Language barrier

February 19, 2015

There are around 1800 different languages spoken in India, 24 of them are official and the rest are local state dialects. Go off the beaten path in India and it can be very difficult to be understood or understand.

A gift was given to us the other day waiting for the train south at trichy station, a man walked up to us to say hello which is common in India; strangers will stop and say hello, the difference being that this man spoke fluent English instead of one or two words which we’ve mostly experienced in Tamil Nadu. It was really nice to chat to Isaac and learn a bit more about India, apparently after independence the politicians of Tamil Nadu banded people from learning Hindi in schools. This is probably why the Tamil people we’ve met, even in Chennai, weren’t so good at understanding or communicating in English either and the Tuk tuk driver that we met by accident, Basha, also said he has to be an interpreter from Tamil to Hindi for the Indian tourists.

In comparison, Isaac said that people in Bangalore – because of its location close to three state lines – speak 6 languages naturally as they are surrounded by Kannada (state language of Karnataka which Bangalore is capital of) , Tamil (Tamil Nadu), Mayalayam (Kerala), Telugu (Andhra Pradesh), Hindi (official language of India), and English. It is easy to see why a lot of Indians still communicate in English considering the amount of variety in languages.

Isaac also taught us how to say aapko danyavad which means thank you in Hindi and is not in the guide book so aapko danyavad Isaac! 🙂 The ‘d’ is a fun sound to make as you have to make it from the throat as if you were beat boxing a rack tom from a drum kit!

I’ll leave you with a funny story of misunderstanding:

In Thanjavur, I called room service one time for a bottle of water.

Room service: yes hello
Me: hi, can I have a bottle of water please?
Room service: what?
Me: water, room service.
Room service: green salad! Yes.
Me: no, water, bottled water to my room. Room 26
Room service: only tomatoes salad yes.
Me: *puts phone down muttering apologies*