Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My mother tongue

Today I was at lunch and Yogi called. Listening to me talk my colleagues were commenting that they won’t be able to spy on what I talk, since they can’t understand it. I said, even if you would know my mother tongue, still they wouldn’t be able to decode since most of the time I tend to mix 3 languages when I am talking. But mostly we talk in our mother tongue Konkani. Then they asked me if I would do that while writing. I said we don’t have a script, it’s only spoken language. Most of them were surprised to hear that. They literally thought I was nuts. :o)

There are more than few hundreds of languages in India I think and many don’t have a script at all. Only the official languages get printed on the Indian currency rupees. I had to google to see how many are actually official. It currently stands on mere 18. Though only 15 languages are used to write the amount on the note. And I am delighted to say Konkani is Official language and it's used on the currency. Other languages used are Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu

You would ask, so how did they print it on currency? Konkani does not have its own script, so Devanagari is supposed to be the “Official” script. But most of us use the scripts of other languages native to where we grew up. Example, I would use Kannada as primary script to write while growing up. Yogi learnt, Marathi or Hindi which is native to Maharashtra.

This is what I picked up again on Wikipedia. Konkani is an Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages spoken in the Konkan coast of India. It has approximately 3.6 million speakers. Whoa!! I didn’t know that! Well, not wholly. Growing up I thought Konkani evolved from Dravidian language like most of the south Indian languages. But my dad used to tell me that it’s evolved from Aryans from north east part of the country. I used to wonder, how can a language belonging mostly in west southern part of India can evolve from north East part.

Konkani is an official language of state of Goa. It's language to many who reside on coastal Karnataka too. But each community speaks in their own dialects. We all have been there; where you get to know that the other person talks Konkani too and when you try to communicate in that language you realize, eh, let’s stick to Hindi or English. :o). Even there is a difference in a way I speak and Yogi uses the language. There are times when each one of us would say that what we were saying was right and not the way the other one was talking. Now we have given up and have accepted the way talk to each other. Though Yogi might not agree to this, coz time and again I tend to stop and correct him (to my way. LOL) The way you speak Konkani also depends upon where you grew up or where your parents are from.

Growing up I used to wonder how these spoken languages have survived all these years. I try and talk to my kids in Konkani, but being here, they tend to prefer English. Hope all the spoken languages survive the test of time. :o)
Each language is special in its own way. I think so of mine too. :o)

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