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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Language: Is it only for communication?

I never thought of myself as a language person. I struggled with Hindi in school. (Surprising that I studied in a part Hindi medium school and still had a problem!) I was not really able to grasp Sanskrit as a language. I almost always thought of Hindi and Sanskrit as "subjects" and rarely as the "languages" they really are.

When I moved to Pondicherry, I was told to pick up French (it being a former French colony and all!). So, there I was, one fine day, knocking at the doors of the Alliance Francaise de Pondichery. And three months later, I was able to manage more than just a "Parlez-vouz francais?" I topped my batch and then decided that I was going to proceed with this language. This was no subject, this was a beautiful, albeit very confusing, language! Later that year, I had the option of choosing between French and Japanese at University. I decided I must learn Japanese as I'd already started with French. I was not confusing the two languages in my head and I was enjoying the process of learning. After a few months, I got even bolder and landed at the Max Mueller Bhavan in Madras to check out what they had to offer.

Voila! There I was studying French (juggling 2 levels at a time) before and after University, studying Japanese along with my other final year subjects, and traveling to Madras on weekends to study German. I discovered something beautiful. I learnt that there's more to languages than meets the eye. I learnt that it was fun. And I learnt that I was good at picking up languages too.

I figured that the methods used to teach us languages at school weren't the best. I perceived the languages as subjects because that was how the school treated them. We jumped into prose and poetry even before we comprehended the basics. Maybe that's why I thought of Hindi as a painful subject. Today, I can appreciate Kabir and Bachchan a lot more than I ever did at school.

I've been asked why I have this thing for languages. Did I come to be this way because I have a multi-lingual background? I don't know... and I really couldn't care less. I lived in Hyderabad, a city where Hindi is spoken more than Telugu. Yet, I chose to learn Telugu. In Bangalore, I can get by with Telugu and Tamil, yet I choose to learn Kannada. I'm even trying to learn the script. A language isn't meant for communication alone, is it? There's so much more to it. And I've been wanting to dig deeper.

I've given up procrastinating. I started Spanish classes today. Even though I'm forcing myself to go to class early in the morning, I'm on a high. I'm determined to complete my higher levels of French and German later on. As I embark on yet another journey of discovery, I'm filled with enthusiasm. My thirst for knowledge is going to be quenched a little, but it will leave me begging for more. And it is with regret that I will say, "So little time, so many things to learn".

8 comments:

Caffeinism said...

Awesome woman! Good Luck with your spanish, french and anything else you want to learn:-D

Raaga said...

Thanks a ton Caff! :)

Sunanda said...

Bienvenue au monde de les langues. Je suis d'accord avec vous! Chaque fois, une experience avec une langue etais un revelation supere! (Pardon , mon mauvaise francaise, il ya long temps!!). Keep going!

Raaga said...

je ne peux pas parler maintenant... je dois pratiquer! :)

Tambourine Girl said...

I'm silenced! :) in awe. I can't (won't?) talk in the two languages I barely know, and you're off mastering a handful simultaneously!!

Raaga said...

@TG: I'm enjoying the experience.

Vincent said...

Yes yes, I vividly remember the discussions before the early morning spanish classes started!!

:)

Raaga said...

yeah... I set out to find a boyfriend and got a husband directly na :) only, instead of ferrying me to and from class, he ferried me out of Bangalore itself!