Why do so many people insist that India is an English speaki

K. T.   Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:16 am GMT
"The bank told him that the call centre people are located in India, and not in Wales."

Guest   Fri Jun 27, 2008 12:45 am GMT
-It is acquired English, not a real dialect.-
I don't know, 2 millions of Indians have English as their 1st/mother tongue.
For them, it's a real dialect.
Guest   Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:07 am GMT
Firstly, Indian english is not a real dialect for the simple reason that its not our 1st/mother tongue. Who gave the earlier guest his info I dont know. Yes, there are some people who speak english since childhood and probably speak english more than their actual Indian mother tongue but they are very few, mostly rich folks who would never be working in Indian call centres (which seems to be the crux of the problem here). I have been living outside India for some time now and have had Indian call centres answer my calls, and though I would say some do have strong Indian accents (which I as an Indian can easily understand), but on the whole, the accents are neutral/easy to understand and most call centres put employees through a rigorous accent reduction course. My only conclusion is that the unfortunate few who come across the not-so-well-spoken Indian call centre workers (and thus have a bad experience) complain, and it is only these complaints which get press coverage.
While I am not denying the sometimes poor quality in Indian call centres, I absolutely refuse to believe the comment about how Indian software/design people suck. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have worked in software for a few years, and in all the companies I worked, I regularly had to coordinate with the US based teams for our projects. I can assure you we had much better productivity/quality and build quality of our codes. In fact, in one firm where I worked, we had just taken on some software work for a major US telecom firm. This firm already had their own in-house software people who did all their work and it was just the bits and pieces which were sent to India at first. I no longer work there, but the last time I checked, almost the whole software projects of the US telecom firm had been shipped over to India.
Native Korean   Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:41 am GMT
I agree.
English is not a first language(the language they speak mostly at home) for most Indians. Nor is English the language Indians feel most confident to use in daily life.

I doubt Mexicans and Italians speak better English than Indians though.
However, Dutch and Scandinavians speak English much better than most Indians.
Bill in Los Angeles   Fri Jun 27, 2008 4:37 pm GMT
In my experience it's not the accent on the phone that irks me when I call into an Indian call center... it's the fact that the people at the call center are not equipped to answer my questions, help me resolve issues etc. I fully understand this isn't their fault. US companies (like the one I work for) have decided to route calls to India because it's cheaper. But they haven't routed the experience needed to solve problems associated with a given industry. In my company's case we have sent everything from finaicial audits to Human Resources and tech support to India. The audit part has worked out well. But trying to get the person to help you solve a problem with your payroll when that person has no experience in payroll is infuriating. It's a lost cause and people just decide not to call and live with the problem many times. We're basically paying people to answer the phone and say, "I don't know how to help you." and at the end of the call they have to say, "Thank you for calling and have a nice day. Was my service satisfactory?". In the vast majority of cases it's NOT satisfactory because the person wasn't able to assist at all. Then I receive an automated email that says "This is to close out your issue as it has been resolved". And they report this as a successfully resolved call so their statistics show that they're getting good results for less money. In reality this particulr aspect of offshoring is a huge customer satisfaction issue. I sit in meetings where we decide which functions to offshore and all of us in the meeting agree that certain functions will suck if we offshore. But the direction is clear, do it to save money, which in some industries is equivalent to staying afloat.

Ultimately even th ecompanies who are sending certain jobs to India know these call centers provide atrocious customer service (albeit politely!), but there's a huge cost savings in doing so and the cost associated with customer dissatisfaction is less quantifiable.
Karl   Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:09 pm GMT
I recently had an Indian woman in the US tell me that Indian people are "native speakers" of English. I said "no, they're not". Then she said "everyone" in India can speak English. Again, I said "no, that's not correct". Then other people said "she's Indian", and I said "I don't care, she's wrong".
Guest   Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:27 pm GMT
Follow-up to Bill's point: The complaints to the call center that I worked at were not just about accents. The company handled financial information for businesses. People were absolutely irate that their sensitive financial info was being handled by overseas workers.

American companies (and probably Japan and Europe) don't seem to care. Goods and services will be incredibly cheap--and no one will have a job to be able to afford them.
Travis   Fri Jun 27, 2008 6:42 pm GMT
The biggest problem I myself have encountered when talking with people at call centers in India is not that I cannot understand them (as even though their English is generally very thick and often has many usages that are very non-native, I can usually still decipher what they try to say). Rather, it is that they very often seem to have quite little understanding of my own English. Such is likely due to that even if they themselves speak relatively good English, unless they themselves have a good amount of contact with native speakers in Real Life, they are likely to not really be able to handle much actual dialect variation (and even my very formal speech is phonetically more a high register of my own dialect spoken very carefully, as opposed to really being a variant of GA per se).
pimpope   Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:29 am GMT
when I first came to the U.S, back in the dotcom era, I got hired by company where 80% of Employees were Indians. Nice and very cool People I would , It was a nice experience, but because I was on a H1B visa and I was going to stay only for a Year in the U.S , and decided to move on and work for another company where I had less difficulties in Communicating with Coworkers.

Some of them had the arrogance of saying that they did not need to change their Accents at all, because they Spoke English for sure!.

One thing for real is that even though People for Latin Countries might not have English skills well developed, it easier for Us to improve our English Skills with an almost native accent (USA), you could not say the same thing for People that consider themselves to be Native English Speaker and that think they do not need to improve at all.
Guest   Thu Jul 10, 2008 1:44 am GMT
Don't capitalise Random words!
Guest   Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:01 am GMT
Among non-native English English speaking countries, and taking the educated segemnt of society, India would definitely come in the top-tier in terms of English speaking ability. I know you will all bring up the Dutch and Scandinivian countries, but note, I said including only the educated segment. In the European countries, that would constitute nearly all the population, but in India, only a part of the society.
Guest   Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:42 am GMT
Scandiavian and Dutch English is too German-sounding and harsh.
I find Indian sing-a-song intonation much more pleasant.
That Indian guy from the Simpsons, Apu, has a really cute accent.
Bill in Los Angeles   Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:20 pm GMT
<<The biggest problem I myself have encountered when talking with people at call centers in India is not that I cannot understand them>>

Yes, that's been my experience as well. I end up havign to ask them to repeat the same thing several times.
JohnnyC   Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:15 pm GMT
But the OP's question is why do people think this?

I think it's a combination of the fact that India is a former British colony and that there's a very large Indian diaspora fluent in English. This leads to the general impression that English is spoken by everyone in India.
Guest   Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:00 pm GMT
<<I worked at a call center in the States that was transitioning to India. The callers I talked to HATED talking to the Indians. It was so bad that management had to reconsider going offshore. >>