Mother Tongue.

The above image is just the tip of the iceberg in India. According to the Census of India of 2001, India has 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. With that background, let me tell you my problem/s.

My late mother’s tongue was a mixture of Malayalam and Tamil spoken by a community called Palghat Iyers. My late father’s was pure Tamil. In deference to the latter’s comfort, the former changed to speaking the Tamil spoken by the latter and so I grew up speaking that Tamil.

What is my Mother Tongue?

My late wife’s mother was a Telugu, and her father was a Bengali. They spoke Urdu or English at home and my wife did not know either Telugu or Bengali.

At our home, we spoke mostly English and Hindi  now,  and our son grew up using both.

What is my son’s Mother Tongue?

My daughter in love’s mother is a Bengali and her late father was a Maharashtrian. She grew up speaking Marathi at her home. She has moved into our home where she too speaks Hindi and English mostly but, Marathi for effect when needed.

Just supposing I get a grandchild what will be her/his Mother Tongue?

How do I solve this conundrum when the census taker comes visiting?

9 thoughts on “Mother Tongue.”

  1. People from places like India do so well with language. I’m fortunate that much of the world speaks English but unfortunate that it is the only language I speak.
    My husband spoke Cantonese with his parents, Hakka and Hokkien with his grandmothers and Bahasa Malaysia at school and even though I suspect he was less than fluent in all of them, I am still in awe of his even having a basic idea of that many languages

    1. Not all of us are multilingual. People like me in travelling jobs or on transferable jobs or both usually develop into them. Most of us are bilingual with our mother tongue and English and often trilingual with Hindi thrown in.

  2. Speaking many languages is good for the brain’s development. My language skills other than in English are rather limited I’m sorry to say. I studied French but had no real opportunity to use it. My study of Spanish was more limited as have been the occasions to use it.

  3. Here in NZ there are three official languages: English, Maori and Sign Language.
    What is interesting about Sign Language particularly now during the Pandemic that when we have any type of update or other to do with the current party in government, someone is beside the speakers – using Sign Language…

    However, I’ve read 90% of us speak only English. But on the other hand apparently we have speakers of 16o other languages, 203 ethnic groups. Now there are probably just as many of those ethnic groupings that have children born here in NZ.
    Catherine de Seton recently posted..Shortages…life and groceries

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