The basic purpose of any language is to communicate. It is the responsibility of the people concerned to preserve/enrich their respective native languages and pass on to the generations next to keep their cultural ethos and civilisation alive. Therefore, using a language regularly and spreading the same is the key to its sustainability and eternity. However, of late, I have seen, in fact closely observed, a tendency on the part of the people to use the English language ext ensively while disregarding their mother-tongue.

Fascination for English

It must be pointed out here that we inherited the English language due to British colonialism. It has enabled us to construct bridges and establish contacts with the outside world, which is necessary for progress and prosperity more especially in these days of globalisation, where the world is being referred as a global village. One of the important reasons for its phenomenal growth is its remarkable flexibility. It is also a fact that proficiency in English is considered a cornerstone to success and a passport to prosperity. As against this backdrop, it is quite natural that people are very fond of English. With globalisation, its importance has grown much more, as being inevitable for mere survival.

Recently, when I visited a hospital, right from entering to leaving, I had to speak to them in English. Even when I tried to speak to them in Telugu, they were not willing to speak to me in Telugu as if it is not their mother-tongue. Speaking in English in a foreign country is an absolute necessity, but speaking in that language in India by people belonging to the same culture and same language is strange. I have seen some parents speaking only in English to their tiny tots in the expectation that they would learn English effortlessly while disregarding the importance of their mother- tongue. While there may be many reasons for this fascination, it does not augur well in the interest of our native languages. This may, slowly and surely, lead to the extinction of our languages over a period of time.

Save our languages

It may be worthwhile to mention here that according to a news report published in The Hindu, dated February 21, 2009, of the 196 languages listed as endangered by the UNESCO, India tops the list of countries having the maximum number of dialects on the verge of extinction. These facts were revealed in the latest Atlas of World’s Languages in Danger of Disappearing unveiled by the UNESCO.

It must also be worthwhile to mention that countries like Japan, China, etc., have made tremendous progress and prosperity and stood as role models even though their English language skills are very poor. As rightly said by Tagore, mastery of one’s own mother-tongue will lead to the easy learning of a foreign language.

Regular usage/spread is the key to the thriving of any language.

If we do not regard our own language and always try to speak a foreign language, even while staying in our mother land with people of same language and culture in an effort to achieve proficiency in the English language, we are doing a great disservice to our own mother-tongue and helping others to keep up their cultural ethos and civilisations while allowing our languages to languish and perish.

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