About Me

!nversed Poignancy!

...I am an eclectic amalgamation of many seemingly paradoxical things. This can be exemplified in both my seemingly endless persistance on many topics and arguments, as well as my careful cautiousness on other topics and arguments. This is largely due to how astute I am of the topic: more knowledge, more persistant; less knowledge, obviously more cautious. I also have times of obsessive compulsions regarding certain things (mostly just my thoughts, however)...

Life and Death

!nversed Poignancy!

Life

An assembly

Possibly impossible

Perfectly interchangeable..

Death

That lives most upright

Beyond the unspoken

Neither a squiggle nor a quibble..

She and Me

!nversed Poignancy!

She

A daffodil

Tyrannizer of me

Breaking the colors of dusk!..

Me

The rising sun

Infringed with violations

The impurity in the salt..

Love and Poetry!

!nversed Poignancy!

Love

A puerile desire

Buried in the heart

Never leaves..

Poetry

Sentimentally melodramatic

Cursively recursive

My thoughts idiotic!

Being Multilinguistic,When you are'nt One!

Scribbled by Bharath C On August 30, 2008




Talk about multilingualism or talk about language exploration…Both these wordy acoustics lead to a common ground, which in a wider perspective would sound like a more equivocal term for linguists around the globe.

On the other hand,
Talking about cultures, countries and communities…
These form a complementary pair with regard to the nature of pithiness and terseness that the “Multilingualism” emanates .These words are in fact diversified across the globe, they are never held captive and they usually tread on the pathways of more a “constant change!”

So, “multilingualism” one side and “cultural paramounts” on the other…
Could these words be bounded together ever?
Could they ever be a part words from the same breath ever?

These quibbles perhaps have a never ending answer, even if there's an effort put into making their periphery into a more conspicuous fringe. The extent of blurriness that has been developed between them would perhaps never ever fade down to a word called “clarity”…

The term multilingualism can refer to an occurrence regarding an individual speaker who uses two or more languages, a community of speakers where two or more languages are used, or between speakers of different languages.

In today’s global society, the ability to speak more than one language is a valuable asset. Fluency and command over other languages apart from just the “home” or “native languages” enhance economic competitiveness abroad, improve global communication, maintain political and security interests, and also promote tolerance and inter cultural awareness.

Researchers have expressed the existence of a positive link between proficiency in more than one language and cognitive skills in language learning, as a true (but, un-quantized) function of their ancestry. Some studies indicate that individuals who learn a second language are more creative and better at solving complex problems than those who do not.
Although the opportunities for learning languages may vary depending on where we live there are many ways by which we can encourage the study of languages. But be it any means of approaching a syntactical learning of a language, there can be no substitute to that element of that edge of “in-built inheritance” that people in few parts of the world have it inculcated in them, through repeated "Linguistic mutations" either during their life time or at least during their latest precursory ancestry.

One such integrated fraction of the world map is India, the land of multilingualism… (As its been rightly regarded!).
The success story of Indians as being the most “multilingual people on planet earth” has been told and retold like a modern folk tale. It’s also often cited as the key evidence to why Indians excel in many areas of problem solving, innovation processing and computation.

But how did we (or they) leap into this super-high stature without undue hardship?,
Was it just sheer luck?
Or is it a mere co-incidence?
Well, these questions, would perhaps (re)integrate myriad debates together...

Debates apart, if we quietly sit and introspect on the kind of cultural and linguistical transformations that we Indians have undergone in the past several centuries, we would clearly see that a historically unprecedented characteristic has been thrust into us. This traces back to the ages of the Moguls and the contemporary poets of that age, who not only showed active adaptive characteristics to a new culture, but also to binding the succession of the newly portrayed means of communication as a linear function-proportional to their own.

