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elmwood
05-25-2006, 12:38 PM
You will kindly answer this question that I have.

In most correspondence I get from Indians (Asian, not Native American), the word "kindly" is always included as a replacement for "please" in instructions or as a preface for requests.

American English: "If you have any questions, please contact me."
Indian English: "If you have any questions, kindly contact me." or "Kindly contact me if you have any questions."

I;ve even seen "Please kindly", as if "kindly" alone wwasn't polite enough.

I have also noticed "kindly" used even in a context where American English speakers wouldn't use a formal "please", like "Kindly look both ways before you cross the street" or "The taxi drive kindly drove me to the hotel." I'm still clueless as to what "kindly do the needful" means.

What are the origins of Indian English speakers' infatuation with "kindly"?

HMS Irruncible
05-25-2006, 01:41 PM
I reckon there's a bunch of Indian-isms originating in centuries past that now seem quaint or misplaced to us.

The one I notice is instead of "question" they'll say "doubt," as in "I have a doubt."

Nothing wrong with it at all, the usage just sounds funny if you aren't used to it.

OttoDaFe
05-25-2006, 01:56 PM
One that I get a lot at work (we "co-source" with an Indian company) is "kindly do the needful" to accomplish whatever it is that the writer wants done. Sort of jarring the first time or three, but you do indeed get used to it.

Excalibre
05-25-2006, 04:02 PM
I imagine a lot of it is British usage - perhaps highly formal British used in administration - that's no longer current in England but has remained in use in India.

Anaamika
05-25-2006, 04:14 PM
Excalibre's right. A lot of Indian eccentricities in speaking stem directly from 300 years of British rule.

We probably drink more tea than the Brits at this point.

Excalibre
05-25-2006, 04:19 PM
We probably drink more tea than the Brits at this point.
Was tea not drunk in India before that?

Skammer
05-25-2006, 04:23 PM
I came in to comment on 'kindly do the needful.' I review incident reports from analysts in India all day and this still jumps out at me every time.

jjimm
05-25-2006, 04:23 PM
Not Indian, but close enough, my Sri Lankan friend, from an English-speaking family in Colombo, always used to call his watch his "timepiece".

Reading The Hindu (http://www.hindu.com/) is also good for the odd gem of archaic English usage.

jjimm
05-25-2006, 04:25 PM
Was tea not drunk in India before that?No. The British introduced tea to India from China in the 19th century, after a colonial chappie noticed that the hills in Darjeeling had the ideal climate to grow it. IIRC, all the tea in India came from propagating three plants that were carried on the deck of a ship from Hong Kong, and tended round the clock until they arrived.

Anaamika
05-25-2006, 04:31 PM
Thanks, jjim. I wasn't sure of the history myself.

even sven
05-25-2006, 04:45 PM
Was tea not drunk in India before that?

Believe it or not, no (or at least, not widely). Large scale tea production and everyday tea drinking across the country is a product of the British tea plantation system- it was all pretty systematic involving lots of experiements with varieites, soils, etc. . The British began the plantations with cuttings from China, though they later discovered native tea plants.

Wikipedia has a good article on Indian English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_English). The trick to remember is that English in India isn't like the French you learned in high school- it's a living breathing language that is often used in everyday settings, and as such has evolved on a unique path just like American English.

Jackknifed Juggernaut
05-25-2006, 05:51 PM
One of the analysts (from a Caribbean island) in my office always seems to use "kindly", so I've also been wondering about it. The first time I read it in an e-mail, I was a bit confused. I can't find a recent e-mail from her but I'm going to paraphrase: "Kindly respond to this e-mail if you need additional information."

I thought to myself: Is she asking me to respond in a "kind" way? Don't I always? Have I ever responded in an (opposite of kind) way? Then I realized that this was just the way she writes. I guess I just don't understand what it really means.

jjimm
05-25-2006, 06:04 PM
"Kindly" is still used, to a certain extent, over here. It just means "please" in a formalised manner. Though in a UK context, it could be seen as a bit sarcastic.

People also write "kind regards" at the end of their letters/emails, which always looks weird to me.

Celyn
05-25-2006, 07:21 PM
Yes, as Jjimm says, it does come form British usage, but you should be wary of using it to British people, as it has come to have a rather narky, bossy tone over here - not always but sometimes.

