Friday, June 24, 2005

Talking, walking and swearing English

The latest cartoon from NewYorker where an American parent admonishes his child to finish homework since there are children studying in India and China has created many a ripple. Every parent in India except the 50% of the real destitute ones wants their kid to speak in English. By 2010 its expected that most children studying in English medium schools in urban India wont speak their mother tongue. Already prominent theatre artists like Vijay Tendulkar are whining about the decline of Marathi. Similar statements are being made by srtalwarts of other languages.
My cousins kids staying in Bangalore only speak English since the parents dont want any Tamil accents in their English. In fact lot of parents now take a lot of pride in saying that their kids just dont know their mother tongue. Or if asked if the kid knows Hindi (assuming thats his mother tongue), the kid would reply " sometimes with dadi difficulty se speak karta hoon". Most parents whom I have seen in office talk to their kids in English. In fact even in first class compartments of the Mumbai local, dudes speak with such an accent that one would believe they were born in Virginia rather than in Virar. English is the lingua franca, accented English is the lingua India. The BPO job has become the equivalent of a govt job in the new real India and I can talk, walk and swear English is the only way to go.
Some people might think this is some propaganda by some right wing party. But I just wonder when my generation can speak 3 languages which would include the mother tongue, enjoy movies and literature in all 3 and still hold good MNC jobs, is this new found love for English serious overkill?

5 Comments:

At 8:20 PM, Blogger Parth said...

I get the part where parents want their kids to learn English. I don't get the part where parents don't want their kids to speak in their mother tongue. That is just stupid. As you said, what's wrong with learning your language when it gives you the ability to enjoy it? My ability to read/converse in Gujarati helps me connect with people in Gujrat, my relatives etc. It is part of my identity and so is everyone's mother tongue part of theirs. Sorry for the rant, but I strongly feel against this alienation of our own culture

 
At 8:50 PM, Blogger Neelakantan said...

Have linked your post at my mine!! enjoy!

 
At 1:41 AM, Anonymous Amit said...

"By 2010 its expected that most children studying in English medium schools in urban India wont speak their mother tongue."

Where, exactly, did you hear this tripe? Many countries throughout the world have had English (or French or Dutch) medium schools stretching back to colonial days, but people have never "forgotten their mother tongue." Even if you desperately wanted to, that's an extremely tough thing to do when an established language community is already present. Whatever English's popularity as a second language in India it is not displacing those mother tongues, which in fact *have been growing* in measures such as e.g. readership of newspapers in the Indian languages, and in native language Indian music.

"My cousins kids staying in Bangalore only speak English since the parents dont want any Tamil accents in their English. In fact lot of parents now take a lot of pride in saying that their kids just dont know their mother tongue. "

I know dozens of people throughout India and never, not once have I encountered this. In fact, anyone who jettisons their mother tongue (in favor of English) is brutally humiliated as a bandwagon-jumping loser with no sense of identity. One of my friends (who was born and raised in the USA for a part of his childhood, and so has an excuse) knew very little of his family's native Malayalam or Hindi, and was excoriated upon returning to India. He learned both Hindi and Malayalam out of social pressure; knowing only English was explicitly scorned.

"English is the lingua franca, accented English is the lingua India. "

Again-- this is total bunk. In fact, India is one of the few places in the world where English-language pop culture really has failed to catch on. Book, music, TV, and film companies had initially used English as their main medium in India but have now largely dropped English in favor of Hindi or the local languages. I do hear a common tongue throughout India when I go but it's not English-- it's a sort of Creolized Hindi mixed in heavily with the local tongues of the region. For better or worse, this hybrid seems to have become the national tongue.

"The BPO job has become the equivalent of a govt job in the new real India and I can talk, walk and swear English is the only way to go. "

Which is incredibly stupid, b/c those BPO jobs won't be around much longer, certainly not for India. The dirt-poor masses in Bangladesh and Pakistan are getting all the BPO jobs these days b/c their labor costs are much lower, meanwhile political pressure in the US and UK is restricting further call center outsourcing, while their economies falter. The US has a multi-trillion dollar debt and its economy might collapse soon, which would underlie India's stupidity of aligning itself with a foreign tongue and culture rather than reasserting its own.

The ongoing tragedy of India is that we stupidly align with foreign elements rather than emphasizing the richness of our own culture and languages. For all we know, Chinese or maybe Spanish or German will be the world language in 30 years and we'll wind up screwed yet again. Best to assert our own native cultures and languages and conduct our schools and businesses in them, while maintaining openness to a wide variety of foreign languages-- Chinese, Japanese, French, German, and Spanish, not just English alone.

 
At 2:20 AM, Blogger Jayesh said...

Hi,

I can count atleast 20 families whose kids who are between 5-10 yrs who hardly speak their mother tongue. I disagree that BPO jobs would go to Pakistan and Bangladesh. It would actually go to lower and middle class in India since the upper class regards BPO jobs as time pass and pocket money and hence the high attrition. Soon BPO cos will go to smaller towns and tap the manpower there. That would further fuel the rise of English in these centres where the mother tongue knowledge is still intact. Slowly but surely at this pace, by 2010 mother tongue speaking kids will be fewer in propotion. And Amit I am talking about a generation which is still in schools aged between 5-10. Just wait and watch how they grow up to be. At age 6 if you look at Rashmis blog at youthcurry they are asking whats a boyfriend.I need not say more.

 
At 12:14 PM, Blogger Natarajaprabhu said...

Hi friends!
There are plenty of bpo jobs in India.Just Post your resume and

get your dream job.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home