I usually wonder what is more important between Idea you want to communicate and the Language you chose to communicate ?
This question usually comes to my mind when my so called friends proficient in English (particularly those who hails from elite Metro city) sheepishly makes fun of my usage or pronunciation/accent of set words in English language. But before I share my views let me give you my detailed background related to the subject of this article.
I come from middle class family where my generation was first to be admitted to English medium school.My parents acquaintance towards this so called alien language was limited to the government school curriculum which used to be mere formality during their schooling days.Though i was admitted to best school in the town which was English medium school but in context of English language i have led down all my English teachers from grade I to XII.Trust me being eldest sibling I had really tough time when it came to learn English as a language.My younger siblings were admitted to same school and they had pretty easy access to blunder i made in my notebooks or exam paper preserved by my mother.(I was day in and day out humiliated by my younger siblings on blunders i have made which were registered in my notebooks or examination papers or the total score which i used to achieve/manage).They would easily surpass those milestones piggybacking and learning over my mistakes.
My father works in B.H.E.L and mother is a teacher in government school in nearby village owned by B.H.E.L .My father used to taught us Maths, Hindi,and Moral studies (is this course is still taught..dont know..?) . Science ,Sanskrit and social studies were the responsibilities of my mother till i was in Grade V. Since then I made it all by myself. I used to see my mother shuffling dictionaries pages when she couldn’t fathom particular word while teaching me.
Every year parents-teachers meet used to be the most embarrassing day of the year for me . As my sister used to show pride in visiting all teachers and showing my parent what she was upto and making me hear from all teachers..”Dont tell me you are Abhishek’s sister..”.I would keep my brave face before 10 other parents looking at me.
I started developing disinterest towards the language when my curriculum was revised by C.B.S.E to include new pedagogy to teach English. To clear English paper i just used to prepare reading comprehension and learn by heart English literature questions which used to help me achieve the magic figure. So my focus shifted to other subjects like Maths and science as i progressed.I never figured out why people participate or what carnal pleasure they derive out by participating in extempore or English creative writing.
At home we used to converse in Hindi and daily chorus have no place for English conversation as parents were convinced that English Medium school would take care of our English language. I remember library used to be loaded with books of Tom Swayer, Adventures of Hardy boyz and related readings but what used to intrest me was TinTin and sports magazine. I remember the day when i was asked to deliver the English speech only me and my god knows what all effort it took me to stand before 500 faces and Principal behind me listening every word of mine.I did it and to my surprise few of my sincere friends told me that you delivered it really well.
After finishing my school,I studied engineering for which really high standards of English were not required. With my so called English medium schooling i completed my degree course and joined T.C.S Ltd. At T C S, I learnt pretty quickly by adapting and interacting with colleagues rather from books. I quickly used to grab or pickup the words or sentences being exchanged while interacting with my colleagues in office. So i gradually develop the confidence to speak in meeting or communicating over emails through imitating and reflecting. At Pune ,I also used to read daily English newspaper which also helped me to an extent in learning the usages of phrases or words in sentences.My roommate was an avid readers and my first book which i read was borrowed from him only.Dan Brown was the author and then list is still growing.I never faced any kind of hesitation in communicating with clients as i was learning and adapting and also reflecting .Even while working at onsite i never faced any embarrassing situation.
Everything changed when i started preparing for MBA and it opened my eyes for good.It was shocking for me that i get to know how poor English fundamental is have. I hardly know about modifiers/correct usage of tenses etc and correct usage of grammar .I purposefully used to avoid grammar question as used to attempt reading comprehension section after practicing hard but of no avail as strong building cannot be erected on weak basement.
I got admission in one of the well known institute of management of western India 🙂 .There i encountered most massive attack on my English usage.Day by day i became more conscious of what was coming out of my mouth.It was all fun for them particularly for few friends as they get immense pleasure in reading or imitating what and how i used that.Report writing ,technical writing and every form of usage were under scrutiny. To my horrors i was in such miserable situation that even guys who themselves have poor command over English started pointing to my accent or grammatical mistakes.I used to get so conscious at times that i used to refrain from trying anything new .I dont mind people making fun of my accent or English usage but i do mind when people start looking for mistakes rather than what one is trying to communicate. I also realized : “You re not as good as you think you are, when you are on high and you’re not as bad as you think you are ,when you are low ”
Now given the background on subject of article here goes what i think about English :
Business or trade knows no language neither does love.Americans have change the entire dimension of British English in every aspect be it pronunciation or usage.They have defined their own minimum set of standards which are enough to understand what other person is trying to communicate.This is progressive approach of american society rather than sticking to rule book.I think that idea is more important than emphasizing on pronunciation or accent . I understand English is universal language and very important in today’s world of globalization but haven’t we made it indispensable in every aspect of life. I have came across certain incidences while travelling by air or rail. I noticed that parents are conversing with 3 year old kid in English.Even if he has to request water or wafers kid must communicate with parents in English only.I understand it lays solid foundation from the beginning but does Germans,Russians, Japanese or French people do that with their kids.They feel proud while speaking in any public forum in national language rather adopting international language .Germans knows that their world class engineering industry earns respect ,for french its their art , Russian their research and Japanese their discipline and hard work.They have earned this respect not by learning english but telling whole world that more than language its the technology and innovation of Germans, creativity of French artists and integrity and ethics of Japanese which earns the respect .
P.S. : I m sure that no matter how many times i re -read this article before publishing it for public view there must be at least 50 grammatical mistakes to laugh upon but i know i m trying..