Hindi in South India

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Posted: 14 years ago
Friends, last year I visited India and took a vacation to Kerala. This was first time I was visiting southern India. Now, I realized there that most of the people there do not speak Hindi. They either speak their state language (as we all know we have tons of languages in our country) or they speak English. I was observing that some older people from other parts of India were having little trouble communicating with them. Then later I discussed this with some of my friends and there were mix opinion. Some told me people in south does not want to learn Hindi. Now I would assume Hindi being a national language is important. Does anyone know exact reason why Hindi is not accepted much in southern India and if it should be included in curriculum. To me I think everyone in country should be able to communicate atleast through one language and Hindi being our national language should be spoken/understood by all Indians. It's like I live in Hindustan but I don't know Hindi.

Note- I didn't mean to offend any community or state here. I apologize if I have hurt someone, but that is not my intention. I don't have enough knowledge about this question, and this is one of the reasons I would like to know from all of you so please feel free to correct me if I misunderstood anything.
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Posted: 14 years ago

Originally posted by sowmyaa


Friends, last year I visited India and took a vacation to Kerala. This was first time I was visiting southern India. Now, I realized there that most of the people there do not speak Hindi. They either speak their state language (as we all know we have tons of languages in our country) or they speak English. I was observing that some older people from other parts of India were having little trouble communicating with them. Then later I discussed this with some of my friends and there were mix opinion. Some told me people in south does not want to learn Hindi. Now I would assume Hindi being a national language is important. Does anyone know exact reason why Hindi is not accepted much in southern India and if it should be included in curriculum. To me I think everyone in country should be able to communicate atleast through one language and Hindi being our national language should be spoken/understood by all Indians. It's like I live in Hindustan but I don't know Hindi.

Note- I didn't mean to offend any community or state here. I apologize if I have hurt someone, but that is not my intention. I don't have enough knowledge about this question, and this is one of the reasons I would like to know from all of you so please feel free to correct me if I misunderstood anything.

Greetings;

I have also faced similar situtations when i was in chennai and bangalore, and in mangalore, in chennai nobody spoke hindi and i am given to understand it is more to do with politics, some regional parties in late 80s DMK to be specific fought the elections on anti hindi plank and infact anna durai, the late congressmen was the first to use this strategy and since then people are using it as a tool to win over locals and elections also.

Infact i understand some people know hindi but do not want to speak hindi, though the circulum has hindi, nobody wants to speak for speaking in hindi is considered as politcally incorrect.

further india has many national languages, 16 to be precise and tamil is also one of them, well tamil is also one of the language in singapore. 

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Posted: 14 years ago
Very very interesting topic Soumya .

O.K i lived in Chennai for 4 years when i was a student . I too noticed that many people spoke hindi but refused to communicate in any other language but Tamil or English . It was highly frustrating . I somehow felt it was some sort of an ego hassle that made them know hindi(although limited) but pretend they don't understand a word .


Some how this problem lies with people considering themselves first Tamilian or Andhraite , or Bengali then Indian . In the U.S i have often heard people tell other people (non - Indians) when asked where are you from orignaly . I have sadly heard responses like i am from Tamil Nadu or i am from Andhra P . When asked where is that , they go on to explain India . I think this attitude explains why they pretend not to know Hindi .
I apologise if i hurt any community . But i have not just seen this in the Southern Communities but in the East too to a certain extent . The wish to be cocooned in thier region .
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Posted: 14 years ago
I have a friend who is Tamil but raised in Mumbai and speak great Hindi. She told me that she know Hindi just 'coz she stayed in Mumbai and all her relatives from Tamil Nadu do not speak Hindi. As you said Aparna, if someone ask me where I am from I say I am from India. It is sad to hear reply like I am Tamil.

I was wondering if we have friends from Southern India on this Forum who can explain it more precisely why they don't want to speak/learn Hindi. This may seem small thing, but it is big issue for me. We are fighting with Pakistan and doing peace talk with them, but shouldn't someone try to find out why our own brother/sister is disrupt about? We individual represent our country and when we are not able to speak our own national language it does affect our root and whole tree.
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Posted: 14 years ago
Sowmyaa, this is a sensitive, though a thoroughly valid point.

Sree, our forum admin, is from South and grew up in Chennai and stays in Bangalore (or is it vice versa...forgive me Sree if I got it wrong... Embarrassed ) but not only she speaks great Hindi, but actually loves the language.

Unfortunately, there are very few like her who, if they grew up in South, know Hindi. I have so many friends here who are from South and they don't know anything of Hindi which is very sad. One of the ladies in fact does not know any language except Tamil ( she knows a smattering of English). Another lady, who is from Maharashtra also knows a smatterng of English but is fluent in Hindi. When these two meet, the lady from Maharashtra lapses into Hindi and the Tamil lady is constantly being put off as a result of which the others get sandwiched, always having to translate to the Tamil lady, that too in English in which her knowledge is painfully limited and she hasn't made much efforts to learn that either inspite of being in US for more than five years now...)  which is just so bugging, mainly becasue rest in the group can at least understand Hindi or English.....

    I have seen this mentality in North East as well, where folks from certain parts of Bengal or the hilly regions like Meghalaya, Manipur or Sikkim (barring the guides) don't want to speak Hindi at all. When I was very small, I remember one of my Uncle making fun of a new recruit in his office who did not know Bengali and his rediculous braggings of how they were trying to force him to learn Bengali by not responding to him when he spoke Hindi.......I was incensed.

    I can understand if it's a rural area where people do not have the exposure. But in large sprawling cosmo cities, I tend to beleive it's an ego issue more than anything else. They view Hindi as a northern language and making it a common language is for them consenting to northern superiority...... Dead

    These are just my views,please feel free to disagree and correct me. If I have hurt anyone, I apologise in advance.

Edited by Minnie - 14 years ago
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Posted: 14 years ago
Well I am from the South and most importantly, I dont think in Hindi. Thats the first hurdle. I know Hindi/Urdu but not very good at it. I have to translate my strongest emotions just like I do with English. I am more comfortable with English than Hindi as all that you study is via English in school. And I have learnt Hindi as a language throughout school. Never learnt my native language in school, only at home.

I cannot speak for the whole region but it is hard for me to say "Ouch" in Hindi. I try to converse with hindi speaking folks in english as well as I dont understand the nuances, my husband doesnt even get the genders right and we have never known a Hindi speaking person who didnt speak English as well. If we have come across someone that didnt know english at all then yeah have tried to explain or converse in Hindi.

And I dont believe it has anything to do with ego or groupism. When a Tamilian living in Delhi can make an effort to learn Hindi and use it in day to day life. It's really hard if one knows Tamil, it doesnt originate from Sanskrit so the whole concept of the language is different.

The expectation is that a non Tamil speaking someone living in Madras could put in the same effort and speak in Tamil to get along. Why not try instead of complain or demand a different policy? Not only will you learn a new language but it takes much lesser time than persuasion. Edited by Rindam - 14 years ago
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Posted: 14 years ago
Originally posted by Minnie




    I have seen this mentality in North East as well, where folks from certain parts of Bengal or the hilly regions like Meghalaya, Manipur or Sikkim (barring the guides) don't want to speak Hindi at all. When I was very small, I remember one of my Uncle making fun of a new recruit in his office who did not know Bengali and his rediculous braggings of how they were trying to force him to learn Bengali by not responding to him when he spoke Hindi.......I was incensed.

    I can understand if it's a rural area where people do not have the exposure. But in large sprawling cosmo cities, I tend to beleive it's an ego issue more than anything else. They view Hindi as a northern language and making it a common language is for them consenting to northern superiority...... Dead

    These are just my views,please feel free to disagree and correct me. If I have hurt anyone, I apologise in advance.



I absolutely agree with you 100% Minnie . I too felt it was ego and the feeling was not to bow to what they feel is Northern Superiority (something thats all in the mind ). When i lived in Chennai , i used to see my Madrasi friends pull my leg about being from the North and i'd laugh and pull there leg too .All in a friendly banter . But beneath the friendly banter i felt there was a certain degree of hostility towards people from the North .

Also , as i had mentioned these feelings not just from South but from East ( in my post above) . I have heard my in- law family (Pure Bengali) speak about people in the North with that touch of "we are superior .....more cultured  sort a thing !!" Since i am a mix , i never appreciated it .........but don't really care as much since i like to feel i am an exciting cocktail of two interesting cultures :Bong & Sikh !!LOL
But thats how i've seen it in my experience!!
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Posted: 14 years ago

Originally posted by Rindam


Well I am from the South and most importantly, I dont think in Hindi. Thats the first hurdle. I know Hindi/Urdu but not very good at it. I have to translate my strongest emotions just like I do with English. I am more comfortable with English than Hindi as all that you study is via English in school. And I have learnt Hindi as a language throughout school. Never learnt my native language in school, only at home.

I cannot speak for the whole region but it is hard for me to say "Ouch" in Hindi. I try to converse with hindi speaking folks in english as well as I dont understand the nuances, my husband doesnt even get the genders right and we have never known a Hindi speaking person who didnt speak English as well. If we have come across someone that didnt know english at all then yeah have tried to explain or converse in Hindi.

And I dont believe it has nothing to do with ego or groupism. When a Tamilian living in Delhi can make an effort to learn Hindi and use it in day to day life. It's really hard if one knows Tamil, it doesnt originate from Sanskrit so the whole concept of communication is different.

The expectation is that someone living in Madras could put in the same effort and speak in Tamil to get along. Why not try instead of complain or demand a different policy? Not only will you learn a new language but it takes much lesser time than persuasion.

    Yes Rindam, you are right in what you are saying. If one has  a different mother tongue then getting the fine nuances of the language right is tough. Also, you don't think in Hindi.

    However, here the matter is of common communication. In most cities in India, exposure to Hindi is very common. Hence in most parts, people are able to communicate, even is they are not fluent in hindi. Not getting the genders right is fine, as long as the effort is there. Here we are talking of people who, inspite of knowing the language, refuse to communicate. They wud rather converse in broken English than answer in  broken Hindi. The cabbies in Chennai don't even answer if spoken to in Hindi, and yet they understand if you are talking about money in hindi and the amount settled is wrong.........isn't that strange? Specially when most of them are exposed to Hindi as a language in school at one stage ? At least one wud expect them to communicate, even if it in broken Hindi? And that is true in many regional areas of India, not only of Tamil Nadu.

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