Saturday, April 3, 2010

In Your Vernacular

What person doesn’t love his native language? Maybe Americans don’t really think about it because more often than not, they only know one language.

I remember when I lived in England, working with OM, there was only one guy from France on the team that worked in the book distribution warehouse. One time I caught him in the aisles of the store room talking out loud in French. Being the bold American, I asked, “What are you doing?” He flipped over to English saying, “I like to hear my language.”

I was recently thinking about how some of the Kikuyus and Kambas I know love their mother tongue so much. They are so proud to speak it. And some that I know who grew up abroad didn’t learn it growing up. Some came to it late and some just don’t know it well.

I think of this as I type because I’m listening to the kids from my complex playing outside. They are all Kenyan, and they almost always play in English. Yes, maybe they come from several different tribes, but you would think their recreational language would at least be Swahili. It’s not.

It makes me wonder what language their parents speak in the home. I wonder if they will one day wish they knew their mother’s tongue.

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