Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mind Your Language


I met P few months back. She’s a 12 year old who loves to sing and who is a die-hard M.S Dhoni fan. I saw her after many years actually. She’s my cousin’s daughter who is studying in Bangalore. Chances of us meeting were limited coz I too was away from Kerala most of the time.

Apparently she thought I would be a snob who would only talk in English and show nakhras all the time at home considering I was born and brought up abroad.

“DC (Dhanya Chechi. Chechi means elder sister in Malayalam. Yeah, she calls me DC coz she finds it easier)… you’re not a snob at all! You’re actually quite funny! And you speak Malayalam quite well too. I didn’t expect all that from you to tell you the truth!”

I take pride in telling people that I know how to write and read Malayalam fluently. Especially those people who have formed their opinion about me beforehand, just like P. Maybe it’s coz of this very reason, I get turned off when people tell me they don’t know their mother tongue.

I have met dozens of Keralites who tell me shamelessly that they dunno Malayalam at all. Is this something to be proud of?

I prefer to talk to Malayalees only in Malayalam be it at get togethers, parties or through the phone. I hate it when people (youngsters especially) who are actually fluent in the language start talking in English to their elders who have little or no comprehension of the language whatsoever. Is talking in your mother tongue considered passe nowadays? Even if you’re not comfortable with the language shouldn’t you be making an effort at least with the elderly folk?

P hardly talks in Malayalam which was why she was surprised when I said I knew the language. She said she didn’t know much coz her parents spoke only English at home. Her parents both are fluent in Malayalam by the way. Should you avoid teaching your kids your mother tongue thinking that it would be of no use when you go to school or anywhere outside your household?

If this is the case, should we actually be scared that a time will come when the future Indian generation will only know English?

P.S : In no way I am trying to hurt the sentiments of those people who don’t know their mother tongue. This is just something I feel strongly about.

65 comments:

Amal Bose said...

its a real problem these days..
we shd be proud of our own mother tongue..
but youngsters these are kinda proudly state their complete ignorance of the language. i think to an extend, parents are to be blamed for this. its highly necessary for each of us to know our roots and feel proud of it, proud of being a malayali...

Hemanth Potluri said...

yeah i accept the fact that kids today don't use their mother tongue often but they show of the posh english accent...sometimes its the teachers and even the parents who really dont ask the kids to speak in their own lang....well i to know how to write and read..so not bad for me :)..atleast i can teach my kids one day :).

urs..hemu..

Uncommon Sense said...

i think we talk in a particular language with some ppl, i and my sister both know malayalam but we cant ever speak to each other in tht language,, bcas we have been always speaking in hindi.. so its not possible even if we try to speak in malayalam to each other...and thou our parents know hindi we cant talk to them in hindi..

i believe when the first time we talk to a person, the language used between them becomes a default for their future communication

Darshan Chande said...

Yeah, even I wonder why people use some language which both are relatively less fluent with even though they both know a common language well. For e.g. when I was in school (was in Gujarati medium) the guys in the school always used to speak Hindi. Maybe Bollywood influence or what, I don't know. I mean, Hindi is a good language too, but when we were all Gujarati and knew Gujarati better then Hindi then why use Hindi?

Today English replaces all languages. In offices, in parties... I love English, alright. But I am not averse to speaking other language. What do people feel small about while speaking other languages, I never know.

Randeep said...

ധന്യ പറഞ്ഞത് ശരിയാണ്. മലയാളികള്‍ മലയാളം അറിഞ്ഞിരിക്കണം.:)


Cheers
Randeep

Jaunty anima said...

Well...even I'm not fluent with my mother tongue which is dogri but I know it to say the least..We must stick to our roots and knowing your mothertongue will only make you proud:)

Ekam said...

I think parents are to be blamed in this case. Our mother tongue is Punjabi. One of my cousins live in Haryana and her children don't know even P of Punjabi(She and her husband both converse in Punjabi whereas with their children , they speak Hindi or English) whereas another cousin of mine who lives in London makes it a point to talk with her daughter in Punjabi. Children will learn and talk in English or any other lang when they are not at their homes, but when they are with their parents , their family,parents should always talk with them in their lang. Or else, I agree with you, there would be a time when Inda's future generation's 'mother tongue' would be English .

Aditya said...

