19 August 2010

'Tamil Mattum Pesungu'

 The following is merely my personal observation, and not in any way intended as a slight against any particular group or community.

While glancing through an edition of The Hindu on a sweltering Sunday afternoon, I happened to read a small article. Nothing much, just about how the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi had instructed all the Civil Service officers in the State to prepare documents in Tamil.

Two thoughts crossed my mind.

Firstly, with the small amount of knowledge I possessed about Civil Service examinations, I knew that all the Civil Servants within a State wouldn’t be from that State itself. Meaning a lot of the IAS and IPS officers in Tamil Nadu wouldn’t know Tamil.

Secondly, even if they do write all their documents in Tamil, what if departments or committees from other parts of the country need to review them?

Now, this thought didn’t deprive me of sleep, and I wouldn’t have bothered any more about it, if it weren’t for what I saw at my college.

Just like in any other college in Tamil Nadu, a sizeable population of students are Tamil speakers. Let me make it clear. They only speak Tamil. Why? Because of several reasons. Some valid, like the fact that they weren’t blessed with the opportunity to attend an English medium school. Others, because they didn’t bother to pay much attention to a foreign language.

Either way, what happens is that they’re left to speak just one language. Now, I have never socialised with them. The reason, apart from the fact that I am not a highly social person, is because I don’t know a word of Tamil. Actually, I know exactly three.

That’s when I started thinking. I’d known for a long time that Tamilians are greatly protective of their language. After all, weren’t they the ones who protested the most about Hindi becoming the official language of India? And that’s a quality that’s completely skipped Keralities. We pride ourselves in including as many English words in Malayalam as possible.

But I cant help feeling that what started out as a noble deed has turned out to cause more harm than good. Instead of making sure that Tamil, a regional language is not buried under the onslaught of English, it seems they’ve crossed to the other end of the spectrum. One where we’re left hoping that English is taught to Tamilians, in order to give them a better future, both globally and within our nation as well.

And no one’s going to actually deny the need to learn English to succeed in today’s world, right?

Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world, one that needs to be admired for its purity, beautifully shown to us by great poets such as Thiruvalluvar. But until about a billion people all over the world are able to read, write or speak Tamil in some form or the other, learning English would be....I don’t know, a good idea?


  1. enukuu tamil konjum konjum theriyum! that right?:P
    dono a word of mallu, but tamil..bring it on!:D hahah!
    i think i need to post a link of this entry to those only-tamil speaking gangsters in your college!:D
    true stuff man..
    btw ad is rejin! i have no idea why my name comes this way..sounds pretty cool anyways!

  2. interesting :)
    but as far as i am concerned tamil is becoming more endangered by the day, there is too much english involvement in what people speak 2day. it has come to the point that one can actually live in chennai without knowing tamil :P

    most keralites know their language (read and write) this is not the case with tamil, many just speak with the few wrds they are familiar with, with a splash of english. and there are still many novelists in karela who write in malayalam. modern tamil novelists are rare now :)

    and nevermind the current CM, he litterally scuba dives in TAMIL. :P
    eng is needed for our corporate success, it isnt neglected just thought of as a hifi tough language and kinda feared by some.

  3. haha nice man very true nicely written and muthu by the end of 4 yrs ull become half tamilian :P

  4. people sometimes forget why we invented language..its to communicate...its an invention...the reasoning will always remain the same...there are languages that we still cant decipher...its dead...we moved on...we still communicate...

    sometimes we have a tendency, as humans, to hold onto things...we serve things even when its presence is no longer valid...we fail to recall why began it in the first place...language is one such thing...religion is an another...its man created, to serve a purpose...it will evolve...culture, language, religion, laws, even thoughts , all things man made will evolve...it cannot be stopped...all of it are effected by exposure....

    i wish we accept, rather than trying to be seperate...but we, as humans, cannot do that...we will always teasure our seperateness rather than our similarities..its just the way things are.

  5. This is a very interesting post!I wonder what the best solution can be..ignoring either can be a cause of great concer...

  6. Musthafa, quite a nice read this one is :)

    And it is not just Tamil, many states in India are facing this problem.

    I don't think it's wrong to preserve regional languages.

    But with us Indians, we take all preservation to an entirely new level. Look at Maharashtra, we have taken this regional fanaticism to ridiculous levels...

  7. Yes, it's a pity.Karunanidhi(though not a Tamil speaker by birth) has enforced Tamil and has officially rejected all other languages from the state. It's a pity because Tamilians in TN are left with limited options of exposure.

    On the other hand, English is becoming the most essential language in today's world. More than English, Hindi is more objected to in TN. I hope you find some good English speaking friends there, Mutthu.

    Here in Maharashtra, I'm finding a similar problem. If I speak in English, people ask me 'Is English the only Language you can speak?'. But not all Indians speak Hindi do they?