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TO BE OR NOT TO BE? LANGUAGES AND ISMS

Language is what we all know, we speak, we communicate into but Linguistics, as defined by Merriam Webster is the study of human speech including the units, nature, structure, and modification of language. 

There is another terminology known as Lingua Franca which as per the Collins Dictionary is defined as a language or way of communicating which is used between people who do not speak one another’s the native language. Lingua Franca in the most layman word is the bridge language or the common language that everyone speaks and can be used as a form of communication. For example, in English.

Bilingualism or दुर्भ्भाषी या दो भाषाओं को जानने वाला as per Brittanica is someone who has the ability to speak two languages. It may be acquired early by someone in regions where most adults speak two or more languages. I’ll not beat around the history but from one Gen Z to other Gen Zs, one of the most commonly noticed trends around is whenever we need to make a point or order in a restaurant, or even pet a dog invariably we turn to English. Next time, whenever you go out, make an observation about how you place an order in a cafe and how you place that same order to a street-side thela. The language of the colonisers is one of the bridging gaps of the communication but how is it still a bridge when amongst one’s own people? Why do dogs either understand actions or English and why not a 3rd thing?

Ism
Photo credits: Psychotactics.org

Here I might again be diverting from the topic, I began by elaborating upon the BI-lingualism but went upon to multilingualism which in any case make not much difference but sticking to the context my point here is, we as a generation was born 53-54 years after India was de-colonised, where regional languages were still fighting the survival, the Hindi didn’t know that one day it might have to breathe its last. Then comes us, we grow up, we start speaking and we grew taller and wiser for some reason English became our primary language and Hindi took a back seat. And for some reason, people around me are boastful of the fact हमको हिंदी नहीं आता, and when I thought this was autocorrected, peers around me were deliberately making grammatical goofs because that seemed to impress other peers around them. Where you mastered English and spoke and read an wrote it very well it’s understandable for you to not have that mastered proficiency over Hindi but how is chest-thumping a justified deed over not knowing a particular language anymore. 

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Not a rant per se, but I never understood this flex. One argument for this is that we live in a competitive world and its important to know English, for in order to compete. As a counter to which, as per statistics, those with a knowledge of 2 or more than 2 languages are better able to clear a competitive exam than those who know just one.

I do not talk about vernacular languages here, I am not asking you to go back to your roots and learn and re-learn your ancestral language (which mind you, should be an added on skills. Its good to know where you came from, how your people communicated and for in order for your tribe to live on its important you preserve that language). 

Instead of boasting and flexing that you know English perfectly, how about, we flex that I know English and I know these languages too. Either way, it’s win-win, you get to flex and you are more able.

As an unsaid fact, one thing that applies to cultures around the world is that no culture ever lived, until and unless it was passed on and it was practised and it was kept alive every day for it stays alive to see another generation.

Forget even Hindi here, we live in a country with 23 nationally recognised languages with over 52 languages and 405+ dialects. 

As good as it feels to be a monolingual, its also important to recognise that the lands we come from was reared by multiple languages and those cultures lived, and those languages survived to see that one day when they survive generation by generation to be practised till the very end of the doomsday. Inevitably we are multilingual and time we come in terms with it and not anti flex it. 

Strangely this entire debate around monolingual and multilingualism takes me back to  Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias.

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