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It is common in India to hear English words that begin with the letter ‘s’ followed by one or more consonants, prefixed by an ‘i-’ or ‘ish-’ sound. The insertion of a vowel breaks up what, from the perspective of Hindi and other South Asian language speakers, is an unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce cluster of consonants. Those who choose to mark their education, class status and familiarity with English typically drop these ‘unbecoming’ prefixes, but in doing so change the meaning and frames of reference in which these terms operate. ‘Style’ and ‘ishtyle’ are two very different things. They operate in different linguistic worlds, and call up different referents. Insomuch as we consider the colonial history of India, and the role of the English-speaking world in perpetuating the inequalities associated with global capitalism, there is a power differential between these two terms. Yet in the use of ishtyle, there is also a resistance, a reclamation: a suggestion of uniqueness that is not made without a certain amount of pride. As an Australian, this ‘statement’, if not the precise meaning intended in the use of the, for want of a better term, ‘vernacular’ ishtyle, was something very familiar.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-337
Number of pages2
JournalSouth Asia: Journal of South Asia Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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