Talking about the diversity in India (at least with respect to the languages!) . There's usually a lighter joke that people make about a conversations between two Indians from different state, this would perhaps make us feel why exactly we Indians are more inclined into learning many a languages. In fact, I must admit that we usually don’t learn a language in India because we love that language, but more so because we are forced to learn the native language of the state that we belong to. (No matter how good our Hindi speaking skills are, we still have to make sure that we at least know how to basically converse in the local language of a state…)

Going by the flow… I thought I could actually get into picture this little observation that I’ve noticed with some of my friends. Its just that when ever I take them along with me to my native place (i.e. Madras, it’s a Tamil speaking place that is present in the eastern part of South India) they are very hesitant to talk to the localites there. And when they do get up to speak to one, they are unsure of what to say and end up going back to ‘How do you do? Fine and You?’ kind of conversations.


I would like to quote an incident here (in this regard!), which happened a few years ago...
I know this little talkative friend of mine (Swathy), who usually can’t stay away from blabbering around. And during August, 2005- She happened to accompany me, along with the other buddies of mine-to a well known pilgrimage in south India –“Tirupathi!” the local language in Tirupathi is Telugu (Which is the native language of the people belonging to the Andhra Pradesh state of Southern India..). It so happened that once we landed in Tirupathi, some elderly person approached Swathy and asked her " Ammaiye, Ikada whedu neelu Yekkada Dorakathundi?!!" (This literally means “Madam, Where do we get warm water here?”) Going by the human ego constraints, we all know that people don’t really want to admit that they don’t know the language, neither do they want to stay away from talking to the localites (She's very talkative by nature , you see!!).
So, here we had Swathy struck amidst deep problem, she really didn’t know what it meant and what she had to reply. But, since Telugu was a variant of Kannada, which happens to be the local language of Karnataka (the place where we hail from!), and a simple intelligent interrogation into the phonetics of Telugu, might somehow lead to deciphering the speech. And this is exactly what my friend Swathy tried doing, I guess she observed a word that had a very close Kannada connection, “neelu” which sounds dialectic to a Kannada word “Neeru” (meaning water…) and more into boggling her IQ skills, (which I presume she had!) she actually would have related the action of that elderly person, which was more like moving his palm to and fro towards and away from his mouth, with his thumbs up…This in some way (at least by a simple knowledge of anthropology) makes us interpret that it’s got to do something with water.
After all such multiple “central processing unit” usage, Swathy finally decided that the gentleman wanted “Water!”, but there was this little internal cavil within her, yet again!.. “What did the other words that he uttered, mean??”...
Well, since she'd already lost a lot of cognitions, trying to contemplate and figure out the action and then trying to match it with the words that he uttered, she was now pretty much very restless and in no real mood to think more. So she concluded that the person was asking her “Where Neeru?”...(She concluded the first word “Whedu” to be the English word "Where...”). So that’s something like asking “Where is water?”.
So, now that she had some understanding of that persons need, she began her actional reply! (Not really sure about existence of such a word!).So, trying to show the person where the water is, she just pointed to the pond and tried to reply in Telugu (like as though she knew it .. hehe..) and said “Idhu Snana maado neeru” (which in kannada means “This is the water to take bath”..) but sadly in Telugu it means “You talk too much!” (Hahaha!!) (That’s the specialty of the language; different words in different languages mean different things!).
Now after listening to Swathy's horrible reply, the elderly gentleman threw on her some curse notes and was telling her that she wasn’t a good girl, and kept pouring to her some advices about how to talk politely!...
And on the other side...Just next to her...listening to all this, my friend (Balram) and me (we were sitting and having loud rolls of laughter’s and giggle’s…We just couldn’t stop laughing!!!) and later we tried and convinced the elderly gentleman that Swathy didn’t know Telugu, that she replied in kannada, and just that it was wrongly interpreted by him! (Sigh!!, that was a horrible experience for Swathy. I'm sure that she would never ever forget that and what’s more? She in fact decided that she will never be trying to talk to someone in an unknown language!!...)
(Hahaha…And guess what!. Now, she's in Germany-pursuing her Student Articleship at Deutsche Bank- Only god knows how her life would be there (Pun Intended!)

