Embracing our native languages with pride
Apart from instilling a sense of pride, cherishing our native languages help preserve our history and culture, and serve as the custodians of diverse knowledge.
For centuries, our nation’s heritage was steeped in a profound connection to our native way of life. Our education system, languages, and the practice of various sciences thrived, boasting a distinct superiority over their Western counterparts.
Yet, the advent of British colonial rule saw a systematic dismantling of our cultural pillars--a deliberate strategy to undermine our self-confidence and self-respect. Though the colonial rulers departed more than seven decades ago, the echoes of their impact still reverberate through our society. Regrettably, we’ve struggled to return to our roots, often feeling a sense of shame in embracing our superior indigenous practices.
The erosion of our native languages
Consider our languages–each one a testament to beauty, melody, scientific prowess, and a rich literary history. Today, however, they find themselves in a state of decline. We’ve internalised a sense of inadequacy in prioritising our native languages.
Even the term 'vernacular,' used to describe them, is a linguistic relic gifted to us by the British. Few realise that it carries derogatory connotations; a quick glance in the dictionary will confirm this. Those who do not speak English are often made to feel lesser, and this is truly disheartening.
Contrast this with other nations like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, or Bangladesh, where pride in native languages is ingrained in their cultural fabric. Even in European countries like France, Germany, Spain, and Italy, people take immense pride in their language. Their entire digital economy also runs in local languages–websites, mobile apps, interfaces of common software.
In fact, even the notes and legends left in the code by programmers are in native languages. Furthermore, many recount instances where natives from these countries refuse to speak English, even when they could, out of sheer love for their mother tongue. Why shouldn't we follow suit?
Multifaceted value of embracing native languages
Apart from instilling a sense of pride, cherishing our native languages yields many other benefits:
Preservation of History and Culture: Our local languages are repositories of our history and culture. When these languages fade into obscurity, we risk losing invaluable insights into our past.
Ancient Wisdom: Our scriptures and ancient literature are often documented in local languages. By neglecting them, we discard a wealth of wisdom that has shaped our civilization.
Diverse Knowledge: From politics and medicine to spirituality, yoga, and economics, local languages serve as the custodians of diverse knowledge. Neglecting them means forfeiting a deeper understanding of these domains.
A path to a stronger future
It is high time we embark on a journey to rekindle our love for our native languages, fostering a
renewed sense of pride in our past as the foundation for a vibrant future. Let us embrace our linguistic heritage with open arms, for in doing so, we not only celebrate our roots but also build a stronger and more culturally enriched nation. This change cannot come overnight, but we must start sowing the seeds today.
Educational Initiatives: We should go back to the basics, i.e., our education system. Native languages should be an integral part of the curriculum, not relegated to the margins. For e.g., typing in Indian languages on mobiles and laptops should be made as commonplace as typing in English. By nurturing linguistic diversity, we can empower future generations to take pride in their heritage.
Challenge Old Notions: On a global stage, we should start challenging the notion that proficiency in English equates to intelligence or success. We should proudly communicate in our native languages when interacting with the world. By demonstrating our linguistic prowess, we can dispel the myth that English is the sole marker of progress.
In conclusion, it is time to once again embrace our native languages. We have a rich tapestry of linguistic diversity that deserves to be celebrated, not sidelined. By embracing our languages with pride, we not only reconnect with our history and culture, but also pave the way for a stronger, more vibrant future. Let us carry forward the legacy of our ancestors, for our languages are not just words but vessels of wisdom, culture, and identity.
(Vidushi Kapoor is the Co-founder of Process9, a language localisation technology company)
Edited by Megha Reddy
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)