Linguistic Favoritism

Written by Shorya Mittal

So, a few days ago I was out shopping for clothes with my mother and naturally as part of the shopping spree, we visited a lot of places that included some posh, branded stores as well.

This place that we visited in Delhi, everyone spoke in English, including the workers and salesmen and most of the customers there, and there was a long queue outside the trial room for it was the sale season going on.

So, while waiting in the queue for the trial room, there was a bit of conversation involved. My mum asked another woman to get aside very politely in Hindi, and I, standing right beside her, could notice the stark reaction of disgust on the woman’s face, probably because my mum spoke in Hindi.

In fact, not only her, I could feel this un-comfortability and animosity from the workers and the salesmen only because we were communicating in Hindi, and they probably looked down on us. I was personally shocked and disgusted.

We are a multilingual nation. Hindi is the mother tongue of over 40% population of the country. Since when did speaking Hindi began being looked down upon? Why is colonial hangover so persistent and blinds the people?

Aren’t all languages equal to each other? Don’t all languages serve the single purpose of communication? Since when did languages become a symbol of status? I think as a single social unit, we are being prejudiced and discriminatory. We discriminate between entities on the basis of class and status.

Presently, living in Punjab, I often notice how people, mostly north Indians look down upon or make fun of south Indians for their accent, and personally, I hate it. I have often heard instances of Asian accent being made fun of in Anglo-centric spaces. America, and its old and constant tradition of racial discrimination, is uncompromising of non-white races.

I think, belatedly, we must recognize linguistic prejudices and change them, because we are definitely more than our conversations.

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