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455. The Value of the Mother Tongue

The fifities and sixties were the heydays of Tamil.  In 1956 when a college celebrated its centenary the Education Minister was the chief guest.  The Principal spoke in English welcoming the Minister.  The Minister stood up and uttered his first word in Tamil and it was greeted by a thunderous applause, Now-a-days we hear that Tamil is dying a slow death.  Many children are in English medium schools where the mother tongue is neglected.  Those students are not able to write Tamil.  Some of them cannot even read Tamil.  It is a sad situation but can only be a passing phenomenon.  The age of great literature and expansive life do not go together. When life expands prose, especially commercial prose expands.  For great literature to be born, the society must be stable for centuries.  It happens only when the society stagnates.

The mother tongue is buried in the subconscious.  The subconscious is saturated with the mother tongue.  One hears it all the time.  Great literature usually emerges in poetry.  It does so even in prose to a lesser extent.  Such literature represents the fullness of the writer's personality.  It does not issue from the surface mind.   What is true of literature is true of music also.  Children can speak many languages.  It will be useful.  But it all emanates from the surface mind which is shallow.  There is no evidence of great literature in prose or poetry written in a language which is not the mother tongue of the writer.  Sri Aurobindo has done it, as an exception, we cannot compare ourselves to Him, though as a possibility it stands before us.

Teaching  the Mother tongue is a serious requirement for any school which wants the child to develop a balanced personality.  Mother tongue gives a depth which no foreign language can give.  At times of crisis the first word is in Mother tongue.  A story illustrates it.  Some one who was fluent in many languages took lodgings in a house.  The young boys were anxious to know what his mother tongue was.  One boy poured hot water while he was sleeping and the man shouted his abuse in Tamil, disclosing that he is Tamil.  Mother tongue cannot die except when language dies.  Those who are devoted to language know  the beauties one's own tongue reveals is not perceptible to him in another language inspite of his proficiency.


Para No.1, Line No.9, tobe -

Para No.1, Line No.9, tobe - to be

Para No.1, Line No.1, hey

Para No.1, Line No.1, hey days - heydays

story | by Dr. Radut