Dr Qayum Hamid Changal
A couple of years ago I visited one of my relatives house. I won't deny the fact the tea was awesome. And, cookies too were toothsome. But, what followed all merry time was a mug of insipid discourse.
The father of a six years old boy started bragging about his son. Actually there is nothing wrong in it, at least for a while. But, the comfort level is shred into bits once someone starts talking beyond reality.
''My son is very intelligent because he speaks a very good english'', he said. For me the problem was the 'because' part. And, a couple of years ago I was very impatient too. So, that trait of mine forced me to react.
With all my experience and capacity I tried my best to make him understand that english was just another language, not a yardstick to measure the intellect. I don't know if I was successful or not, but what I remember was it made me feel lighter.
To some extend may be I was a bit harsh, but the facts need to be told, respected and backed. I did the same, at least gave it a try.
Unfortunately, there are end number of souls in our society that consider english more than a method of human communication. For them it is a unit of intelligence, just like a kilogram for weight or a Joule for energy.
Going by their logic, out of the world's approximately 7.7 billion inhabitants, only 1.5 billion are intelligent. Right? What about the rest?
Society is to be blamed for that. And, we all agree with the fact that it is made up of us. You take any gathering, one who adds up a few sentences of English to his native language while any conversation is considered dear and precious. People fall in love with his words and him too, doesn't matter how pathetic his knowledge towards the subject was.
It is a mournful situation. There are the souls who have a special job in their hands. It is as if they are made to pick the grammatical errors from others speech and then laugh at it. And, whole of the discourse goes to the gutter. Anything of great significance that remains behind for them is to behave like the Oxford dictionary.
To them I would like to say a word, 'revamp'. The Oxford dictionary you are trying to be is more humble. It speaks out, the meaning of intelligence there being 'a person or being with the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.'
So, next time to try to make fun of someone, or consider yourself more intelligent than the others only because you can speak a good english, kindly reconsider it and be a human being, not a dictionary. Stop being Grammar Nazis. Actually to be intelligent means to know not to make fun of others. Hence proved, you lack it.
For some literacy is all about english. If you don't know it, you aren't considered the one. It is a catastrophe of judgement.
I live in Saudia Arabia. I learned a lot many good things from here, one of them being the love for their native language. Almost everything here is Arabic medium, not fluent in english. Many of them don't know it at all. But, the literacy rate is 94.7 percent.
Same applies to China. The literacy rate there is almost 96 percent. The list is long. All I want to convey is the ability to read and write in any language. It has nothing to do with a particular language. Any person who knows how to write and read Kashmiri is as much a literate as the one who can do the same in English.
There is no need buy this colonial ideology, a lie, that one language is superior than the other. At our homes I see we try and teach our kids speak in english only. It is not their native language.
They have to grow up in their society where their mother-tongue is considered as the main source of communication. You are actually pushing them towards a situation where they won't be able to mix up with the majority. It is a problem for them, especially in future.
In our subcontinent it is a matter of pride. Our sportsmen at the international platform struggle with their english while an interview or a press conference. They are not able to express themselves, sometimes misconceived. Literally I fail to understand why they don't speak in their native language? A translator is always available.
Another sentence that I'm tired of hearing, ''Our minister or a leader does not know how to speak in english. How is he going to take care of our country?" Now, that is totally unacceptable. He is there to run a country, not to apply for the nine to four job for aenglish teacher in some convent school. Grow up!
I'm not against learning english. But, we can always learn it as a second or a third language. And, even if we don't, or we are not so good in it, it hardly matters.
I hope the grammar Nazis won't wage a war against my grammatical errors. Let us be tolerant. As they say, speak emotions, understand them rather than the literal meaning of the words.