February 21, 2014

Writing in the Mother tongue

Dear M,

Why is everyone reluctant to write in the mother tongue? Well - not everyone, many people do write spectacular pieces in their language. But there are some, torn between English and the mother tongue, (wasting time) wondering which one to choose. The regional language has a limited audience, I was told. Probably true to some extent. In this age of publicising books through the Internet, a global language might be a better choice.

But again, aren't we looking at the wrong thing here? I tell this person to stop thinking about the audience. What do you like to write in, which language are you confident in? Specifically, when you think about writing, or when you scribble unconsciously in your notebook, how do the words come out?

Because if you think in English and try to translate to the mother tongue, it could come out wrong. If you think in the mother tongue and try to translate to English, it could come out wrong. A lot of things depend on how it emerges at the first attempt - though we can edit and polish it, if the first output is robust enough, it is easier to work on, later.

Some people are proficient in both (or many) languages. They have the luxury of choosing the language they want to write in. All of us may not be manufactured so.

I don't know. For some, the best thoughts are presented well in the mother tongue, that's what I think. And I also don't agree with a person choosing English just for the audience, because if the writing isn't good, there will be no audience.


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