Thursday, April 2, 2009

2. Hindi Class

For the past several months, we've been studying Hindi. We spent the first year learning our state language and feel proficient enough to study the national language. It is so great to be able to communicate in the national and state languages, even though most everyone has some knowledge of English (again, thanks to the British rule). It kind of gives us a degree of acceptance and credibility that we may not have if we had not put the time and effort into learning. Everyone is overjoyed when they learn that we speak their mother tongues. We are often thanked, and that is very rewarding.

In this country, there are more than 1500 languages spoken! This includes dialects of state languages used by certain people groups but are still considered different enough to be qualified as someone's "mother tongue." The government recognizes 22 "official" languages (including English) with Hindi being the national language. 29 of the languages have more than a million native speakers!

One thing that amazes me is that, especially in my very diverse city, people can speak, read and write as many as six languages! I like to ask my auto drivers how many languages they speak. They usually speak some level of English and Hindi, their mother tongue and then two or three more state languages. Just imagine if we, as Americans, put more effort into learning a little bit of the languages of those that immigrate to our country! We would be so smart! ;-)

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