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Detecting “Indianism” in Spoken English through Assessments

Should Indianism be the main factor when assessing candidates’ Spoken English skills? Read this blog to learn what the term means and what you need to take into account in the assessment.

English is the most spoken language in the world, and it is also the most popular business language. But even if a country has English as the national language, each region has different ways of speaking it. Often, you can find some hilarious phrases or sentences that do not make any sense in your version of English.

SHL is a global company where people speak all kinds of English across the globe. While in the UK, your colleague may ask you “You alright?”, whereas you will be asked “How are you?” in the US. Even within a country, terms may differ—” How you doin’, den der?”, by a Minnesotan.

In countries where English is not the primary language, the way of speaking it gets even more diverse due to different cultural regions and dialects. For example, in Singapore, do not be surprised to hear people say to you “you die die must try!” when they refer to something so good, you have to try it no matter what; or “Let’s have lonche.” when a Latinx colleague asks you if you want to have lunch together.

And just like Singaporeans or Latinx, Indians are also known to have their way of speaking English, infusing their culture and grammatical structure. “Do the needful.” or “I will revert to you as soon as possible.”—these are just some of the most common sentences that you hear a lot when talking to Indian colleagues. This leads to a term called “Indianism”.

What is Indianism?

Indianism refers to a word or phrase which is a characteristic of Indian English. Indianism may also refer to the way a sentence has been structured as if it was literally translated from an Indian language to English.

Indianism is a significant factor when hiring for ITeS (Information Technology Enabled Services) companies, especially if they are dealing with international calls. In an actual work scenario, most of these Indianisms will sound like poor grammar and sentence structuring to the caller (client). Despite that, many candidates that use Indianism speak English well. Therefore, companies should not overlook candidates just because they use Indianism. And as remote work is here to stay, companies can instead use this opportunity to work with people across time zones.

In countries that do not (only) have English as their main language, the way of speaking English gets even more diverse due to different cultural regions and dialects.

Examples of Indianism

Here are some examples of common Indianism, compared to Standard US English:

One of our favorite Indianism is “I passed out from college.which actually means “I graduated from college.

Indianism—yes or no?

To help companies assess candidates based on their usage of Indianism, Aspiring Minds (now SHL) developed an additional module on Indianism, as a part of their SVAR assessment (automated Spoken English Evaluation tool). The SVAR assessment uses the following parameters to test candidates’ Spoken English skills:

  • Pronunciation
  • Fluency
  • Spoken English
  • Understanding
  • Active Listening
  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Indianism

In the end, yes, we agree that Indianism and other English variations may cause confusion in the workplace. But isn’t that the joy of working with international colleagues? Indianism or any other form of hybrid English should never be the main benchmark when assessing a candidate. After all, it is just one out of the eight parameters that determine a candidate’s overall Spoken English skill.

You should not overlook a truly good candidate, just because they speak Indian English, Singlish, Spanglish, UK English, or any other form of English and dialect. Respect them and appreciate their value, as their English is as true to them as your English to yours.

Hire faster, smarter, and evaluate your candidates based on their potential with our SHL Volume Hiring Solution.


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SHL Editor

Members of SHL staff from across the organization collaborated to research and write this article.

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