Imagine living in a world devoid of the many alphabets and symbols that make up your mother tongue. A world where a,b,c or the Hindi varnmala cease to exist and one syllabic sound replaces the loaded words of our rich vocabulary. Yeah, it would be like the times of our most dated ancestors, who got through life one sign language at a time.
Now that doesn't sound like much, does it? There is so much to be said, discussed and communicated on a daily basis, that spending our days pointing at stuff and making sounds in the hopes that the other person would magically read our thoughts, would hardly help to get things done.
A language might not be the basic necessity of life, but it is something that was once feared even by the Gods, if the story of the Tower of Babel in the Book of Genesis is to be believed.
No wonder it is said to be the greatest boon known to mankind, as every community on the face of this earth marvels and prides itself on the language it uses to communicate with its peers and get things done in life!
And things were going exactly according to plan, until the English-speaking 'whites' came wielding the ropes of colonisation. Suddenly, English gained prominence and people were forced to learn, use and adapt it, for the benefit of the colonisers. Today, colonisers might have left, but the white man's burden has found a new home in the minds of the people living in these former colonies. Like they say, “angrez chale gaye, angrezi chhor gaye”.
A recent proof of this hangover was witnessed on the global platform of Miss Universe pageant this year. A few days ago, Miss USA made certain comments about two fellow contestants' English-speaking capabilities in a live Instagram video.View this post on Instagram
Regina George, is that you? This is basically like the most dramatic reality show, but condensed into 1 minute lol. @sarahrosesummers hopefully will prove that ignorance will not win you a @missuniverse title...whatever that means these days. This is basically what normalized xenophobia looks like. If she's trying to show empathy, the condescending, intolerant tone tells a different story. A reminder that you're participating in a competition in a country/continent where English is NOT the primary language. Cc: @francesca.hung @valeriamoralesd @rern_sinat (Miss Cambodia) • #sarahrosesummers #rernsinat #valeriamorales #francescahung #missuniverse2018 #missuniverse #missworld #missusa #missaustralia #misscolombia #beautyqueen #beautypageant #pageant #pageantlife #missamerica #wiwt #ootd #realityshow #meangirls #reginageorge #gossip #catty #lol #wtf #dietprada
A post shared by Diet Prada ™ (@diet_prada) on Dec 12, 2018 at 8:39pm PST
In it, Sarah Rose Summers was seen commenting on Miss Vietnam and Miss Cambodia's lack of spoken English skills, and said things such as “ (Miss Vietnam is) so cute and she pretends to know so much English and then you ask her a question after having a whole conversation with her and she (nods and smiles).”
The video, which also featured Miss Colombia and Miss Australia, did not go down well with the audience who dissed the participants and called their comments “condescending” and “xenophobic”. Post the virtual uproar over the matter, Summers took to Instagram to make her position clear and apologised for having hurt people's feelings 'unintentionally'.View this post on Instagram
@MissUniverse is an opportunity for women from around the world to learn about each other's cultures, life experiences, and views. We all come from different backgrounds and can grow alongside one another. In a moment where I intended to admire the courage of a few of my sisters, I said something that I now realize can be perceived as not respectful, and I apologize. My life, friendships, and career revolve around me being a compassionate and empathetic woman. I would never intend to hurt another. I am grateful for opportunities to speak with Nat, Miss Cambodia, and H'Hen, Miss Vietnam, directly about this experience. These are the moments that matter most to me.
A post shared by Sarah Rose Summers (@sarahrosesummers) on Dec 13, 2018 at 9:41am PST
Though Miss Vietnam and Miss Cambodia have come in support of Summers stating that she didn't mean any harm by her comments, many are looking at the incident as an underlying leftover of the white supremacy, which extends beyond the colour of one's skin.
Language was developed for the purpose of communication, but incidents such as this one remind us of the superiority that the English language has come to enjoy over the years. Why even look at the West when we have ample amount of incidents to quote here in India?
Before we go around bashing and shaming the Miss Universe contestants in question, can we please take a moment to consider the number of times we have judged another person for their inefficiency to converse in fluent English, or for having a desi accent to it when they speak?
Before we point fingers, let us remember the number of times we have witnessed a person's calibre being judged on the basis of how “English” his/her persona is, how “polished” their manners are and how confidently they make their way around a discussion/presentation given in English.
@MissUniverse i wonder if you will still allow Miss USA, Columbia, and Australia to continue in the competition after their racist/ bigoted remarks toward fellow contestant Miss Cambodia. I can't believe these ladies will be repersenting their countries!— Damien D.L. Johnson (@Il_Malandrino) December 13, 2018
This incident is a gentle reminder and a prime example of how not to treat those who may not be very great/confident with the English language. Because English is just another language like the 1621 languages spoken in India or the 6500 languages spoken around the world. So, let us not treat the non-English speakers with contempt, for not knowing the colonizer's language or holding on to their own.
English isn't the superior language of the lot, so let's not try to turn it into one. Not being well-versed in English shouldn't turn anyone into a laughing stock. It should be as normal as saying one prefers to have coffee over tea or vice versa. Don't you agree?