Ah learning langauges should never be forced. I personally love learning languages and I am fleunt in four-Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and English and no one forced me to learn. yes mother tonmgue has to be respected but that respect has to be taught from the childhood not forced in my opinion :)

Ramit said...

Happy Diwali. My mother toungue is punjabi and I speak it pretty well. Agree with you totally! :-)

Anoop said...

dhanya,
wat u said is rite.. very true. there are ppl who talk only in english even if they were fluent in their mother tongue.
m a mallu too... n i had frnds who talk only in english.. OMG! i used to kinda hate them..

even very small kids talk in english.. their parents want them to talk in english.. :|

dhanya chechi... khe khe khe...

ZB said...

me too, me too.....i feel proud of my mother tongue.....though i havent studied malayalam in schools, i can read, write, eat, sleep, and think in it......i hate people who feel low about being a mallu.....Malayali Zindabad...:D

♥ÐÅyÐяєÅмє®♥ said...

I love languages and the purity and joy of speaking....irrespective of what it is... :)

Meow said...

Kudos to you... thought provoking post... which gives a strong message in a sweet way... :) I know to read and write ma mother tongue... Telugu :) :)

PULKIT said...

in reasonable agreement with u at most of places in this post :)
tc god bless!
me reading two states right now so the blog post on laguage understanding and elementary nessesity gave me a gr8 cross thought on the views of the author of the book anyways :)
hey, dhanu! have a gr8 diwali, wishin u and ur family members :)
cheers!
PS - yeah congrats for the 100 cross followers :)

The Solitary Writer said...

Well..strong post and i recommend this post ....one shd know the importance of his mother language...may be he is knowing other languages bt this is the thing which bonds him/her with his land and people...u cant tok to ur relatives or closed ones in some othr languages .. if u do it then then it wd be bad..i respect my mother tongue and m proud of it...i am glad that i cn read and speak Tamil although i cant write coz of ths mumbaikar tag over me.. :) nd hey i like ur header nd may i knw y is the fish inside its own fishtank nd other fish outside it...even it can be inside :D

The unsure ascetic said...

I support your view completely. I have observed that recent migrants particularly delight in saying that their children are naive about their mother tongue. I suspect these children will have severe identity crisis at some point of their lives,
Must say that Keralaites are one of the best lot in this category as I have found it unnerving at times when two malayalees in a group of 5 indians take to malayalam leaving the other three stumped. Their love for their state remains with them anywhere in this world.
*views are personal and not meant to offend.

AJai said...

Well I'm a mal and I can't read or write mal. I used to be bothered by it... but now i'm not. I accept it as a natural progression. i'm more fluent in hindi and tamil than i am with mal. obviously because of the place where i'm staying and the company i keep. i'm happy here. why should i feel bad that i don't know mal? maybe there is history and all in it... but change is natural... mal also eveolved from some other language.. maybe i'm a precursor to something that is bound to happen. i don't think we should be getting jingoistic abt it. it's not my fault.. not any1's. it's natural progression of society. that's all.

Pooja Mahimkar said...

oh i so agree with you. talking in ones mother tongue is seriously considered passe these days. i strongly agree with you. and support you in hhis matter!

keep blogging

Dhanya said...

It is sad that some families insist that kids should not speak their mother tongue. Their excuse is kids will get confused when taught too many languages. But reality is babies are too smart n can pick up 6-7 languages. If only parents understood this..

Btw came here when I saw someone with the same name in the comment section of some of the blogs I visit. I loved ur little world n especially your quote
hopes , dreams , they never die :)

Priya Joyce said...

hehe :P
am one of those u mentioned.
I'd not say that am ashamed that i dunno my mother tongue...but rather i feel proud of the fact that inspite of living in Rajasthan for 18 yrs (which's ma age also:P)
I know to speak Malayalam well...hehe
:P
well yeh am sure am gonna pick it up fast
but yah i feel more comfy with english and hindi...

Mads said...

Agree with the post completely...my tamil isn't that great but i still stammer and try to communicate with my parents :D

parents usually make their kids talk in english at home when they want them to learn the language...like many gujju families i know did that....
i dont know how to write/read tamil...ok, sue me!!!!!!!!!! :'(

Chatterbox said...

Thought provoking post!
I agree with you totally. We should be proud of our mother tongue and shouldn't shy away in communicating in the same with people who speak the same language.

It is an issue we often come across almost everywhere.It's good to come across someone who raised her voice on this issue.

