One of the most inhibiting factors of India is the Mother Tongue Influence. From first generation learners, to children who belong to well-educated families; people are trying their best to become proficient speakers. It is closely associated with culture

 What is mother tongue?

Mother tongue is the language of one’s native land. The mother tongue of India is Hindi.

 What is mother tongue influence?

Mother Tongue Influence is related to the influential regard of a language which persuades the speaker to adapt the peculiar language.

India is known for its unique diversity. There are several languages that are spread across the length and breadth of the country. To be numeric, there are EIGHTEEN languages spoken in the country.

Today, belonging to bilingual families, it has become a matter of fact for every child/person to learn two or more languages simultaneously. Hitting the priority list is the language inspired by the British: English (the official language of our country).

You need to be well-versed in English if you wish to settle for a good job of your dream salary.

There is another important perception to the same that cultural powers can backfire when the choices of those who embrace the American culture in terms of language (English), choice of dress, or choice of entertainment. It inculcates resentments in those who do not encourage it.

It is thus a potpourri of myth and ideology.

Impact of Mother Tongue Influence

The impact of mother tongue on the second language has been there for a long time now.

The grammatical relationship between the mother tongue and second language plays a vital role, especially when the mother and target language belong to different language families that are not closely related.

The worst part of mother tongue influence (MTI) is that it kills your confidence. An individual as a speaker knows one sounds wrong and even funny. It makes you self conscious and requires hard work for a long time to get over.

Just as each language has different words, letters and script – so does each have different sounds. Thus there are some sounds which are found in Hindi but not in English and some sounds may be found in English but not in Tamil.

For example: in the word “Pleasure”, the second syllable is a sound not found in Hindi. It’s not “plezar” and it’s not “pleshar” – it is the mix of sounds of “z” and “sh”. Thus, for native Hindi speakers with insufficient English speaking exposure, pronouncing pleasure (or measure or leisure) correctly takes time and practice.

Similarly, there are sounds in your regional language which may not exist in English.

When we begin speaking in the second language (i.e. English), we initially use sounds from our mother tongue. Thus, everyone has mother tongue influence (MTI) to begin with. With more and more listening to those fluent in the second language, practicing speaking yourself and correcting mistakes, you slowly learn to replace your mother tongue sounds with the original sounds of English.

To consider certain examples; you can easily know where a person comes from by the way he speaks, to term it: “the accent of the person denotes his belongingness to a certain place”.

For instance, a person whose cultural language is Tamil, when he speaks English, the pronunciation of the consonant “M” will be “Yem”, “married” pronounced as “mayrid” and many more fall in this category.

There are many reasons behind this:

a) The person has not heard enough English

b) The person has not spoken enough English

c) The person hasn’t been corrected enough

The accent or diction is nothing but the reflection of the place you belong. So an American will speak like an American, the British like British, and Indians like Indians. For us Indians, the target should be to reduce our mother tongue influence so much that from a Punjabi/Bhojpuri/Tamil/Marathi or Bengali English speaker, we become an Indian English speaker.

The journey, thus, has three main stops:

Non speaker —> Bengali/Punjabi/Bhojpuri English speaker —> neutral Indian English speaker.

It is very obvious for a well-versed person to point out the correction, but we all need to make ourselves remind that WE ARE ALL LEARNERS, no one can be termed as a Professional. We live in a place where we have to preach “Each One Teach One”. So be it a beginner or be it a learned person; everyone is at the learning stage.

Jyoti Arora


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