Saturday, November 24, 2007

LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

It is easily forgotten how deeply entwined language is to culture. In my own Gujarati culture, the word for family is 'Kutumb' - which is a much wider definition than immediate family, including aunts, uncles, grandparents, granduncles, and so on. This is why Indian weddings are so huge in numbers - we have a duty to invite the entire Kutumb whether we like it or not. Modern media and the increasing popularity of English is subtly damaging our love for different languages and respect for them. I find this happening in my own family. Increasingly I see in my vernacular a beautiful language which is so soft and caring, so compassionate and inclusive, so respectful and colourful. I hope there will be a renaissance of ancient languages and at the very least, we respect them and understand the limits of translation. Merely translating a word into another language is not enough - we need to understand its cultural context and meaning also.

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