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Are we preserving our language??

September 22, 2008

Musical Mood : Aisa desh hai meraaa

Being away from India and in europe has made me learn and realise very many things…..simple things which I fail to recognise in India, things which I take for granted and never gave a thought….One such realisations is…….

At School

“Hey if we dont talk in English, teacher would fine us. we should talk in English only.”

At College

(In canteen)

“Arrey….I sometimes get to speak only in english….I dont understand how people in 21st century dont seem to know the language properly!!”

At University

” Ayyo….my friend could get the offer just because he couldn’t speak fluent english….they said lack of communication skills…Uff…This does not seem to be fair…He should have given more importance on his expression”

Few months Back

“Ya, all MNC’s (multi national companies) are preferring India and not other developing economies since we speak and understand english well….Thats an edge over others!!!”

Now

Yesterday in train, I met an old lady. She said she was teacher and worked for teaching children from army and was in Germany just after the world war. She was telling about difficulties when you dont know the language of the country you are living in but said its easier for me in UK since Indians seem to know english better.

I heard myself saying, ya we are taught and brought up learning and speaking English…English is no foreign language to us!

Suddenly I realised, how well do I know my mother tongue(telugu)….Ya I know it well, mainly because of my keen interest and ironically I am not as fluent in Hindi (my national language) as I am in English….Its a shame on me….I know…and I decided to learn to speak Hindi soon.

The point I would like to highlight is

I don’t know how many out there,are like me, but definitely, if I would not have come out to here, I would never have realized that I am using a foreign language to communicate among ourselves (that too being proud of it). Never would I realise the importance of preserving our heritage and having our own identity through our language….

Here, in western europe, I found that they respect and preserve their history and heritage a lot…though they are modernised and more americanised, they still preserve the heritage of the city, if not they atleast try to.

And I guess, as a fast developing nation, we are overlooking at somethings which form the basis of our identity….its not just the case of language…..its there in many things we do…we want imported stuff, we dont respect people who dont know english…we like to be westernised…most of the young girls dont like to wear saree….(including me before I came here)…. And be honest with yourselves, most of u ppl would agree with me!!

What should we do about it then???? Abandon English??? No….that would be foolish….We should learn and respect all the languages we learn but definitely we should learn our national language!! And we should find a way to make people realise that speaking in your own regional language/national language is not something to be ashamed of…..Knowing another language just adds to the already existing diverse qualities of the country….gives us that edge….but at the same time, we should preserve and let our languages be there as a mode of communication for our future generations but not as how sanskrit is for us now!!

What do you think????

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. renuka permalink
    September 23, 2008 3:39 pm

    LEARN HINDI soon :D…
    what u have said is true…we should learn things abt our country/culture but that doesnt mean we dont respect other languages

  2. September 26, 2008 4:08 pm

    You are right… we would be foolish to abandon English, nut one should know his national language.. good to know that ur learningit.

  3. October 8, 2008 5:07 pm

    thats a nice post 🙂 we are losing our identity. Today’s youngsters are ashamed to read a book in regional language.

    But the root cause of this problem lies with the parents. They want their children to call them as mom and dad. And they are proud to see their children speaking english. They forget about the beauty of our national and regional language.

  4. October 8, 2008 6:11 pm

    Hmm well, that’s a interesting remark….I never thought its with parents…mainly because I never saw anyone like that!! But Ya, what you said might be true!!

    Its a different take on this issue for me now….:)
    Thanks 😀

  5. October 9, 2008 9:07 am

    Hi Sahaja,
    Incidentally i came across your blog while browsing the Sahaj Yoga articles and this topic of “are we preserving our language” really interested me. Go to any part of the world, be it europe (specially France, Spain etc.) or middle east (who speak Arabic) they are really so fanatic about their language that whereever they go, they converse in their own mother tongue (ofcourse if the other person is of their own language). Even our own Indians mainly Tamilians and Malayalees only talk in their own language even in the office even the official matter. But we people especially Telugites from Andhra think it is great to converse in English how ever incorrect english it is.
    this is what i observed here in the Telugu Kala Samithi at Bahrain, this is the trend that they speak only in English (some even Butler english) and if you try to speak in Telugu they give a weird look. so we avoid going there.
    By this what are we trying to establish? Where are we going to go?

