Saturday, December 19, 2009

I wonder in which language do people pray to God or 'think' - in mother tongue or English

My memory...I forget words in mid-sentence and they come back like a flash at mid night! So I keep thinking about something or other, all the time ...!

My son asked me a few days back, "In which language do you think, Ma?"!  One of my relatives asked me "In which language do you pray to God, Maami?"

I started and night...suddenly I would remember these questions and try to concentrate on what I was thinking and in which language!

These questions were put to me because my mother tongue is Tulu.  I am from Udupi (Karnataka)  where most of the people speak Tulu at home and study in Kannada at school. Tulu language had a script, till a few decades back but it is dead now.  

I studied here, in Chennai (Tamilnadu) - from V std., so I am very fluent in Tamil.  Then got married to a Tamilian!  We speak Tamil at home...for the past 35 years now!

Now, I noticed these things:

When I pray to God, after the usual shlokas, I do namaskaara...and I pray in Tulu! I noticed one more thing...I don't ask for a particular favour, just say, 'please keep everyone happy', 'everything should happen peacefully' (mantherenla santhoshontu ijile, manthala porludu nadapodu, devere), I recite these lines also, like a shloka! Now, only Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty will understand this language! 

If I had a fight (misunderstanding!) with my husband and if I forgot to give back in proper words immediately, later on, when I am alone, I start doing it in my mind first - in Tamil! And maybe I mug it up also, till I get a proper time to use it!

Now, let me think about the language in which I speak with my children...normal usage is Tamil.  When I want to pamper them (laad karna hai to),  I call them 'bete' (Hindi!) and use some Hindi sentences also! If I am angry, English is the 'most used' language along with Tamil! English words don't sound too harsh, I feel!  My elder son is abroad and he speaks only in English nowadays.  The language in which I speak to him in my mind is English!

My mother is no more...she passed away two years back.  I used to speak to her, my brothers and sisters and cousins, in Tulu, in my mind, i.e. if I think about telling them something, it will be in Tulu.  My sister's husband speaks only Kannada, not Tulu, so I speak to him in Kannada, in my mind!

Our business partner is a Maharashtrian.  He is fluent in Tamil and so we speak to him in Tamil and to his wife, in Hindi.  Again, if I think of telling her something, the words that form in my mind, are in Hindi! Funny, I don't think about it in Tamil, first!

Our family friend once told us about an incident which happened,  when he was on his way to Delhi, by flight.  He is a jovial person.  He started chatting with a man, who was sitting next to him.  Though that person was also a Tamilian, he was particular about conversing only in English!  On the way, the weather worsened and the plane had to go through the clouds. The plane was shaking so much that the passengers got scared and started praying.   Next minute, the Tamilian started praying in Tamil, 'ennathu yithu, yippadi aadarade...kadavule, yenne badramaa oorle kondu serthudu, wife, chinna kozhanthe yirukku' means, 'why is this plane shaking this much, God, please  take me to my place safely...have got a wife and kid'!

My research about myself is over now!  It is your turn which language do you pray to God or think, normally? 

Image Courtesy: Google


sharada.econtent said...

Hey mami, first of all, thanks for making others to think about this. I will get back to you after couple of days [have to do research on this]... but one thing i can tell you is i ll pray to god in malayalam ??? may be sometimes??? hey wait i ll tell you this after two days...i am not sure. anyways good and worthy post

Sandhya said...

Sharada: You are my first commentor for this post, thank you, Sharada!

Do proper research like me and come back!

manju said...

Nice question! I suppose the language depends on what we are thinking about.

In my case- I think mostly in Marathi. If I am remembering a book (or movie), then in the language it is written.

Solilo said...

Sandhya, I love this topic.

I believe one thinks in a language they are most comfortable in or a language they hear everywhere around since childhood and for me that is Hindi.

I think mostly in Hindi and English.

Around age 16 I created a bedtime prayer for entire family (I keep adding the names as they come into my life:)) in Malayalam and since then I say that without fail. But otherwise most of the times it is in English.

Lakshmi Rajan said...

This is something in my mind too ! I am a tamilian living in bangalore and married to a North Indian ! We speak in a mixture of english + hindi and a bit of tamil at home. I wonder what will be the mother tongue of my kid! :D But its quiet fun to enjoy this multi-language environment!

When I think of my blog post, i think in english , some events i think in tamil .... so i think we develop a skill to multi think in different language !

- Lakshmi Rajan

P.S > do activate the open ID for name/ URL for commenting it makes things easy for people like me :S

BK Chowla, said...

I think it depends upon the language you converse in.
For me it is -HINGLISH

hitch writer said...

although there is no god... and I know that... I speak to my god in english all the time... challenging him to give me something i want and prove he is there... !

