Bilingual Baby

This definitely doesn’t happen in most countries. Thanks to the cultural and linguistic vastness of India 🙂

Bilingual Baby

By birth, I belong to the state of Andhra Pradesh which in turn is being split into Telengana and Seemandhra (God Forbid!). By upbringing, I think I belong to Delhi. But then again, I’ve had my turbulent teens in ‘aamchi’ Mumbai. Dad’s transferable job was FUN!

By Birth, my husband belongs to the state of Maharashtra from Vidharbha region migrated to Mumbai.

In Andhra, it is still sets tongues wagging when a Reddy or a Naidu girl marries a Brahmin boy or vice versa. It’s downright scandalous to do so. So, me marrying a Maharashtrian is stuff that gossip miller’s heaven is made up off. 😀

Well anyway this isn’t about me! After all it’s a ‘Parentous’ blog!

My Daughter is born in Telengana. So first, by birth she is a ‘Telengana Powri’. Then she is a Marathi mulgi and somewhere from me she is an ‘Andhra Aadapoduchu’. I dare also add she is some 0.1% ‘dilli ki kudi’ too.

Mummy, Baba, Ammama, Thatha, Aaji and Ajoba. When the 2-year-old manages all these words in different languages with finesse, I am surprised. I was a worried pregnant mother, always thinking about the whole multicultural soup that my baby is going to be born in.

What is her mother tongue? Is a question we got stuck at in her preschool admission form.

I want to answer it as “Telugu” as I am her mother and my tongue is pink and undiluted Telugu. Does her father understand her? Not when she talks Telugu as his mother tongue is Marathi. Should I put it as Telugu/Marathi? One language please is the stern answer. Maybe I should put “English” which is her primary language of communication.

This minor confusion is what is going to be my kid’s life because her parents had 5 years ago got married indifferent to language or cultural barriers.

Yup that’s the dilemma her own parents put her in …  She has to master three languages – Telugu, Marathi and English. Secretly, she has to learn the language they use between them – Hindi (so that she can hear some secrets ..: D). She tried her own baby language on us but sigh! Her parents aren’t after all as smart as her! (As babies all over the world understand at some point) So she has started to communicate in the worldly languages.

To add to the madness, we named her ‘Vevina’ which is of Gaelic origin! Talk about Identity Crisis. 🙂 At least she has parents of same religion. Not that it would have mattered to them.

While some might see chaos at work here but I see opportunity for her.

  • She automatically picks up 4 languages (Marathi, Telugu, Hindi and English). She may not need the Idea help after all
  • She gets the best of all cultures and best of sweets on all the additional festivals 😉
  • She has aaji, ajoba and ammama-thatha (no confusion there :D).
  • She is a local for all sorts of exams in Andhra and Maharashtra.
  • Not many can boost of having both a mother-tongue and a father-tongue 😉
  • She can for a change call herself an Indian rather than from a particular state. (Slight Patriotism!)

The main worry amongst well-wishers is the bombardment of languages on the little mind. I got many people suggesting that we stick to one language while talking to her. I always asked back politely, ‘Which language should that be?’

We decided to bring the full party onto her. She gets all the languages as they come naturally by people around her. She picks up words from each language and uses them. I respond to her in which ever language she talks in with Telugu or English. Similarly, her father responds back in Marathi or English. She has specific words that she knows in all 4 languages and she translates them to people if required. That is my multi-lingual baby and I am proud of her!

An erstwhile Quality Analyst, Sirisha Achanta, is now a full time mommy to an adorable 2 year old girl and a part time writer. 🙂  She loves to dance, dream and read a lot! 

  • Hi Sirisha: I think it will prove to be blessing for her to know many languages in long run. I still struggle with any language besides Hindi…….Also this is good for building a multicultural India.

    • Yes We are doing it for the betterment of the country 😀 Jai Hind!

  • I agree with desi Traveler, eventually you would realize it is a huge blessing for Vevina (love the name).

    • thank you 🙂

    • Yep I think so too .. I obviously love the name too 😀 Thank you.

  • Truly a different name! And it certainly is an opportunity. When we look from our perspective, it looks like a confusion, but kids will take to it naturally 🙂

    • Thanks for liking the name. It took me ages to like a name for the girl.

  • Roshni

    it’s really cool to learn different languages! my boys are brought up on English, Hindi and Telugu…..then they went to school and refused to speak in anything other than English! Hindi is now being reintroduced in the form of private lessons! 🙂

    • That is one perk of being from a country of many languages 🙂

  • hi sirisha, Thanks for writing about this. Our family is in exactly the same soup. As a Goan Catholic married to a Maharashtrian Hindu, my 4-y-o daughter speaks fluent English, Marathi and Hindi, with a few Konkani and Spanish words thrown in. I heard somewhere that up to the age of 5 years, a child can master any number of languages they may be exposed to. These kids sure are lucky.