By Ghulam Amin Beg
We call it father’s language.
Most of us acquired our native language in early childhood: Thanks God we maintain the use of the language till today.
Personally I have found intuitive knowledge in my language.I am somewhat fluent and can enter into any intellectual and social discourse in
my language and communicate in different social contexts.
I am identified by others with my ethnic language and community. I am feeling so fortunate, so grateful that I acquired my mother tongue.
But I am worried as others are about the new generation. I dont think they have similar fluency, vocabulary as I have acquired , though I admit I have lesser than my parents do. Perhaps my kids don’t have similar feeling for mother language as i do;
Not because they don’t love it but because they are more into foreign languages that they are taught at schools, that they can easily and confidently speak with friends; they can play games and share stories and thoughts better in English and In Urdu in school, on the internet, in the market and the diverse community of friends circles they have.
They think they will be isolated and look fool, if they speak their language;
Which few would understand, others will make mockery of. So, they quickly adapt and learn the dominant and utility languages; they are smart and competitive, I must say.
In most cases the new generation and their parents don’t speak similar languages, don’t understand each other’s terminologies, books and gadgets. So, they are disconnected from the warmth and joy and bonds that used to connect them with each other; they live as strangers and the only bond some times is sheer economic protection and biological reasons it looks like.
In schools, colleges and universities, they listen to and read other peoples history, their folktales
their joys, and their pains how they express it; how they control it: how they deal and negotiate with each other.
But they are alienated from their own histories, their proud moments their pains their hero’s and villains.
At one glance, they look like a lost generation. They lost their traditions, they are tied to a fragile rope of continuity, which is in
a state of pendulum oscillating between native and modern languages through their grandparents and older illiterate or semi literate parents. Only distance seems, another generational shift, and they are cut from their legacy, a disconnected people on the verge to extinction. They loose their identity, they loose their land and they are gone with the wind, only living in videos, books and libraries and digital archives so to speak.
What is the way forward?
Yes multilingualism, is important skill. To learn new languages, makes you learn and earn, connect and socialise. But dont forget your own mother tongue
This makes you proud of your own legacy .This gives you identity .This gives you your soul and makes you agile and at peace with yourself. This connects you to your land, your past and your legacy.
So, build your cultural assets, your research and knowledge base, strengthen your own cultural institutions and develop content more and more for print, for internet and for communication media. Work with schools and develop curriculum enrichment materials for ECD upto primary in your own languages, don’t wait for government. Make the governments and policy makers fund the language projects and reach out globally and join the world of conservation and development of endangered languages, create alliances and partnerships locally and regionally, have your voice and representation on such forums.
Survival is the art of the game, and survival of the fittest is the norm here, you like it or not!