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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Importance of English

There are a lot of people in India, who dont' quite appreciate the importance of English. They consider English as a foreign language (which it certainly is) and a leagacy of the British rule (which again it certainly is). Then they go on to try and de-emphasize the growing importance of English in the country as a medium of communication and a medium of instruction.

The arguments of these people rests on two grounds - a) Children are best taught in their mother tongue's as that is a language which is natural to them and b) Continued use of english represents british legacy and it somehow is in conflict with our idea of sovereignity.

With regard to the first argument, I have not seen any evidence or do I believe that fundamentally there is any reason for a child to have better learning capability in one language over another. To me that sounds like a truck load of crap.

On the contrary, the second argument has some merits to it. There are a lot of people I know/have encountered who like to use English as a means on impressing people or some how proving their superiority over others. This to me is a sign of mental block. In fact many a times, I try and respond to these people in crude english or best in vernacular language.

Superiority/Command over english is no sign of one's intellect or social or economic status and
any move towards believing or assuming so is purely a reflection of one suffering from an inferiority complex.

However the point that we miss in the above discussion is how incredibly important enlish as a language is and how indespensible it is.

I recently was in a non-english speaking european country and boy, was I relieved that people there spoke english. How else do you communicate? If there's any one language today which is standard or benchmark accepted globally - it is english and thank god for it!

People who keep on harping about the adverse impact of growing importance of english in the country need to be dumped to a foreign country and asked to live without using english - that should wake them up nicely. And we are here talking about simple living - finding food, locating places etc. Then comes the complex task of actually conducting business - which calls for much more standardisation and structuring of things and that's when you realise how important it is globally to have a single common language which everyone understands. Infact on that parameter, we have a long way to go...

If there's one good thing that happened from the vast and long british empire is the spread of english. God bless them for that...

I feel like laughing when people say that just because the french president speaks in french when he speaks in public or the chinese president speaks in chinese when he is in public - that's a sign of how much pride they have in their language, and we should do the same. What crap.
If we are addressing a global audience, there is absolutely no reason why we should speak in Hindi. We should speak the truly global language - English. But, if you are addressing an indian audience by all means use the local language (again what language you will use even there is a question - use Hindi and you run the risk of annoying/not reaching the people in southern states!).

So, in conclusion English is important and more important than we realise (I just realised how under appreciative I was of this language) and thank god for it!

That's it for now...

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