, , , , , , , , , , , ,

How are u?

Kaise hain aap?

Tussi kidda?

Etla undao?

Apdi Erke?

Neenu Hehiddhiya?

Ideally I would want to be able to speak all of the above comfortably and so would I want Ojas to but unfortunately its not to be… and BTW if u are still wondering whats that its How are u in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Telegu, Tamil and Kannada and I so hope I have got it right

Ever since Ojas has been born I have been thinking how to make him pick up his native languages… And then utbt did this series of posts on languages which made so much sense to me and at the same time came Tullika’s blogathon about the same. So I am going to take this up for clarity of my mind and  sharing some thoughts.

How different are the written and spoken forms of your first language?

Well my confusion starts at the very fact that what is my first language.. so to speak I am a punjabi a proud one at that 🙂 but my pride just melts away when someone asks me if I know punjabi… I was born and brought up in Delhi the number of visits to Punjab being easily countable on fingers. So does this make Hindi  – the most common language in Delhi my first language? or Punjabi still remains my first language? or is the language that the child picks up first really called the first language? What do you guys think about this?

Anyways coming back to the question that Tullika raised. I really can’t answer it for Punjabi as I can just about understand it and barely manage to speak, reading and writing is a far of thing.. if any of u can throw light on it. I will be delighted. Roop? Mampi?

Coming to Hindi, spoken Hindi and written hindi are almost the same. Just as spoken and written English is almost the same. There are differences but minor and subtle. So if u know the script of the language and can speak decently well I guess u will manage to write it as well.

As far as it comes to Hindi I can fairly say I am confident in the language (but I still prefer if u don’t me my marks in Hindi in school I choose not to disclose that 😉 )… I can speak, read and write… though its been ages I have written anything in Hindi. I am going to pick up a notebook and write something anything post I finish this post

If you want children to become familiar with their first language, which form would you look for in children’s books – formal or informal? Why?

Aah here comes the biggest confusion of life… I am confused on what my first language is – Punjabi or Hindi? And the hubby his dad was from Tamil whereas the mom from Telegu (he know to speak and understand both but can’t read or write anyone of that) so as a result we are going to pass on four native languages to Ojas… Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu and by the sheer fact that he is actually born in Karnataka I would say that Kannada becomes his native too but even if we leave that aside… its a huge challenge for us to decide what to teach him and what not.

I ideally want him to pick all 5 languages but when I was discussing this with my sil the other day she mentioned that why burden the child so much? Are all these languages actually needed? And she does have a point. Picking up a language is not easy (atleast for me, I know there are some people who have such a good knack of it) but even if its not very difficult, I am sure learning five languages is surely confusing for a small child.

On the other I strongly believe that if we don’t pass our languages to our children they will slowly die to think of which is truly heartbreaking. The number of kids who understand their native languages is already on the decline. (Did I tell you that I curse my mom so much for the fact that she didn’t teach us Punjabi) And when I think of I realize the precisely what we face. Multicultural marriages.

Quite a lot of the couples around us have multicultural marriages and most of the kids from those speak primarily English but yes I have seen the kids of the same cultural marriages pick up their native language so beautifully.

At home, because everyone understands English and Hindi the conversation is by default in Hinglish. And that is what Ojas is picking up, that is what he speaks.

Coming back to the question that Tullika raised. If I want him to understand and learn the native language would I prefer a formal or an informal method?

Here my personal choice would be informal. I understand that what we can learn this way may not be grammatically correct but frankly does it really matter? If they do get interested in language slowly they can always pick up the grammar. Plus I strongly believe that kids learn the best in a informal way. So I would love Ojas to pick up the rest of the languages in just the way he is picking up English and Hindi. By talking and us reading books to him.

Currently we have both Hindi and English books for him and some bilingual ones by Tullika. I even had a Kannada bilingual which my maid used to read to him.

However there is a problem here.. that can’t be done for all the languages as its only Hindi and English we can read as a couple. So may be for the rest of them we’ll do a formal way for him and we too learn along 😉

Do share your thoughts on this? What does ur child speak more so if u have a multicultural marriage?