Our Language – English

It was my 5 year old daughter that once proclaimed, in what I hope was innocence, that “our language” was English. It was not entirely unexpected given that the language that she most listens to in a multi-lingual home, is English. Outside of the house as well, the most common tongue is the one left over as a legacy of our rulers for over 200 years. The content we consume on the Television, the language at work and communication with friends, peers in a multi-lingual society such as ours, defaults to English. But then, this post is not a justification or defence for the use of the language (Heck, it is written in the very one).

Definitely not a revelation by any means is the fact that English is not the easiest language to learn. I say this because of the way the alphabets are pronounced and the words are spelt are often out of sync. It is only when I am helping my daughter learn different languages do I realise (and am quite happy to point out to her) that “our” regional languages are easier because they are always spelt the way that they are pronounced. The individual alphabet retains its own identity in words in Kannada, Hindi and any other language of India. Even Spanish is the same, for that matter. For kids learning a language for the first time, it is definitely easier to figure out the spelling of words (and therefore) write in any of these other languages. For example, “fortune” has the t pronounced as ch, but “tune” has t pronounced as t. There are any number of examples of these kinds of oddities in the language. Oh, yeah, etymology plays a role in English spellings more than in any other language, I am sure. Isn’t it easier to just figure out the spelling based on how the words and letters “sound”? In defence of English, it has imbibed words from multiple different languages such as Latin, Greek, Norwegian and even Hindi, which makes it diverse and great.

At at time when there is a push for “make local, buy local” and similar sentiments, how do we try and ensure that the languages that our forefathers used to speak do not die a slow death? Or is it inevitable just like the demise of empires are that languages too, will fade away? Are the winds of change too strong to resist? Perhaps the question to ask is, do we need to resist?

Residing in Bengaluru, I am a Techie by profession and a thinker and doer by birth. I muse about any topic under the sun and love to share my thoughts in print when I am not doing something with them. I love reading and at some point, thought that maybe others would like to read what I have to write, too!

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