Death to the Nepali Language

Its hangul day here at the southern part of Korean Peninsiula. It’s supposedly a day when you commemorate the start of the Korean alphabet “hangul” but all you are doing is just the opposite; writing stuff in English that has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the aforementioned topic. In fact, what I am going to touch on today will largely be based on my own language and how my generation of young aspiring Nepalese writers, anthropologists, sociologists, doctors, engineers, philanthropists, artists and psychopaths have all but one thing in common; that they can’t write or speak proper Nepali.

Take a moment to think about how grave the issue really is. If I am now asked to write a page of something bloggily delicious right now in my own national tongue, I would rather have better odds at taking Miss Korea out on a five course meal at perhaps the most expensive and stylish bistro in town than being able to complete what I am asked to do. I dread on having to read or write or speak Nepali without diluting words and phrases of English here and there.

Honestly, wtf is wrong with me (and you, yes you) anyways?

When I have a tittle chit chat with my Korean peers and I am tell them that I suck at my own language, they look at me as if I was suddenly delving on topics of string theories and higgs particles and so forth. In other words, they look at me in despair, confusion and utter reluctance to believe what just came out of my mouth. The concept of not being able to properly converse or write in their own language is so foreign to them that they can’t wrap around the fact that there are people in the world like that.

The sad reality is, I and you (going to drag you along) epitomize such individuals. It is however, important to understand how we were taught in school which has led to such loss in confidence in our own ability to speak our own language. I am not blaming the system per say, but it’s easier to comprehend our thought process once we look at the whole English training regime we endure from childhood.

As you might have heard from me many times over, the education system in Nepal is based on two mediums of education. While on one hand the students who go to government school learn everything in Nepali except for the course English, student who go the private schools do just the reverse; everything is taught in English except for the course Nepali.

The school I went to was part-government, part-private although it did seem the only thing about our school being part-government was the dress code. Everything else had attributes to a normal private school although one might argue that our school was trying to be, well, a bit overly private. We were made to converse in English all the time, read literature in English, eat in English, heck even dream in English. One of our English teachers Mr.D.D.Dewan was so insistent that we dream in English that students had literally started sleep talking…in English.

So why this craze in this language you ask? Were we under British colonial rule? No. Were we trying to copy the Indian education system? Perhaps.

Although, quite frankly, we quite openly admit our distrust on our Indian counterparts, the education system has been largely based on the Indian structure. Most of our English teachers were trained in India and thus with them brought the Indian values of education. Reading this you might question “what about the rest?” but if you look at it, most people before us, the same people now who are leading charge of the nation were most notably educated in India. We cannot deny the level of educational policies that might have come under direct influence under such circumstances. India might be at the end of some very disgusting vitriol from us but they do have robust educational policies.

It’s not only that to blame though. If home is where the heart is, home is where the language should be too. It’s hard to contemplate that I, coming from Newari community, cannot speak the language. In my defense, I do know the all the important words for asking “Aila “(Alcohol) and asking “La” (water) when I have a bad hangover but that’s about it. I might have drifted off from talking about Nepali a bit here but you can see where I am going with this. If the youths today already have a nonchalant outlook on the language of their roots, will the future generation have the same attitude towards Nepali?

As long as the current state continues, this shall be the case. The next generation and the generation thereafter will perhaps have a greater distaste for their own language. The reluctance from parents to send them to distrusted government schools is obvious and this could only mean that the problem will exacerbate as the years go by. The question of whether we are heading into a state where Nepali will become extinct in the far future is far-fetched but something that’s not completely unfathomable.

I guess it’s time to go back to reading the Bhagwad Geeta until I get hold of something better to read. That’s the only distinctly Nepali book lying around anyways. Tells you a lot about my language preference, doesn't it?


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