Aug 27, 2009

Y-3 : The mystery of Language

Let me give two disclaimers before commencing this article.
1. In recent times , I am being more attracted to one specific word in English .... .The word is WHY . I dont know why . But as a consequence this Y series is born . Lots of interesting WHYs float in my mind which I find good to share . This is Y3 ........since the previous two articles on my blog are also WHYs. Soon some more to follow.

2. I do not intend to be a chauvinist or a blind linguistic terrorist . At certain areas in this article , I may pose some questions to other languages like Hindi . But not with the slightest intention to ridicule it or to make Tamil look superior. In fact I do not think Tamil is a superior language over Hindi AND VICE VERSA ! Or consider English also for the fact. No language is superior over another for me.

There was this young Tamil speaking fellow who never had the necessity (let aside curiosity) to learn any language apart from Tamil and English. He speaks Tamil at home , Tamil with his friends , English at work and where Tamil does not sell. His friends predominantly knew Tamil or English. Life was smooth.

And time takes him to a far away place where the majority of people speak Hindi and not Tamil - where people find it comfortable to speak to him in Hindi , knowing fully well that he does not understand Hindi ( :-) !) and perfectly aware that thers is a common language English that they both know. He tells them he does not know Hindi . Some kind souls offer to teach him Hindi . Some kinder souls switch to English when they speak to him. Some curious friendly souls offer to teach Hindi and demand to be taught Tamil in return .

These are questions for the other special souls . Is it a sin not to know Hindi in India ? .........
Ok I accept that knowing it helps. But is not knowing it a sin ?

Invariably they flood him with reasons to learn Hindi . ONE : My favourite one too ..... How come you not know our national language ? Shame on you Indian chap !
Should he be ashamed ? Honestly , how many of the Hindi bolo people learnt Hindi because it is the sacred prestrigious rich national language of ours ? ....... Come on , they learnt it because their mother taught them to say MAA and he learnt Tamil because his mother preferred AMMA.
Then has his mother committed a sin ?

TWO : LEARN HINDI BECAUSE IT IS ESSENTIAL TO SURVIVE IN INDIA . Well ..... I will say a Yes and a No. Yes because it is essential to survive in some parts of India . He can not negotiate with a Hindi-speaking auto rickshaw driver in Delhi . And No because the Hindi pundit can not negotiate with an auto driver in Tamil Nadu , or Kerala or Karnataka or Andhra . I am surprised when certain people think the people in southern states find no necessity to speak in Hindi. He was even asked by a curious passerby , "I cant imagine how you people converse in your place without knowing Hindi " ... Which looks funny ?

THREE : HOW CAN YOU NOT WATCH A BOLLYWOOD MOVIE . SHOULDN'T YOU LEARN HINDI ASAP ? The world is improving people . It is exactly for this fact that an invention named 'subtitle' came into place. ( I don't want to stress on this , but in recent time I find a lot of Tamil movies made with real sense of meaning and intellectual thirst compared to Bollywood ..... But it depends on my perception )

FOUR : BETTER LEARN HINDI BECAUSE WE WILL NOT HAVE THE MANNERS TO SPEAK IN ENGLISH ABOUT YOU WHEN YOU ARE AROUND SO THAT YOU DONT FEEL AWKWARD AND LOST. AND WHO KNOWS I MAY SWEAR AT YOU IN HINDI AND YOU SMILE AT ME ... NOT UNDERSTANDING A WORD OF IT. Thank you very much .. I will soon learn Hindi because I do not want to be a pushover . This question is not only specific to Hindi .... Dont the Tamilians do this in Tamil Nadu ? Dont the Kannadigas do this in Kannada ? Dont we all do it ? Let us all be ashamed when we do this and let us all learn the other languages because the others are also like us .

FIVE : FRIEND , I UNDERSTAND BUT WHAT TO DO . WE DO NOT HAVE A COMMON LANGUAGE . SO YOU LEARN MINE . Perfect friend ... we both have a task at hand. Let me learn yours and you learn mine. What is wrong , now we both know one additional language . Don't we ?

Please read disclaimer 2 again . Here I say the Tamil speaking guy only finds such questions funny and lives in perfect harmony with the friends from other places in the new place. He has nothing to complain about them . But the following are not funny issues !

To me a language is a means of communication . Sense of ownership and pride come second. Languages are like religions. Let everyone have their own and live in peace respecting the other's language. Unforunately languages are being exactly like religions today !!! Some Muslims hate Christians . Some Hindus hate Muslims. Some Kannadigas hate Tamils. Some Marathis hate Biharis . Why ?

