Joke (pj): ‘Poor joke’ is not a commonly used phrase, a more common way of conveying the same thing is ‘bad joke’!

Time-pass: Relates to doing something trivial or of little importance – something that does not matter. ‘Nothing important’ is one of the many alternative way of responding, instead of ‘time-pass’.

Time-waste: This is worse than ‘time-pass’, doing something you don’t even enjoy. ‘It is a waste of time’ is a similar expression often used in Western countries.

Himalayan blunder:Very big mistake, a mistake of the size of Himalaya mountain. Blunder generally means ‘big’ mistake..may not need too many adjectives that are not commonly used overseas. Continue reading “Hinglish of India – Indian idioms and phrases”

How to improve your communication skills

Communications – the ability to share and exchange ideas and thoughts – consist of a wide range of skills. You cannot be a good communicator just by being a better speaker, or just by being a good listener. ..

Here are some of the main areas to improve your communications skills:

Communications – the ability to share and exchange ideas and thoughts – consist of a wide range of skills. You cannot be a good communicator just by being a better speaker, or just by being a good listener.

And, if the conversation or exchange is not in your mother tongue (the first language) – such as some one from India living abroad – it takes some extra efforts to be good at it. For improving your communications skills, here are some of the main areas to consider :

Know what you are talking about: A communications or an exchange of ideas or the conversation is hollow and empty if it has no substance. Subject-matter knowledge helps with a meaningful discourse. And, if it is just a friendly ‘chat about nothing’ – the small talk – that can also be improved, just read on!

Be a good listener: Listening is the first and foremost part of the communication. It helps with understanding the topic of discussion (‘Know what you are talking about’ – the step above). A good listener also earns the respect or the speakers and is always in-tune with the discussion. For details on improving this skill, refer to the article titled ‘how to improve the listening skills.’ The importance of listening is highlighted in a separate article linked here.

Improve verbal communications: Along with listening skills, equally important is the ability to deliver the message – the talking part. A good command of the language, a good vocabulary and ability to effectively speak are the desired attributes for being good at verbal communication. Those with mother-tongue (the first language) different than the communication language often struggle in this sector. If English is your second language, or if you need to improve your accent in the new language, make sure to consider the tips and suggestion in the article titled, ‘A self-help guide to lose your accent.Continue reading “How to improve your communication skills”