Growing up I would listen to a lot of stories. My mom would have to tell me a story almost every day while feeding me or while putting me to sleep. Today when I think about all those stories I realize that irrespective of the plot, the protagonists and the moral, I enjoyed these stories mostly because they were in my mother tongue – Telugu. Mother tongue or native language is defined as the first language a new born is exposed to. I believe that one’s mother tongue can play a vital role in ones upbringing. Subconsciously we are all very emotionally connected with our native language. Our language brings in us a sense of belonging, an identity and our dialect acts as a foundation to learning any other language. Even the best of polyglots always leave a trial of their mother tongue influence while pronouncing certain words. Which according to me is a beauty in its own right. I am a big fan of languages, and I feel extremely blessed to be an Indian. I cannot think of any other country with as much exposure and variety of languages, the way Indians experience.
At school when I first time heard the story of Adam and Eve I was fascinated. I remember asking my teacher “what language did they speak” I was confident that my teacher would say English and secretly I was hoping she would say Telugu, but I was blown out of my mind when she said Hebrew. I obviously didn’t even know a language as such existed. I went to school in Sharjah where Arabic was mandatory and trust me what a tough language it was! Though I would really work hard and practice much, I could barely pass my exams. Having said that I still find Arabic as one of the most appealing language in terms of its script and their music. When we relocated to Hyderabad, I was told that Telugu was mandatory in school. I spent two days with my aunt to learn how to read and write Telugu so that I could clear my schools entrance test. Fortunately, the school waived it off for me and I was given the option to study Hindi and Special English instead. But that day I realized how much I was really fond of my mother tongue. In spite of studying Arabic for years I can’t remember a word to date but on the other hand I could learn Telugu in just few days. How much you really like a language can impact your learning curve to such a great extent.
Telugu is a Dravidian language and is the only language other than Hindi, English and Bengali that is predominantly spoken in more than one Indian state. Also, it is counted as one of the six classical languages, others being Tamil, Sanskrit, Kannada, Malayalam and Odia. Although I don’t totally justify my mother tongue I have never shy away from speaking in my native. I feel deeply sorry for the younger generation for missing out on this amazing feeling of being able to speak in your ancestral language. Globalization has not only standardized processes and products, but also, dialects. It is indeed a great idea to standardize a language as long as it is being used only from a trade perspective. With constructed auxiliary languages like Esperanto getting famous by the day, it raises concern to many people like me. It is sad how many parents today do not think it is necessary for their children to learn their mother tongue and in turn teach them English grammar from womb. Because the norm these days is that if you don’t speak good English you will be disrespected.
I am not sure if it is too late to change this belief but it is definitely never too late to contribute. If you agree with me, I urge you take a moment, think about how beautiful your mother tongue is and speak enough to save it from its fading charm.