Friday, June 03, 2011

The Language of Thought

There are times when I wonder if a generation of Indians who have migrated from their native languages to English as the primary language of thought have lost some part of their identities. This is a feeling that I get only when I look at people around my age group (+15/ -10 years), the rest clearly have a defined language of thought. 

When I look at the elder group (Age > x+15), I look at a bunch of people who have their thought and the ethos in their native cultures and contexts. They can talk any language they like but you know the language they are thinking in. 

Similarly, when I look at the younger bunch, they have a clear preference of language. Many of them would not even like to talk in the erstwhile native language. They have been clearly language naturalized. 

But my ilk, which I refer to as the 'Bridge' generation, is a mixed up bunch. Some of them have changed their language of thought and some are firmly entrenched in the native language. As a result, they often struggle to communicate with the preceding and the following generation. Not here to comment on where they should be. It is their own choice and they have either made it or they are stuck with it.

I started on this post when I was browsing online for a few books and my site suggested 'नीम का पेड़' (The Neem Tree) to me. Some from my generation might remember this TV serial from our childhood days. It used to start with a Ghazal sung by Jagjit and written by Nida Fazli. It started off beautifully:

मूँह की बात सुने हर कोई,
दिल के दर्द को जाने कौन
आवाजों के बाज़ारों में,
खामोशी पहचाने कौन !!
Let me try and translate it. This is how it goes:

Everyone hears the spoken word, Whom do I share with this sadness of mine
In this market of din and noise, Is there anyone who seeks silence...

And as it happens almost always, it does not translate well! Sigh!


JeevSingh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JeevSingh said...

Gandhi used to always crib about this fact (5-6 years ago) that he can't think in English :)

Kanupriya said...

that's so true. I used to pride myself over my 'good' Hindi, but now my language is just a pathetic khichdi. While speaking, it's mostly Hindi, while writing it's mostly English :(