    Compared to our parents and grand parents the amount of grammatic telugu we know is much less and if are unable to pass that even to our children, then our language is going to be extinct soon. May be our grand children may tell oh my mother tongue used to be Telugu and my grand parents only know to speak, read and write telugu. What a pity it would be!!! my heart sobs a lot on this matter. Unless the awareness comes in every person that they should respect and preserve their language we cannot help. only we can counsel them

    Nice reading your blog. i like it.

  6. October 9, 2008 12:44 pm

    Hi Sahaja,

    While this is a great post, I am surprised that you say Hindi is our national language, implying that Hindi is the national language of India and other Indian languages are regional languages. This is not true. There is no such thing as a single national language of India. ALL our languages are NATIONAL LANGUAGES! Hindi along with English happen to be the official languages of the central government of India while the different states in India have their own official languages and together all languages are national languages.

    I don’t know Hindi at all but it does not bother me in the least. I am proud that I know one national language Tamil as well as I know English and I can understand other national languages to a certain extent though I am not fluent in them.

  7. October 10, 2008 11:44 pm

    @ Sailaja : I am so glad you commented coz I felt u exactly feel the way I do :)…true that Tamilians and Mallus do preserve their language much better than Telugu people…..Its a fact that most of us tend to fancy english rather than telugu….I am scared of a day where few generations from now people would read abt telugu as something bygone :(….I guess only way we could do is bring in awareness and make people realise that we should learn telugu and respect it as much as we do english :D…everything starts at individual…I hope that we can change 😀

    @ Raj : Well, I can understand the argument you put here…and I partially agree I should say! thats precisely why I posted this.

    To be honest with you, as I said in post, I started learning Hindi and speaking Hindi after coming to England…Can you imagine….Ironically!!

    I shall explain you the reasons…

    – when i was in India….I thought exactly the same way as you think, and even worse…I never used to like Hindi (mainly coz i started learning in my 6th std and it was very difficult for me)….I thought Telugu as my mother tongue and english as my main mode of communication outside my state.

    – After I came to UK, this is first time I am out of my country/state………I soon realised that I am speaking to my collegues who were british and my friends who were Indians in English….
    To the outside world, we are a country…a single nation…they dont about the diversity we have do they?? its we who represent our country once we are out….may not be official but ya we are ambassadors….they think (esp here) that we imitate and use their language for our communication….

    Is that the case??? Hmm partly yes right? When we have our own heritage why steal others???

    Then I realised…we can always learn other languages, but we should definitely know our language…

    PS: Hindi is termed National Language just because most Indians speak or can easily speak the language…Its not something we should go against….

    It definetely shows our “UNITY IN DIVERSITY”

    When we can respect, learn and communicate in a language of not our origin (I dont want to use word “foreign” coz I dont think many Indians term english to be one)……….Why cant we do the same with our own ones….Thats my point!!!!

  8. October 10, 2008 11:55 pm

    @Raj – And Ya, Hindi is just one tool to ease communication between north and south ….it could be replaced by any other language which is as widely spoken/learnt/understood 🙂

  9. October 11, 2008 7:20 am

    Sahaja,

    A single country does not have to have a single national language . . . take Switzerland, for instance, all four languages German, French, Italian and Rumanche are national languages and Switzerland is the best example of unity in diversity, they don’t have any problems in Switzerland because they recognise their diversity and treat everyone as equals . . . they don’t attempt to destroy their diversity by imposing German on the non-German Swiss . . . on the other hand, every country that has attempted to destroy its diversity by imposing one of its languages on others has either broken up (like the USSR, Pakistan, Yugoslavia) or experiencing serious problems due to the imposition of one of its languages on others (like Sri Lanka, China, Nepal) . . . if foreigners don’t know about our diversity, it is our duty to enlighten them about it . . . afterall, it is our DIVERSITY that makes India what it is . . . it is India’s linguistic diversity that differentiates India from the countless number of mono-lingual banana republics in the world . . .

    Sahaja : I understand what you mean Raj, I did not mean to say that we should leave our diversity!! Definitely not!! I meant why not add one more language to our list 🙂 so that we can be amicable and let one of any languages die (if u read comment above of Sailaja’s u wud know the position in AP …..I dread such a situation and wanted to do what i could….

    Hindi can never unite India . . . for the simple reason that it is the first language of those who speak Hindi but completely alien to those who speak the other national languages of India . . . if there is one language that can unite India, it can ONLY be English . . . and English IS an Indian language . . . if we assume that English is not Indian, it means that we still have not been able to get rid of our colonial mentality of looking at English as a foreign language . . . take the Latin Americans, for instance . . . they regard Spanish and Portuguese as their own languages though they have their own native languages . . . they speak their own languages but use Spanish and Portuguese for most purposes and as a link language . . .