Cheers!!

Archana said...

Oh I'm with you on this one. I have to admit, I make every effort to pick up my mother tongue, Tamil, to the best of my ability. Given that I've never lived in India, I've made every effort to speak and be proud of speaking my mother tongue. I speak and understand Tamil well, but that's cause my parents are always conscious of making my sister and I aware of our mother tongue. As for future generations to come..it'll be interesting.

I could write a whole rant on this topic, but I'm going to refrain sine this is too public of a forum for my honest opinions on this topic, heh. But nodded all along to your post. :)

Nazish Rahman said...

I agree with your point. Its very important to know your mother language. There are people who consider speaking in English as superior to those who dont know english!! This is nothing but foolishness.

Being Pramoda... said...

HI Dhanya,

well written and i agree with u completlyy...

the very first thing that suprised me here is the theme of the post itself..i too wrote few lines on the same theme and also on the same day ..:)

Well, same pinch .. hehe

plz do visit my post too ..:)

Suree said...

This is a common problem now a days ... Parents should take care of those kids who are studying at some other state where the language is different.

They should make sure that the kids know mother tongue,the local language and English.

Satyu said...

Oh wow!!
Really a very nice topic :)
I agree with you,these days there are hardly any people who love to talk in their mother tounge. I wonder when few of my classmates jus talk in english leaving their our mother tounge. I don say tht they are completely wrong but at the same time they gotta respect their mother tounge too.
And kids, they are more comfortable in speaking in the other language odr than their mother tounge.
I don say teachers are to be blamed coz these days all schools are english medium schools so students are ought to talk in english when they are in schools. But parents should atleast teach their children afterall its the root of the family.
And one gotta remember that India is well known for its varied traditions and cultures and whose main building block is Language :)

Takecare
Keep Smiling :)

Rahil said...

hi dhanya, back to your blog after long time, was busy with exams..how are u??

And i am feeling guilty after reading your post..as i myself dont knw language of my state.. i.e. dogri..

:(

but couldnt help, as from i have been hearning either hindi or english around me..so how can u expect to learn your local language ..with no one speaking it.

Sameera said...

hmmm... umm... err... I don't know how to read and write in my mother tounge. I can speak Telugu though! ;)

The main problem with me was... I have been in Gujarat almost all my life. But then I know Gujarati, Hindi and now I am learning how to speak Kannada..

Jahan rahtein ho waha ki bhasha toh seekhni hi chahiye! :)

I agree to how some people as ashamed of speaking in their mother tongue... These people have more serious issues than the language-- attitude flaws!

Ria said...

well said!!and i too feel strongly about it. hope u had a gr8 Diwali.

Pesto Sauce said...

I too do not know my native tongue and really regret why I was not taught my own lingo. Perhaps being brought up in another part is an unsubmissible excuse

Asit Dhal said...

Like u, I am also fluent in my native language, Oriya. I alwasy communicate in Oriya. But I hate those people who use English/Hindi to communicate despite both the parties knowing the common native language.

Buzz said...

Hi, nice thought there. But, yes, there's always a but!

I am a North-Indian, and as I perceive the South-Indian people, they don't speak in Hindi even when they know it(yes, I've quite a many Tamilian and Malyali friends), and it 'should' feel a bit reprehensible that in some way, they don't really care about the National Language of India. I mean, they had been taught Hindi up till secondary school, and still they avoid speaking this language as much as possible.

I am not trying to point out any flaw here, rather I think that this thing regarding language or mother-tongue should not be judged too sternly. I am quite liberal concerning language.

Everyone has a favorite language, it might be English for some, Hindi for some or Bengali for some, and they find it easier to converse in them. I think language, much like sexual orientation, should be left on personal choice to a person!

But, that's my view point. I don't intend to force my opinion or hurt anyone's sentiments.

Sweet Addiction said...

My mother tongue is Marwari adn at home we talk marvari mostly or else Nepali which is regional language.
At home my mom wanted us to start with Hindi but dad made sure we talk in our mother tongue marwari. All my siblings are so fluent with marwari.. There are many marwari families who speak only hindi at home..
I dont knw why this thing is increasing to talk tin english at home.
I think its very important to learn mother tongue. Imagine or else one day we';; be like how does our mother tongue sound??? our generation wont even have a clue. To keep the culture, tradition alive its important to make use of it or else it will vanish in few years.
Take step today. Learn ur regional lang. as well as mother tongue. its nth to be embarrassed of.. Its smthing to be proud if :S

Surya Kannan said...

