Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Appa only Naana

So I have this conversation with a lot of other Desi mom's who live in the Us with their little kids. All parents tell me that it is difficult to teach their kid their native tongue and though the child understands what we speak at home they do not want to respond back in that language. I have seen that too, in my brother's house. My neice Z, used to speak such good Telugu that it would put me to shame till she was about 2-1/2 but now at 8, she refuses to speak in Telugu and responds in English to questions asked in Telugu. And When I ask her why, she tells me, "that's how it has always been."

So when the kids go to school and learn to speak English with their fellow classmates they come home and start speaking in English at home too. Now, if parents put their foot down then they can stop their kids from speaking in English, but most parents do not, like my bro and SIL. But again I cannot comment on this right now because Babs is still too small and I will have the FOOT in my MOUTH... :) and will be scampering to delete this post :)

The reason I thought I should write about this is because, my family, a Telugu speaking nuclear family lived in Trichy in the heart of Tamilnadu. Our school had a strict "English only" at all times policy and "Hindi only" during Hindi class policy. Of course all of used to chatter away in Tamil when the teachers were not looking. 

When I used to get back home I would sometimes carry on in English and Tamil but my parents would put a stop to it. My dad once got angry with me for calling him Appa instead of Naana. I never repeated it ever again and that was the end of any Tamil speaking in the house. 

Not that my father cannot speak Tamil, he can read, write and even knows more than 150 Kurals by heart but he wanted us to know our mother tongue. Father knew that when we were not at home we speak in English or Tamil so he wanted us to remember our mother tongue too. It is not like my father did not know English, he did name all three of us after his favorite English authors...

So I wonder if I followed strict rules like he did maybe, just maybe Babs might want to speak in Telugu and Konkani and Hindi and English...now am I asking for too much? Really? My logic is, if Babs can speak Konkani then she should be able to speak in my mother tongue too. And if she can speak both then she should know Hindi too. And of course to survive in the world she should know English. She can definitely choose to learn French and German on top of it. I won't object that  :P

At this age when they know not about different languages Babs tells me, "Amma, Kucho, sit, bais" or "Amma, pettu, keep," or "Amma, yo, come," "amma, Nahana, Bath," or "Amma, taati, sleep."She mixes languages up but it is cute and she tells you the same thing in all three languages she knows. Now, I have learnt Konkani and G some Telugu...but I hope we do not forget the language that we grew up speaking because the little one grows up speaking only in English. Plus, speaking multiple language is only good for the child itself, research says. And I really hope knowing so many languages will help Babs out in the future...

hehehehe...hopefully she can speak at least one language decently...what good is it to have a jack of all trades and king of none?!!!

Once again, a confused amma...

PS: Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi or Ballet for Babs?? Any suggestions?

1 comment:

P said...

hey i had a huge prob learning to speak when i was little. i did not speak till i was 2! doc said i was confused wit so many languages going around! at my place they spoke eng, hindi, marathi and kanada! so my parents stuck to marathi and i started talking immediately...!
but i did pick up those languages and in addition to that gujrati and kacchi by the time i was 5! so moral: kids pick up lang. pretty fast so if u really want babs can b multilingual! :)

as i have learned bharatnatyam for 4+ years i would say the obvious.. but ballet sounds cool too! :)