    Sahaja : I never meant english is foreign…I dint want to coz I myself dont feel so.English is no foreign to me….I regard all languages equally 🙂 ….and thats what I wanted to bring out by this post…Before coming here, I never regarded Hindi…..I studied just for the sake of academics…Now, I realised and regard Hindi as well with Telugu and English 🙂

    Hindi is certainly NOT my language . . . Hindi is MORE foreign to me than English . . . Hindi is one (but only one of the many) national languages of India like Gujarati or Malayalam or Oriya or Khasi or Punjabi or Kannada or Marathi or Kashmiri . . . if I live in Gujarat, I’ll learn Gujarati . . . if I live in Assam, I’ll learn Ahomiya . . . if I live in Punjab, I’ll learn Punjabi . . . and yes, if I live in a Hindi state, I’ll learn Hindi . . . otherwise I’ll use English to communicate with those from other states . . .

    How can Hindi be a tool to ease communication between the Hindi states and non-Hindi states? Why should Hindi be imposed on the majority of Indians who don’t speak Hindi? Let the Hindi speakers learn English to communicate with non-Hindi speakers. Why should Hindi speakers learn only Hindi while the majority of Indians (non-Hindi speakers) learn three languages? It is shockingly unfair, unjust and violates the rights of the majority of Indians! Let everyone learn only their mother tongue and English. Let English be the link language for all Indians because it is a neutral language and it is the only pan-Indian language. And yes, English is also the lingua franca of the whole world!

    Hindi imposition is causing so many problems in different parts of India . . . if Hindi were to be imposed on non-Hindi Indians, it would be the end of India as we know it . . . imposing Hindi is the surest way to divide India . . .

    I am an Indian because I don’t speak Hindi . . . Hindia alone does not constitute India . . . I am an Indian because I recognise India’s linguistic diversity . . . I am an Indian because I give equal respect to all the national languages of India . . . and yes, I am an Indian because I speak English, as English IS an Indian language! 🙂

    Sahaja : If my post conveyed that i consider english foreign language, then i am sorry that was not i meant….I meant, its good to learn english and its definitely not foreign to us, (for the past few generations)….I consider this as of the advantages of british rule….by saying learn Hindi I meant, try to respect it also….It need not be imposed…..every language in India has its own importance and should be respected…and i dont consider any harm in learning Hindi 🙂 (ofcourse should not be imposed!!)…I am an Indian….I dont have any reservations in any language being called our language….I am saying, if chance permits, I dont mind learning another language and communicate to my fellow people in the same language as theirs….:)

    P.S.: Nowhere is Hindi termed as the only national language of India. All languages of India are national languages according to the constitution.

    Sahaja : I admit, I did not know about this. Thank you for letting me know and for such an interesting discussion Raj :)…I mean it 🙂

  10. October 11, 2008 9:08 am

    Sahaja,

    Please don’t say sorry. I understand what you mean with regard to English 🙂 And I do respect Hindi as one (but only one of the many) national languages of India and I’ll learn it if I go to live in a Hindi state just as I’ll learn the language of any other state that I go to live in. But I want to learn only the mother tongue and English compulsorily.

    By the way, you seem to be pessimistic about Telugu. I regard Telugu as my “father tongue” because my father was born in Andhra Pradesh, though I don’t know much Telugu. I had and have many Telugu family friends, college friends and colleagues. I don’t see any threat to Telugu at all. From what I have seen in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Telugu and English seem to happily coexist side by side. As they say:

    దేశ భాషలందు తెలుగు లెస్స! (Desa Bhashalandu Telugu Lessa!)

    I really mean it as Telugu is extremely beautiful to hear as every word in Telugu ends in a vowel sound. That’s why Telugu is known as “the Italian of the East” though I prefer to call Italian as “the Telugu of the West” 🙂

  11. October 11, 2008 4:20 pm

    hey wow….first of all how did u write in Telugu script??

    Ya I love Telugu as a language and as a literature as well….As you said, in Andhra, Telugu and English seem to coexist easily :)…..but not the real telugu which our grandparents speak…..I used to read novels and story books in Telugu but now a days, my own cousins dont know…..the newspapers are mostly after rhymes rather than the sense of usage of words….somehow i find it a bit alarming …..so felt we need to act on it :)….prevention is better than cure na!!

