Thursday, December 06, 2007

tower of babel?

ani, i read your comment to my previous post soon after this litle encounter.

IMP: mallus reading this please ignore the spellings of malayalam words used here!

me, all chuffed with my new found energy about multiple languages, hit upon an idea to both entertain sanah while she ate her breakfast, and surprise her papa : sanah, when papa comes out ask him, enda vishesham

i know some key words in malayalam- the first few i learnt after marriage was madi, which means enough enough, and said in my high pitched ,panic stricken voice atleast slowed down the mountains of food shovelled into my plate.i had to learn the word for sheer survival. i would smile sweetly every time i was asked how i was in malayalam and said, suham. the smile would be followed by a blank expression on my face after this intelligent exchange, because the other person would have launched into a long sentence by then.

and ofcourse when i tease george about his brethren, i tell the world that malayalis who meet each other for the first time do not say hello, how are you, but ask, naat evadiya, where is your village?

so teaching sanah , ende vishesham was progress on my part.

sanah and i practiced it. she delighted over the sound, slipping completely during the vishesham...

the papa exits from his bath to be greeted by two demeted souls screaming ende vishesham. the papa grins and says, nalla vishesham

and then the problem begins...

panju me: but ende vishesham means, what news? or, so whats new?

mallu papa: literally, but its used as 'how are you'

panju me: and you answered good news to 'how are you'? how weird is that!

mallu papa: literally yes, but it means 'all is good'

time constraints ended a spirited argument on semiotics and language...and sanah's initiation into a new language was forgotten!

ani, maybe you are right- we should have stuck to out linguistic groups!

and on second thought, no, my folks are both punjabi, and we speak hindi at home. why? because from day one they have disagreed with each other's command over the language- thats not pure punjabi, you mix dogri words in your punjabi, thats my mum.
and my dad, you dont even know when you slip in hindi and urdu words in your punjabi, your punjabi is pathetic....and so on and so forth... to maintain marital harmony(ha!) they switched to hindi!

my in-laws belong to same district in kerala - wonder if they argued about language...


dipali said...

Lovely post! I barely had a smattering of Punjabi when I got married, and my m-i-l would speak a dialect called Derewaali- I was utterly clueless. She picked up more Hindi than I did Derewaali:)
After 6 odd years in Kerala, my Malayalam vocab. is only korchu korchu.

SUR NOTES said...

oh, korchu korchu is another word i picked up very fast...i would feebly plead korchu korchu (little little) when i would be served food, and then the high pitched madi madi(enough enough) !

and in another ten days i will be in kerala chanting korchu korchu, madi madi... :)

anita & amit said...

my parents are both mallu, from north and south of kerala, and i can code-switch now - in thrissur they only say 'tum' and in trivndrum, they only say 'aap'. the thrissur guys get offended if you say aap and the t'drum guys can't stand the tum. there are complications, but i do have a semi-solid structure of mallu to stand on - something i can't give n in any indian language... i think having studied linguistics and knowing of cases of 'language loss' makes me palpitate more in these matters!