Books, Current Events, Learning, Reviews

Mother Language, Misplaced Words, Missing Languages

Yet another 3Rs post, where I reuse, recycle, repurpose an old forgotten post; I searched my archives, dusted this one out and realized it is perfect for the International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated on February 21st annually.

What is Mother Language?

The term “mother tongue” or “mother language” refers to a person’s native language, that is, a language learned from birth. It is of course termed so because of the reasoning that this first language is what one learns from one’s mother. Other terms used are first language and dominant language, the language one speaks or understands best.

So what is your mother language? Your dominant language? Do you speak multiple languages? Do let me know.

In my case, the language I learned first was Tamil. We speak Tamil at home, and with family. Tamil is the official language of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. But given that I grew up in a different southern Indian state whose official language was different, and given the school I studied at, the languages I learned at school (to read, write, and speak) were English, Hindi, and Kannada. I finally attempted to read and write my mother tongue Tamil while in high school, but college and life put a hold on it. Today, I can manage to read (and less efficiently, write) at the pace of the very beginning learner; and I recently started attempting to read and write Tamil again.

And while I might be most proficient (read, write, and speak) in English if I compare the four languages I do know, I still consider Tamil to be my mother tongue. The definite emotional attachment I have to the language makes it so.

The Books

My book reviews are “as is” from the original posting over a decade ago, when the posts I published were never announced to the world, other than me hitting a publish button. So I am working on that now for some of the posts. Some require more edits and rework, while others, like this one, include additional sections (like this section and the one above as examples) along with minimal formatting edits.

While these books were read a long time ago, I do believe they are as relevant today as they were then, and worth a read.

This post contains affiliate links, that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support. Please see the full disclosure for more information. I only recommend products I definitely would (or have already) use myself.

Chitchat: Celebrating the World’s Languages

Misplaced Words, Missing Languages

Chitchat: Celebrating the World’s Languages /Jude Isabella/ Kids Can Press Pub Date   Sep 1 2013

This book is a treasure-trove of information.  It contains wonderful nuggets of information presented just right – each chapter is the perfect length and includes interesting facts highlighted which will prompt kids to continue reading.  

Whether you want to learn about how and why language evolved only in
humans or new, old, made-up,  written, unwritten, unspoken dying languages, this book has got it all! Of course, you have heard that being multilingual makes one smarter but did you know that the cries of newborns sound different depending on the language their mothers spoke? Or that a netymologist is one who uses the internet to track the origin of words and phrases?

Read this book and you will learn this and a whole lot more. My little girl found the illustrations funny, the facts wonderful while my son thought the illustrations were somewhat cool, and he loved the book. This is a book for everyone who loves language, an ideal gift for the teacher, the student, the reader, the writer, well, you get it, just about everyone.

Rating: A Reread Level: 5/5 Reading Level:  10+

Don’t Dangle your Participle  

Misplaced Words, Missing Languages

Don’t Dangle your Participle   Vanita Oelschlager
Vanita Books
Pub Date   May 1 2014  

Teaching young kids using funny examples that are accompanied by comical illustrations – that is what this book accomplishes. I think I am  dangling my participle here! 🙂

This book uses illustrations and short, simple sentences to teach the proper use of participles. It shows how the misplaced participle can create confusion using the fun and silly examples in the book. Young children
will enjoy the book from start to finish. This will also prompt them to come up with similar sentences themselves.  

Rating: B+ Reading Level: 6-10 years Reread Level: 4/5

Additional Notes

Reading these two books around the same time showed me how important
word placement is in two different ways. Different languages use different word placement/word order rules and following these rules incorrectly or following the rules of one language in another can cause chaotic results. 

Disclaimer: Thanks to NetGalley for providing the ecopy of these books for review. These are my honest opinions of the books.

Other Reads

What About Missing Languages?

You might be wondering about why the title includes ‘missing languages.’ I almost wondered as well, since this is a repurposed post 🙂

I did add the word Mother Language to the title now. But I realized that the book Chitchat also talks about disappearing languages (and even some that have disappeared, or gone missing).

One of the reasons behind the creation of the International Mother Language Day is “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. Learn more about this here.

Did you know that a language disappears (or dies) every two weeks? That is certainly sad, and I believe that each of us should play our part in preserving the rich multilingual heritage of our world. Here is one National Geographic article that talks about an effort to do so. I loved reading it, and so will you.

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Mother Language, Misplaced Words, Missing Languages
Mother Language, Misplaced Words, Missing Languages

And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, have you read these featured books? Or books specific to the mother language? Or books in your mother language? Do let me know.

28 thoughts on “Mother Language, Misplaced Words, Missing Languages

  1. This was an interesting blog to learn about all your languages and especially your mother tongue language. I’m not sure if that’s the same as Italian, my husband’s roots, but while the language is all Italian, different parts of the country have different ways of pronouncing words. If from Naples, it’s different from Sicily. Rich speaks Italian quite well but we don’t use it daily. He taught Alexandra some and now teaching Lia.

  2. My mother language would be a Creole of Southern argot and a slow drawl, and I worked for years to remove it from my speech as it sounds ignorant. I am so envious of multi-lingual speakers such as yourself, I struggle with using the basics of English.

  3. You know, Vidya, although it makes sense, I never thought about languages disappearing. What a pity!

    In terms of the two books, I have heard about and mean to read “Don’t Dangle Your Participle.” As a language enthusiast, I’m sure I will enjoy it. Thanks for reminding me of my intention to read it.

    1. I am often reminded of my intentions to do things through other’s posts as well!!!:)
      And yes, it is sad about languages that are becoming extinct because no one speaks it anymore.. While languages do evolve and change, it will be nice to preserve what exists today simply because…

  4. I grew up speaking English and at one point was very proficient in Spanish, but now I’m conversational and can read children’s books in it. I live among the largest Sri Lankan community in the US currently so I do hear a lot of Tamil, but I don’t know any unfortunately.

    1. that is so cool to know that one of the largest Sri Lankan community is in NY.. and yes, of course, Tamil is an official language in that island nation too..
      My Tamil expertise is similar to your Spanish..

  5. I love this post and have made a note of the books. My mother tongue is English by I’ve lived half my life in Italy and I’m bilingual Italian. I love languages and studied French, some German, and now I’m trying to learn some Spanish.

  6. Oh how I wish I could speak something other than just English. My kids are in a dual language program at school. 80% of their day is taught in Spanish. It’s pretty incredible.

  7. Beautiful post, how I wish I can speak other languages aside from English.
    But I am happy that today I found an app that helps me learn and speak other languages like Spanish and Portuguese.

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