    Well, my best friend is Tamilian, and I really appreciate Tamilians respect towards their language!! I hope its still the same now!

    Thanks for your input Raj…….It was very useful discussion :)…Keep visiting my blog 😀

  12. October 13, 2008 9:32 am

    It’s quite simple Sahaja. There are so many transliterators on the web. Try this one for the national language Telugu:

    http://www.iit.edu/~laksvij/language/telugu.html

    Yes, I’ll keep visiting. Thanks for visiting mine. I’m adding you to my blogroll 🙂

  13. October 13, 2008 12:47 pm

    hi,
    Really a hot discussion indeed i would like to add my comment on the following quote :
    “Hindi can never unite India . . . for the simple reason that it is the first language of those who speak Hindi but completely alien to those who speak the other national languages of India . . . if there is one language that can unite India, it can ONLY be English . . . and English IS an Indian language”

    I think you consider Hindi as one of the 24 languages of India, but Hindi is the language spoken by the majority in India followed by Telugu. (Yes Telugu stands in the second place when it comes to the number of people speaking in India.) Based on this and also its accessibility to all the Indians, because it is the language which is very very close in script and essence to our Mother Language, Sanskrit, it can be considered as our National language.

    You know very well that almost all the Indian languages have their origin from Sanskrit, which used to be the Devatha Bhasha or the language of the GODS. now Hindi is also In some parts called as Devanagiri, to be more precise the script of Hindi is Devanagari script which is exactly the same as Sanskrit.

    We have to be very proud of Sanskrit as most of the Vedas were in Sanskrit and the knowledge given in Vedas some 140,000 years ago has been rediscovered in this 20th century. for example the pythogorus theoram, and many aspects in Maths. And now where is Sanskrit gone? how many people In India are able to speak in Sanskrit?
    Similar would be the fate of our language telugu if people do not realize its importance.

    Coming back to Hindi i do not find any problem in calling it our National language because the official language of India is supposed to be Hindi, the language most Indians can understand and speak. That’s why it is taught in most states (except Tamil Nadu) as the third language.

    Shall i give one illustration?
    Here in Bahrain i was conversing with my Malayalee neighbour in Hindi, when another Bengali friend of mine who happened to visit my house at that time wondered and exclaimed ” Two south Indians talking in North Indian language Hindi? Funny” Doesn’t it show the unity in Diversity.

    Nice topics on your blogs. But one thing i cannot understand is the nick names of yours “an alien earthling” how do you chose such names. but really good to know you through your blogs.
    Sailaja

  14. October 13, 2008 4:09 pm

    Hi Sailaja,

    Hindi is the first language of about 30% Indians and is spoken by about 10% more. In no way is it the language of the majority of Indians. Even IF it was the language of the majority, it CANNOT be called as the ONLY national language. Hindi is only one among the MANY NATIONAL LANGUAGES of India. Hindi is understood by some non-native speakers of Hindi not because it is “accessible” but rather due to the policies of HINDI IMPOSITION by the central government.

    All Indian languages DO NOT originate from Sanskrit. The FIVE Southern languages do not originate from Sanskrit though they have varying degrees of influence and loan words. MANY languages of the North-East do not have anything in common with Sanskrit. English, which IS an Indian language, certainly does not originate from Sanskrit. French, which has official status in Puducherry, does not originate from Sanskrit.

    Sanskrit is written in so many different scripts. In Tamil Nadu, Sanskrit is written in the Tamil script. Other scripts used to write Sanskrit are Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Gujarati, Bengali and even the Roman script. So what if Hindi and one form of Sanskrit use the same script?

    When the existence of god itself is a thing that is merely a belief, it does not matter in the least what language some gods were believed to speak. And by the way, since you mean Hindu gods, you are omitting the Muslims (whose god is believed to speak Arabic), the Christians (whose god is believed to speak Aramaic which is related to Hebrew), the Buddhists (they don’t have a god, but their religious literature is in Pali, some of it is in Tibetan), the Sikhs (their god did not exist in the form of a person, but their religious literature is in Punjabi and uses the Gurmukhi script), the Parsis (their god does not exist in the form of a person but their religious literature is in Avestan which is similar to old Persian), the Jews (their god is believed to speak Hebrew) and the followers of various tribal and animist religions (their gods speak their own languages). Unlike the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, India is a SECULAR COUNTRY and religion and the state are kept separate, so the language in which some gods of one religion were believed to speak is in no way special. But yes, the status of “classical language” has been given to Tamil and Sanskrit because of their antiquity (other languages may or may not be added to this list).

