Thursday, January 26, 2012

English: more than a language!

What does a language do?
 Yes you are right! It communicates.
In the case of other languages (Hindi and all regional languages) in India, they might be only the vehicle of communication but not the English (which has become very much a part of India).
In most cases, in India, when we try to communicate in English, we try to communicate our status in society as well. Speaking in Hindi in a mall or a posh hotel is considered tacky. When we speak in English, we want others to rate us better on the scale of education and upbringing.
In a way this language is a glass through which we want the world to see and judge us.
No doubt, to have the knowledge of a language as rich as English is terrific, but to use it to get the attention of the surrounding or convey the social status (fake or real) is what that irks me.
I fail to understand utterly that when I can ask a salesperson about products in Hindi or Bangla (or any other regional languages) why would I ask him/her in English? And more often than not, I have found salespersons themselves starting the conversation in English, when they can very well communicate in Hindi or the regional language.
If we as Indian think that communicating in Hindi, Bangla, Asamese, Kannada  ,Tamil, Panjabi, Marathi, Malayali  or any other regional language is a matter of shame, then I feel as a society we  need to mature. And using English to serve some petty purposes of social activities belittles the sublime importance of this (English) language as a communication tool.
At a juncture when United Nations has registered its anxiety over extinction of several languages across the globe, it becomes only necessary for us to preserve the mine of languages that we have in the form of national and regional languages through using them more and more in our daily social interactions.
Only by respecting our own languages, we can respect English language. Otherwise every time we use English to show proximity to a class that is superior to other language speakers, we disrespect the soul of the (English) language.

26 comments:

  1. well said!

    the way things are in Bangalore right now, its hard to find Kanndigas speaking Kannada 'in malls / posh hotels' as you said. even if we speak, the reps answer in English or give out an expression that says, "you don't know English?"

    English is the language of the world, the language of power, the language of business. But truly, one must not feel "low" to speak the tongue we grew up speaking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanx Sujatha for visiting and commenting. Yes,you are right that we must not feel low while speaking the language that we learn first.

      Delete
  2. English... ?
    Can you tell me a difference between calling a 9 month old baby and a 90 year old grandma ?
    BOTH WILL BE ADDRESSED AS SHE... but in Hindi and Local languages there will be RESPECT !

    English is the tool which is eminent and imminent for India, i agree.. there are few absurd donkeys which believes COMMUNICATING in english is the only way to show intellectualism THAT IS PRETTY SHAME !

    I cant accept English as Great language....
    For me Tamil is the Best but i can't use it all over the world but for that i can't disrespect my MOTHER TONGUE !
    English is just a Language...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanx deepak for visiting and commenting.
      "I cant accept English as Great language....": I understand your feelings for the mother tongue, however I think that English is a great language, it is our shallow behaviour that brings bad name to both English and our mother tongue. English per se is not villain, It is the way we are using it makes it sound as villain,but in reality it is us who are villain for disrespecting the English language for gaining petty attention.

      Delete
  3. you spoiled my next post....i wanted to write exactly on this :)....very well said...English helped us a lot, esp the call centers...they brought in a lot of dollars...also it is a very easy language to learn and communicate...but i hate when people who take it as a status symbol, a legacy of British Raj...

    good post :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey!It also means that your brilliance is rubbing off on me:)Kuch to fayda hua Khonjtheeternalsearch padhne ka.

      Thanx for visiting and commenting SUB.

      Delete
  4. Superb!!!! Very well written. This was exactly what
    I even felt but could never express it....Just love to read it.. Thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanx for visiting and commenting Shalini.

      Delete
  5. English is just like any other language to communicate better with people and it being an international language, there is nothing wrong in learning and being a master in that language. But doing so we often fail to remember that we are supposed to use to only when necessary but not all times even though when it is not required in our conversation. I admire Chennai people in these case, they just speak in their language no matter where they go and where they stand. They use the language English only when it is a matter of their work and with their clients.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes, true we must understand the importance of the usage of a language.

      Thanx for visiting and commenting.

      Delete
  6. Pseudo status is what I would call such an attitude. Aping westerners is just so stupid. We are losing a lot of nice things in our own language. Parents do not pass it on to the next generation and the native language degrades.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite nice observation and I think that when the native language degrades, the world as a whole also becomes loser as there are many things that world can learn and gain from our languages too.

      Thanx for visiting and commenting Sahana.

      Delete
  7. These days French too :) English is almost passe', if you speak French, you are elite. And, I observed one more thing. In this part, a polish would not mind speaking in polish with fellow polish, same with german, french blah blah! However, an Indian in UK/USA would shy away from communicating in Hindi. Odd?

    ~ Chintan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You showed entirely a new dimension to the problem.So, once again it is the hollow hunger to be superior to other language speakers rules and that too on a world stage with French taking the centre-stage. Perhaps a new research can be done on how languages help satisfy the huger for superiority.

      Thanx for visiting and commenting Chintan.

      Delete
  8. yes.....core of the issue is, treat English as just another language for communication and don't ever try to make it status symbol.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very true Irfan Ji.

      Thanx for visiting and commenting.

      Delete
  9. Sometimes in office, if we speak in Kannada the north Indians feel left out, if we speak in Hindi, some south Indians feel the same..English has become something that is common to all of us..Yes, I do know fake people who try to show off in English but the world's filled with all kindsa ppl!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Using English for real reasons is respecting the language in true sense, it is just the showing off part that seems strange.

      Thanx for visiting and commenting.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Thanx Amit for visiting and commenting

      Delete
  11. Well, I have experienced something opposite. There are places in India (read cities) where english have been given least important, in a frantic attempt to hold the local language in top. To cite you na example, i had visited an exhibition that depicted the track record and plans the city, and as state the place has envisaged. But everything was written in local language, which i failed to understand. I understand the need to market ( which is pathetic, i agree that point too)the local language, but what of people who are interested to know the things going around but just cant understand because of the language ! So will that make me respect the language ? I am in favor of english, nor against the local language. I am just stating an experience, that i think most of the people do face. ( And ya, i do agree, at many places, english is used just for show off, which i am against too)

    ReplyDelete
  12. @adreamygal: This is another dimension of communication problem.Yes I agree that English comes handy and works as a bridge between many Indian cities that have different regional language.But my point here was not that English per se is good or bad, but the way we use it.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Language is so extremely important to a culture! Language is how we develop rules, laws, and norms. It is sad that languages are lost due to the thinking that it is inferior to another language. All languages have their strengths and weaknesses and that is why it would be better to be multi-lingual instead of just one language. Some people are just too lazy or don't care to learn other languages (usually Americans :P). I live in Pennsylvania, United States and have been all over the US and I would say that atleast 50% of Americans are raised closed minded and they only know English language. I try to learn some more languages. I have went to school for 6 years trying to learn French, but I am not very good. And I try to teach myself some Spanish. I think the best way to learn a language is to actually go and stay in a country for a period of time.

    My Grandma told me of an experience where she was visiting France and she could not speak French. She and her friend were lost and couldn't find their hotel. They got on a bus and asked directions in the English language from some of the people sitting on the bus but everyone completely ignored them. When the bus stopped they got off and went into a Cafe where they asked directions again and this time an American woman was there and talked to them. She told them "The people who live here can all speak English, it is a required class in French schools to learn English. But none of them will talk to Americans in English because they are offended of the fact that you are in their country and you did not even take the time to learn their language first." When in France, speak french.

    Although I think all human beings should be compassionate toward all other fellow human beings I do kind of agree with that thought process that when visiting other countries one should learn the language of that country.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very True.

    Thanx for your time and comment.

    ReplyDelete