I speak four languages, but only one is my mother tongue, of course.
Hindi. The language that I can say anything in. The language that I can express myself so fully and completely in, that I would never have to search for words. And yet, you see the irony – I’m writing this in English.
Well, I come from a place where if you can’t speak English, you are looked down upon. I wouldn’t blame my country. Its a beautiful land. Just that, the society and people are a bit messed up in the head. A lot maybe. And yet , I love India.
Anyway, coming back to the point. So, if you can’t speak English, you must be ”ill mannered”, or not properly brought up, or not from a very well off family, and not fit to talk to high society people. Like seriously? I can never understand how people came to this conclusion , and how they can possibly judge a person by the language they can or cannot speak.
English is not my mother tongue. And yet, I’ve been learning it ever since I was a child, along with my mother tongue Hindi. Yet, I’ve been communicating in it, to fit in the society, so that people don’t judge my upbringing wrongly. And yet, I’m in France, teaching English and improving my French. And where’s my mother tongue? Far away in my homeland, where it is not even respected as much as it should be.
If your mother tongue is English, you’re very lucky. Because you don’t have to fear judgements. But my dear Indians have a problem with respecting and accepting their own language sometimes. Why? Because we can’t fit into the worldly society otherwise. We can’t go abroad, and can’t get jobs in foreign companies? Why do we need that though? Wasn’t our society working well before the British came in and changed the scenario?
I don’t say we shouldn’t learn or speak English. We must, if its such an important part of our society now. Its a beautiful language after all . But, we must respect our own mother tongue too. Keeping in mind the exceptions, I do have seen people who are ashamed of the fact that they can’t speak English in India. My dad isn’t though. He can’t speak English, and he’s never ashamed of it. Neither am I . Why should he? He can speak his own mother tongue and regional language, isn’t that enough to be a human?
As for me, I might have had some doubts about not being able to speak English, and I might have been judgemental at times too. But after I came to France, as an English language assistant, I realised something. People here are not ashamed of not being able to speak English. They don’t like speaking English in fact. They might know that they’re not that good at it, but they never see themselves as any less than others. I talked about this with a few French people , and every time the answer was the same. ”We love our own mother tongue and we don’t see the need to be proficient in any other language, unless and until we are passionate about it or want to live in the country where it is spoken. We can speak French, isn’t that more than enough?”
And I was touched by the sheer respect they have for their mother tongue. And the bitter truth is that its lacking in our society. You may be able to speak a hundred languages. But your mother tongue should always be seen as the most beautiful and should be respected the most by you. So what if its almost indispensable to survive in India without English? Its our own thinking that has made the society such. It may be one of our official languages now, but we must not forget that our mother tongue is the one that links us to the history our nation. Of any nation.