Friday, January 29, 2010

Sign Language

My dad studied in a Kannada medium school. In other words, the medium of instruction was Kannada and all his textbooks were in Kannada. He had to learn English and Hindi real well and real fast when he joined the army (and that's a story in itself). Mum studied English all along and due to her going to grad school for Sanskrit, English was always something she was good at.

I started talking when I was four - which is phenomenally late by any standard. I'm told I had my baby talk vocabulary for everything I wanted at the age and so couldn't be arsed about learning any "real" language. As preschool loomed over the horizon, my parents realized a couple of things

1) I needed to stop communicating like a baboon
2) We lived in a town of goat herds and schooling would do more harm than help there.

I was home-schooled for the first two years of my academic life. Considering Hindi is the lingua franca on any Army base, I was always ahead of the curve when it came to English. Hindi, not so much. I guess there was only so much room in my head for languages.

As a kid I spoke in Kannada only with my grandparents and elder relatives. And since my high school had pretty much banned all non-English languages, my knowledge of Kannada is rather formal. English is the language of choice, it's the tongue I think in, it's what the hot girls in my dreams speak.

I can speak Anglican pretty fluently, without ever using Kannada words (like everyone else, yes). But if I make the mistake of trying Hindi, I use all the non-English words I know and it's a big mess of ethnicity. Until recently, anyway.

The kid and I started communicating in English and she'd always brag that her Kannada was better than mine (NO IT AIN'T, WOMAN). We started talking in Kannada as a joke/challenge before we started seeing each other. By the time we were together, that was the only language we used. As a result, these days I find myself almost using Kannada words in an English sentence. It only happens when I hear a South Indian accent. Still, pretty weird.

I have very little faith in my mental abilities as it is, and I'm even more convinced that all this drinking and brain cell killing is starting to catch up. So if you come back next time and see worse-than-usual crap, you'll know it was a really good weekend.


Bird said...

If I see you writing your blogs in Kannada, I'll know that it was a "really really good weekend".

Bunny said...



Cynic in Wonderland said...

You know weirdly enuf, the spouse has similiar problem. his father studied in regional language and joined the services. in the quest to ensure the kids were not "vernac" they spoke only english. with the result that all these people speak terrible hindi and marathi. i on the other hand spoke six languages fairly fluently by the time i was 8 ( i have forgotten most of em now, but thats a different story).

Thanatos said...

@Bird - that day's probably not too far off either

@Bunny - hello!

@Cynic - SHOW OFF!

Purely Narcotic said...

Do you also have the American accent when you speak in Kannada?

Rassles said...

All of the hot girls in my dreams don't speak at all, because they're just being shoved aside by the hot guy making his way towards me.

He speaks English. Accents vary, though.

Thanatos said...

@Narco - nope, but I'm told I have a very academic manner of speaking, and not "street" enough.

@Rassles - I guess the girls in my dreams also do very little talking.