“Think of language as a relationship with your culture, invest in it intentionally.When you see the younger generation that speaks your language, choose to speak to them in your language. I think as a whole we can keep our Indian culture and language alive by keeping the standard as a norm. “
Standard: Level of quality or attainment accepted as normal or average
Pressure: An attempt to persuade someone into doing something
A recent post I read on a social media platform actually inspired this thought flow, on how a standard in one country is a pedestal in another. In most countries people know 2-3 languages, but here it’s a big deal. This is something something I have experienced personally, since I can speak more than one Indian language; one is my mother-tongue and the others I chose to learn. I get a very surprised expression when someone asks me if I can speak more than one language, but when I go to India I see that it’s a norm. Nothing special.
In the household I grew up in, learning my ethnic language was a byproduct. I was spoken to in Marathi and spoke Marathi until I learned English in school. Even then, there was a standard in the house that when I step in the door, we speak our native language. Sure as a kid I went through phases where I spoke in English but I’m thankful my parents always made it a point to speak in Marathi back.
The underlying question is, why is it a surprise? Why isn’t it a standard to at-least know our native language? If in other countries, and let’s just take India for example, people are almost expected to know 2-3 languages, why is it different here? My intention isn’t to put anyone down, but to raise awareness. I wrote this in an earlier post that, we are all ambassadors of our country. The moment we step out of our home country, the responsibility then falls on us to carry on our culture; language being a huge aspect of it.
In my case seeing family in India was an added advantage for me because I would see my family there who also spoke Marathi. Seeing everyone speak the same language and being such a normal thing, subconsciously helps you understand that it’s a norm and standard. Also they could not understand my “English accent” so it was almost a survival instinct at that point.
Watching Bollywood movies was a natural way to learn Hindi for me, and once I nailed that down I began to attempt other languages. Actually, because I learned Hindi in my own effort, learning Spanish in school was so much easier because I knew if I could learn one I could learn more. After that my next and most complex venture yet was Tamil; mostly all my family could speak it fluently and I didn’t want to be left behind. Now because I have the basic knowledge of how to learn a new language, I have my hands in many different languages learning new things; and it’s so much fun comparing language and finding similarities. I think it’s one of the greatest blessings because as an adult Indian-American, you definitely feel great knowing that you hold a large part of your culture with you with language.
I think one step we can all take it intentionally speaking our language to keep it alive. A language is something that has to constantly be kept in touch with; like a relationship. Think of language as a relationship with your culture, invest in it intentionally. When you see the younger generation that speaks your language, choose to speak to them in your language. I think as a whole we can keep our Indian culture and language alive by keeping the standard as a norm.
“The Indian Girl”
Connect with me on Instagram: Meri Sanskriti,would love to hear from you and your experience!