Ethiraj College Function Speech

Ethiraj College Function Speech - 04.02.2008

Newman says, “In its earlier times, while language is get informed, to write in it at all is almost a work of genius. It is like creasing a country before roads are made communicating between place and place. 
“And you must understand a printed page just as you understand people talking to you. That’s a shependous feat of sheer learning, much the most difficult I have ever achieved” – G.R. Shaw.
			I celebrate myself and sing myself. 
And what I assume, you shall assume, 
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you, 
I loaf and invite my soul. 
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of grass. 
My tongue, every atom of my blood – 
formed from this soil – these are 
born here of parents, born here from parents of the same.
	This is a poem by great Walt Whiteman. He argues nothing but he affirms. His catalogues make the world an infinite chain of relations – Being an indigenous poet, who writes poems in my mother tongue Thamizh, as well as an academician it’s my greatest pleasure and privilege to inaugurate this Second National Conference on Communication English : Innovative Methods in Teaching Technical English to Professional Students (NCCE 2011) at PSN College of Engineering & Technology, Tirunelveli. 
	As descents of the Dravidian Language Family, I always take pride in my Classical Tamil Lineage – a language which is unique – characteristically different in its form, structure, content, musicality and what not. But I fully understand the need of the hour, to equip the next generation with the weapon of English – particularly, first generation learners of English. At the same time, I would like to view and approach this language, from the perspective an indigenous writer. Who writes in a vernacular language. Is it a myth that language bridges the gap? Does it actually bind people of diverse backgrounds?  
1) “ We make the mistake of thinking that language will some how clarify things between us and the native” am reminded of – Vincent O’Sullitan’s important observation here.  
2) Well listen to this, Doll – A character in the play Jack Davis says: “Wet Jalas (white) jcllas (fellows – in Australian context) killed here language. 
3) To quote, Hellen Gilbert, (Post – Colonial Drama, Theory, Practice and Politics), “.... an imperial language alters when its speakers are expressed to other languages. (Indigenous works that are more descriptive or accurate than any imposed terms become ‘adopted’ into English and its grammatical structures are sometimes interested into those of other languages).  
Some colonized subjects ‘abrogate’, some ‘appropriate’ in order to regain a speaking position :- these strategies are just a few methods by which colonized subjects decentre the European hegemonic powers embedded in an imposed language”. 
My purpose here is to stress, ‘killed her language’ and an ‘imposed language’ thereby, tracing out the fear, apprehension, anxiety, resistance, of the natives of the land – here Tamilnadu specifically the rural students, to learn the English Language and handle it fluently leave alone becoming an expert in that.
One of the most basic cultural characteristics of any individual is his/her language. Thamizh, the classical language has a rich oral literature, like Africa, where literature was preserved by “Griots”. 
Let me begin with an observation: by Alex Haley “Africa is a continent with an astounding numbers of languages. By comparison, each of the fifty states of the United States would have an average of sixteen languages apiece, if it were to balance with the more than eight.
So, is India rich in diverse – languages. 
	a) How are the native speakers Indians – Tamilians, going to adopt themselves bearing an alien language, when they have their own specific language?
b) When the Dravidian Terrain is so emotionally proud of its Dravidian stock and its language? hundred languages indigenous to Africa. And this does not include the half a dozen or more languages that Africa imported from Europe. The wonder is that a continent could produce linguists sufficiently versatile to assure communications and commerce among the African nations. It certainly explains why no single African language could have a numerical following equal to any of the relatively few languages of Europe or the Americans” says Alex Haley (From freedom to freedom). 
2) Language is not merely a vehicle of communication, but it is a vehicle for the transmission of culture. How do the younger generation or next generation here learn or imbibe or sustain their own culture through’ English, a foreign alien language? 
3) For the development in areas language? like – Education – Technological growth – Industrial growth – Mass media, the choice of a national language – English – is very crucial and important. This awareness should be created from the primary, elementary, higher levels of education. 
