Unfortunately the mother tongue is being conveniently forgotten by today’s generation. The need to know one’s mother tongue is no more felt by neither the children nor the parents. People living away from their native place are giving up their own language, preferring only Hindi or English at home. One cause of this trend are the schools, which ask parents to speak in English and Hindi with the child at home, and not in any other language. Reason? The child will otherwise become weak in Hindi & English! This is a big myth.
Children up to the age of six can pick up five languages at a time. Hindi they automatically pick up, as this is the language they listen to most of the time; on TV, movies, with friends and everyone outside home. Their education is mostly in English medium, so English too is not a problem. In fact, children learn to read and write English even before Hindi. But how will they learn their mother tongue, other than from home? This is totally the responsibility of parents. Children can learn only when they communicate in that language at home. There is no need to give up one’s own language to learn some other language.
Adopting the culture of the place you live in is good. But knowledge of your own roots keeps you grounded and respectful of other cultures too.
Importance of regional languages
It connects us to our roots-
Mother tongue is the language which connects us to our roots. It has a certain nostalgia which takes us back to the soft memories of our grandparents and the visits to our native place , providing us an emotional ground to connect with and stand on. When our roots are strong we do not have the fear of being blown away by any wind, whichever place of the world we live in.
Knowledge of our culture
Can we understand or feel India fully if we know just English? Regional languages are valuable source of understanding a race, community, culture. The youth today follow certain traditions and festivals without knowing the reason or origin of the festival. Or they may not be aware of certain festivals at all. This is because the roots are allowed to weaken by not giving any importance to the mother tongue. Regional language provides a wider knowledge base.
Every race has different physical traits which remain, wherever we live. An understanding of one’s parental race and culture helps in accepting these traits in foreign lands.
Sense of belonging-
Knowledge of mother tongue, by connecting us to our roots, gives us a sense of belonging to a certain community. This sense of belonging serves as an island to hold on to, till you adjust and accept the culture of your adopted place. Otherwise you may feel yourself like a stranger, an alien in a new place without any ground of your own to stand on. When you are firmly rooted in your own culture, you casually begin to observe the other cultures and gradually accept it as part of your life.
Respect for other languages & culture-
People who know more than one language respect other languages and cultures too. I live in a Hindi speaking region and I love Hindi. But because I also know my mother tongue (Bengali), have read the literature and known its beauty, I have high regards for Gujrati, Marathi, Punjabi, Malayalam, all languages. Having known my language, I can well understand all languages have their own beauty reflecting their culture.
Better linguistic skills
Children who can communicate in more than one or two languages are better in literary activities. Their vocabulary is better and they pick up new words faster. For example- Most Indian languages have their roots in Sanskrit. So when certain words of some regional language are used in spoken or written Hindi, it becomes a more ornate and pure language, better than the normally spoken Hindi.
It is proved scientifically that those children who have been exposed to more than two languages, as infants, have sharper brains and better linguistic skills.
A better society
In a cosmopolitan society people can share the good things of their own culture, while also learning from the others, thereby benefiting the society as a whole. Reflect and spread the positive aspects of your culture. Love it and be proud of it.(Not the narrow pride of the Thackerays’ of course).
Save from extinction
Speak your mother tongue simply to save it from extinction. The world is facing the danger of many beautiful languages being extinct. Imagine a world with just one language being spoken everywhere! Imagine a colorful India with just Hindi or English. Won’t it be boring? These languages facilitate communication, so they are a must, but…….. if all flowers would become only roses, the garden would loose its sparkle!