Who Killed My Appetite for a Second Language?

Language plays a crucial role in one’s overall development. While it is a tool to a powerful career, it is also a medium of emotional expression. When it comes to emotional expression one is more comfortable in one’s mother tongue. While in India it’s easy to learn your regional/mother tongue, English language hasn’t quite taken off. The reason can be attributed to the fact that Indians don’t consider English as their emotional language. The proximity to their mother tongue makes it difficult for them to accept English as the language of their emotional articulation. Another issue is with the slangs and the humour. As slangs and humour are mostly cultural specific, it is difficult to understand them in a foreign language.

This is where the emotional aspect is at play. As slangs and humour are used mostly in an elevated emotional state so the foreign language is not a compatible medium to express them. Even if one tries to customize one’s approach to suit one’s need, the emotional needs are not fully addressed. People remember how a particular language made them feel long before they remember the process to learn the language. This is a major reason why people don’t prefer English over their mother or regional tongue for day to day communication unless it is mandatory for them to communicate in English only.

The other difficulty is of accent. Language flow and accent go hand in hand.The accent makes it difficult to do justice with the language flow. If one tries to use the Indian accent to speak English language, then it becomes difficult for one to use the contractions that are specific to the language. This distorts the language flow. While the native speaker doesn’t face this difficulty, it is a common concern for others who speak it as a second language. This makes the native speakers difficult to be comprehended at one go. This makes listening a difficult exercise for non-native speakers.Even the English movies aficionados are largely dependent on the subtitles to make the film intelligible to them.

Blog by – Prof. Jayesh Mehta

Assistant Professor of English

SKIPS, Ahmedabad.


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