A lot of people refer to mother tongue ‘influence’ on English, as mother tongue ‘influenza’ and have a good laugh at others’ expense. Of all the influences, the mother tongue influence is the most difficult to get rid of, or so we believe! In my Verbal Ability sessions, I invariably come across people who carry around an inferiority complex, just because they speak English with a mother tongue influence.
When I tell them that I come from a vernacular medium school and couldn’t converse in English even while in college, they refuse to believe me. ‘But Ma’am you have a perfect English accent’. I tell them about my own battles with mother tongue influence (in my case a dual influence of Punjabi and UP Hindi). My Punjabi teachers couldn’t pronounce ‘measure’, ‘pleasure’, ‘treasure’, ‘support’, ‘develop’ etc, and my UPite father could not say ‘school’ or ‘zero’. We (my siblings and I) grew up saying ‘meayure’, ‘pleayure’, ‘treayure’ ‘sport’, ‘devolp’, ‘iskool’ and ‘jero’ . But when we went out into the world (in my case Kolkata) for further studies, we were old enough to keep our ears open to correct any pronunciation errors that we inadvertently made. I can only speak for myself (though my siblings are as fluent speakers as I am). If I was not sure about the pronunciation of a certain word, I would ask, practice, and learn (I do it even now). After all any language is learnt over a lifetime!
You can never proclaim to know all the words or their correct pronunciation, especially in English. English is an evolving language. New words keep getting added to it virtually on a daily basis. There are a lot of French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese and even Indian words being added to English, much to the horror of purists! Now can any one say that I have mastered English? We are all learners. The only difference is that we are placed at different levels of learning.
When we make mistakes in our own mother tongue (or even our national language for that matter), these are taken as ‘oh, s/he can’t speak her tongue’. No one cares if you can’t speak your native language. But English is something else; it is the language of commerce and higher learning. Not being able to converse in impeccable English marks one as someone not up to the mark. I wonder if it has something to do with our colonial hangover, or the ‘us’ and ‘them’ syndrome of ‘class consciousness’. (Now don’t think that I am anti-English or something. On the contrary, since I belong to a Pan-Indian family, English happens to be our family tongue now.)
The first step towards limiting this unwanted influence (it is difficult to overcome overnight) is by acknowledging the problem. If we are ready to admit to ourselves and to others that we have a problem, and solicit everyone’s help in correcting us by pointing out our errors, our language will soon improve. But this effort requires a lot of courage, and deep willingness on our part. Listening to English news, reading aloud (to hear your own voice), paying attention when others are speaking, and making continuous effort to correct yourself, go a long way in helping overcome mother tongue influence.
I take pleasure in the fact that the Americans chose to defy Standard English language of the British and got away with it. A country as financially strong as
Why can’t we just relax, and learn to speak deliberately in as much a neutral accent as possible? We should have the confidence that as we practice more, we will eventually become proficient in speaking so called ‘Public School’ English. The purpose of any language is to communicate. When we speak slowly and deliberately we can be understood better. In case someone still doesn’t understand a particular word, we can always spell it out for them. We need to be willing to give ourselves and others time to learn these skills. We need to be patient with each other.
The day is not far when
People wonder why I proclaim my disadvantaged background to others. Why can’t I just feel superior (la-di-lah!) about my current levels of communication skills? I could do that; but my kick lies in letting people know that if I could do it, they can do it too!
By giving undue importance to English, we have become 'na ghar ka na ghat ka'........:)) We must learn English because it is a global language but we mustn't forget our mother-tongue....:))
Your explanation towards mother tongue influence is really very fruitful. Specially for those who are really suffering in spite of good knowledge. Their ability to explain in second language really shatter them. I am very sure that regular listening build confidence in speaking as the ultimate aim is to communicate your thoughts to others.
You have made one point which I always strongly emphasize, that in order to solve a problem, the very first step is to acknowledge that it exists (not in the matter of language alone, but in all human endeavors). The sad, unfortunate truth is that most people do not accept this because they have no desire to improve, in the first place.
Coming to the specific topic you have discussed here, it is language that has made civilization and material comfort possible (and we have progressed in the direction of technology). The purpose of language is to communicate ideas, and it is only if that purpose is fulfilled that language is successful. Unfortunately, there are many people who pride in speaking fast, without bothering about whether others understand what they say. There are others who write ornate prose, most often conveying no idea, believing that writing means using "flowery" language (idea or no idea). Still others believe that they can use any combination of words, in any manner, and it is the duty of the listener to "know" what they mean, despite lack of clarity and coherence. These, and many more such examples, are cases of defeating the very purpose of language.
every one saying that kerala people have strong mother tongue influnces...is it right??rest of indian people have no mti????
I thought you could help me in resolving some of the practical problems when i try to converse. I feel am good at vocabularies but when i try to converse in english, i feel like i am dried. I get no words or sometimes i would not get just the right word.
Is there a way or some techniques / methodolgy to overcome this. I know practice will be the remedy for this but pls provide solutions.
I liked samuel santosh's Indian english. He is the president of POCFA and he doesn't know that i am the secretary. So I collect money for conducting free classes on Indian English.hehe