Saturday, November 28, 2009
English isn't only the Queen's any longer. It's yours, mine and ours. People all over the world are using this language as their own. I savour the flexible and adaptive nature of the English language which has allowed non-English speaking populations in many parts of the world to adopt it as their own.
My own mother-tongue is Bengali, a language with its own magnificent literary heritage. Bengali is spoken/written by the largest number of people in the world after English and Chinese. Yet I, like many other fellow Indians, choose to speak and write freely in English as well as my own language. Why does English score as a universally accepted language over other widely used languages like Chinese, Hindi or Bengali? My educated guess is that a large number of Bengali and Hindi speakers are poor people, so they and their languages count less in the wider scheme of things in this power and commerce driven world. I suspect this principle also applies to Chinese.
In a country like India, which boasts of many ancient languages each with its own unique script and rich literary tradition spanning thousands of years, English unites people across regional and linguistic boundaries. I live in a large apartment complex which can be taken as a microcosm of our national diversity. My immediate neighbours speak Gujarati, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Konkani and other Indian languages, each of these being major literary treasure troves. We don't know each others' native languages, but we all know English and readily communicate in it.
read Spinning English Namma Way