The "Indian-English" usages quoted in the OP seem to bear no ill-intent though -just a language-changing thingy.

I didn't know that thing about the history of tea. More trivia. :) Lovely. :)

Faruiza
05-25-2006, 07:29 PM
That's funny! What caught my eye in the title here was the word "kindly". It's not common here in my neck of the woods (California) but I have a boss who is older AND a transplant from back east. I swear to Og, he uses that word two or three times in one bloody sentence. All. The. Time. It's gotten to the point where it's making me hostile. I'm sure he doesn't realize he's doing it, and it sounds just like how the L.A. valley girls insert "like" a bazillion times into a sentence.

gouda
05-26-2006, 06:48 AM
I come across a lot of this in emails and letters, but I've never actually heard anyone talk like that over here. I'd probably laugh if someone ever told me to 'kindly to the needful'.

Martha Medea
05-26-2006, 07:06 AM
An Indian friend, upon hearing about my then-boyfriend's father's death, remarked "I did not know he had expired". Even my boyfriend found it amusing.

I have several friends from the English speaking Caribbean who use what sound to me like archaic expressions like "I was so vexed". Then again, some US English terms (gotten) are no longer used in UK English. It underwent an equivalent process to Indian English. Same goes for Latin American Spanish vs Iberian Spanish.

Kind regards,

Martha

cantara
05-26-2006, 08:59 AM
My 70 year old father uses the word kindly on a regular basis, typically when saying thank you. He's got it on his answering machine message, "Thank you kindly." I always knew that most people didn't use it but was always exposed to it from him. His parents spoke english as a second language after they emmigrated to Ontario (north of Minnesota) from the Ukraine just before WW1. I assume he picked up the usage from a school teacher. I'll ask if he had any British teachers when he was growing up in the 1940s.

Never heard 'kindly to the needful'.

chaoticbear
05-26-2006, 10:44 AM
Normally, the only time I ever hear this is with old people-shopowners, who tell me that "we thank you kindly" when I purchase something.

Malacandra
05-26-2006, 10:47 AM
Excalibre's right. A lot of Indian eccentricities in speaking stem directly from 300 years of British rule.

We probably drink more tea than the Brits at this point.

As there's roughly twenty Indians for every Brit, I find this unsurprising. :p

Anaamika
05-26-2006, 11:00 AM
As there's roughly twenty Indians for every Brit, I find this unsurprising. :p
Ok, per capita then.

Acsenray
05-26-2006, 11:04 AM
Never heard 'kindly to the needful'.

It's "kindly do the needful." As has been stated before, it means, "Please do what needs to be done (as described or referred to previously)." And it might suggest that the requester is not sure exactly what steps or tasks are needed in order to complete the request. (As in "I'm not sure what all you've got to do to get this done, but please do it.")

I found this example on the Web site of the Indian Income Tax Department:

Issued as per the orders of Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Kochi.

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF COMMISSIONER OF INCOME TAX, KOCHI
Central Revenue Building, I.S.Press Road, Kochi-682 018
No.CC/CHN/PR 35/2005-06 Dated : 08-11-2005

To,

The Advertisement Manager,
The Hindu,
Kochi.

Sir,
Sub : Release of advertisement for Income Tax Dept- reg.
******************
I am enclosing herewith a material for advertisement to be published in the National Edition of your esteemed daily. The advertisement is to be released on 10th November,2005. The size of the advertisement should be 2col x 15cms and may be given on an inner page/business page with prominence. Your are requested to prepare the bill at DAVP rates and forward the same to the Asst. Commissioner of Income Tax(H),O/o The Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Kochi for payment. Kindly do the needful.

Yours faithfully,

(N.T.KARTHIKEYAN)
Addl. Commissioner of Income Tax(T), Kochi

Encl:As above. For Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Kochi.
Copy to : The Asst Commissioner of Income tax(H)
O/o the CCIT , Kochi.

Excalibre
05-26-2006, 11:10 AM
My 70 year old father uses the word kindly on a regular basis, typically when saying thank you. He's got it on his answering machine message, "Thank you kindly." I always knew that most people didn't use it but was always exposed to it from him. His parents spoke english as a second language after they emmigrated to Ontario (north of Minnesota) from the Ukraine just before WW1. I assume he picked up the usage from a school teacher. I'll ask if he had any British teachers when he was growing up in the 1940s.

