Dr. Sarmistha Roy

Guest Faculty, Dept. of English, BBM College

Agartala, West Tripura



Some of the most persistent aspects of colonization involved not just military and political domination and economic exploitation but also the systematic assault on different cultural aspects like languages and ethnic identities. Colonization not only colonized a place or its people, it also tried to control people’s thoughts and impose the superiority of the colonizers. Of course, the political and economic exploitation of colonialism had drastic effects on colonized people; colonialism also had palpable cultural effects.

Xenophobia is a term that is used to describe the dislike of outsiders (usually foreigners) and the fear of accepting these individuals within one’s own group. The liberal discourse of the civilizing mission and the various Orientalist positions, including a belief that vernacular languages were the most efficient way to spread European knowledge in India and the Anglicist insistence that English should be the language of education― both of these discourses had cultural effects during the Colonial period. Xenophobia is found both in societies hosting new migrant groups, and in the expanding societies. In the context of colonization, xenophobia is also apparent in the nativist reactions that some countries have experienced in relation to their former colonizing nations. For example, the term pisacha-bhasha (meaning goblin language) has been applied to English by the Indians as initially they considered it total gibberish.

However, towards the end of the twentieth century the global spread of English has remained not so much part of colonial control but rather part of neocolonial exploitation. This paper aims to investigate various aspects of the linguistic situation in Colonial India from the perspective of xenophobia.

Keywords: Language, Colonialism, Xenophobia, Colonial India, Language Policy.

Click to View and Download Full Research Paper in PDF:

Xenophobia in British India: A Linguistic Perspective