Where does the superiority concept come in . I have seen a lot of Tamil scholars flaunt proudly that Tamil is the best language in the world . Every language has these bunch of clowns. What does the best language mean to a person who does not understand it ? Every language is equal and demands same respect . It has earned the respect because a group of people felt that it is the best for them to use . A language gains respect from a person who uses it . Not the other way round . A nice axiom in Tamil says , 'Not everyone who grows a beard can be Tagore and not everyone who has a mush become Bharathiyaar'. ??

What is the mother language then ? Shouldn't we proud of it ? Of course , we respect our mothers. But we don't doubt the sanctity of our fellow human being's mother . Do we ?
It is sad and disgusting to see the younger generation grow up not knowing the mother toungues . How many kids in Tamil Nadu can read and write in Tamil comfortably ( leave alone perfectly ) . Does'nt this question extend to every other language , in different proportions of seriousness ?

Is it the reason ? Is that stupid foreign language the culprit ? Absolutely no !!! We are the culprits. We let our mother to rot . ( Lots of young mothers and fathers in Tamil Nadu are chiding their kids when they do not call them mummy or daddy . So they let themselves to rot ? ) Don't call English stupid . It is easy, flexible and has some advantages that other languages do not have . After all we use it for lots of purposes . So like it or not , learn it . Don't call English foreign .... The language, like Sonia Gandhi, has obtained citizenship here . The only problem is that many youngsters are not aware of the concept of dual citizenship and they throw away their native citizenships for English. I have read poems, novels and books in English. I understand them. I find the language as sweet and intellectually rich as Tamil (this comparison is just because Tamil is the only other language that I am proficient enough to read for pleasure ) .

Last question : An Indian speaker ( let him be Tamil, Hindi, Marathi, Bengali or what ever ) gets ridiculed by the educated society when he commits hopeless pronunciation mistakes on other foreign languages and English too . MTI ( Mother Toungue Influence ) is a sin !!! Perfectly reasonable . The educated community wants a foreign language to be spoken as it is by a native speaker . Sign of an educated man !!

But where do they go when Geoffrey Boycott utters Myoothaayaa Myooraleedharan or Haawbjan Singh. Can Sunny Gavaskar make fun of Geoffrey's pronunciation in the commentary box ?

How to use the 'மொழி'ன்னு ஒண்ணு இருக்குல்ல ?!

Aug 12, 2009

Why not an education system like this ?

We all know that something is wrong with this education system, isn't it ? But we go on ..... Why ? We all know something is missing in our life and mostly not to be found in our chosen path . Why ? We were taught to draw fish-bone diagrams by the education system . Is the education system daring enough to allow us to draw a fish-bone diagram on the education system ? Why do we use convenient blindness to tackle these questions. These are subjective in nature ! - Cliche'd excuse. After all that is why these are called subjects, aren't they ?

"Education is what is left in the minds when what that has been learnt is forgotten ", said one of my most admired wise men. I believe in it. If this is education and if education is a process and if any process can be reviewed for its efficiency , what is the efficiency of the educating process . What measures do we use ? Exams test the learning. What tests the education.
Shall we say ,
education = retained learnings / total learnings
The education system believes in improving the denominator of this ratio , hoping that it increases the probability of retention (numerator). Thereby increasing the efficiency. But does it work that way ?

First things first . Is attendance and attentiveness the same ? If not , what is important for education ? The ideal argument is that both are important. But does an ideal engine exist ? Again the assumption is that a 90% attendance results in an increased chance of attentiveness just by giving you more chances to be attentive. One learns when he is attentive - some in class , some when listening to friends , some when poring over the books in solitude, some when sneaking a glimpse at the other person's answer sheet. I accept that attentiveness can not be measured for calculating CGPA. But can it be improved ?

Rational people respond to incentives. When the incentives of coming to a class are traditionally aligned to reach that 90% attendance mark first , what is the percentage of people who choose to 'pay' attention. Why not we re align the incentives ?
Let the attendance registers be kept aside for a week. Let the classes be scheduled as normally. Two rules - and these as the word rules mean are rules -
1. no one shall enter the class after five minutes of commencement and a person who enters during that five minute buffer loses his right to ask any question in the class.
2. If a class has 60 students on roll , the class shall provide seating arrangement for only 40. If the strength exceeds 40 , the 41st person and everyone from then on shall find their own seating resources - floor or literal laptops.

