A lot can be lost in translation.
Sometimes your entire identity can be lost in translation!

We Indians have a unique problem when it comes to languages – we have too many of them. The constitution of India recognises 22 languages, while according to the official census we have 122 major languages and 1599 other languages or dialects. Now you might think that having too much of a thing would undermine its importance. Nope. We are almost fanatical about our languages.
All Indians are multilingual, and I don’t say that with pride; its merely a fact.
In school I was formally taught the two official languages, English and Hindi, lets call them A and B, and the state language, lets call it X. At home I was taught the language of my ancestors, lets call that Y. Later on I shifted to state Z, where my son received his education and he therefore studied A, B, Y and Z.

Yesterday I had to fill out an official document. Obviously I filled it out in English, the language that I am most comfortable in. But then for the state’s records everything was automatically converted into the local language Z and I was asked to review and confirm.
So I trot off to my son to request him to do the needful. Anyone who has a 17 year old will understand this is tantamount to calling in a big favour, and there are only so many that we can expect in any given period.
Once the necessary ritual of looking busy, then harried, then bored, were exhausted, he finally graced me with his presence, only to burst into rude guffaws.

My dear parents have bestowed upon me a name which has a beautiful meaning in our native tongue. It takes a particular combination of English alphabets to produce the sounds that compose my name. Unfortunately language Z does not have the alphabets required to accurately produce the same effect. Add to that the software program that does an alphabet by alphabet translation from A to Z, I now stand rechristened to an altogether different name.

It is with deep anguish that I tell you – a rose by another name does not smell just as sweet!


In response to the Saturday Stream of Consciousness prompt – Language

4 thoughts on “Lost in translation

  1. I’m in awe! I’d dearly love to be multilingual. In Britain, languages are really considered unimportant and that is so sad – and I think quite arrogant of the British people.

    As a Welsh person, we speak English as standard and there are only a few parts of Wales where Welsh is spoken every day. My school made a token gesture at trying to teach us Welsh (which I still can’t speak), which wasn’t really enough but we were told it’s a dying language, so what’s the point? I was too young to truly understand but now I do – the point is because it’s our heritage, and because learning other languages is so vital in the world.

    I now live in France and, at the age of 33, I’m bumbling along trying to learn another language. My French is okay – conversational – but it’s slow going and tough. Compared to most Brits, I suppose I’d be considered bi-lingual but compared to the rest of the world, my ability to speak another language is laughable.

    It really is such a shame that the British culture considers learning other languages as a waste of time, it’s really not, and I am truly in awe your abilities as a multi-linguist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see what you mean. Here we have this concept of languages that I can read and write and languages that I can speak, because even the scripts differ. Often times the latter exceed the former. Then of course, we also try to toss in a few foreign languages. I tried to learn French, but I would not dare speak it in France 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What an interesting and delightful post. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning more about you and your culture. Thank you. : )


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s