Although, I don’t claim to be some sort of conversation master myself; I’ve had my share of awkward conversations and less than ideal interactions when I have been to some of the northern states of India. But, from my experience talking to localites, and from the fact that I usually keep wandering from place to place I feel that for most people who travel, it's impossible to escape being a foreigner or an outsider for that matter. No matter how hospitable, how inviting, or how familiar the people around us seem to be, in the end, the fact of the matter is that we don't belong there…and that they do!!
A lot of tourists get completely locked into this sort of mind frame, right from when they move into an all new place (more like a stranger's paradise!!) and then they move around the world as thought everything is set against them and that the world in that part of the integrated geography is nothing more but "up-side down!"

On the other hand, Even if we don't fall into this sort of category, we’re still a tourist none the less!!(It’s a plain, simple and straight forward epitome of a fact!). Sure, we can be a "traveler," too (if we want) but it's a mistake to think that we are better than the rest of the horses in the stable!!

If you ask why?
Then the answer would rather be unambiguous...It’s simply because you don't belong!!(And worse still, are the chances that you think that you belong to the world- that you simply don’t!!)

Now, being a foreigner doesn't mean you're absolutely on your own. In fact, by being a foreigner, you've got an immediate new group of friends! (All of whom are also foreigners!!).There's nothing in this world that unites and brings people together more than the feeling that they posses of "Not belonging!!”.

So, you meet people. If you're really good at traveling, you don't mess about when you meet people, either -- it's the people who've spent the last three months wandering the globe who walk up to you out of the blue just as you put your bag uncertainly by your bed in the hostel or hotel and say “hi, I'm Bob; who are you?”


Nobody is an island, and believe me!, traveling alone will make a desperate extrovert out of the shyest and meekest. Just speak with a non-native accent, and suddenly that hairy guy in the ditch black shorts and a rather horary looking T-shirt with hues of Death Metal hanging over from the top...is now your best friend. Just having a friendly conversation can become the high point of your night.
On the other hand…Say that you come over to India and go bong over a conversation with a local guy with a rather “weird American accent!” -- "Yo! dude, wasuup?- aint the weather ye bit crunchy o'er the tarp?!!?" or you try and look a more Indian than an American by trying to go with pure Kan-glish (An eclectic mixture of KANnada and enGLISH)--" Yaello!, how ij the weatherr yere yat bengaluru??"..
Either ways… things will surely not work out..(Artificial is never natural! - a simple fact!!) and to add more fuel to the fire the fact that you now cant but cover your identity as a foreigner, would make you more a stranger than what you actually were!!.

The one problem with all this, though, is actually relating to these people. I mean, come on -- how much do you really have in common with the guy in that horary looking T-shirt with hues of Death Metal??.. What could you possibly have to talk about? The thought occurred to me recently during a trip to North India, so I tried to take note of how things worked (at least, in my case). In general, you've got a few options:

--Sometimes it's very easy; just talk about traveling. One woman I met introduced herself to me just by saying “Hi, Me hu Deboshree- Kemon Aachis?!?” Maybe it's not exactly what went into my head!, but still just take note of the Murphy's philosophy to dealing with such pesky conflict- Just over do the actions a bit little more without actually saying anything!!, but make sure that it's meaningful enough!!!. When you meet someone somewhere, recently having come from somewhere else, there is a very good chance that that someone might end up going wherever it is you just came from.

--Nearly everyone has a travel horror story, and if it's a credible story, that sort of information can be practical. Talking traveling "shop" is popular, particularly if you're of the backpack-and-a-good-pair-of-boots variety of traveler; that stuff you carry tends to get expensive after a while, and many people will jump at the chance to tell you all about what they happen to have brought along.

--Another common tactic is to play roving sociologist. In Calcutta(Or Kolkata), I had an incredibly thoughtful conversation once with a guy I met at a hostel who basically encapsulated the whole of Bengali society, top to bottom. We talked about the burgeoning technology job market, the economy, the invasion of the French culture...and we were brilliant. It would've made for a fascinating doctoral thesis, much less conversation over beer in a noisy pub. As outsiders, we are uniquely qualified to comment on what goes on around us. So why not? Analyze the dynamics of familial groups in Lapland, muse about the origins of tribal conflict in central Africa, or discuss the implications of ancestor worship on Chinese life. You can step outside of that ugly bar brawl breaking out one table over and trace the socio-economic factors that caused a heavy beer mug to hit somebody in the head without fear of being involved -- you're a outsider, remember? And, hey, if you're really good, you can always write a book.