Language diversity is one of the most important as well as trickily features in all the developing third world nations where English has been introduced. Also it becomes a political statement now. Googi Van Thiyango has started writing his words in his own Gikuyu Language, (refused to write in English) – because it is for Keneyan people. Well, in what ways, can we convince the younger generation that a skill in English language is an added feather in the cap? 
Alex Haley also points out a significant characteristic feature of indigenous languages – the selected medium of expression related closely to the values and needs of the particular African group. 
For example:
a)	African art tended to focus on the beasts of land, water and air. 
b)	Religious activity – particularly prayer – was occasioned by any circumstance of life. 
	So also the descendants of the Dravidian Language group have their own, myth, rituals, soil, landscape, vegetation, poultry, birds, cattle-stock. To make the generation next to take an interest to learn English can only be done to an extent by teaching localized, native customs, culture through English.
	A linguistic designation is different from racial designations. “Bantu”, a term frequently associated with African languages, can legitimately be applied only to a subdivision of on of the branches of the Congo – Kordopanian family. This and other linguistic designations are often misused, however, to refer to racial rather than language groups likewise different language group should be identified, and approached. 
For example: Like China Achuba who asks, why should a Nigerian learn about daffodils, about which he does not have any idea? Instead, flowers of their own terrain will make sense, thus a curriculum can be designed according to the local context. 
	Use of Pidgin is viewed by Traditionalists and Chauvinists as the death knell – but some linguists view it as a helping fool. Since it is a blend of a simplified form of the grammar of native language and English vocabulary – it’s easy for the indigenous people to adopt it and use it.
	It can very well be a common language between neighboring villages which speak different languages, and in cities between speakers of different languages who do not have English in common.
	Thus, generation next need not be treated as outcasts if they use pidgin “Katamaranss, Thapals” have been accepted in the Oxford Dictionary itself. 
	There are two things to remember (to quote F.T. Wood:) 
Language is primarily something spoken, not written. So, the thrust should be on the spoken English, initially and then to the writing part. 
It is evolutionary not static. Change is constantly going on. 
(Eg: Writing the indefinite article as ‘an’ before a letter ‘u’ even it’s pronounced with ‘y’  sound – and universal law – was more frequent in the 19TH Century than today – even (in 19th Century) Cardinal Newman called his famous work “The idea of an University”. 
Let us keep it little flexible for them – the beginners and not so rigid.
There are three stages by which the next generation can be motivated: 
to encourage – speaking and then after wards careful reading. 
to develop – an interest in knowing a foreign language as a fun. 
-	appreciation of that language. 
to discriminate – Classical literature & pulp writing ( in an advanced level). 
	For this, We have to adopt effective methods, resources, practical ideas, and activities that they can implement in their day to day situations. 
	To a rural student of and indigenous group, English can be taught interestingly apart from conventional methodology, 
a)	like using songs, stories and pictures (ABC method) in classroom. 
b)	Conducting Brain – Storming sessions. 
c)	Interaction among the participants based on their work, day to day situation. 
	“........ The British might boast that they had the first empire in history on which the sun never set; to which an Indian would reply : Yes, because god can not trust an Englishman in the dark”- China Achabe says in his home and Exile.
	To survive, the third world countries are limping back to learn English. As an indigenous poet I agree with Achebe – but as an academician and as a citizen of this post – modern era – I always rise up to meet the challenges of that fascinating language. 
	Speech or language is one of the chief attributes which differentiate human being from other animal species. 
	"குறிகளால் ஆனதே மொழி" என்பது சசூர் வாதம். 
	சொற்களால் ஆனதே சமூக உறவுகள்" - என்பது லெவிஸ் ஸ்டால் வாதம். 
	இவ்விரண்டையும் கலந்து ‘குறிகளால் ஆனதே அகநிலை’ என்பதை நிறவுகிறார். லக்கான் அவரைப் பெறுத்தவரை மனித வரலாறு ‘பேச்சில்’ இருந்துதான் தொடங்குகிறது. சமூக மனிதனை மொழி ஆளுவதால், அகநிலையை மொழி கட்டமைக்கிறது. லக்கானிய அகநிலைக்கு சமூகத்தை விட மொழியே பிரதானமாகிறது.

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