Language is the vehicle of expressions, they say. It is the most effective form of communication as compared to signs, symbols and gestures. The significance of language could be best understood by somebody who is verbally or audibly challenged. Language attempts to accurately convey the messages although there are occurrences of miscommunications. Language forms the backbone of a cultural identity. An individual is identified by the language s/he speaks.
More often than not, the language itself becomes a precursor to the individual’s social existence. For instance, a person speaking Marathi is called a Marathi, the one speaking Marwadi is called a Marwadi and so on. The role of language in an individual’s life is crucial to the extent that it can be rendered to be the parameter to measure one’s character. One who is soft-spoken naturally earns points over somebody who is harsh and uses indecent language. The “Sweetness” of your tongue becomes noteworthy then. Errors in language can be as severe as misunderstandings, relationships falling apart, business-related crisis or even warfare. It is extremely important to use words carefully because every word counts.
In India, there are about 780 languages. The number looks massive but it is to no wonder given that India is a nation of various cultures. Moreover, almost every Indian is invariably a bi-lingual. Of course there are tri-lingual and quadric-lingual too. Lingual is an adjective used for languages. So bilingual is any individual who can speak two languages and so on. Hindi was declared to be our national language in 1960. It has been observed as a common means of inter-state communication, ever since. This was established in order to ensure healthy relations resulting from friendly interactions throughout the nation.
I happen to be a quadric-lingual. Hindi as the national language, English as the academic language, German as the foreign language and Marathi as the mother tongue. I am acquainted with Sanskrit too, but I cannot claim mastery over it. Let’s talk something more specific about the title now. The other day I was having an animated conversation with my companions when we landed onto a language debate. Since I’m majoring in English literature, my friends presumed I would naturally or “by default” side English.
However, things weren’t as obvious on my side and I couldn’t really choose between the two. Because supporting one would be being judgmental about the other which I refrained from. I agree that to be able to speak English is a must to survive in the “real” or the “big” world but that doesn’t part oneself from what one has always belonged to. I am equally connected with Marathi and cannot think about giving up on using it as a medium to express myself; because what other than your own mother tongue is the best way to express yourself? I may be feeling skillful to have conversed in English for a long while but my inertia will definitely long to have two words of sheer emotions in the language I’m identified with.
There are times when you feel low and cannot help but wish to share your feelings in the language you are the most comfortable with. Our mother tongue is the language of comfort. This is not to say that there is a sense of discomfort or inconvenience attached to English. It is just a matter of how one feels about it. Also, a language happens to have an exclusive range of words that are authentic and irreplaceable. Imagine Ramayana being translated into English or Bible being translated into Marathi. I don’t doubt its possibility but they may not turn out to be the best versions of holy books as their translated forms.
The word “Aai” is somehow more meaningful than “mummy” or “mom.” Words are not mere compilations of alphabets to make sense of what it tries to convey but also about the sentiments they carry. The names of chemicals or laws in natural sciences can be best understood when they are in English. Translating them would be playing with their sentiments. Language should be allowed to expand; stagnating its growth would mean curbing its beauty. Language is believed to have come into existence by emotions; some argue language has evolved from logical thought. In either case, the demeanor of language has an inclusion of both emotions and logic in it. You have to sink into the language to express the best of yourself. Remember, all the great personalities and charismatic leaders have retained their statuses for the words they use and their command over language.
His holiness Dalai Lama wouldn’t have been a global attraction if it wasn’t for his splendor of language. All the movie stars aren’t what they are for only good looks, charm or acting skills, unless of course some who are in the industry as a result of nepotism. Along with it, they have persona which is derived from their body language and diction. And of course this persona is very “English.” Nonetheless, the English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination; it is the property of the language itself. In English every word can be verbed. Spoken English is much different than written English unlike Marathi which follows the Devnagari script. However this is not an attempt to hold one language superior to the other or vice-versa. As Thomas Earnest Hulme quotes, “Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is it expresses never the exact ting but a compromise- that which is common to you, me, and everybody.”
Language is as you take out of it. Same words can mean different things in different contexts. For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of five hundred yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man. English language can be funny sometimes. Both the meanings of fat chance and slim chance are same, basically. This makes it clear that no language can be slotted into particular categories. Every language is bound to have its intellectual quotient, its sentimental value and its humorous element. Saying Marathi is a language of emotions does not restrict its intellectual capability of excelling. The social and cultural context determines what the language for you is.
Sometimes just sharing or listening becomes the best form of problem-solving. Language is the carrier of love, of affection, of relationships, or even of hate. Oliver Wendell Holmes quotes, “Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.”
Did you know about the two commonly known phenomena in languages: lingua franca and lingua shrunka. The former means language in its fullest form whereas the latter means the shorter versions of language. SMS language, in other words. Language has transformed over the centuries and it is hard to have a standard set of rules to learn a language. Also, a language can never be fully learned. Finally, I quote Antonio Porchia, “What words say does not last. The words last. Because words are always the same, and what they say is never the same.”
You may like to read: