Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Will Tamil feed you? - தமிழ் சோறு போடுமா?

You may have come across this question many times in various blogs, articles, debates or even during a casual tea talk among Tamil speaking Indian. I'll share my experience and opinion on this matter, which is close our heart, but seems to be ignored conveniently.

For a start, you may have heard me on MinnalFM's weekly tech review program "Athisayamai Avasiyamai". In that program, I and my co-host Mr. Paandian provide listeners with information on various technology. The program begun in the year 2001, and it is presented completely in Tamil. Many have inquired if I was Tamil educated in a Tamil school, due to my proficiency in the great language. In addition to that, in my workplace, I've been identified as the 'wholesale' editor for any communication in Tamil that are to be published in media.

I've never attended Tamil school in my life, the most I've only attended POL class in primary school. POL classes reminds me of days that we are enticed to attend the class by the teacher with biscuits, and there was a cute girl too. Honestly, I didn't manage to learn much during the classes (not because of the cute little girl), because it was after school, we were tired and mind is already begin cycling towards home on my 'chopper'.

I owe my knowledge and interest in Tamil, to my father Mr. Tharmalinggam. He was strict father, who wanted all his 3 children to be able to read, write and speak proper Tamil. He spent many evenings teaching us to write and read, in various (tough) approaches. My other 2 siblings, eventually broke-down and didn't carry on with his lessons. I did continue, simply because I was scared of any punishment for not being able to speak or write in Tamil. I'm glad that I did.

Over the years, after my father's introduction to the language, I took many efforts to learn it on my own. I'd (repeatedly) read old Tamil news papers, little magazine "Vanampadi" and flip thru books. I find Tamil has embedded poetry, rhythm and flow of its own. Its beautiful to be able to string sentences that sounds like song lyrics, but its also easy as speaking in colloquial manner. I realized that, I tend to stand out among my peers in Tamil.

My appreciation for learning the language increased many folds when I had the chance to present a program in MinnalFM, then Radio 6 RTM. They have particular standard in their programs that your language proficiency must be good. Our program have taught us to learn more and research on many new terms in Tamil for largely English contents on technologies. Over the last decade, we have acquired the unique ability, that is to read in English and speak in Tamil simultaneously during our program recordings. Now that's a giant leap for me, who've been learning Tamil the informal way.

Coming back to the title, will Tamil feed me or not? Well, I don't see how this feeding thing got into learning Tamil. Its like asking will learning how to walk make you a sprinter? It just doesn't gel. Learning a language that is our mother (or father) tongue is a matter of pride. Everyone should be proud about their own language, without thinking of reward for learning it. Learning the international language English is critical to our success, but ignoring own language is close to humiliating our culture. I know many 'modern' Tamils who boast about their inability to speak in Tamil. They think Tamil is not cool, and speaking it public makes them inferior. Sad truth is, some even say its estate language, while some spend time and money to learn other foreign language such as French, Spanish, Japanese or Russian.

Tamil may feed you, with the ability to write and speak better in other language. You don't see how? The way Tamil sentences are structured are often with a smooth flow of rhythmic words that links them to the message, giving us flexibility in using multiple words to represent any one thing. These vast vocabulary is not available in many other language. While speaking in English or other languages, we tend to seek and use uncommon, unique words that means the same, just like we do in Tamil. That itself is an advantage.

For those people who thinks that learning Tamil is a waste, they are not blessed with the chance to experience the immensely beautiful language, that has given birth to many other 'modern' languages. No one is saying English is not important, I'm just saying Tamil is no less important than any language that I know. After all, the Punjabis, Telugus, Malayalees are not questioning the importance of Tamil, but the Tamils are the one doing it :)

 p/s : I wrote this in English, as Tamil speaking, reading people don't actually ask தமிழ் சோறு போடும?


  1. U mean Mr. Termaringgam???? LoLz

  2. தமிழ் சோறு போடு'மா' ?

    1. மாற்றம் செய்துவிட்டேன், நன்றி

  3. Best article about learn tamil language across the world. These kinds of articles are used to establishing the classics of tamil.