No one is obliged to attend the class for attendance. No one is obliged to attend the class to extract the pre-paid fees. The one who comes in comes in to learn and increase his denominator of education and thus the class shall have a bunch of people with a common denominator.
This system may fail badly. Not one person may turn up. But this system may succeed too . Some classes may have people scrambling for seats. Haven't we seen people fighting for a seat in an unreserved compartment in a train ? Reservation spoils the thrill and at times the purpose . A person may bunk classes for the first week . Negligence can be contagious. But so can be purpose . At some point, people may see the point. And like any plan designed as taught by the education system , why not this plan be tested for results in a pilot scale ? Which institution will take the challenge ?

During my engineering college days , I have felt at times that all it takes to compress the teachings of six months is two or three attentive days , scheduled at my own discretion and choosing my own teacher - may be myself or a friend or a friendly teacher ! If that is possible , why not compress the entire engineering course into eight weeks ? One semester per week .
Not exactly. After all every engineer-to-be is ready tp pay four years for the degree. Let us use the idle time efficiently. Have an exam after that first week . Name it the start-semester exam ! Do not set question papers. Give three hours and unlimited papers to each candidate and allow him to write what he knows . Ask him to prepare an index of answers in the first page. If the person can design questions for the answers , award more marks .
Then start the classes . Let us ue the idle time of five months and three weeks of the semester. Let classes be held as usual - with our attentiveness system and not attendance system - and end-semester exams be held with the traditional question papers and evaluation methods. Let the choice be greater . Let the student answer three out of seven or eight questions. Or if the choice is stringent, give him the book. And again , it shall be either the choice or the book and not both . RULE .
Implement weighted average of marks scored in start-sem and end-sem . My allotment of weights will be 0.6 for the start-sem and 0.4 for the end-sem.
The system may fail. No student may pass or no student may fail . Both are failures . The system may click . The start-sems can help the student decide what importance to be given to a concept and may help him in deciding to attend the classes. Why not try out in a pilot scale ? Which institution shall be willing ? At least to discuss.
We may argue that people may bunk classes thinking that they can learn from their stupidly sincere friend who will teach them on exam-eve. But how long ? There should at least be a few such friends. And the friends may not always be ready to be stupidly sincere. They may work a deal to share the stupidity . If that be, the purpose may be served. After all , people learn better when taught by learned peers and we need not search for evidences.
Will a person who comes out of such a system be employable or at the least educated ? Mass production may take some time to be achieved. But quality of production .......... Will not a person from this sytem be better equipped to tell you what a 'gene' is , than a biotech engineer raised by the old school. As with any other process , will not the efficiency increase as a result of the learning curve ?
When I was a child , I used to create a havoc when mother came to feed me. She chased me with the plate in hand , told me stories and showed me faces to make me eat. But I was adamant . Then one day , she left the plate in my eye-sight and proceeded to carry on with her usual chores. I expected her to beg to me to eat. I invited her to chase me. I cried to grab her attention. And then I took the plate myself and started to eat. Now , I eat with my hands , at my own will , three times a day !!!

Aug 8, 2009

ஜே ஜே : சில குறிப்புகள்

சமீபத்தில் நான் வாசித்த - நிறைய யோசித்த புத்தகம். சு.ரா வே எனக்கு இதன் மூலம் தான் அறிமுகம் ஆகிறார். அறிமுகம் ஆகையிலேயே புத்தகம் முழுக்க ஒரு எழுத்தாளனை அறிமுகம் செய்து வைக்கிறார் ..... அந்த கற்பனை எழுத்தாளன் சு.ரா தான் என்று அழுத்தமாகத் தோன்றுவதால் , தன்னைத்தானே அறிமுகப்படுத்தி ஒரு புத்தகத்தை முன்வைக்கும் வித்தியாசமான அறிமுகம்.

'ஜே ஜே' என்ற தமிழ்ப்படத்தில் ஒரு காதல் ஜோடியைச் சேர்த்து வைக்கும் கதாபாத்திரத்தில் இப்புத்தகம் நடித்துள்ளது. ( படம் பார்க்காதோர் பார்க்கலாம் - நேரமும் டிவிடியும் கிடைத்தால்) இப்பொழுது புத்தகம் வாசித்த பிறகு இது அந்தப் படத்தில் ஆற்றியுள்ள வெட்டி வேலை புரியும் .

