There was, it seems, a pejorative term during the British Raj to describe Indian people trying to speak English. What was it?

  • 3
    Maybe you're thinking of 'Baboo' or 'Babu' English? 'Hinglish' is another possibility.
    – JEL
    Nov 10, 2016 at 6:33
  • 1
    Are you looking for pejorative terms for Indian English or Indian people who try to speak English? Please edit your question with your own research effort.
    – user140086
    Nov 10, 2016 at 9:31

2 Answers 2


As suggestd by @JEL in a comment, Babu or Baboo were terms used to refer to the ungrammatical English language used by Indians during the colonianl period:

  • British commentators during the colonial period sometimes expressed amusement at the kinds of English used by their subject populations. Babu, or Baboo, English of India attracted particular attention because it aspired to poetic heights in vocabulary and learning, despite being full of errors. Arnold Wright, the author of this study of Babu, might have been surprised to hear that linguists today find a great deal in common between Babu English and the ornate style used by many British writers in past centuries.

  • Baboo English as ’tis Writ, first published in 1891, considers the language of Indian newspapers. It reproduces begging letters, characterised by their indirectness and excessive politeness. The writer of this letter – an Indian local – is pleading with a gentleman to give him work. Job applications today are phrased very differently.

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From: (www.bl.uk)


You might be looking for Pidgin English [MWD]

pidgin: a simplified speech used for communication between people with different languages

or Butler English [Wikipedia]

Butler English, also known as Bearer English or Kitchen English, is a dialect of English that first developed as an occupational dialect in the years of the Madras Presidency in India, but that has developed over time and is now associated mainly with social class rather than occupation.