Never heard 'kindly to the needful'.
"Thank you kindly" sounds a touch old-fashioned to my ears, but I actually say it not terribly infrequently. Is "kindly" really so unfamiliar to most people?

spingears
05-26-2006, 02:59 PM
I;ve even seen "Please kindly", as if "kindly" alone wwasn't polite enough.What are the origins of Indian English speakers' infatuation with "kindly"?Wasn't it the British who taught them English?

Excalibre
05-26-2006, 03:13 PM
Wasn't it the British who taught them English?
:rolleyes: No, it was the Lebanese.

Marathon
05-26-2006, 03:32 PM
<The Exorcist>

"And I'm the Devil. Now KINDLY UNDO THESE STRAPS!"

</The Exorcist>

Sorry. It was the first thing I thought of.

Walloon
05-26-2006, 03:53 PM
I've always found Indians to be some of the most polite people on earth, so the frequent use of "kindly" doesn't surprise me.

JillGat
05-26-2006, 04:01 PM
One that I get a lot at work (we "co-source" with an Indian company) is "kindly do the needful" to accomplish whatever it is that the writer wants done. Sort of jarring the first time or three, but you do indeed get used to it.

"Kindly" is used instead of "Please" in most Caribbean countries, too, as well as "Kindly do the needful." I didn't even know "needful" was a word.

Sutremaine
05-26-2006, 04:46 PM
Then again, some US English terms (gotten) are no longer used in UK English. It underwent an equivalent process to Indian English.
I use 'gotten' all the time, and so do people around me (I checked, just in case it was one of my quirks). Are we talking about one particular usage, or the whole word? Which bits of Britain does this apply to?

chaoticbear
05-27-2006, 08:18 AM
I use 'gotten' all the time, and so do people around me (I checked, just in case it was one of my quirks). Are we talking about one particular usage, or the whole word? Which bits of Britain does this apply to?

Have, got, have gotten, right?

Celyn
05-27-2006, 09:07 AM
I use 'gotten' all the time, and so do people around me (I checked, just in case it was one of my quirks). Are we talking about one particular usage, or the whole word? Which bits of Britain does this apply to?

That does surprise me, actually. While I do know that "gotten" *used* to exist in British English, I have always regarded it as an Americanism. This means that I accept it from, say, my American sis-in-law, but when I hear it from British people, I tend to think, rather sniffily, "o god, some stupid useless teenage dimwit who thinks it's clever to use American-speak that they have picked up from television." :)

So, Sutremaine, now I have learned that I should not be quite so nasty, lest I ever meet you unknowingly. :)

As for "which bits of Britain", well, I have lived in a few places in Scotland, in Surrey, then in London, and in west Wales, and heard nothing to change my mind. This is interesting, though, so there *are* places where it is a normal usage? (Note, if that sounds snarky, it's not meant to be: I am genuinely interested to learn of this.)

(Tangent - I'm not going to look for a cite, 'cos I don't know where in my big big mess the book is, but Dorothy Parker, (in one of her review pieces, I *think*), reacts to the use of "gotten" as though it were as very strange and not very good word. Of course, it will now happen that as soon as I hit "submit", the Collected Whatsits of D. Parker will suddenly appear from nowhere.) :)

It would be interesting to know which areas do use it in Britain, Sutremaine, but if you don't feel like mentioning a vague location, that's fine. Possibly an age-related prejudice of mine? I'm 44, for what that's worth.

Bytegeist
05-27-2006, 11:13 AM
Have, got, have gotten, right?
It's get, got, have gotten. The same pattern as forget, forgot, have forgotten, as the words are used in the U.S. anyway. (Canada as well?) The point the Brits here are making, I believe, is that they always use "got" for both past tense forms.

You'll also hear "have got" over here in North America -- as in, "I have got to be more careful" -- but that's not really using the past tense of "get". (It's not the past tense form of "I get to be more careful.", but instead means "I must be more careful.") Perhaps a real grammarian can speak to what's going on there.

chaoticbear
05-27-2006, 08:11 PM
Ssh, you! It was early. :/

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