    Speaking in Hindi DOES NOT show unity in diversity at all. It shows that linguistic diversity is on the decline. Once when I was travelling in a train, two army officers were travelling with us. One spoke in chaste Malayalam and the other in chaste Tamil. Yet they were able to understand each other and continued the conversation in two different languages. THAT is unity in diversity. If you want an example of unity in diversity, try out Switzerland or Brussels (the capital of the E.U.). They don’t have a common language and all the languages have an equal status. THAT is unity in diversity. Not the one we have in India, where Hindi is imposed on many non-Hindi people right from school where they are forced to learn Hindi but the Hindians do not learn any other language. This is not only unjust and unfair to the majority of non-Hindi Indians but it goes against the very spirit of India (shockingly, this is a linguistic crime that even the constitution seems to promote – shame on the article of the constitution that specifies the language policy as it contradicts several principles enshrined in the same constitution).

    Thanks for your nice comments about my blog. Well, the name “An alien Earthling” shows that I belong to the cosmos but live in the form of an Earthling on the blue planet 🙂

  15. tuter eh permalink
    January 7, 2009 11:05 pm

    it is good that you people are talking about hindi. as you are out of india ,you have noticed that everycountry is having its own language,in their embassies every work is done in their own lang.except indian embassy . we say that eng. is not a forien lang,tell me from where in india it belongs?whenever we talk about indian languages we say that polititions want to force hindi on us.what about eng? in which country children are punished when they talk in their mother tongue?
    as you’ve noticed till now my eng. is not good, i am not ashamed of it cause nobody repects you when you talk in eng. sometimes they are very surprised that why Indians always use Eng.? they don’t have their own lang.? specially in Hun. people respect Hindi and India.
    so we should learn as many lang. but we should respect hindi as our national lang.cause people abroad know hiindustan and hindi. all other lang. are also our own but hindi is our Raj bhasha.& Rashtrbhasha.

  16. January 9, 2009 5:37 pm

    Tuter eh,

    Indians have our own LANGUAGES and not language and English is one of our own languages. If Hindians (or anyone else) don’t want to learn English, fine, then just don’t learn English. You can just learn your own regional language Hindi. But Hindians (and their boot-lickers) have absolutely no right to force your regional language on others who have their own languages! India is NOT Hindia and Hindi is NOT “our” whatever bhasha. It is “YOUR” bhasha. I have absolutely NOTHING to do with Hindi apart from the fact that it is ONE of India’s national languages, just like so many others.

    You wanted to know where in India English belongs – it belongs everywhere in India! Unlike Hindi that is restricted only to Hindia. Hindi is an alien language to the majority of Indians and is the language of only one region but English is neutral and belongs to everyone equally.

    Some notorious politicians who speak your language (and their boot-lickers) want to impose your language on others. Who the hell are they to tell others to forget English and learn your regional language? If they want to forget English or don’t learn English, fine, let them not do it. But they (or anyone else) have absolutely NO right to tell anyone else what language others should learn or to force any language on others. Whether you like it or not, it is a crime! As long as the Hindi fascists who want to impose their language on others understand this, there won’t be any problems with India. Any attempt to turn India into Hindia will lead to the break up of India and the Hindi fascists will be solely responsible for it. Remember what happened to Pakistan or Yugoslavia or the erstwhile Soviet Union. Due to the language fascist politicians of those countries, they broke into pieces. And remember what happened in Punjab, what is happening in the North-East or in Kashmir, or recently in Maharashtra with the MNS. All these problems are were caused by the criminal politicians in successive central governments who wanted to impose discriminatory policies on others.

    Unlike Hindi that is pathetically forced on non-Hindians in quite a few states, people learn English because it is not forced on them! They willingly learn English because it is the language of the world and the only pan-Indian language because English IS an Indian language!

  17. GottiYanni permalink
    April 22, 2009 4:49 pm

    Economist on u’r thoughts on “Indian languages” at Peril.

  18. GottiYanni permalink
    April 22, 2009 4:50 pm

    Economist on u’r thoughts on “Indian languages” at Peril.

    http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13307780&fsrc=nwl

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