I am proud of my language and heritage. The reach of english language with its limited vocabulary fades when compared to the charming expressions of our mother tongue.

Tamil is irresistible with its arsenal of words. Every thought when spoken in tamil is honey-coating to the mind. This language has survived over thousands of years with an amazing lineage of poets, thinkers, seers, kings and laymen alike.

It is better to read masterpieces of our own language than to hold a wordsworth or shakes pear. Who is keats when there existed a Kalidasa of the bygone era?

Passion meets purpose with our indian languages.

Ramit said...

Buzz has a valid point people. To each it's own!

Sandeep Balan said...

adipoli...kalakki...:-)

V. S. A . said...

well said. but when u see the present day scenario,regional languages or a person to be a multi linguist helps only to a certain extent. coz english being the universally accepted or used language worldly ,and not any regional language, people tend to switch to the former and not the latter. and if u see,even in intreviews,more than a person's technical knowledge,they look in for his communiation skills and the fluency in english.

its sad though,that many of us don't know to read,write or even talk so fluently in our mother tongue when compared to english.
but the fact is.. english is a compulsion whereas the mother tongue is just an option. And a passion for some.

good write,anyway. :)

Dhanya said...

Amal - Proud of being a Malayali too! :)

Hemu - Yeah, exactly! I want to teach my kids Malayalam too which is why I am stressing on knowing one's mothertongue :D

Uncommon sense - Yeah I guess! To each his/her own :)

Darshan - English is important alright.. but so is our mother tongue :) Even if we don't use it much, we should at least be able to converse in it when necessary... like I mentioned, especially if you're with elderly folks...

Randeep - You're a Mallu? :O

Jaunty Anima - Hey.. even if you're not fluent, you're making an effort! Thats what counts :D

Ekam - Yup... I agree it all starts at home... but we can't blame the parents entirely... I guess maybe they themselves arent sure of the language and are not fluent which prompts them to talk in English at home..

Aditya - Four languages! That's awesome :D I know Malayalam and lil bit of Tamil.. actually my Tamil sucks :(

Ramit - Belated Diwali wishes to you too! :D

Dhanya said...

Anoop - I thought for a while if you were calling me dhanya chechi and I was kinda surprised seeing that coz I know we both are of the same age :D Even I laugh like that sometimes btw. khe khe khe :P

ZB - We talk Malayalam, we walk malayalam, we sleep malayalam.. alle? :D :D Malayali Zindabaddddd!!!

Daydreamer - Yeah even I love all languages.. I'm not saying I hate rest of the languages other than mother tongue.. but what I am stressing on is that one should make an effort to know lil bit of ur mother tongue in case you dunno anything at all... to converse when its absolutely required...

Meow - Thanks for liking the post :) Yay you! :D Impressed by you already :D

Pulkit - Belated diwali wishes Pulkit! Coming a lil late... but better late than never :D :D

Dhanya said...

The Solitary Writer - Not knowing how to write can be forgiven coz not everyone will ask you to sit down n write stuff in your mother tongue :D

Oh the header! First time someone is asking me about that! The fish inside the tank would be me.. coz I feel I am a lil overprotected :D I long to join the other fish outside which seems to have that one thing that's really desirable to the fish inside the tank - freedom! So yeah the free fish shouldn't be exactly jumping into the tank but it should be vice versa -- the protected fish should be jumping out :)

Dhanya said...

The unsure ascetic - Yeah, I have seen such parents too -- who take complete pride in saying that their children know only English. Kinda sad actually.. but oh well, it's their life :)

AJai - As long as you can talk a lil bit in Malayalam, it's okay :)

Pooja - Thanks :D

Dhanya - Oh my god! Isn't this a surprise? :D We have such a lovely name, don't we? ;) I love that quote of mine too. Actually the first time I wrote it... everyone including my sister stole it and kept it in their profile pages or as a status message :(

Priya - You know how to speak no? Thats enough :D Writing is not THAT important..

Mads - :D You can talk in Tamil Madsy.. so yay you! I can never sue you... you're a lawyer no? :| You should be suing me instead...

