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One of the things I do is teaching people how to code and I love it. However, something I do not like, is that often (twice a week or so), people start conversations like this:

hi sir

how r u sir

sir , can u help me

can u show me how i can do dis

pls saaaar , help me 4 free

I found that most of these guys are Indians (or at least, from this geographical area). I do love Indians (and all people in general), but I really do not like this type of writing.

The closest thing I found is Indian English:

Indian English is any of the forms of English characteristic of India.

However, I'm pretty sure that Indian English does not include this unpleasant style of writing.

From my experience, the specifics are:

  • exaggerated use of sir (sometimes saa...aar)
  • lowercase letters
  • lack of punctuation, but not lack of commas
  • commas have a space before and after
  • chat shortcuts:

    • youu
    • arer
    • for4
    • thisdis
    • pleasepls or plzzzz

What I want to find out is:

  • What's the term/name to describe this style?
  • How and when did it appear? What's the history about this style?
  • Why is sir so much used?

I do not intend this to be in any way racist or something similar, but I'm just trying to understand why and how.

6

It's commonly referred to as textspeak, or textese, among other terms.

Language regarded as characteristic of text messages, consisting of abbreviations, acronyms, initials, emoticons, etc. (Oxford)

From Wikipedia:

SMS language or textese (also known as txt-speak, txtese, chatspeak, txt, txtspk, txtk, txto, texting language, txt lingo, SMSish, txtslang, txt talk) or "texting language" is a term for the abbreviations and slang commonly used with mobile phone text messaging, but sometimes used with other Internet-based communication such as email and instant messaging.

Three features of early mobile phone messaging encouraged users to use abbreviations: (a) Text entry was difficult, requiring multiple key presses on a small keypad to generate each letter; (b) Messages were limited to 160 characters; and (c) it made texting faster.

Once it became popular it took on a life of its own and was often used outside of its original context. At its peak, it was the cause of vigorous debate about its potentially detrimental effect on literacy, but with the advent of alphabetic keyboards on smartphones its use, and the controversies surrounding it, have receded and died off.

Emphasis mine

Most of the things you mentioned can be chalked up to textspeak, inluding the lowercase letters and the absence of proper punctuation. They are just shortcuts Indians use frequently, but this practice certainly isn't exclusive to India, and it's not considered part of Indian English as far as I know. (I'm from India.)

In my experience, some Indian netizens simply don't realize that textspeak isn't proper in formal contexts. (This also applies to select contractions, like wanna.)


The overuse of sir is another matter. This is because of the tendency of Indians to convey respect, as they would in their first languages. It's a cultural thing. Indians usually address their superiors and teachers with some sign of verbal respect, and sir fills this void in English.

The various spellings you see is how they transliterate their pronunciation (which varies greatly from state to state in India). I'm afraid I'm not sure why they do that. If I could hazard a guess, it originated as a half-joke in informal circles.

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    @IonicăBizău: It bugs me too. Apparently, Indians never got the memo that it's improper in formal settings. They think it's "cool". – Tushar Raj Jan 27 '17 at 8:07
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    About the commas: count your blessings you've come across users who at least put a space after it. I've often encountered people who put a space before and not after. (It's ugly ,trust me.) – Tushar Raj Jan 27 '17 at 8:20
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    Although this constant “sirring” comes off as the verbal marker of obsequious sycophancy by kowtowing toadies like so many mendicant paupers clutching at one’s hemline, they do this without understanding what a terrible cultural faux pas they’ve committed, because it is normal in their culture but not in ours. These intentions to be polite come off as exactly the opposite. – tchrist Jan 27 '17 at 12:41
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    @tchrist: Right you are, sir. The thing is, in some Indian formal settings, not 'sirring' would be a faux pas. Worse, the 'sir' might take it personally and deem you unworthy of whatever it is you wanted from him. Generations of such swellheads have preyed upon the people, and now this sycophancy is hardcoded into us. Better safe than sorry, that's what we think. – Tushar Raj Jan 27 '17 at 12:46
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    Are we sure that the only recipients of these messages are not users of Indian English, or that most of them are not? Not really clear from the question. It's all about what is expected by the people you are communicating well. What is jarring to one interlocutor might well be acceptable, expected, or even required by another interlocutor. – Drew Jan 27 '17 at 17:04

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