The soul of a culture

The soul of a culture

Mother Language Day

The soul of a culture

Musician Kailash Kher once said ‘For us Indians, I don’t think English can ever exude that magic of emotions which our mother tongue can.’

True to these words, the emotion that one’s mother tongue evokes in one cannot be expressed in any other medium. On the occasion of ‘International Mother Language Day’, recognised by UNESCO, which falls on February 21, Bengalureans talk about the impact their ‘mother language’ or ‘mother tongue’ has had on them.

Prajwala MV, a BA student of The Oxford College of Arts, says that it is only when one respects one’s mother language that one can respect other languages too. “Wherever I go, I always respect my motherland and mother tongue, which is Kannada, as that is what makes me who I am. It is only when one can respect one’s own culture that one will be able to appreciate others around,” she says.

Rini Priscilla, a student of  NMKRV College, says that the true culture of a state is reflected in its language and the food. “My language is what makes me. My mother tongue Tamil has helped me get a deeper understanding of many other languages. Since I grew up here, I learnt Kannada as my primary language too. I also know Hindi and English and can understand Malayalam and Telugu as well. One’s base language helps create a foundation for other languages,” she details. Rini adds that one is able to express best in their ‘mother tongue’ and there can be verbal blocks at other times.

Inayat Ulla, a student of BBM with The Oxford College of Business Management, says that since the mother tongue is the first language one learns, it creates self-awareness and brings about intellectual development.

“My mother tongue is Urdu and I communicate in it well. There have been many situations, especially in emergencies, where one’s initial reactions or thoughts are in the mother tongue.” Inayat adds that research has shown that young people can effectively use any skills taught in their mother tongue.

There are others like Roxanne, a final-year Political Science student with Mount Carmel College, who feel that similar to international schools which have many foreign languages as part of their curriculum, other schools should also teach regional languages. “Though everyone uses English now, this would help create a better understanding of one’s culture and others’,” she says.

Language teachers like Pushpalatha KR, a Kannada lecturer with Baldwin’s Methodist College, adds, “The mother tongue is important for a child’s development. Just like a mother is responsible for her child, the mother tongue helps in the child’s growth. It affects the intellectual growth of the child and encourages creativity and a thought process,” she says.

Pushpalatha adds that the mother tongue helps to make a connect with the society. “Language is the soul of one’s culture. The regional language has a lot to do with the ethos and functioning of the place. I have even been approached by foreign students asking me to help them with learning Kannada, as it plays such an intrinsic role with daily chores here,” she says.

One’s base language helps form thoughts better and acquire other language skills faster, says Marlene Charles, a high school English teacher with Greenwood High International School. She says, “Communication is an essential part of our system. The mother tongue has a big role in this. But learning one’s base language later on gets really difficult. Languages are best learnt at a younger stage. Since we live in a multilingual society, it is essential to be able to understand one’s own language to be able to accept others’ around.”

She says that the mother language as a part of the curriculum would help in the child’s development, but shifting the medium later on might be really difficult.

“Though one’s foundation must have the mother tongue for a strong base, languages can later on be added, which helps connect one to the society at large,” she says.

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