Saturday, February 21, 2015

When Dad Was Born ...

Today is International Mother Language Day and our blog is turning multilingual today. We are hosting a series of blog posts by different authors, illustrators, parents, educators and children - sharing their thoughts on languages and more. International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. 2015 is the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day.

I'm not an eavesdropper, but what to do, a journalist's ears are forever twitching! So, let me take you through what I overheard my little Kannada-speaking neighbour say in the last few months. He's cute, smart, and quite a tantrum-thower!

2013: Amma, naanu horgade aadoke hogtini! Neevu bartheeraa? (Mother, I am going out to play. Will you (respectful mode)  also come?)


January 2014: Appa, naanu iPadalli ondu game aadala? (Father, shall I play one game on the iPad?)

June 2014 after the fist week of schooling: Appa, Amma, byeee!

July 2014 while being put to sleep after school: Ok, one game aadidmelay nidde maadthini. (Ok, after one game, I'll go to sleep)

June-to present on holidays: sounds from tv channels like Pogo, Disney, Nickelodeon

February 2015: Dad! Daa-ad! I'll play for sometime, after also nidde maadalla! No way! (Dad, I'll play for sometime, and after that too I  won't sleep. No way! )

The talkative little fellow, extremely articulate for his age, spoke the most exquisite Kannada when he was younger. And in just a few months, the language has changed from Kannada to Kanglish. Each of us is free to communicate the way we want to, and we cannot stop the evolution of spoken languages, or the effects of various external factors on the language we speak, but it is important for us to speak, read and promote a language, mainly to retain its inherent beauty. I do wish my little friend will sometimes speak the beautiful Kannada that is sure to be in him! Maybe on International Mother Language Day, I could wish him Matru Bhashe Divasada Shubhaashegalu! And present him with one of our Kannada books.

Illustration: By Soumya Menon for the book I want THAT one!

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(This post was sent in by Mala Kumar who is an editor and author at Pratham Books. When Mala isn't busy eavesdropping, she is busy reading books, typing at the speed of light and growing a little mini forest on her terrace.)

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