--This brings me to the most crucial topic of conversation for lonely foreigners stranded abroad: sports. Now, this may only apply to men, I must admit -- most of my conversations with women while running this little experiment tended to stick to the topics above. But the subject of sports unites pretty much every guy you could possibly meet. If they don't know anything about sports, you can bet they'll pretend they do, just to keep the conversation going, so you absolutely can't lose. For the most part, I can't stand sports, but I've discovered that when I'm traveling, I find myself pulling obscure facts and observations out of nowhere so I can at least credibly pretend I know a thing or two about basketball.
Many folks you meet who aren't from the India will have at least football, and nearly all of them will have some kind of an opinion of it (largely bad), and they won't hesitate to give it to you. Holy God!, discussing sports with
some people can escalate beyond just friendly conversation into full-on debate, which, for entertainment and bonding purposes, beats conversation hands-down.

The possibilities are endless, really and truly. I was accosted at one point on the front stoop of a Singapore hostel by an extremely drunk pair of young students (who were around their mid 20's...), one of whom was determined to find out from me the winner of the Euro 2008! Unfortunately, I had no idea who won, but he didn't quite get that, as he apparently found my Indian twang as perplexing as I found his Indonesian accent. This led to an interesting little exchange:

"Football? FOOT - BALL."
"Yeah, football, but the game-"
"Football. Football! Er...soccer? Soccer!"
"Yes, I know what football is, but I don't know who won that game."
"Feh, useless."

He never got the winning team out of me, but the attempt made us pals until he and his mate wandered drunkenly off down the street.

Now, I can't honestly claim to know why this works the way it does; why really should just talking sporting events unite people like this? Why not poetry or poker? Another example from my trip may shed a bit of light, however -- at one point in Bangalore, I was sitting in a Coffee Bar, bemoaning the team India's pathetic performance in the 2008 World Cup to a die-hard Australian supporter!!!.

Listening to me rant about the Indian teams inability to keep the score board ticking, the guy went from practiced disdain towards me to kind-eyed sympathy, and why? The reason is a big part of what makes sports the language of men everywhere: no matter where you're from, everybody in the world knows exactly how it feels to back a losing team.

Ah..These thoughts are nothing more than just a sampling of my opinions and aren’t meant to be the standard rules of talking with foreigners. The mood of the persons involved, the environment, the place, or any other aspects could affect the way how these conversations go. So don’t think that this is the fixed way, conversations are flexible and dynamic, just like the people involved.

But for those who aren’t multilingual, the tips would never go in vain..

With that, below are the 5 tips I think would improve your conversations with outsiders without being a multilingual bard!.

-- Speak slowly and clearly. As I’ve said before, they really won’t expect you to speak perfect language, and will forgive you if you have to repeat yourself. But it’s important that you speak slowly and clearly so that they can hear you the first time.

-- In my experience, it’s better if you don’t ask ‘Do you understand?’ too often because it is pretty annoying to them. Imagine if you’re talking with someone and every few sentences that person would ask you that question. If they don’t understand, they will ask you to repeat yourself. This is usually the case, and believe me, this happens more often than you think. Foreigners are very assertive and confident, so that means you don’t have to be afraid that you need to ask them whether they understand you or not. They will ask.

-- Speak up! Most complaints I’ve received from foreigners is that people have tiny voices. We know that this is not true! It’s just that whenever we talk with a foreigner we turn down our volume because we’re not sure whether what we’re saying is correct or not. So speak up, and don’t be afraid to be wrong because after all, learning a new language is a process on its own. Each little mistake you make will in the end make you a better conversationalist. This brings me to my next point.

