Hinglish and English

There has been an interesting debate going on in one of the online forums for Indian Technical Writers on the differences between Indian and the UK Technical writers. The biggest differences seem to be the cultural differences and work practices (how debates are resolved etc,), and that Indian English (“Hinglish”) is different to British or American English. The primary differences are in the writing styles and the terminology.

It was also argued that Indian Technical Writers haven’t had the benefit of studying technical communication to graduate or post-graduate level, and that Indian writers are generally younger than UK/US technical writers.

7 Comments

Rajesh

I have been a Technical Writer/Author/Communicator for nearly five years in India. I have worked for five different organizations, all incorporated in the US. I have interacted with many writers in India and across the world, at a professional and personal level. There are quite a few like me (maybe not as good as me 🙂 ) in the country and the number is growing at a phenomenal rate. There is the problem. The west (read US/UK) just cannot digest the fact that they have competition and are losing their jobs to people who don’t speak English at home! I thoroughly understand their concern (read irritation 🙂 ). Yeah, it was the ‘Cost Factor’ that triggered this phenomenon. Although there was a lot of promise, we were never meant to produce superior products/services compared to the west to begin with. Things have changed folks. People here are getting better. Some are better than any you can find around the world. Its no more just cost advantage. Its time to face reality.

Now to confront some of the allegations head-on. Although the medium of education in India is English almost everywhere, not all Indians have the best English. But big S/W giants never recruit half-baked professionals. All right, a few might slip through and some might go through with their technical merits, but the majority recruited are high quality Engineers and Post Grads who can compete with the best and produce work of exceptional quality. I write for products at SUN Microsystems. All of the SUN documentation are available online @ docs.sun.com. I can bet my bottom dollar/pound/rupee, no one can ever find out which set of the documents were written in the Bangalore office.

The two touted differences between the writers from the west and the rest doesn’t make much sense at all. It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest culture influences the way people write ‘Technical Documentation’. Besides, western culture is fast permeating into the Indian cities. Secondly, work practices in large MNCs are uniform across the globe. Also from my experience, work practices vary significantly between organizations. The growing industry will teach best practices to the writers, not working in a collaborative environment, through different forums like seminars, training etc. And newer work practices coined here might probably be better for productivity! The other primary difference identified was ‘writing style’. Then what are style guides like MS manual of style, Chicago MS, etc. for?

To sum it up, west must shed its hypocritical mindset and realize that its not a privilege of the west to solely reap from the ‘global economy’. Instead, they should welcome this rapid globalization and provide help and support to grow these emerging new centers and help them address their shortcomings. It is in their own interest. Who knows, the west might look eastwards in the future..

Anonymous

Competence goes beyond race, colour, or education. It is a relentless pursuit for excellence, and the key to it is the right attitude.

Coming to Hinglish and English, here are some facts for you:
– India is the second largest English speaking country in the world.
– Nearly a third of NASA’s employees are Indians.
– Times of India is the world’s largest English-language daily.
– According to one of the BBC surveys, India has the largest number of readers in the world.

And BTW, INDUS is the STC India Newsletter that frequently wins awards!!

Every coin has two sides. It’s true that Technical Writing is a relatively new profession in India, but it’s amazing to see how well it’s been received, and how well we’re doing here.

I work as a Technical Writer in Oracle (in India of course), and my audience is American. I have a post graduate degree and 6 years of work experience. And BTW, I recently mentored a couple of writers in the USA. I’m not bragging…what I essentially want to say is that yes, India was a non-english speaking third-world country, but it doesn’t take a lot of time for things to change, and we’ve I guess have adapted to changes over a period of time.

It is probably the time for the west to focus on competing with itself to achieve excellence and cope up with, shall I say change?

Anonymous

Looks like the objective of the original post was to get ‘negative’ replies. LOL!!!

– Chris

Anonymous

Having worked with several Indian authors I feel I know where their skills rest. You just need to be prepared to pay for the best quality authors. If you are limited to Rs13000 per month you will get what you pay for. The best writers I have worked with will cost the company nearer a lakh. About £15000 per year, great value for you money.

The cost situation becomes a bit murky though in some ODC’s who charge the western customer £100 per day, regardless of skill or experience. They hire the cheapest authors they can find to maximize their profits, thereby undermining the value of working with an Indian ODC. It is this practice, I feel, which gives rise to the criticisms in the original posting.

Anonymous

I have a feeling that the postings here are ‘moderated’ out by someone.

Anonymous

Hey folks, it’s a global economy…so stop pointing fingers at specific communities…Non-performers exist everywhere….and it is wrong to generalize and form opinions based solely on that.

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