ஜோசஃப் ஜேம்ஸ் - சுருக்கமாக ஜே ஜே - மலையாளத்தில் எழுதுபவர். தன் உள்ளொளியைக் காண எழுத்தை ஆண்டவர் என்று சு ரா இவரை அறிமுகப்படுத்துகிறார். நிஜம் தான். எப்பொழுதும் மனதைப் பிறாண்டும் கேள்விகளுக்கு மருந்து போட்டுக் கொண்டே முடிந்து போன ஒரு வாழ்க்கை ஜே ஜேவுடையது.

இந்த உள்ளொளி, சுயம் இவையெல்லாம் தருக்க மேடைகளில் இருந்து தாவிக்குதித்து மனசின் ஆழம் காண ஆரம்பித்துவிட்டால் மூச்சுத் திணறத்தான் செய்கிறது. ஆனால் குழப்பங்கள் என்றும் ஓய்வதேயில்லை. நாம் பழக்கங்களில் வாழ்கிறோம். நல்லவை என்று சொல்லித்தரப்பட்டவையே நல்லவை . கேள்விகள் கேட்கச் சொல்லித்தரப்படவில்லை . ஏன் ?

சில 'நல்லவைகள்' சொல்லித்தரப்படும்போதே 'நல்லவனாய் இராதே' என்றும் அறிவுறுத்தப்படுகின்றன. உண்மையாக வாழ்வதும் அப்படியே. கண் முன்னே ஒருவன் ஒப்பனை பூணுகையில் அவன் முகத்தில் தண்ணீரை விட்டடிப்பவன் தீண்டத்தகாதவன். அவரவர்க்கும் அவரவரின் ஒப்பனைகள் . அவரவரின் முகமூடிகள். முகமூடிகள் அற்றவன் நிராயுதபாணியாகிறான். ஏன் ?

மேன்மையின் பாதைகள் பரிபூரணத்திற்கு இட்டுச் செல்வதாகச் சொல்லித்தரப்படுகிறது. பாதை தெரிகிறது. பயணிக்கிறோம். பயணத்தை முடித்த பரிபூரணன் ஒருவன் கூட இன்னும் முகம் காட்ட வில்லையே . ஏன் ?

பயணிப்போரால் பரிபூரணத்தை அடைய முடியாதென்றும் பிறகு சொல்லித்தரப்படுகிறது. ஏன் ?


'ஏன்?'கள் எக்கச்சக்கம். உள்ளொளி, ஞானம் , சுயம் புரிதல், தேடல் , இவையெல்லாம் எத்தனை 'ஏன்?'களுக்கு விடை காண்கிறோம் அல்லது எத்தனை 'ஏன்?'களை எழுப்புகிறோம் என்பதைப் பொறுத்தவை .


சில பெண்களிடம் மட்டும் கண்ணைப் பார்த்துப் பேச முடியவில்லை . ஏன் ?
(இந்த ஏன்? மேலே பேசியதன் பாதிப்பல்ல . ஒரு முறை வாழ்வில் நடந்த சுவாரசியம் )

ஒரு முறை நண்பர்கள் இந்த ஏனுக்குத்தான் விடை காண முயன்றோம். கண்டவை : 1. குற்ற உணர்வு . 2. காதல்

பெண் என்றல்ல , யாராயிருப்பினும் குற்ற உணர்ச்சி கண்களைப் பார்க்க விடாது. விளக்கங்கள் தேவையில்லை. அனைவரும் குற்றம் புரிந்திருப்போம்.

காதல் கூட ஒரு வகை குற்ற உணர்வாக இருக்கும் போதுதான் இப்படிச் செய்கிறது. 'அடியே ! எனக்கு உன்னைப் பிடித்திருக்கிறது . நான் உன்னைக் காதலிக்கிறேன். ஆனால் இன்னும் சொல்லாமல் சாகிறேனே' என்னும் போதுதான் காதலியின் கண்கள் நிலவின் பின்னால் ஒளிந்துகொள்ளும். கைகூடிய காதல் நான்கு கண்களுக்கும் ஒற்றைக் கனவினைத் தரவல்லது.

ஆக குத்துமதிப்பாக ஒரு ஏனுக்கு விடை கண்டோம்.
(அல்லது அவள் கண்கள் காணச் சகியாதபடிக்குக் கேவலமாக இருக்கலாம் )