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Today around the world, more than 6,000 languages are being spoken. More than half of the population in the world speaks one of ten languages, including Mandarin Chinese, English, Malay, Russian, Bengali, Portuguese, Hindustani, Spanish, Arabic, and French. As a result of globalization, a large number of people Keralites speak these ten languages.
A few centuries ago, English was spoken only by Elite classes and wealthy people in India. Today, there are more non-native speakers of English than native speakers all over the world. English is used as an official language in over 60 countries of the world and unofficially official for other countries. Since it is an international language, various varieties of English are spoken around the world. The English spoken by the non-native speakers of English manages to be different from the English spoken by the native speakers. It occurs because the non-native speakers of English are bi-lingual or multi-lingual. Therefore, dialectical variations become an essential part of the English language spoken by non-native speakers of English. This paper attempts to focus on how can someone speak the global language English through the Indian language, Malayalam. Mother tongue influence leads to grammatical, syntactical, and pronunciation mistakes in the target language. This study also concentrates on how to tackle this universal concern and also hints at some remedies which can be effectively utilized for learning the target language.
Importance of English – An Overview
The significance of English has been globally accepted for many years. It is the only language that is being introduced as a second language and used as an official language in almost 90 countries. English as a global language is spoken by 750 million people around the globe nowadays. English was originally the language of England, but through the historical actions of the British Empire, it has become the primary or the secondary language of many former British colonies such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and India.
Nowadays, English is the primary language of not only countries vigorously touched by British imperialism, but also many business and cultural spheres overwhelmed by those countries. There are several elements that make the English language crucial to communication in our current time. First of all, it is the most common foreign language in use. This implies that when two people who come from various countries usually use English as a common language to speak. This is also named Lingua Franca. This is why everyone ought to learn the language in order to interact at an international level. Secondly, English is important when it comes to discovering jobs in government departments or multinational companies. Thirdly, the English language plays a crucial role in the domains of education, management, commerce, and political relations, judiciary, engineering and is, thus, an entry to social mobility, higher education, and better job prospects.
The English language designates people from around the world. The Internet also plays an essential role in facilitating English as the standard language. Through the pages of different social networks, people connect from anywhere in the world, mostly through English. This is because this language is taken worldwide. In India, the authority and prestige of English over other languages of the country remain unquestioned. “India is the third-largest English using population of the world after USA and UK,” says Aarti Bansal.
English is spoken by the people of Kerala, Malayalam, the official language of Kerala, is ranked as a South Dravidian language. About 31.8 million people believe Malayalam is their mother tongue. Having an independent written script the language also has enriched literature. The influence of Sanskrit is most notable in Malayalam in almost all linguistic areas. Thousands of words have discovered their way into Malayalam from Sanskrit.
The English used by the people of Kerala is the main subject of the study and the variety has its features. Kerala has the highest literacy rate and this indicates that most people of Kerala have some basic knowledge of English, which they might have received from their school education. But highest literacy cannot guarantee the right pronunciation or perfect accent. In other words, literacy cannot obtain about changes in the style or mode of communication.
Indian speakers of English show an accent that is different from the US or British pronunciation. Malayalam speakers also show an influence of their mother tongue in the English they speak. This makes their English pronunciation incomprehensible to the native speakers. The various expressions and words used in English by the Indian speakers are well understood by the people within the country but the same would sound quite weird to a foreigner.
This article presents an overview of the influence of Malayalam on English in Kerala and how can someone speak Malayalam to English.
Speaking Malayalam to English
Malayalam, the official language of Kerala, is ranked as a South Dravidian language. About 31.8 million people feel Malayalam is their mother tongue. Having an independent written script, the language also has enriched literature. The term ‘Malayalam’ is of comparatively current origin. To start with, it denoted the land itself. The term probably is the result of a combination of two words, mala meaning, mountain, and Alam representing the land or locality (which applies alongside the mountain). Subsequently, the synonyms Malayalam and Malayayma came into being as representing the language of the Malayalam, and finally, the name of the land itself was taken over as the name of its language.
The influence of Sanskrit is most celebrated in Malayalam in almost all linguistic areas. Thousands of nouns and hundreds of verbs are borrowed into Malayalam from Sanskrit. Some items of basic vocabulary also have found their path into Malayalam from Sanskrit.