-- You don’t need to be grammatically correct. It’s important for you to know this. Another complaint I’ve received from foreigners I’ve talked to is that most people take up a long time to answer simple questions they ask them. This makes the foreigners hesitant to ask another follow up question because it takes too much time. I told him, “Well, the reason is that most of us want to be correct, you know. They don’t want to make you confused by what they say.” He told me, “It’s not important if they’re grammatically correct or not. Heck, even I don’t talk grammatically correct with my friends! The important thing is I know the point he wants to get across.” I just nodded my head. So be confident in yourself, and speak up what’s in your mind, whether or not you think it’s grammatically correct or not. They’ll get the message you want to say.

-- Maybe you’re afraid that your pronunciation is wrong. I think this is ridiculous! So what if your pronunciation is wrong? The foreign language is not your first language, and the foreigner knows this. They’ll be very forgiving about your bad pronunciation. And your pronunciation is probably not that bad either. Anyway though, don’t expect them to correct your bad pronunciation. You have to say at the beginning that you want to be corrected on any wrong pronunciation you say. That goes for grammar too. This is because most foreigners respect your dignity and won’t presume to correct you in fear that they might hurt your feelings. Just tell them that you want to be corrected, and they’ll do so gladly. I mean, it’s a win-win situation. You improve your speaking skills, and the foreigner gets a better conversation partner to talk to. Great, isn’t it?

It’s great that you’ve initiated conversations with foreigners. It’s a mini culture exchange, which can benefit both sides.

Whenever two people meet, negotiations take place. If they want to express solidarity and sympathy, they tend to seek common features in their behavior. If speakers wish to express distance towards or even dislike of the person they are speaking to, the reverse is true, and differences are sought. This mechanism also extends to language.
Various, but not nearly all, multi-lingual’s tend to use context language switching, a term that describes the process of 'swapping' between languages. In many cases, context language switching is motivated by the wish to express loyalty to more than one cultural group, as holds for many immigrant communities in the New World. Code-switching may also function as a strategy where proficiency is lacking. Such strategies are common if the vocabulary of one of the languages is not very elaborated for certain fields, or if the speakers have not developed proficiency in certain lexical domains, as in the case of immigrant languages.
This context language switching appears in many forms. If a speaker has a positive attitude towards both languages and towards context language switching, many switches can be found, even within the same sentence. If, however, the speaker is reluctant to use context language switching, as in the case of a lack of proficiency, he might knowingly or unknowingly try to camouflage his attempt by converting elements of one language into elements of the other language. This results in speakers using words like “courrier noir” (which literally means “mail that is black”) in French, instead of the proper word for blackmail, “chantage”.

Bilingual interaction can even take place without the speakers switching. In certain areas, it is not uncommon for speakers to consistently each use a different language. This phenomenon is found, amongst others, in Scandinavia. Speakers of Swedish and Norwegian can easily communicate with each other speaking their respective language. It is usually called non-convergent discourse. This phenomenon is also found in Argentina, where Spanish and Italian are both widely spoken, even leading to cases where a child with a Spanish and an Italian parent grows up fully bilingual, with both parents speaking only their own language yet knowing the other. Another example is the former state of Czechoslovakia, where two languages (Czech and Slovak) were in common use. Most Czechs and Slovaks understand both languages, although they would use only one of them (their respective mother tongue) when speaking. For example, in Czechoslovakia it was common to hear two people talking on television each speaking a different language without any difficulty understanding each other. Another example would be a Slovak having read a book in Czech and afterwards being unsure whether he was reading it in Czech or Slovak. This bilingualism still exists nowadays, although it has started to deteriorate after Czechoslovakia split up.

There have been instances and situations where everyone in a community spoke several languages. (It is not unusual for classical musicians to speak French, German, Italian, and English.) People addressed people in each other's languages: a Frenchman would ask a German a question in German, and the German would reply in French. This was apparently customary among highly-educated Europeans and Asians, as well as between Americans and Europeans; an American who speaks German and a native German might speak to each other this way.This is the reverse of non-convergent discourse (where the speaker speaks in the listener's language instead of his own), and is meant to show respect for the listener.

And this is the pathway towards achieving a world with people closer to each other, people who could understand each other in a better way and "world" being considered as a community in a whole, in which people live with high integrity.

Using multi linguistic approaches to meet this flag post, would perhaps be the most ideal way into bridging differences between people of different nations, or in bring different nations together.



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