Deepa said...

I've always been multi lingual whether in thought or speech. The language that dominates my communication is of course english. I pray in English (!!) - probably on account of convent education. But I'm cool with it. I figure God understands all languages! When I'm emotionally upset, I switch to Tamil and when I need to curse at someone or something, I find myself most comfortable in Hindi!!

Roshmi Sinha said...

God is God and a prayer is a prayer. Language does not matter...

Sandhya said...

Manju: Yes, Marathi...the mother tongue comes first, mostly.

Solilo: You are cousins speak to each other mostly in Kannada, because they are in Banglore and most of the time they are outside, though they too speak Tulu at home. One cousin said, she speaks to herself in Kannada!

Bedtime prayer habit is nice. You add people as and when they come into your life too? And in Malayalam? Yes, mother tongue has come here!

Does Peanut pray alongwith you?

Lakshmi: Welcome here and nice to know you! Multi-language environment! Yes, it is interesting to use so many languages in our day-to-day life! When we attend functions, we speak to so many people in different languages, nowadays.

I will pass over the tech. thing to my son. Thanks for pointing out.

BK Chowla: Hinglish! Now, everyone seems to talk like that, here Thinglish!

hitchwriter: God is just nature. Everyone gives him different names. We just want to talk to somebody, pour ouselves out, Dhiren. You can call it as 'luck' too! Luck will come and help us! HE should understand all languages, no doubt about it!

Roshmi Sinha: Yes, no language barrier with God. You are right, Roshmi!

Sandhya said...

Deepa: Nice research...cursing in Hindi is the Best!

Sai Charan said...

Vanakkam Sandhyaji :)

I'm glad to be writing my opinion on your blog posts again, after a little gap :)

I've enjoyed reading this post and would like to appreciate the way you presented the topic - using simple, reader friendly language, in a style of day to day conversation :)

A person may know many languages but when it comes to prayer, if he uses the one in which he is more comfortable - then his subconscious mind can concentrate more on God.

In my case, since childhood, I used to always offer prayers in my mother tongue "Telugu", so it’s just the same even today. I'm comfortable to carry on with it :)

So you call your children as "Bete" when you wanna pamper them :) feels happy to know about it :) Remember Sandhyaji? you've addressed me once as 'bete' when you wrote wishes and blessings to me on my birthday in Sept, you are a caring mother :)

You really have a good list of languages - Tulu, Kannada, Tamil, Hindi, English... are you proficient in all of them?

You people have a kind heart and your prayer shows it. Yes, even we follow the same - while praying to God, my parents and grandparents taught us not to be self-oriented in our wishes but always pray for the wellbeing of everyone around us.

Exactly like you do - "please keep everyone happy, everything should happen peacefully".

The smiley image you've used for this post is rightly chosen and the humourous incident which you've shared at the end is nice, gave me a big smile :)

Thank you so much, even though I was away for a while, you still made it a point to write your comments on my blog posts.

Sai :)

Saritha said...

I always pray in telugu and always translate english into telugu.
When i pray i tell god to keep everyone happy.

When i want to say something to hubby (read when i am angry on him)i tell him in english.

Usually i call my girls bete and when ever we don't want girls to understand what we are talking we talk in hindi or with the spellings.

Sandhya said...

Sai Charan: Welcome back! Good to see you again, here, Sai!

Nice to see your long comment here, Sai. Hope you have settled down in your new job. Take care.

Our regards to your mother too!

Saritha: 'When i want to say something to hubby (read when i am angry on him)i tell him in english.' hahaha. I think most of the women follow this!

Alphabets?! We used to add 'na' to every syllabel, if we wanted to discuss about something in front of the kids!

Kavita Saharia said...

SANDHYA...i talk to myself in Hindi and sometimes in English and funnily as you too mentioned when i want to tell my husband something i think in Assamese.I loved your research on yourself...again a very fresh topic.Thanks.

I am taking a break till mid Jan till than take care.


kanagu said...

this post is very nice... you know many languages.,..

my wish or anything first will be in Tamil... the only other language I know is English... :)

Sandhya said...

Kavita: Going out on holidays? Enjoy! Happy New Year to you and your family, Kavita!

Kanagu: I think I read in Swaram's blog that you are visiting Hyderabad. Going there on holidays or a new job? If it is on job, you can learn Telugu and Hindi!

Well, to learn new languages, leave your hometown for some years and go to other states and try to learn their languages, whole heartedly. You will start speaking different languages, Kanagu. You are very young and very intelligent. You have got lot of time to do anything in your life! For me, it just happened.

kanagu said...

No.. I am just going for a holiday there....

When I posted in Pune, I thought about learning Hindi but I got transferred again to Chennai within a day... so its been Chennai.. chennai all these years...

