Will Indian languages die one day?

As B and I sat eating the lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant the other day, there were four Indian professionals at a table eating, chatting, and generally having a good time. As we eavesdropped on their conversation, B said something that got me thinking. He said that if this was a group of four Chinese people, or German people, or French, they would be talking in their native languages. But this was a group of Indians and that’s why they were talking in English. I said to him that maybe they all are from different parts of India and possibly may not understand each others mother tongue, so they chose to talk in English which is their common ground. Just as I said that they switched to Hindi for a brief moment and then back to English. B said that they could be talking in Hindi, because it is in fact the national language. Why not Hindi? Why English?

It is true. You go shopping in Mumbai and speak Hindi at a nice department store and they look at you like you are an alien. They look at you like you come from an uneducated family. India as a whole is moving towards English. I mean look at me? I know how to write a blog post in English better than in Hindi or even Gujarati which is my mother tongue. My generation probably speaks and understands English better than their mother tongue or the national language of India. My little brother’s generation understands even little. So one by one, each generation of Indian children will speak less and less of their native language? Even now, when you watch the news, the Hindi news is never entirely in Hindi. It is more in Hinglish with a generous splatter of English words. So then, in a hundred or even two hundred years from now, will the Indian language die one after another? Indians already don’t speak their native tongues entirely, will English slowly eat away all of it? I wonder…

4 Responses to “Will Indian languages die one day?”

  1. Hitpreet says:

    Kaush – this is so true. We always say the same thing of how the Chinese and people from other nationalities always speak in their languages. You know even the South Indians are usually spotted coversing in their languages. I think this is more of the north Indian thing where we like talking in English more than our native language. Sad, but true!

  2. kaush says:

    Yea true, its more a North Indian thing starting from Mumbai and up! There was an article in the NYtimes about this recently too. Like you said, sad but true!

  3. Pooja says:

    Kaush, completely true and sad!!

    What a shame that Indians are now reluctant and even (almost) uncomfortable when speaking Hindi and prefer speking English. Unfortunately, its the case for me and the people I know around me. The only difference is that I am aware of the problem Hindi as well as other regional languages and with it a good part of the essence of being an Indian is getting lost. In this tug of war between the english speaking minority elite that incarnates the economic super-power of India and the Hindi/ regional language speaking majority, I fear that the latter will die a slow but sure and painful death.

    I have nothing what so ever against that language of shakespere, which I adore and speak every day. It just so happens that I am very attached to my mother-tongue which incarnates a part of my identity and a part of my culture. Yes, I fear that at the end of this race for economic supermacy that India seems to be running we will be a lot of lost people. We will find ourself striped not only of age old traditional arts like classical danse, vocal and instrumental music but also of the very element that brings us together, our lingua-franca, our mother tongue(s).

  4. Aravindhan says:

    For your information Hindi is not the National language of India. India does not have any National language. If you have any doubt please search in google.

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