Chatterbox - Wanted to write on this long back actually. Thanks for liking my post :)

Archana - What do I see? What do I see? A new DP? :D Naice!!! Temme something you DON'T know actually :(

Nazish - English is used everywhere.. so I won't say it isn't important... but yeah, you should be able to converse in ur mother tongue when it is required...

Ramit said...

Uh thanks, hope you had a wonderful festive time too :-)

Dhanya said...

Pramoda - Coincidence eh? :D Yeah, I am off to visit ur blog in a while :)

Suree - Yup! Both the languages -- mother tongue and english are important!

Satyu - Hey there! Long time no see :) Teaching one's mother tongue should be started at home... so you're right teachers at school are not to be blamed...

Rahil - Welcome back :D Hope ur exams went well? I am doing gooddddd..!! you? Yeah, I can understand.. it's difficult to learn one's language when no one around is actually speaking it...

Sameera - You know how to speak in your mother tongue, Sam! More than enuff :D And I agree with the attitude thingy..

Ria - Diwali was ok-ok. We Malayalis don't celebrate it much.. so :D Hope you had a nice one though!!

Pesto - :) There's still time to learn ;)

Dhanya said...

Asit Dhal - Yay! :) We share the same sentiments on the issue.. nice..

Buzz - Yeah, I know Hindi is the national language but it isn't our mother tongue. And Hindi can be used with ease by the Northies... but not so by the Southies coz it hardly even sounds like their language. It would be the same case if Tamil or Kannada or Malayalam was made the National language of India.. the Northies would have a tough time talking in it. I am not trying to bring up the North-South issues here or the national language... but rather I am just concentrating on one's mother tongue - the language that is part of your roots...

Don't get me wrong. I respect other languages too but don't you think at least knowing a lil bit of your mother tongue would help especially when you're with the older members of your family. Knowing your own mother tongue helps you in bonding with your own family and relatives more! Like the girl 'P' I mentioned in the post.. I feel sorry for her coz she can hardly bond with most of the people in my ancestral place coz they know only mostly Malayalam..

Anyway to each his/her own :) No issues...

Dhanya said...

Nidzi - New DP? Done by your bro? :) Your dad rocks :D And I totally agree with everything you said there.. especially 'what does our mother tongue sound like' part :D :D

Surya Kannan - Tamil poetry is the best, I have heard :) Well said!

Ramit - Hehe! Absolutely!

Sandeep - Thank u thank u :)

V.S.A - Yes English is very important. I didn't say it isn't. But knowing our mother tongue helps in bonding more with the people of our own family and relatives coz I doubt that everyone in the family (especially the older folk) can comprehend English word for word.. don't you think? :)

swati said...

Bingo girl.i so agree with you..i do not like to flaunt english with people of my dialect..mother tongue should be given its due..
Sorry for being late swaeetheart.
Love ya!
:)
Goodday!

Vinay Sharma said...

totally agree with you .. and btw a great great blog .. loved your template and header picture. ... i m a rajasthani but never actually leant the local language .. can understand it well though :P ..

PS: following u !

PurpleHeart said...

Blame it on the confused life-styles !!! And blame it more on the more-confused parents who can't stop beaming at how well their kids know English and not a word of their mother tongue! You should start with your mother tongue first - the world would teach you English, anyways - pakshe aaru kekkaanaa?

Chandler said...

talking in one s own language is all fine as long as individual knows the line and when he has to switch to the common language of the forum!!

Srinivas said...

know exactly what you mean... somewhere along the line Mother Tongue seems to have whether we like it or not become passe! However, it surprises me that there are Mallus who do not know Malayalam or at any rate do not make the effort to speak it.
I thought thamizh alone was subjected to the shoddy treatment!

heavealie said...

ohh absolutely right nowadays youngsters think English sounds kind of kewl when spoken and even though some of them are not that into speaking English,they have to coz now the trend is that if you cant speak in English 24hrs a day you are an illiterate!!that's pure bullshit!!i have seen kids talking in english only coz there parents encourage them kind of see there dream getting fulfilled by their children and they speak utter rubbish hindi!!shocking!!they have that fake accent and they are proud of it and they think that if they speak in hindi they would look stupid!!times are changing and already we are influenced so much by their culture that we have forgotten our own!!yea change is good but forgetting your roots is mindless!!
ohh btw forgot hehe hello poplya!!lol this world is small!!and we meet again!!nice blog!!

Dhanya said...

