Language and Patriotism

Writing back in 1908 in South Africa, Gandhiji said, ‘To respect our own language, speak it well and use in it as few foreign words as possible—this is also a part of patriotism.’ (25. SOME ENGLISH TERMS, From Gujarati; Indian Opinion, 28-12-1907.—p.32). Of course Gandhiji is not a fanatic to say that one should talk without mixing other languages.  He himself acknowledged that, ‘We have been using some English terms just as they are, since we cannot find exact Gujarati equivalents for them.’  However he requested his readers to provide proper Gujarati terms for several English words.  But the present trend in India among all, and particularly among educated and media is very disturbing.  I am not a fanatic to oppose English or any other language or promoter of speaking in pure mother tongue.  In order to communicate our thought if we use one or two English or any other language (Hindi, Sanskrit etc.) is understandable.  But the way the young generation and many educated people speak a language of ‘manipravalam’(mixture of language) and even few magazines using it in writing (this we find in Thugluk, a Tamil Weekly) is a real tragedy.  By not speaking in their own mother tongue, even at home already became a kind of modern identity in Indian society (particularly in South India, and very specifically among Tamilians@).  But by this they are not doing any dis-service to their mother tongue but harm their own children to know their own cultural  root.  To know one more extra language will help everyone.  When the children have the natural opportunity to learn it without much pain and strain in their home from their parents, the way it is denied to them is a great shame on present Indian society.  For me mother tongue is the first verbal communication to have one’s own cultural foundation.  However we need English as International Language, merely using it on every level is constructing a building without a foundation for any one whose mother tongue is not English.

Dayanand Bharati. January 27, 2012

@ There is a joke about this.  If two Indians talk in Bengali they are from Bengal; if two talk in Punjabi, they are from Punjab; if two talk in Malayalam, they from Kerala and if two Indians talk in English then they are from Tamilnadu.  But this I have seen several times which still continue.  One time I saw (at Nagarcoil) one Tamil Christian preaching to a Tamil audience in English and another one was translating it in Tamil.  Such a crime could happen only in Tamilnadu.