Center Stage #21

International Mother Language Day

a civilization lives in its language and when a language dies with it dies the knowledge, science, and history of the people.

Since 2000 UNSECO has begun to observation the international mother language day.

India has about 2000 languages. Kaveri Ponnappa in her book the Vanishing Kodava’s talks of the anguish of a dying culture. This could be true of my mother-language too. Both my parents are of mixed lineage. My grandfathers being Tulu my grandmother’s spoke Kannada. Unlike Havyaka which has maintained its identity the Kota-language has been swallowed by the cloak of Kannada and has been relegated to a dialect despite the presence of Persian in it.

Of late the government is into ek desh ek bhasha and enforcing Hindi on all of us. But unity in diversity would begin with acknowledging the mother tongue.  Language is a medium of communication and not patriotism that is something that seem to be grossly missing from our conversation.

Mother tongue forms the bedrock of diversity, our memory tradition unique way of thinking and expression. Language is basic instinct and we are hard wired for it. It gives our identity, our safety, and grounding. Forgetting our mother language or the first learnt language can lead to:

  • Confused identity or even total loss.
  • There could be a sense of alienation.
  • There is a difficulty in bonding with family members and community. Leading to a sense of loneliness.

In this ever migrating and relocating structure how do we preserve our mother tongue.  First the language spoken at home builds the foundation of everything we build on. Therefore, nurturing of our first language becomes very important.

  • Parents communicate to the children the in the language that they are most comfortable with. This brings a bonding.
  • Read books and narrate stories in the mother language.
  • Learning to read and write in mother tongue is quite important too.
  • Listening to radio or news in their mother language is another way to build the mother tongue.

Home language is the extension of home. Connecting with the home culture community helps to build a secure network and confident identity.

Like I mentioned before we grew up learning the Kota-dialect along with Tulu, Konkani. With the advent of YouTube and podcasts lot of languages are coming back, like the Beary dialect of Tulunaad the Nawyati dialect of Bhatkal are getting revived.

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