Swati - You are always excused ma cherie :D Love ya too :)

Vinay - Hey vinay! Thanks a lot for following :D And thanks a lot for the compliments. I am in love with the header picture too which is why I haven't changed it in a long time :P

PurpleHeart - Oh you're a Malayalee too? MY goodness... I am getting to know some of you are Malayalees only thru this post :D At least this post served some purpose.. hehehe

Chandler - Hear hear! :)

Srinivas - Naah not only thamizh! It exists throughout India I guess :)

heavealie - How did you come across my blog? :O :O :D This is such a surprise! Hahaha.. I wouldn't have figured you out if you hadn't called me poplya... lolz! :D

Sandeep Balan said...

how dare you reply to my mallu comment in english??? grrrrrrrrrr!! :P :P

Ramit said...

Sandeep, no offense to you, but it would be much appreciated if you could translate what you wrote in english for us poor souls who don't speak the language. Thanks!

Dhanya said...

Sandeep - enne shamikkanam... ariyaathe thettu patti poyi :P

Ramit - He's just saying he liked the post :D

Ramit said...

Oh. Thanks.

gayathri-vishwanathan said...

I completely agree with u, one should feel proud to converse, read and write in their mother tongue. Conversing in english is good...but there should be a balance maintained. A child should know to converse in both english as well as their mother language. It is believed that Indians can pick up the language of the land easily because they are accustomed to learning more than 2-3 languages. I hope this trend continues.

Ashwadhy said...

You bet. What is even more shocking is the fact that, people who were born and brought in Kerala all their lives, dont utter a word of English to their kids. I fail to understand the reason for pride among such individuals.

Jincy K. said...

I agree that it would be nice to know a bit of your native language to talk to those who don't know English, even if you barely use it, which is completely fine. I am that example. Or if you can't even speak, it's good enough to at least understand it. Or if you can't understand either, at least show you respect your roots. I'm an American girl, ok maybe not 100% American because I have Indian values instilled in me and my family is from Kerala also- Palakkad District. I can understand Malayalam well, but hardly ever speak it, though I can speak a little bit and write the malayalam vowels in the alphabet. I really do not feel comfortable speaking with family and friends, as I am used to speaking English from being raised in the US. And I do not blame my parents for any of this as it is out of their control as people keep saying parents are to be blamed. Society influences in which the kids grow up in no doubt overpower parental influences. Sometimes parental influences work, sometimes it does not, depends on luck. Lots of people I know are teaching their kids Tamil/Malayalam in schools and their kids don’t really take it seriously. They may learn it, but they don’t really take a focus on it. Should add that it is very bad to force this upon your kids as it can bruise them emotionally and make matters worse later on as forcing minor things like this can strain your relationship with your kids. My parents speak to me in Malayalam and English, but I just respond in English, just my preference. Does not mean I hate the language, just that I am more comfortable with English. It’s a similar case with people I know who are raising kids outside of India, where the reigon they are growing up in places a heavy influence on them . However, if it is someone who does not know English, I do speak to them in Malayalam, like my grandparents, and I use half English, half malayalam to my cousins. Barely you would hear me speak though lol if you know English. My cousins in India were very inspiring and encouraging, and it made me want to learn so bad. I got a good grasp of it while visiting Kerala. They don’t crticize or judge like some. Judging and ridiculing is discouraging and absolutely ridiculous and it WILL make matters worse and place a heavy wound on everyone involved. My cousins made sure my brothers and I had an awesome time and see Kerala as an amazing place, which indeed is without a question! We went to a lot of tourist places which were beautiful, seen brilliant churches and enjoyed playing the card game 28 every night. Because of this, I grasped the language on my own, though my cousins mainly spoke English and at times malayalam. But I still grasped malayalam even though one really taught me anything haha. However, even though I don't speak Malayalam here in the States, as I feel uncomfortable and awkward, I am more comfortable speaking the language with my cousins, grandparents, other relatives or anyone who don't know English, mostly in India. I may not be the most perfect speaker in the world, but I don’t care for that. At least I have a connection with the language, regardless of how well I write speak, read etc or even if I just understand it, which is alright too. Yes, I am an American girl, but I respect my roots, culture and values of my parents’ homeland as well as my American identity. Being familiar with the language is good, but if you don’t know it, you are not inferior and still belong to the Indian identity as long as you respect and honor your cultural background :). I’d like to get my kids a feel of this cultural background, let them try out the food, wear the clothes, inspire them about the language (but not force it upon them!). But if they don’t get a heavy sense of it, it’s ok as long as they know where their roots originated from and become good people for the world who does not cause trouble like do drugs, sex, cause suffering. I hope you understand where I am coming from. Now I’m anxious to be familiar with Hindi and Tamil as I love their movies!

