English Vinglish

There are thoughts. Then languages we wrap them with to express. And finally, the gift of communication at the end of this transaction.

When man roamed around in his primal opulence, not being able to acknowledge an emergency between his legs differently from an erection the world around was connected through gestures and sounds; serving as ersatz language. With time as the bug of sophistication bit him, a bunch of leaves and animal fur dichotomised his state of physicality into nude and clad . He realised that pebbles rubbed brought fire, like men rubbed wrongly  brought friction. Around the same time, he learnt to deconstruct syllables out of his gibberish with the chisel of language.

With time, clothes and languages transcended from the realm of necessity to identity. Man started being earmarked into tribes by the clothes he wore and language he spoke. Pieces of land were demarcated into countries and continents on the same basis. For relation and trade to happen between the populace of these land strips, the language barrier had to be overcome, thus conjuring the practice of learning languages, foreign. With trade came the concept of evaluation. So tribes that dealt in resources, the demand for which exceeded its supply started calling shots. And such tribes were arranged in the order of desperation for their flagship produce. Top among them proclaimed super powers, wielding undisputed influence across frontiers. The language of these tribes became the language of the world, awaiting to liaise with them. Thus began the era of linguistic discrimination and divide.

So, having this in mind, yes, English is the omnipotent language of the world given the kind of behemoth America has grown into. And India’s ties with the language is a little personal- dates a few centuries back, from when it continues to cut across as an aural wound from its colonial rule, that facilitates the unity in the diversity to exist in this nation of hundred languages and thousand cultures. Ours is a paradoxical case study of an old wound holding the entire body together. So with respect to us, English ain’t just the primary language of a nation we need around seventy units of our currency to purchase, but it’s reverence goes beyond strategic and fiscal reasons. To a time where it was in another form; subservience, to the call of our erstwhile colonial masters.You’ll still see Indians looking up to someone who speaks good English. This is their alter ego from the colonial time prostrating before a manifestation of the Raaj. Same reason you’ll see an american couple in the table next getting special treatment for the same food ordered, in a five star hotel.

Not just the language, we’ve always aped the West with uncontested obedience, be it fashion, films or technology with absolute indifference to our indigenous ways. Take for instance movies, most of our filmmakers and aficionados alike, would talk wide-eyed about Hollywood technicians like devotees about the past times of god. You’ll rarely hear them quote movies or talk about works of “regional” film makers. But you can’t blame them in a way, for what makes cinema from one region accessible to another here are the English subtitles, ironically. They’ll feel happy while receiving a National award and proud about being nominated as a foreign film in the Oscars.

All this ranting is to take nothing away from this exquisite language, which I take to be my first love. We are gregarious, most of us and keep doing things to keep cobwebs from forming. English is one such relevance keeping endeavour. The bark of the dog with the most bones up his backyard, in this dog-eat-dog ecosystem.  While its awareness has come to be a prerequisite, to be prolific in it is a matter of choice which is no skill or display of intelligence, but a linguistic ability. Probably like the dwindling relevance of high denomination notes with demonetisation, it might one day get dethroned from its numero uno perch, when it takes around seventy dollars to purchase a rupee. Maybe. May be not. Until such time remember Geoffrey Boycott‘s atrocious pronunciation of Vengirappu Venkata Sai Laxman, each time someone condescends when you utter an English name wrong.

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8 thoughts on “English Vinglish”

  1. Wonderfully expressed Aswath…sadly our society (especially the youth) is inclined towards West and English language without realizing the greatness of India and its various regional languages and dialect. Keep writing. You have am amazing way with words. I am glad I read this one.

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    1. Thanks a ton Deepali, for stopping by. It’s not like they don’t acknowledge the indigenous magic, just that they don’t wear it like a badge of honour like its western contemporary.

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  2. I must say your language (read English) is impeccable. Such an impressive article. Kudos to you. As one of the actress of our country said we are from a country where level of intelligence is measured by his/her ability to speak English.

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