21st February is International Mother Language Day and Pratham Books blog hosted a celebration of languages. A series of blog posts by people from different walks of life – sharing their thoughts on languages, memories and more. International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.  Here is my contribution.  

Malayalam is my mother tongue and I consider myself almost fluent in it. Unlike the generation today in Kerala, where Malayalam is mixed with English and called as Manglish, I can speak better. All thanks to the two and half months we stayed in Kerala during every summer vacation. I even taught myself to read Malayalam with some help from aunts and cousins. I was proud of my language skills till I got married almost 19 years ago to my husband from Central Kerala, Kottayam.

Little did I know how ignorant I was about Kerala.  Read more here.
If you liked it and have similar experiences,  share with me in the comments section,  over a cup of kaapi, of course.

22 thoughts on “Thiruvananthpuram-kari

  1. Haha! I had read this out loud to my husband cos’ he is from TVM and I am a proud Kottayam kaari. Now, you know what would’ve happened here. 😀 😀 Loved it, Lata.

  2. I am Thiruvanathapuram- kari myself and I can’t agree with you more. As soon as people hear me talk, they jump at it and declare that I am from Trivandrum. The post was a laugh riot and I am glad that I came across you, another fellow, Trivandrum ite 🙂

  3. I think we’re all in the same boat there – despite the fact that Malayalam is also my mother tongue, I still struggle with reading it sometimes. Of course, the dialect part helped me because I’ve travelled all over Kerala – don’t ask – have family all over, and I always find it entertaining to pick up some of the nuances.
    the ‘Appi’ one is a classic though.

    1. Haha..don’t even get me started on the ‘Appi’. It is my husband’s favourite joke when visiting my family. I have always been Kollam-Varkala centred. Even between them, there are different ways of speaking, different words. Someone should document all these before we all speak only one language and become boring.

  4. What a fun post Lata. Tried commenting there but couldn’t. The beauty of India is those many dialects. While languages are limited, dialect varies every 20 Kms. Papa used to tell me when I was a kid.
    I come from Azamgarh where the Hindi has a touch of Urdu and then we talk with a lot of respect. ‘Lata, aap kaisi hain?’ When I moved to NCR for engineering the Hindi there was very disrespectful by my standards. The would say, ‘Tu Kha le’ or Lata, kaisi hai tu?’ A lot of people changed but I couldn’t. I moved from Hum to Main for first person but beyond that I stayed with my dialect. I think it’s okay so stay true to what we prefer.

  5. Even though I have no inkling of Malayalam your post was hilarious. I had no idea that within a language, dialects can make such a huge difference. And that’s quite silly because in my state UP, East and West are almost different languages – my grandparents spoke Awadhi, which I understand and love. My husband’s side is from east UP and they speak Bhojpuri which I cannot get used to because I associate with raunchy films :-). I know that’s silly but that’s it. In Lucknow we speak Hindustani – a unique mix of Hindi and Urdu. Amazing how languages evolve and change from region to region.

    1. Hehe, all languages have various dialects. In Mumbai, you can find a good mix of accents and even cuisines. But, they do lead to hilarious situations. Thanks Tulika.

  6. I think we all are same when it comes to our own mother tongue. I can speak and write very good Hindi but my kids speak Hinglish. Hindi+english. Again it depends where you stay as the place makes a lot of difference too.

  7. Just the way, it’s ‘Hinglish’ for Hindi and English mixed. I speak Hindi quite well (being my mother tongue) but if you talk about shuddhh hindi, I’m ain’t that good at it. But when I was in Pune for 2 years, people there literally praised my Hindi speaking skills and were sure that I hail from the North!


    1. To the Hindi dialects, you can also add our Mumbai Hindi dialect which is a mix of Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati. In fact, we do not even realise if we are using a Marathi or Gujarati word. It is only when we encounter the Northies that we feel humbled.

    1. Even I can read Malayalam but writing it is a whole different business. I need to practice it a bit more. Thanks for being here.

  8. Hehe. Have suffered so much for these kind of twists. My Malayalam is definitely not up to the mark so I’ve struggled at times. But especially when a North Kerala with South Kerala conversation, the slang really confuses both parties.

    1. Thanks Roshan. Imagine going through this every day as the husband has studied in Kerala and Malayalam is impeccable.

  9. I enjoyed reading your post on Pratham’s blog. It is strange that the same language is spoken in so many dialects in one particular state and what a fuss can it create. I am in agreement with you in sticking with one’s own dialect rather than trying to adapt another’s because it is about our identity. My roots are in UP and there too with every 50 kms, the dialect and accent changes.

    1. Not only the language, the food and customs also change every 50km. Thanks Anamika. It would be fun to read your take on this.

  10. Haha, I read the post on the Pratham books blog, and it reminded me of my days in college. I have a distinct Kannur accent in spite of having been brought up outside Kerala, which became even more “distinctive” (you could say) as I tried to assert my Kannur-ness while in Ernakulam (which is where my college was). There were people from all the districts in our hostel, and I remember, wars would break out about the particular name for a particular thing as each person claimed their word was the correct one. One I remember was when I said my favourite flower was frangipani, which is called paalapoov in Kannur, chembakam in some other place and kumkuma-something somewhere else. That was one loud fight!

    1. Ah Kannur accent and words are totally different from my part of Kerala. We have some distant family there and we cannot follow at all what the children speak. But it is fun to find the differences.

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