Our Languages Best Reflect Our Diversity, And How!

Water differs from one place to another, so does a language all over the world. In other words, the way a language is spoken in a particular geographical area is different from the same language spoken at a distance of a few miles away! This linguistic difference is quite noticeable if minute attention is paid to understand the subtleties of a language. This is better explained through a Hindi proverb: Kos kos pe paani badle, aath kos pe vaani (An old saying that means, “the quality of the groundwater will change after every 4 kos (12 km approximately), and the dialect will change at 8 kos (approximately 24 km)”).

For example, the way Hindi is spoken in Delhi is a lot different from how it is articulated in the so-called cow belt: Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. Likewise, a noticeable difference is found in the expression and pronunciation of Hindi in West Bengal and Maharashtra, and so on.

It is not that this is the case with Hindi alone. In England, the English that is spoken in its northern region is different from that of the southern part. Moreover, English is said to be a mixture of many languages and is said to have borrowings even from Hindi. The Oxford Dictionary testifies this fact.

Creole is a language that has developed from a mixture of different languages and has become the main language in a particular place. Similarly, Pidgin is not anyone’s first language, it is a form of language which speakers of different language use to communicate.

The reasons behind such a linguistic difference are many. One of them is that the impact of the first language (L1) one has learned is reflected in another language (L2). Suppose somebody is born in a Maithili-speaking family and the child picks up Maithili as L1, the child is bound to have a natural effect of his L1 on L2. (However, neutralisation of accent is possible with a great sense of care and practice.)

Very similarly, a child born in Haryana will naturally pick up Haryanvi intonation which will influence yet their other languages, be it Hindi or English. The same is the case with Punjab where English becomes ‘Pinglish’, a blend of Punjabi and English, and in our neighbouring country China, English becomes Chinglish, an assimilation of the two languages Chinese and English.

In an Indian context, a mélange of Hindi and English is euphemistically or humorously called Hinglish which has, however, gained wide currency in today’s society all across. Change is the only constant thing in this world as Shakespearian English is outmoded and replaced by the new trend. Yesterday’s ‘hath’ of Shakespeare has turned into today’s ‘has,’ and nobody has any objection to it.

The range of any given speaker’s repertoire is defined by who they are. People from different geographical places speak differently, but within their same small community, they might speak differently according to their age, gender, ethnicity, and social or educational background.

Social settings and educational backgrounds play a great role in giving an impression of one’s linguistic identity. Through your perseverance, you can polish up your image. There is nothing wrong with being natural either, but what is wrong with being global?

Dialect divides itself into three parts: Lexis (vocabulary), Grammar (structure), and Phonology (pronunciation or accent). The dialect is called the umbrella, a term for covering a variety of linguistic features, one of which is the accent.

The concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam“, meaning the world is one family, finds its origins in India. Do not rate yourself low for your roots that can belong to any part of the country. However, it will be smart of you to neutralise your pronunciation so that you can understand and be understood in any part of the world irrespective of the place you originate from. Be proud of yourself and do something that will make the world feel proud of you.

Moreover, American English at times is very different from British English in terms of phonetic, lexical, and grammatical usage. However, a comparative study of the subject makes things easier and comprehensible for all.

This article was first published here.

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