Mother tongue is the native language, which a person has grown up speaking from early childhood. In every family, there are at least two tongues (languages), i.e., spoken language by mother and father.
When a child is very young, say between one and three years old, most often we see people don’t teach them the grammar nor pronunciation. The adult people while interacting with them sometimes speak the meaningless language of blabber and also make strange sounds. Because children also make different sounds and they love their sounds. We get down to their level and get immersed in their sounds. An educated person is also not ashamed while interacting with the children like that. If the same person records and listens to the sounds, made while conversing with very young children would laugh at oneself. The connectedness with the children and out of love, makes a person make such sounds. It is all communication with love. In contrast, an educated specialist would make his language more complicated with jargon. As a doctor would spoil his handwriting for writing a prescription to a patient. Which is understood mainly by the pharmacist. They would never make it simple for the understanding of the ordinary people.
My mother tongue is Telugu. The mother is the first teacher for a child. Naturally, the language known to the mother is the language taught to the child. Education spoils the mother tongue in the name of the refined language. Writing is required to be grammatically correct. People are less concerned about the grammar while speaking. Spoken language is like a shot arrow and cannot be corrected once said. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are two large size states with so many dialects and historical background. But the government is not concerned to print the textbooks covering all the dialects for the children in a State. Based on the literature and the board members constituted for preparing the textbooks the language is decided. In the name of the common language, the local dialects are being lost.
A child in mother tongue should get the highest marks. But I saw many times that the children get more marks in another language, such as Sanskrit rather in their mother tongue. Sanskrit is called as scoring marks language by students. That is the motivating factor for many choosing Sanskrit even in the higher education as a language. As a child, I was a poor student in learning including Telugu. Although I learned Telugu till fourth class, my mother tongue, i.e., local dialect did not change. So the definition of my mother tongue is that I still retain the language spoken by – mother + family members + Gully language spoken by friends and others + the mix of other languages spoken in the locality + reading + listening to the media, etc. Therefore being a Hyderabadi, I had a particular flavor of spoken Telugu with a mix of 85% local Telugu language, 10% Urdu and 5% English (because I studied in English Medium school). This part of Andhra Pradesh was never ruled by the British, so there was less influence of English on the local language. I took Hindi, Sanskrit and English languages for my studies in the school. If I studied the Telugu Language in school till 10th Class, I would have lost my mother tongue and learned the Telugu called Grandhika Telugu (or bookish Telugu). I would not have never got good marks too. Because I need to unlearn my mother tongue and learn so many new words. To appear as a learned person, people even with difficulty speak the Grandhika Telugu rather speak in their native tongue. Sometimes laugh at people speaking the mother tongue. There is another spoken Telugu called, Vyavaharika Telugu (used Telugu). It is the Telugu language commonly used for the understanding of everyone which is close to Grandhika Telugu. It is spoken by the Media people such as in Radio and Television. I did not learn even the Vyavaharika Telugu which is understood in general by all the people in the state. It is a difficult challenge to make everyone understand a commonly spoken language, when the state is so vast and diverse.
Once it happened that, while studying Geography, once a lady from the All India Radio came for a short bite on the environment for a radio program. She asked me few questions, and she recorded. Before leaving she said one thing “Your spoken Telugu is not suitable for broadcasting on the radio”. For the first time in my life, I realized that, although all my life people around me have understood me now felt alien. Still, I preferred and continued to speak the Telugu language that I knew. It gave me lots of freedom of thought and choice of words. I could focus on the subject more rather on the words which I need to speak.
Once I went to Bhimadole a town in West Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. The Telugu language spoken in the West Godavari District has a typical dialect with accent and charm. I was the program officer for the National Environmental Awareness Campaign program. The program was organized by the Gowthami Social Service Society. It was my first public address in life. The venue was in the coconut and mango trees grove. About 100 people gathered. I started speaking but saw that no one is listening and there is no expression on their face. They are not able to understand my spoken Telugu. It was a mix of Telangana Telugu, Urdu and few English words. I thought the Telugu people could understand my spoken language. Finally, the organization head understood my problem. The issue was resolved by arranging an interpreter to convert my Telugu into the local dialect Telugu.
Although I faced so many challenges, but never lost my dialect. It had the geographical identity and especially liked by the local people where it is becoming a rarely spoken language with the influence of media and school education. I spoke several times on Television and gave lectures on diverse topics but always spoke in my mother tongue. People from Telangana are simple, hardworking and straight. The sentences are also simple with a punch and slight humor. I am thankful for the geography, history, and culture which taught to speak Telugu language; it has become part of my personality too.