Protecting language and culture

The Indian subcontinent is a linguistic and cultural treasure trove, from north to south or east to west with varying dialect every kilometer. Ever since globalization, to survive in this competitive world we have shed our family language somewhere behind. A toddler in contact with people who speak their mother tongue would be well versed in their language, but the moment they starts their schooling, they’ll be taught global languages to benefit them in the future. I am not being a cynic, its just that we are losing some part of our heritage and culture as well. 

Stories, fables, poem, folklores, tales are a way of expression that might be associated with various struggles and broken stigmas that gave hope to many. Once, that had a prominent impact on the masses would be dead or lost, gone with just traces left behind and an admission of guilt for not making enough effort to keep them alive. Additionally not all Indian languages have a written script, so preservation becomes primary.

Our mother tongue does the ground work for us to imbibe and learn other languages, in our formative years it’s the first language we learn so losing it, is like losing a piece of you that once gone will not be gained again.

Why languages are lost over time?

Just like we are dealing with brain drain as a consequence of people moving out for better opportunities or education alike, we are dealing with language drain. With people deciding to settle outside and fostering kids away from their motherland has led to decreasing number of native speakers as well.

People who relocate from a small town/ village to a big city for whatever reason and decide to settle there, kids in these cases also may embrace new languages but might lose touch with their mother tongue gradually unless they have screaming grandparents who berate their parents for not teaching them their native languages.

Speaking from a personal point of view. When I visit my hometown, speaking my native language always feels like a mouth full. With my cousins laughing and rolling on the floor when I try navigating my mother tongue. Suddenly you become the mute in the family and struggle with communication, alas, failing to fend off over feeding relatives. 

In India there is an estimated total of 600 native languages that are on the verge of being lost forever.

What should my contribution be in order to preserve the languages?

The International Mother Language Day was introduced by the UN in 1999, fearing that languages were becoming endangered. It is celebrated on the 21 February, which was an initiative of Bangladesh where people fought for the recognition of the Bangla language.

We can contribute in our own  way:

Speak the language at home, with family and friends. I still converse with my family in native tongue when I go out shopping in order to criticize a product or discuss the price without offending the shopkeeper. It is like a secret language which gives me power to say anything as long as the opposite person fails to understand it.

Make time to watch movies, read newspaper, books or novels and listen to media related to your native languages. I know the movies might not be Hollywood standard, but it’s a neat trick to learn your language faster.

Use your grandparents as your language library, they are the roots to the native language and use their doting nature and love for you to learn your family language. Don’t forget to behave they might love you but they won’t fail to punish you if you show laxity in learning their mother tongue.

How can we forget about social media, form group chats or make videos to promote your language, you may encounter people with greater knowledge and you might learn in a creative as well fun way, plus it would be a positive way to spend time on social media.

Our mother tongue is something we inherit by being born in that native speaking family and it is too priceless to be lost overtime. Language is not only a way to communicate with one another, it is also a means of expressing once feeling, pass information and knowledge from one generation to another. As a native speaker it is my duty as well as everyone else to protect, conserve and propagate their language.