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When you have lived in different parts of a country like India, the one thing you really treasure is the range of languages you learn. Consider it a boon or a bane of the Indian educational system, which forces you to learn at least two languages in your course curriculum, but in the end, you can consider yourself a maven person, for knowing more than one language. Believe me, that knowledge is very helpful in many of life's situations.

I was lucky to know languages like Malayalam, Gujarati, Hindi, English and thanks to the compulsory course schedule of higher secondary, a little bit of Sanskrit too. Of course I was never a expert in any of these languages as I used to mess up miserably with pronunciations and so finally devised a ubiquitous language of my own, a
kichhadi (or mixture) of these, flavored liberally with the masala (or spices) of Hindi or English, whichever suits better.

Knowing so many languages brings to ones attention, the various differences in the lingo. Consider it the limitation of the Devnagari script, which may have few words in it or the fact that God was in a hurry to prevent the people from constructing the Babylonian tower, the lexicology of the languages in the usage of the same words but with varied meanings, leads to a funny osmosis of the languages. Reference to these words can lead to amusing and sometimes embarrassing situations. So "Chor" means 'rice' in Malayalam while in Hindi, it means 'thief'. Imagine a Malayalee shouting at the top of his voice to his wife to get more rice for him. He may or may not get the rice but the police will surely reach there. So Malayalees living in northern parts of India, please be careful. Similarly  "more" is 'buttermilk' in Malayalam, 'peacock' in

Hindi while we all know what it means in English.

It's mostly the pronunciations or connotations, which make the languages difficult to understand. So the next time, you hear a Gujarati say "Maro beto States mai gaya", he doesn't mean that his son has gone to the United States but that he has failed in Statistics. Same goes for Dubai as dubai in Gujarati means drowned. So think twice before reacting or you really will have to face some sour people. Usage of "yum" instead of "M" is a part and parcel of all Malayalees. Mum is the word for me on that issue but then coming to think of it, it is spelt "yum-u-yum". Next time you hear a Malyalee say something about "Shero", he is not talking about any sweet dish but "zero", but "simbly" (notice the usage of the "b" instead of "p") ignore that.

Hindi is a sweet language with which I have had relatively fewer problems, but now I have my doubts what with the emergence of the recent yet common "Hinglish", thanks to the efforts of the teens trying to strike a balance between Western culture and Indian Sanskriti. Add to it the Mumbai argot and you have a language which may be as rough as an uncut diamond but holds an attraction, which few can resist. So a Salim confessing his love to his Anarkali saying " Apun tumko itna love karta ki apna heart ka meter tum ko dekh kar 100 km ke speed se chalne lagta hai!." (I am going to try and translate that literally - When I see you my heart races at a 100 km/h!) Was that a confession or a maintenance logbook?! But for all its unethical usage of words, it's still the irresistible choice of everyone, isn't it?

The most amusing thing I find about all these languages is the way, husbands

and wives are referred. In Gujarat, wives refer to their husband by associating a "bhai" behind their name. So Ramesh becomes Rameshbhai. So what, you may ask? Well, nothing except the fact that bhai in Gujarati (and Hindi) means brother. If you think Gujaratis are weird, Malayalees are not far behind. Wives refer their husbands as "Chetan", which means elder brother in Malayalam. I think these pati-vrata ladies should follow the Hindi style of "Munne ke papa" (or "my son's father") but be careful that there are no more munnas in the neighborhood to avoid undue confusions and misunderstandings. Blame it on the languages, which do not have the appropriate word for reference to a husband or on the Indian culture, which doesn't allow a wife to refer to her husband by name; this really leads to amusing situation for an outsider.

This article is not meant to make fun of any language but to bring forward the beautiful diversity that we, Indians, share. Actually it has been found that the North Indians living in South speak better South Indian languages and this is true vice versa too. But whatever be limitations of the languages, they all are beautiful and have a charm of their own. And if it hadn't been for this lingual diversity, we would have lost many of our lingual jokes!! Besides in this E-era, many companies have made profits, just by putting up different lingual websites. So, finally, we do need this diversity of languages. And after all, Bhaasha Jo Bhi Ho, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani !! (Whatever may be the language, We are still Indians at heart!).

Jyoti Jacob

Volume 2, Issue 4

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