I have to move somewhere... :) but I love Chennai much.. and staying here...

vimmuuu said...

I have often thought about this. I only think in English, even if I want to write anything, I would prefer writing in English than any of the regional languages I know. Its funny, but even when I get emotional or angry, its English that always come out first. Malayalam comes out only when Im with my parents or closest of friends, otherwise Im most of the time 'peter' ! :D :D :D

Btw, off topic, the shakti kodu song is working. I would suggest you to go to the V-mphony page in my blog to listen to it.

Sandhya said...

kanagu: You roam about until you are single and come back..ha ha!

Vimmuuu: Heard the 'shakti kodu' song...beautiful! Your voice reaches high pitch beautifully and you have natural 'gamakam' also! Good luck!

Aparna said...

Hi Sandhya, nice topic.
I pray in Bengali, I talk to my children in Bengali and speak to my husband in all this happens when I am in a jovial mood. If I am angry, then I switch to English, even if I am talking to my God!
Hindi comes very easily to me as I grew up in Delhi, so if I have to be funny or feel like cracking a joke, I speak and think in that language. Iwish I knew more languages, cursing in a foreign language must be fun.

Sandhya said...

Aparna: I am still laughing reading your comment! Yes, cursing in a strange language in front of the concerned person, must be fun, indeed! I am still imagining and laughing!

Anonymous said...

Nice question :D :) I never gave it a thought before. I guess I pray in Kannada, even though I am bad at it.

radha said...

Nice post. Prayer is generally in English ( hangover of convent education and the prayers!) My brother would tease me that my prayers would not be answered by the 'Hindu God' since they are in English and the 'English God' would not either since I was a Hindu! Well, I just need to think there is a supreme power to pray to and to ask him to bless those dear to me. As Roshmi says, language does not matter.

Sandhya said...

evanescentthoughts: I think I am making people to research on themselves, like me! Nice to read your opinion, Ashwini!

Radha: Brothers...! My children also have got the convent influence, I think, though they will not agree to it, now!

No language is needed to pray to god, Radha, I agree with you and Roshmi too. Just curious to know about others' opinion on this matter and on how they talk to themselves, rather, in which language!

I was just commenting on your post and you are here, commenting on my post, Radha, nice!

SG said...

Nice one. I grew up in USA all my life. So, naturally, I speak, think, pray, and dream in English only. But my wife and I speak in Tamil all the time.

Anonymous said...

Hindi and English for me Sandhya...:)) I pray in both the languages too:)
this is such an interesting topic...I am intrigued...what a thought provoking question..indeed!which language does one pray in? like Solilo says..the one is most comfortable in...

when we pray to god thats the one time there are no pretensions...

(((hugs))))missed you:)))

Sandhya said...

SG: Yes, I can understand. My children must be doing it too. English is the first language for them, though we speak to them in Tamil! It is nice to know that you and your wife speak in Tamil! Tamil is one of the dying languages now.

Sandhya said...

indyeah: I am so happy to see you here, indyeah! I stared at the name twice to check if it is Indian home maker or indyeah!

Most of the time, we speak in Tamil at home and my mother tongue is used only when I speak to my side of relatives. So he was wondering in which language I pray and talk to this research started!

'when we pray to god thats the one time there are no pretensions...' You are right, indyeah!

"Huggggs" to you too and I missed you a lot! I am sooo happy today!

SG said...

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Sandhya said...

SG: Thank you! All of us wish you and your family, a very very Happy New Year, too!

Destination Infinity said...

I don't think that the thought process has any language. At best, we can recite or follow what we are thinking, in one or another language! Even little children, animals, birds who don't know any language, can think!

Destination Infinity

Renu said...

Nice post ! me it is Hindi all the way:)

Sandhya said...

Destination Infinity: Hmm, This is a different angle, nice!

Renu: Nice...!

Anonymous said...

My mother tells us about a story of a man who knew so many languages that it was impossible to know what his mother tongue was! So some curious friends startled him and he yelled out loud in his mother tongue.

So it seems mother tongue is a reflex action. I pray and think in a mix of English and Hindi...

Swaram said...

Woww! What an interesting post and awesome analysis .. let me think nw ;)

Btw, even I say that when I pray Sandhya .. Ellarigu Olhitagali .. ellarigu shubhavagali :)

Asha said...

Hi, came to see your blog when i found maradhimanni on google.
we seem to have some similarity in the sense i am a tamilian raised in bangalore with tulu neighbours. My close friend is a rai. shokdu tulu baronthindu yeh.

Well now for the answer to your question. I feel intense feelings are best expressed in our mother tongue like our love for our children and my thought process/soliloquy would be in english. At times it would be kannada and even in tulu sometimes depending on the situation and place i am in.

Sandhya said...

