3,18,38,619 People

Just a little bit of trivia, 3,18,38,619 is the population of Kerala as of the official 2001 census.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, what on earth is going on with Tony’s commas? What kind of number is that? Well, the above number highlights a rather bizarre aspect of Indian English. 3,18,38,619 is read three crore 18 lakh thirty-eight thousand six hundred and nineteen.

Native English speakers are often shocked to discover that Indians have imported their traditional numbering system into English and regularly throw around the terms lakh and crore as if all English speakers should immediately recognize these words. Actually, I think the vast majority of Indians have no idea that lakh and crore are unique to south Asia. Lakh is a hundred thousand unit and crore is a ten million unit – both of which tend to throw numerical commas into chaos.

So is this just some obscure thing that I am blowing out of proportion? Nope. Lakh and crore appear in English language newspapers, televised news, official statistics, and the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. If you don’t believe me, click on the links and check it out for your self.

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