English stands only second to Sanskrit in its impact on Malayalam. Hundreds of individual verbal items and idiomatic expressions in modern Malayalam are of English heritage. This article also presents an overview of the influence of English on Malayalam.
If you are reading this and English is not your mother tongue or first language, we hold some amazing news for you.
To remain connected to society and maintain a culture’s heritage by way of written and spoken word, multilingualism is important. Multilingualism guides the act of speaking more than one language. Doing so can permit individuals to expand their knowledge base, increase connection with others, and open up new pathways of thinking.
Just like many Keralites out there, you are also bilingual or trilingual. Although the importance of English is getting a lot of attention today, India still remains a multilingual country made up of many native languages like Malayalam, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, and many others. Let us guess, by now you can probably speak a combination of 2 or 3 languages, right?
So, if you are new to learning English, believe this: your mother tongue or first language (L1) might just be the key to enhancing your English skills. Recent research has shown that bilingual speakers are more likely to learn a language skilfully using their mother-tongue fluency. That implies, that the better you are with your L1, the better you progress in English. Can’t you believe it? Jump in to learn how your mother tongue Malayalam can help you learn English better.
Treat your mother tongue with the most profound appreciation. It is best to keep up with your mother tongue fluency because this improves your instinctive sense when it comes to speaking English. Do you know, that bilinguals are able to decode meanings better than monolinguals? This is an added gift for you.
So, develop your mother tongue Malayalam as much as you can. Don’t forget. This is so that you can start to understand how to excel in English shortly than you think.
Despite the advantages that speaking multiple languages presents, current trends show a future with more monolingual citizens. According to one source, more than half of the languages still spoken today will fade by the end of the century. With no one speaking the language, cultural artifacts, both spoken and written, could become unattainable to translate. The substances this has as it connects to recording, understanding, and preserving cultural histories are huge.
One of the key issues and barriers some students face when they decide to learn a language like English is thinking in their native tongue like Malayalam instead of the target language, in this case, English. The experts operate various immersion techniques that strive to prevent language learners from adopting bad habits.
If a language learner is constantly thinking in Malayalam for example, translating from Malayalam to English in their head before speaking or writing in English, then the language learner is not truly assuming the correct processes. It is true to say that in order to speak English, one must think in English. It is also helpful that to speak Malayalam, one must be thinking in Malayalam as Malayalam is the target language.
The ability to think in English is related to language direction. The more a student is disclosed to a language, the greater the awareness of phrases and vocabulary and therefore the ability to communicate these thoughts without thinking in the native tongue Malayalam. Immersion methods offered by the experts help students to gain high levels of exposure to the language they are learning. These include vocabulary and terminology activities as well as games.
The greater the level of training the student undertakes, the greater the exposure and therefore the less demand a student will have to consistently think in the Malayalam language when the reality is their goal is to speak English. Learning English from a native English speaker who can handle the Malayalam language also will help the learning become more powerful. It seems a rare chance to get such a tutor. But we, the ENTRI Learning platforms provide such a chance to learn spoken English from Malayalam through a native English speaker Aparna Mulberry in the course “English Padikkyam with Inverted Coconut”.
Remedies for the troubles faced by the English speakers of Kerala
The issues faced by the native speakers of Malayalam are, of course, a common problem fronted by all the people of the world. But when it comes to attacking the problem, one of the ways is to first comprehend and list down the distinctions between the two languages, the learner’s language, and the target language, and focus on those aspects.
The real problem in using language mostly happens when a direct translation is made from the native language to English. So, an effort should be completed to understand the pronunciation, syntax, and grammar of Standard English. Nunan advises that the best time for students to learn a language in order to become as native-like in their pronunciation as potential is before the onset of puberty. He explains this critical period as a ‘biologically determined period of life when language can be acquired easily and beyond which language is increasingly difficult to acquire” (1999) Practicing speaking with others is another method of learning English. The more you practice, the better and more secure you become in your vocabulary and pronunciation. Interaction with friends, reading out loud, listening to the radio, watching films and BBC news are some other forms of learning English.
The English language bears a key role in global communication. In the depth of the variety of languages around the world, the hierarchy of English language is the number one in the world. Indians and the Keralites are not native speakers of English and they can never be. But there is nothing wrong with aiming for precision and trying to go as close as feasible to the generally accepted standards of English. To get the height of glory, proficiency in the mother tongue alone will help to a limit. For fulfilling this purpose, one should also respect the English language as one respects one’s mother tongue.