Mana Sanskriti (Our Culture)

To subscribe to this free monthly electronic journal write to:

Chief Editor: Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, PhD, LLM

Issue 78 (Special)

5106 Kali Era , taarana Year,  Ashadha month
1926 Salivahana Era
taarana Year, Ashadha month
2062 Vikramarka Era, 
taarana Year, Ashadha month
 2004 AD, July

Benefits of Bilingualism

Babies arrive into this world as world-citizens, ready to adapt the language of their parents.  Whatever language babies hear becomes a permanent part of their life.  Learning language begins surprisingly very early, even when the baby is in the womb. At around 6 months they start to identify the special sounds of their mother tongue.  Babies are like little birdies gobbling up language from their parents.  If parents belong to two different nationalities and speak their respective languages at home with their babies, then the babies will become bilingual because of their need to understand both parents. In this aspect Indians have a distinct advantage even if the parents belong to the same nationality and live in their native states in the Indian Union.  They speak the official language of the state, English - the international language and the official language of the Indian Union - and also Hindi if you are a Telugu living in Andhra Pradesh. (However, if you are a Hindi or Muslim in Andhra Pradesh, you don't have to learn the state language - Telugu or Tenglish).

Most will agree that two heads are better than one in solving problems. The same relationship may be true for language and retaining cognitive processes as we age. Being fluent in two languages seems to prevent some of the cognitive decline seen in same-age monolingual speaking persons, according to the findings of a study appeared in June in the Journal of Psychology and Aging. It is established that learned knowledge and habitual procedures (crystallized intelligence) hold up well as people age, but abilities that depend on keeping one's attention on a task (fluid intelligence) actually decline as people get older. All the bilinguals in this study used their two languages everyday. The authors conclude that bilingualism offers widespread benefits across a range of complex cognitive tasks.

However, speakers of Tenglish (a mixture of Telugu and English in the state of Andhra Pradesh in the Indian Union), for example, may not avail these benefits, as they don't speak two different languages without mixing them up.  Unfortunately, these so-called educated Tenglish speakers lack fluid intelligence that enables using two distinct languages and hence, for all practical purposes, they are monolingual. The tests of people who grew up speaking English and either Tamil or French suggested that having to juggle two distinct languages keeps the brain elastic and may help prevent some of the mental slowing caused by age. The difference was that these bilinguals grew up with either French or Tamil spoken at home and English outside. They all spoke both languages every day from childhood without mixing them up.

Bilingualism is not a facility or a talent, but it is a result of being forced to function in two distinct languages having different vocabularies from a young age, when it is nothing but a play for a child. Both French and Tamil speakers have a very healthy respect for their languages and nationalities and accordingly their languages remain unadulterated by English numbers, day-to-day words like mother, father, sister, brother, plate, cup, food, lunch, dinner, weekdays, morning, evening, night, latrine, bathroom, bed, hello etc.  Whereas Tenglish speakers substitute such English words for everyday vocabulary, erasing any benefits of differences between Telugu and English.  As the saying goes, "no pain, no gain," to be a real bilingual is a lot of hard work for parents, especially mothers, but fun for the babies.  And the benefits include keeping the cognitive abilities in the old age, in addition to the ability to speak two or more distinct languages for whatever worth it may be in this expanding English speaking modern global village.


Copyright ©1998-2004
Vepachedu Educational Foundation, Inc
Copyright Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., 2004.  All rights reserved.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for special medical conditions or any specific health issues or starting a new fitness regimen. Please read disclaimer.


The Foundation
The Andhra Journal of Industrial News
The Telangana Science Journal
Mana Sanskriti (Our Culture) Journal
Disclaimer Solicitaion