Yesterday, on my way back from work I was sitting in my regular train that takes me home from Zurich, my journey in this train every day is no more than 20 minutes, I still closed my eyes trying to get some sleep because it had been a very tiring day. Before I could really fall asleep I heard someone talking in Hindi. Right behind my seat another Indian girl was sitting and she was talking to her friend on the phone. The conversation was interesting, the topics varied from movies to fashion to books. I could hear it all very clearly. Actually it was not really the conversation that was important for me but the way things were being expressed, the language, yes it was the language that really drew my attention, after all they were talking in Hindi. When you are abroad your ears become this perfect magnet for your own language. (All NRI brides/NRI please nod your head in approval) But it was far from the Hindi that I’ve learned at school, or should I say far from the Hindi we have all learned at school.
The Hindi that I heard during my unintentional eavesdropping session had a minimum of three English words per each small-sentence. Suddenly it struck me, maybe I also speak like that! We, the new generation from the English medium schools. Then I looked around and saw there were two Swiss and one Englishman sitting next to me. Now I don’t know about the Swiss guys, but the Englishman apparently understood most of the things, I could tell because he also laughed on one of the jokes. I was wondering whether this Englishman was thinking that our language is so weak that we have to borrow so many words from another language to express ourselves.
Hindi is such a rich language, very vast and extremely beautiful. It has a tremendously strong grammar base. From nouns to adjectives, comparatives to superlatives, synonymous, antonyms, phrases it has all the literary tools that one may require to express ones ’self. Great novels and epics have been written in this language but a small casual conversation cannot be completed without the help from another one.
I quickly revisited the labyrinths of my mind only to realize how really it has become a part of our normal way of speaking, in our daily lives. I remembered right at that moment how an auntiji in my neighborhood always used to say to his son “Beta hand and mouth wash kar lo, kitne dirty ho gaye hain” and one of my friend always says “We are tou the khaata peeta types na”. Also conjunctions like “you know na”, “I swear, sachchi”, “haan obviously”..and many more like that just pop-up on our lips and we just keep using them without even realizing under how much language debt we are by just borrowing these words nonchalantly.
I was thinking, when did we become such language DJs ?? Suddenly the announcement for my station was made and I started to collect my belongings to get out of the train.
Have you also felt like this sometimes? A slight moment of guilt for this language adulteration we are indulging in everyday, can you think of some English words you always use when you talk?… leave me your comments..
PS: Article 343 (1) of the Indian constitution states “The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script.” (1949)