IHM: Mother tongue tops the list, when we are nervous! English is becoming everybody's 50% mother tongue - Hinglish, Thinglish etc.!

Swaram: Nice. Happy New Year to you, Swaram. God bless you and your family!

Asha: Nice to know you Asha and welcome here!

When we know many languages and study in English from the KG classes, English is treated as our mother tongue. My children think English, Sleep English, Eat English.....!!!

Pixie said...

First time here! :)

I loved this post!
Me, I think in English and translate it to Kannada!
Prayers are in Kannada/English.
My husband speaks Tulu, so we have a bit of that going on at home as well! :)

Sandhya said...

Pixie: Nice to see you here, Pixie! Tuluthaakulu moolu first time! You must be understanding Tulu!

Yes, so many languages in our house too! It is funny...sometimes I had to think twice and ask myself in which language I read the posters, when I visit Bangalore!

Pixie said...

Sandhya, Tulu swalpa swalpa barpunu!
(wanted to ask the husband if the words are right, but, he seems to be busy! :D )
I did speak it right? right? :D :D

Sandhya said...

Pixie: Ha ha ha ...'Tulu choor choor barpunu'! Swalpandre Kannada aaguththathe! Nice, discussing Tulu!

Anonymous said...

Sandhya, This was a wonderful post and what a host of languages you speak :)

I am most comfortable in English - so all my thinking and praying is in English. I think from school days, English was the common language between friends, teachers. Only at home did my mother insist that I talk in Malayalam. So when I talk to my parents and some relatives it is mainly in Malayalam. Ever since Poohi came into my life, I speak mainly Malayalam with her. English with Husband. And in whichever language the person I am speaking to is comfortable :) I can manage a bit of Tamil and Bengali so I try to use it when I can :)

But thinking and praying - still in English :)

Sandhya said...

wordsndreamz: Through this post I have come to know that many people who studied in English medium from their KG classes, think and pray in English, like my sons, Smitha!

You are familiar with Bengali? Nice. I think people who never leave their state, even for working, never know other languages other than their native tongue and English. And you speak in Malayalam with Poohi. I am very happy to hear that. She will be happy about this in the future.

Swaram said...

Hi Sandhya ... no post this yr yet ;)
Hw r u dng?

Sandhya said...

Swaram: Hopefully I will post today or tomorrow, my first post of the year! Thank you!

Shankaanthiya shubhashayagalu!

J P Joshi said...

This is an interesting question and an equally interesting post. I know three languages - English, Hindi and Punjabi; Punjabi being my mother tongue. English has been my thinking language; Hindi while conversing with wife and kids and Punjabi while conversing with parents, siblings, relatives and in-laws.

What amazes me however is how easily the mind can switch from one language to another while conversing in a large mixed group of people. Interesting!!

Sandhya said...

JP Joshi: Yes, Joshiji, I also wonder how our mind switches from one language to another and it takes time for us to know in which language we just spoke to the other person.

So many people have conveyed so many different angles for this post, thank you.

Usha Pisharody said...

Love this topic too!
Glad you shared it!
I get angry in English
Pray in the language of the slokas, and Malayalam
Cuddle and coo the kids in hindi, english, and malayalam :D


Sandhya said...

USHA PISHARODY: This post popped up in my popular posts lists yesterday! I had forgotten about it. Then read it again...I loved the comments section most!

Now, we do everything in a mixture of languages. For our children, it might be only English! My children do that. How about your sons?

Thanks for commenting, Usha for an old post! I am honoured!

Did you notice, Solilo, Indyeah etc.? Happy days!

Shail said...

It is mostly English for me. But if I am thinking of any particular person, then in the language we both converse in which could be English, Malayalam or Hindi.
I loved the post and the comments :)

Sandhya said...

SHAIL MOHAN: Slowly English is becoming the common language for the current generation...even I am entering into it after I started blogging, I think! I think about writing often and it seems to be in English most of the time, though I still read a lot in Tamil too!

Yes, this is one of my favourite post on a bit 'different' subject and love the elaborate, detailed, interesting comments too! Thanks a lot, Shail for reading and then commenting too!

Anonymous said...

Good question Sandhya...
Praying always in tamil...I also say "ellarum nanna irukkanum" at the end of my slokas :D That's an influence by my patti !
But with my girls its always been English...
I think our mind automatically starts thinking in the language it needs to communicate so that the listener understands us perfectly ! No common language, then sign language..ha ha :D

Sandhya said...

UMSREFLECTIONS: Our children studied in English from their childhood and so, they are fluent in that language and starts thinking in that language. For us, we continue in the language we use at home and outside if it is inside our own state. So, naturally, it becomes our most comfortable with language.

Sign language is best!

Thank you, Uma!

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