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general philosophy

Mind your Language

It always feels good when a RAC gets cleared and you get a confirmed seat, especially if it’s a night journey in a sleeper class and you are too tired to wait to sleep. This happened to me yesterday. But I do not intend to talk more about my journey at the moment, which is as a matter of fact still continuing ( Yeah, I’m relaxing in my upper berth). I think I have something better to write about. It’s about my mother tongue.

When did you last write in your mother tongue (at least 200 words at a stretch)? I never did that after my class X. In fact in my entire life, the only time I have used Hindi (that’s my mother tongue) as a written language has been only for the assignments and tests in school. Something similar cab be said about reading Hindi. I hardly get to do that. The sadder thing is that I hardly feel like doing that. I have heard people cry over preserving your mother tongue, but I am never moved. Are you?

I was reading this week’s edition of BW to kill some time. There’s this short review of a book called ‘How languages work’ by David Crystal. The subtitle of the book reads how Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, and Languages live or die. This very subtitle made the getting-bored-like-everyone-else-in-train me realize how rapidly Hindi is dying. Half the time when I talk even to myself, it happens in English. To be very true, the only time I use Hindi is when I am at home, or when I am chatting with my friends from north. There’s one interesting incidence that comes to my mind. I think I was in class fifth or sixth then. I was sitting in the examination hall. There was this language paper that day, and as usual it had one question on writing a letter to your friend (telling him may be how you spent your vacations). I started writing the letter. I had written for about half a page when the invigilator suddenly noticed what I was writing and exclaimed, ‘I think it’s a Hindi paper’. Oh my God! It actually was a Hindi Language paper and just because I was so used to writing letters in English, I never realized I was writing in English all this while! I laughed at myself, struck off the words in English, and started writing the letter again, in Hindi this time. I am sure the teacher who later checked the paper would have laughed real hard, seeing half a page of English words in a Hindi paper!

Getting back to the old point of how senti we should be towards our mother tongue, I do not have much of an opinion. Why should some languages be saved from dying? What’s the point? What’s wrong if the whole world eventually starts speaking just one language? Thinking of the whole world speaking a common language actually sounds a great stuff. The way globalization is growing, I actually have reasons to believe this is going to happen sooner or later. And I really don’t mind. I know for sure that there are folks with whom I am always going to talk in my mother tongue, and this is all I really care about.

2 replies on “Mind your Language”

I COULD bore you with how Diversity lies at the core of Evolution and how we need to preserve the diverseness of everything around us, but what the heck , you probably know all that anyway . Dhanyawaad.

i agree with you on your take on dying languages.
what matters to me is not the past, but the present and the future.
so what if some language dies and with it all the ‘rich knowledge’ etc etc?
if it was really rich and worthy it would survive on its own, right?

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