my words are my deeds
I read this article this morning, about how the last speaker of a Native American language has passed away thus the language is now extinct. All I could think was how sad that is. The world has lost something valuable - so much of that people would of been held in the words they used and now its gone.
It got me thinking about all sorts of things. I love travelling but I rarely learn more then a few words of the local language (if that) before I go anywhere. Which is a lazy and arrogant thing to do, I know. I just assume that someone, where ever I'm going, will know how to speak English and help me out. More often then not they do, in Japan people bent over backwards to try and point me in the right direction. I did learn to say "I am vegetarian" which I was proud of! People are very kind the world over - but I can't help but feel that globalisation is leading to the loss of so many languages, cultures and customs. Which surely is one of the reasons to travel in the first place.
I'm fluent in two languages, English and Bengali - I can understand a little Hindi and Urdu too - (Thank you Bollywood). Because of school I speak a tiny bit of French very badly (often hurting the ears of native speakers) and my Latin isn't what it used to be. Anyone who is bilingual knows the advantages, when one language fails to express what you are trying to say the other can compensate. E finds it funny that I always speak to my Mum in Bengali and my Dad and English - despite them both being totally able to understand me either way. The voice in my head speaks English but I know theirs must speak Bengali.
Should I have kids (heaven help them) I know they'll speak English there first language and learn something in school but will they want to learn Bengali? Would my grandchildren?
There are people I know with the same background as me who can't speak a word of it and think that's perfectly fine, I'm sure it works for them but it is a mind set I find hard to understand. Being Bilingual is such a part of who I am that I can't imagine only having one language to draw from.
I mean at the moment there are millions of us Bengali speakers out there - so that language isn't about to vanish (250 million speakers I think!) but eventually it will be lost to my branch of the family and that saddens me. I feel like a piece of my heritage will disappear one day and that is a sad truth.