The Bald Guy said...

Ah! A comment longer than the post. Love this!

:P

Anonymous said...

I kind of find it ridiculous to hear that the languages are going to fade away, as I strongly doubt it. Yes I know many people in India are learning English, but from my experiences, they only use English when they HAVE TO..otherwise they won't speak a word of it! My cousins in Kerala as well as other kids learned English well, but they admit that they don't like speaking English and prefer malayalam over English anytime since that is what they are used to since they were babies. Who came up with the idea that the languages are going to fade away? Is it to get something? Because I don't see it ever happening. You are accustomed to the values and things depending on where you grow up, can't expect everyone to be the same even if they are the same race. Nice to be familiar with the language, but I don't see it as a heavy burden.

Sheila said...

Well I am a true Keralite. Born and brought up in Kerala I have a strong preference for speaking malayalam only. I don't like using English much..however my kids born and brought up outside India have a strong preference for English. Before, I thought it was a biggie for them to speak malayalam..and tried my hardest to force them to speak malayalam only at home..however I noticed it made them uncomfortable and made them refuse to speak..and I learned a big lesson from all this. My kids are growing up in a different environment so they are influenced by the society they are growing up. They have views different from those raised in Kerala. I once tried hounding on them to grow up like the kids in Kerala, only to ruin my relationship with them. However, I learned to accept who they are and let acheive their own balance and ironically they have learned better by making their own mistakes and things. When we went to India last time, my kids have grasped a bit of malayalam and started speaking a little bit to those who don't know English much...it delighted me, but when we returned they swtiched back to only English. I wish they would speak malayalam at home as it would be nice, but honestly it's not a big deal if they don't..because I understand the fact that you should be free to speak whatever language you are comfortable with. I am happy they have at least some connection to the language..they do understand well and can speak very little. And they do show respect for their culture also. I cannot expect them to be some kind of perfect mallu..your kids will be whatever makes them happy. I am proud of them of who they are today, well established and married. They have grown up to be respectful, caring individuals and make the family ties strong till this day. I think that's more important, to bring up well behaved kids who are respectful to everyone. Just because you don't speak your mother tongue means you are a disgrace or is nothing bad at all. It's a good opportunity, but not a big issue.

Linda said...

I'm very liberal haha...I was born and raised in Kerala almost all my life and came to the US when I was 17 for college..and I USED to pity those who don't speak malayalam, however like Sheila, I learned a big lesson from this and understand more. I don't think you should pity those who don't speak their native tongue. And second of all, you never know.."P" probably never been to India before..so you cannot blame her or the parents for that. I'm sure if she went to Kerala for some time, she would grasp some aspects of the language..doesn't everyone? Afterall, everyone says it's best to learn due to exposure, not through books and crap like that. I realize how difficult it is to force the Indian culture on your kids because they are growing up elsewhere, though there has been almost rarely a few with luck. In my opinion, even if they just understand but don't speak, it is still more than good,and also if they know things about the culture, it's good. Many of the kids I met don't know malayalam at all or can speak very little, however I am very close to them and we are like very good friends..they do however, are respectful to their culture and else. I think as long as you have a good bond with everyone, that's all that matter regardless if you speak mother tongue or not, and that they are a good person. I love malayalam and use it all the time, but never those who don't know should be blamed..if they are good elsewhere it's fine. Language is very useful, but not too much of a heavy burden. Afterall, no one is perfect..

Shiny said...

It's not something to be proud of not knowing malayalam..I agree, BUT again like everyone else...if you lived elsewhere you would know. My kids only understand malayalam, but they know the custom and culture very well through other things, food, festivals we go to, religion, cultural activities..etc. I let them speak English, however when we go to India they are encouraged to try and speak malayalam..and each time we have went they grasp and tend to speak better...but they only speak it in India. You cannot blame or pity "P"...if she went to Kerala she will def grasp some knowledge of the language...no need to force it (and not a good idea either). I have no regrets on this. Please comment.