Friday, August 11, 2006

The Mother Tongue syndrome

Whether we are in the US, UK, Africa or in our own land... breaking into our native/mother tongue is like an obsession of sorts for Indians. No matter where we are, somehow our sense of solidarity lies in mouthing words in our native language. And even though the language could be alien for many Indians (considering there is a vast ocean of dialects in our land) or others who collect around us, we have no qualms about ignoring our etiquette.

Does it not occur to us that this is extremely rude? The scenario is not uncommon across the globe, but in our country etiquette hits rock bottom. When we find ourselves in an eclectic group, our regional bonds spring up. Irrespective of whether one's Bengali, Tamil, Kannadiga, Punjabi, Marathi, Malayalee or any other, sub-groups are quick to form and obscure-coded-conversations flow. It's funny how this regional solidarity breaks up mostly in front of other communities. Leave them alone and they will speak in English. Making it look like a premeditated effort to prove that it's tough to crack their so-called 'regionalistic' bond.

This regional circus begins with a simple: "Are you a Malayalee (replace region according to situation/people)?" And once the answer is in the affirmative, out comes bizzare-sounding words at a high decibel level (denoting exaggerated happiness!).

I am subjected to this regional jingoism day-in and day-out. Though I have voiced protests by blurting out rude remarks, kicking my table, someone else's table, and even firing killer stares at my co-workers, the language circus continues. There's never a sense of apology only a sense of who-the-hell-are-you-to-tell-us-what-to-do. Followed by excuses -- it's our mother tongue, our culture, so on and so forth.

Well, I wish I could lock these clowns in a box full of "their" own. But considering that's a highly unlikely option. I can only wish for a life minus those weird-sounding, meaningless words and maybe invest in ear plugs!

And here's a word for the annoying bunch -- Speak in a language everyone understands or else, keep your mouth shut. And if you can't control your 'regionalistic' emotions, move to a secluded corner and leave us poor souls out of this mayhem!

3 Comments:

Blogger Pradeep said...

Basically, there is no harm in talking in the native tongue, why not? Language is among the most bonding of all characteristics, especially in an alien land.

The problem, as you say, crops up when we are in a group and there is at least one peron who can't understand "our" tongue. In such a case it is definitely very indecent to speak in a language that is not understood by all.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot but agree with you! Even in our own country, Hindi has become sort of a "fashionable" language which people try hard to speak even though they are not good at it and even though others might not understand :-)). I am planning to post one about this silly "trend".

BTW, I chanced upon ur blog from Teena-->Roopa in orkut.

http://gopakumar-ce.livejournal.com

10:09 PM  
Blogger the snake said...

I totally empathise with you. I have faced [and probably will face] the same many a times to my chagrin. I feel we Indians are more regional than national..a fact that has been exploited throughout history. I just hope, someday, this syndrome will fade away.

12:03 PM  

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