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Influence of Mother Tongue in English

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Influence of Mother Tongue in English

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A lot of people refer to mother tongue ‘influence’ on English, as mother tongue ‘influenza’ and have a good laugh at others’ expense. Of all the influences, the mother tongue influence is the most difficult to get rid of, or so we believe! In my Verbal Ability sessions, I invariably come across people who carry around an inferiority complex, just because they speak English with a mother tongue influence.

When I tell them that I come from a vernacular medium school and couldn’t converse in English even while in college, they refuse to believe me. ‘But Ma’am you have a perfect English accent’. I tell them about my own battles with mother tongue influence (in my case a dual influence of Punjabi and UP Hindi). My Punjabi teachers couldn’t pronounce ‘measure’, ‘pleasure’, ‘treasure’, ‘support’, ‘develop’ etc, and my UPite father could not say ‘school’ or ‘zero’. We (my siblings and I) grew up saying ‘meayure’, ‘pleayure’, ‘treayure’ ‘sport’, ‘devolp’, ‘iskool’ and ‘jero’ . But when we went out into the world (in my case Kolkata) for further studies, we were old enough to keep our ears open to correct any pronunciation errors that we inadvertently made. I can only speak for myself (though my siblings are as fluent speakers as I am). If I was not sure about the pronunciation of a certain word, I would ask, practice, and learn (I do it even now). After all any language is learnt over a lifetime!

You can never proclaim to know all the words or their correct pronunciation, especially in English. English is an evolving language. New words keep getting added to it virtually on a daily basis. There are a lot of French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese and even Indian words being added to English, much to the horror of purists! Now can any one say that I have mastered English? We are all learners. The only difference is that we are placed at different levels of learning.

When we make mistakes in our own mother tongue (or even our national language for...

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