Tome & Plume: One Language Keeps You In Closed Room, Two Open Doors

Tome & Plume: One Language Keeps You In Closed Room, Two Open Doors

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart. – Nelson Mandela

Arup Chakraborty Updated: Monday, June 03, 2024, 12:43 PM IST
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Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Good command of two languages is always useful. It opens up new vistas in terms of knowledge and job opportunities. These two advantages are tangible. Yet, there is one more. It is not palpable – though.  It sharpens your memory as well as perks up the functioning of your brain, the key to your success.

But many people give a wide berth to studying another language, offering more than one excuse based on long-held beliefs and mix-ups.

You should not be one of those who regret not having had proficiency in another language – of course barring your mother tongue and English.

In India, as in Europe, many people know at least three languages – their mother tongue, Hindi and English. This is the reason why when Indians go abroad –especially to European countries like France, Germany, Spain and Italy – they easily learn the languages of these countries.

Command of more than one language enables you to communicate with people of other countries easily. So, if you interact with the French people in their language, the barrier of long geographical distance between you and them falls.

Those who know more than one language are good at remembering lists, sequences, names and directions. Such people are more creative than others and can concentrate on work longer than their counterparts can do.

Their capability in thinking in multiple languages busts their stress and makes them multitaskers.

Someone learning a new language is required to recognise and decipher its words and sentence structure. To do that, the brain has to make some extra efforts. This exercise is the most important of nourishments for the brain. Ergo, learning a new language makes your brain function effectively.

As daily workout is good for growth for body muscles, learning a new language is useful to help your brain work better.

Eminent Indian polyglots

Author Rahul Sankrityan knew over 30 languages. Although he wrote in Hindi, his command of French, Russian, Arabic, German and many other languages was exceptional.

Likewise, freedom fighter Manabendra Nath Roy (born Narendra Nath Bhattacharya), who is better known as MN Roy, was also a polyglot. He was one of the founding members of the Communist Party of India.

During his exile in Mexico, he became so skilled at Spanish that he launched a pamphlet in that language to highlight the problems of Indians.

How can you forget Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose? His address to Bundestag in chaste German impressed the people of Germany so much that they offered instant help to the Indian freedom struggle against the British. When he left the country throwing dust into the eyes of the proud British detectives as SAF Talwar Khan, speaking chest Urdu, the then British government was shocked. This is the advantage of knowing additional languages.

Physicist Satyendranath Bose was also a polyglot. Besides Bengali which was his mother tongue, he had a good command of German and French. On those days, German was the lingua franca of science in Europe. Thus, he had to learn German and French to work with giants like Louis de Broglie, Marie Curie and Einstein. His command of both the languages surprised Curie.

Likewise, everyone can remember Indira Gandhi’s speech in French during her trip to Mauritius, and her interview in French, that too with a French journalist. The speech and the interview were an instant hit across the world.

Former Prime Minister PV Narsimha Rao was another multilingual person. He translated several books from Marathi and other languages into his mother tongue, Telugu.

AICC president Mallikarjun Kharge is also a polyglot. He has good command of English, Hindi, Urdu, Kannada, Telugu and Marathi. He struck a fine chord with the audience in Maharashtra through his Marathi speech.

Many Bengali poets learn a foreign language – especially French – to improve their understanding of European literature.  Poet Arun Mitra was one of them.

Booker Prize 2024

German author and opera director Jenny Erpenbeck has won this year’s International Booker Prize for Kairos which is originally written in German. Michael Hoffman has rendered it into English. After translation the novel has drummed up acclaim beyond Germany’s borders. Kairos speaks about life’s turmoil and ambitious love and betrayal. It unfolds a chaotic affair between a 19-year-old woman Katharina and a 53-year-old writer in East Berlin.

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