Apr 20, 2012

Natively Speaking

It was a discussion on one of our community chat pages on FB.. How many of our kids speak our native language any more and where they don't, why not?

A simple enough question, the answer should have of course been, all our kids. It was indeed amazing to see the various responses from all walks of life and so many parents, both young and old, having a view.. What was indeed common among all was the similarity of thoughts the two generations had, of course, there was a blend of the old in the new, and v.v. but the overall thought process was similar.

The elder generation felt that our kids today don't and the new generation felt that it was a matter of choice. Of course, the visibility and the exposure that our children have today is far far more than what our parents had in their hey day, and to a large extent what the middle generation, we, have. Cultures too, can be blamed, the environment in which one grows up, of course plays a big role, however the root point was indeed, how many of the new kids speak our home language at home.

My personal experience has been mixed, with the new kids going the Western way taking a big lead, with many openly stating, I don't understand (and fully proudly supported by their parents). Kids today speak English a lot confidently than probably we or our parents did. Does it make sense as to what they speak, or is it grammatically correct, or does any one understand what they speak, is a secondary discussion. Point is, how many of us as parents force our kids to speak our home language at home.

It is an HS matter that our kids speak English and an LS if they speak native. Many of the new generation parents and their parents promote the kids to speak in English. It is a matter of discussion in many parties, a matter of pride, in a function that your four year old speaks and responds in English, leave aside that the entire function may be of your own community.

Surely, with the big wide world becoming more smaller with technological advances and the visibility of more cultures / TV programmes, cities being more multi-cultural than ever, generations growing up in unit families, inter community and relgion marriages, one would say this is an inevitable process. English is the language of the world, however it is indeed unfortunate that many cultures are losing their own identity, for the sake of a foreign one.

One still sees many communities, specially in India and in the Southern belt, for that matter, where people take pride in their language and speak in it at the first possible opportunity. Maybe that is what binds them all together, maybe that is why every South Indian is termed as a Madrasi, but I guess at some point, they would be the few communities left who still have their own language and more important, their identity.

Whether we decide to keep ours, is our choice and how we make our kids follow this, too is our decision.. I always tend to remember a quote, I read once and all the more to ensure that we keep our history, and our identity:

"No matter if English is the common language of the world, more people speak Chinese than English"


  1. well, we don't have this problem here in my town. we never speak english coz we cannot :D. but that's something to ponder about. and it would be very difficult to come up with a rational thought on this as we have accepted english as, perhaps, our primary language.

    1. I guess that becomes a different problem altogether :).. I agree, English has been considered as the way forward, but sometimes at what cost?

  2. It is a rat race Rajesh....take the case of school admission interviews. Obviously taken in English. The parents have to train the young minds so that they speak fluent and confident english while sitting in front of the interviewer.

    One more thing i would like to point out...why just english..i have observed a lot of people in our community using Hindi instead of our mother tongue. Cant understand the reason why.....