English in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Asia

Simon Horobin, Writing for
6-minute read
Episode #522

English in South Asia

The origins of South Asian English lie in Britain; the English language was established in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong as they were incorporated within the British Empire. During the period of British sovereignty in India, English was adopted as the principal language of administration, law, and education. Today, English retains official recognition as an associate language of India, alongside the main official language of Hindi, although in some areas it is the official language, while in others it is preferred to Hindi as a lingua franca. Since the population of India is in excess of a billion people, this creates the potential for a vast collection of English speakers, although the varying levels of education mean that the total number is closer to 250 million, with perhaps a further 350,000 using English as a second language.

A further 22 million people speak English as a second language in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. English is used in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia as the medium for the education, legal, and administrative systems, though it is not accorded any form of official status. English enjoys a more central role in Singapore than in Malaysia, where Malay is dominant, or in Hong Kong, where Chinese has primary status.


About the Author

Simon Horobin, Writing for Grammar Girl
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