Mother tongue is spoken or written effortlessly. We feel and then we think as self-expression best in mother tongue.
(Author shares his paper presented at Sahitya Akademi Shimla International Literature Festival June 2022)
By Prof. Namdev Tarachandani
Sharing my thoughts on upcoming international day of Mother Tongue 21, February 2023
Our cultural ministry and Sahitya Akademi is promoting all Indian languages throughout India, including Indian English.
Due to multiple reasons, like lack of connecting communication language acceptable in whole India and digital technology etc., more or less, the trend of English language education at primary schooling, is seen everywhere. And so, we can see, in many countries English is major language, including India.
And all Indian languages which are our mother tongues, are next to English, Including Hindi. In this situation, as a moral duty, we should be worried about fast disappearing of mother languages everywhere.
We live in the age of turmoil or upheaval where motherhood itself is in crisis
Let us join in this moral duty and try to check few facts about the importance of Mother Tongue.
It is proven fact that mother tongue is best option for all of us as main medium of expression. Our cultural heritage is associated with it.
But it is also a fact that we are in hands of situations.
Let us find and try to analysis the situations that takes us away from mother tongues.
To understand the phenomenon there are always different angles to see our own perspective about such way of life.
I try to present my perspective with two angles such as:
1: Socio- cultural angle.
2: Scientific -technological angle.
Socio -Cultural angle
This angle has emotional background.
Mother language is considered as:
First language, Native or Home language, Primary language and
Most importantly a Natural language.
Which is not taught to child.
It naturally comes as auto learning with listening of sounds voices supported with sign language like miming actions with love.
This language later becomes a great tool to learn life – behavior and then other languages with translation skills and other efforts.
Mother language is said as important as mother’s milk.
Mother tongue is set in our inner conscious.
वह हमारी चेतना में स्थापित हो जाती है.
Here is one funny example.
A young man was highly skilled in many languages and he tried to hide his identity of his mother tongue.
One day when he was in fast sleep, his colleagues threw warm water on him.
Suddenly he cried in his mother tongue.
The second or other language we speak or write is merely an effort of translation.
Mother tongue is spoken or written effortlessly.
Even our general expression is actually a kind of translation of our feelings and thoughts. Only mother language makes it like original.
Thus, importance of mother language is a known fact:
As a great Hindi writer Bhartendu Harishchandra has said it in his own way:
निज भाषा उन्नति अहै , सब उन्नति को मूल,
बिन निज भाषा ज्ञान के, मिटन न हिय के सूल…
It is part of our existence.
Rene Descartes has rightly pointed:
“I think therefore I am.”
To think is reflection in use of language. And it hardly can be other than mother tongue. We feel and then we think as self-expression best in mother tongue.
So, importance of mother tongue is just like self-proven with the idea of celebrating international mother language day on every 21 February which was initiative of Bangladesh.
Ministry of culture, Government of India celebrated international mother language day as part of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ in collaboration with IGNCA and UNESCO.
Theme for 2022 is:
Using Technology for Multilingual Learning: Challenges and Opportunities.
We can listen an echo of the subject we are discussing, ss hidden in these words.
This socio-cultural angle of importance is mainly based on traditional way of thinking which sometimes are presented with references of ancient science, such as:
It is believed that educating minds of a child is started in womb.
Such established opinions are created by ancient school of thought with emotional touch and mother tongue is also believed part of such education.
Everyone knows that mother language is only best option, but we are in hands of situations.
Present day modern society now prompts inter cast marriages. Where both parents are from different mother languages.
We depend on day care homes. We need to live in other countries or places other than native places away, from mother tongue in general use.
In so many situations we have to compromise with mother language.
These are social aspects to be multilingual or which keeps us away from mother tongue.
Scientific and Technological Angle
We live in the age of science and technology.
Mostly we use languages other than mother tongue at work place, mainly English, especially for computers mobiles and so many different devices. They are the prime necessities to keep with us 24/7, close to our pillows while we sleep at night.
Not only that, at the same time, we live in the age of turmoil or upheaval where motherhood itself is in crisis.
When there is science of clowning, genetic engineering at shocking advance stage trying for designer babies, test tube baby and surrogacy is no more a new story now.
We are in daily practice of so many technological tools related to language aspects.
Machine translation provides options we like or we need.
Other language machine tools like speech to text and text to speech and many audio-visual devices are also in our daily life.
It is bit painful on one hand making us away from mother tongue but connecting us with each other across the world on other hand, which we cannot avoid.
In such circumstances insisting for use of mother tongue has to be on back chair.
It is not only difficult but nearly impossible to use mother tongue in our daily life as main medium of communication in many cases.
It is said that few countries like France Germany China etc. are avoiding English and stuck native languages even for digital technology.
But they also have to compromise for international communication and try for American English British English Australian English and sometime Indian English.
Because cosmo culture is our only way of life in modern times.
We need to live with co-operation with all languages as per situations. As Bertrand Russel has also pointed out that this is the age of co-existence or no existence.
And ultimately, we come to simple conclusion that we must try for use of mother language as much as possible, especially for children.
We must try to remain associated with it and can use English etc. where necessary.
We love to use our own mother tongue and we have to like other languages too.
We should be more aware about it that with multiple reasons, situational, use of mother languages are fast dwindling across the globe.
We need to minimize this practice of keeping mother tongue away from daily life, where ever possible.
But we also need to accept the reality of learning and use of other languages too.
It is time that challenges need to turn in to opportunity.
We need to live with co-operation with all languages as per situations.
As Bertrand Russel has also pointed out that this is the age of co-existence or no existence.
Born on Nov. 25, 1946, Prof. Namdev Tarachandani is an eminent Sindhi Writer, author of several books in Sindhi and Gujarati languages. He was Head of Hindi Dept. Kapadia Mahila College Affiliated with Bhavnagar University, Bhavnagar and Convenor Sindhi Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi (2018-2022); he had also served as member of Advisory Board of Central Sahitya Akademi, Gujarat Sahitya Academy, Bhartiya Jinan Peth, Board of Studies and Board of Cultural activities, Bhavnagar University, Board of Studies, Gujarat University. Currently settled in Vadodara Gujarat India. www.tarachandani.com