2012 Student Research Conference:
25th Annual Student Research Conference

Obtained in Translation: A Sociolinguistic Exploration of the Indian English in Midnight's Children
Meredith N. Rupp
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

In Imaginary Homelands, Salman Rushdie writes, "It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately, to the notion that something can also be gained." Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children is an example of what can be gained in translation. Although India is a nation with hundreds of mother tongues, the novel's protagonist tells his story and the story of India in English. This paper will examine the linguistic strategies Rushdie uses to create an indigenized English. I argue that Rushdie's use of borrowings, literal translations, misspellings, compounding, and code mixing creates an Indianized English that undermines the centrality of English and indexes the prestige of Indian languages. Within this overarching, pan-Indian English, Rushdie's characters still have unique ways of speaking. Rushdie creates idiolects with certain lexical items and syntactic structures. Writing in English, Rushdie finds a language that represents the multiplicity and spirit of India.

Keywords: Indian English, Indianization, vernacular, Rushdie, Midnight's Children


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 410-2
Location: VH 1228
Time: 2:45

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