Posted on February 22, 2021

Why I’m No Longer Changing My Indian Phrases Around My White Friends

Maia Flora, i, February 15, 2021

I’m making an active effort to use Indian phrases around my white friends. Sounds simple when I put it like that but trust me, it isn’t.

{snip} I’ve made conscious decisions to change my vocabulary when I speak to someone outside of my Indian community. I’ve even changed the way I’d speak around my friends, people I’ve known for years while growing up in Leeds. When typing out a message or chatting over FaceTime, I’ve opted for the English equivalents.


In fact it was when I stumbled over my words speaking to my massi a couple of months ago that I realised how code-switching between my community and white friends was becoming unmanageable. I was overwhelmed and stressed out by everyday conversations and I felt like I was losing my identity. So recently I decided to introduce Indian phrases back into my conversations.


After texts, the inevitable next step was actively saying these words out loud to my friends. This was difficult for me because the way to pronounce these phrases is to have a slight accent. Doing this made me feel vulnerable. Accents can be stereotyped and made fun of and I didn’t want this for my own community.


Making this change has enabled me to speak more freely about my culture and feel like myself. The level of embarrassment has diminished because I’m embracing parts of myself instead of hiding from them. I’m realising that I love speaking about my culture and I shouldn’t feel ashamed by it because there are so many amazing aspects to be shared.

I hope that making this active effort to use my Indian phrases will encourage others to do the same. {snip}


We need to normalise the use of phrases that come from our backgrounds because they’re a part of us. We should be proud of our identities, not hide away from being ourselves. There are so many communities that exist around us, instead of changing to fit into one, we need to acknowledge that there’s so much more out there.