Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Neglect of the Mother Tongue

The Neglect of the Mother Tongue

By Tomazinho Cardozo   

In every society the culture, conduct and values are very strongly related to the language spoken. Literature is the mirror of culture in society and literature is based on language which plays a main part in man’s socialisation.
The credit for the complex order of human society must go to man’s linguistic superiority over other animals and the language one picks up in the family. The first contact the child has is the mother. Thus, for the growth of the child, the mother becomes the focus in the family.
As per the numerous studies made in the past, children brought up by animals in forests are seen completely ignorant in matters of language. They communicated their wishes by signs in animal’s language, use hands and legs for walking, eat raw meat and exhibit the least signs of humanity. A child brought up by animals grows like an animal, while a child brought up by human beings grows into a human being. To go even further, a child developing in a cultured family is cultured, while one brought up in menial circumstances is coarse. The child is first taught language in his thoughts. If a Goan child is brought up in an English family, English will become his mother tongue. Thus, the major element in the child’s socialisation in the form of language comes to him in his mother’s lap.
Besides the above mentioned elements, an individual receives a number of other things from his family. Not unusually, even the person’s occupation in society is decided by his family. Even in the modern age many people carry on the paternal business and occupation for which they are trained in the family from childhood. It is not an uncommon occurrence that a jeweller’s child shows interest in the same business from his infancy and becomes able very soon.
In brief, the family educates the individual in culture, conduct, behaviour, custom, tradition, religion, laws of thinking, ideals, values, occupations, obedience, performance of duties and proper use of authority, etc. In other words the family is the most important institution in man’s moral development. And in all this, the mother tongue plays the most crucial role in shaping the destiny of the child.
The mother tongue, no doubt, is absolutely essential for the growth of the child. Nevertheless the treatment given to the mother tongue in the present times by the present generation, particularly in Goa, is not only disturbing but highly objectionable because such a treatment can destroy Goan culture, Goan ethos and Goan identity in times to come. I have closely observed different types of approaches from different Goans to this issue due to whose actions the so called “Goykarponn” or Goan identity is deteriorating among Goans day-by-day.
Let us take the example of elite Goans. Most of them are highly educated. They often come from rich families. In the past they used make use of Portuguese among themselves and the Konkani language with the servants. After the Liberation of Goa they have replaced Portuguese with English and continue to use Konkani or Hindi with the servants. They are involved in numerous agitations such as ‘anti-SEZs’, ‘Regional Plan 2010’, and all other protests which were organised in the interest of Goa. In brief, they participate in all movements and agitations in order to ‘save Goa’. However, I do not see any activity from them to save the mother tongue, Konkani, the influence of which on Goans is declining very fast. Is it possible to save Goa, meaning Goa’s culture and identity without saving the mother tongue?
There is another huge section of Goans whose mother tongue is Konkani but takes pride in the Marathi language. There are valid reasons to this fact and I do not wish to deal with them at this time. But the end result of this attitude is that the mother tongue suffers on all fields such as education, literature, social, etc. When the mother tongue of any society suffers it indicates that its culture and identity is at risk.
The other section of Goans, who swear by Goa and Goan identity, are those who are all out to ape the West. They are fluent in Konkani yet they will try to converse in broken English. They try to make use of English while compeering their family functions like weddings, anniversary celebrations, etc. They have money and because of that they intend to acquire higher status in the society by displaying a ‘Western’ external appearance. Once again the mother tongue is given a back seat.
The fourth type of Goans, are our politicians and policy makers. Today many of them have become strong leaders in the political field of Goa only because they espoused the cause of the mother tongue. Due to people’s agitation, the mother tongue of Goans – Konkani – was finally made the Official Language of Goa in 1987. But unfortunately the Official Language Act of Goa does not make the use of the Official Language – Konkani – compulsory in any field. It is also not possible because Marathi language has been given almost equal status along with Konkani in the Act. The disastrous effect of this legislation is that, Goa has become the only state in the country where you can complete your whole education without learning the Konkani language – the mother tongue of the state of Goa.
All these incidents only prove that we give importance to numerous factors but not to the mother tongue in our efforts to ‘save’ Goa. And Goa - its culture and identity – cannot be saved without saving its mother tongue – the Konkani language.

No comments:

Post a Comment