What’s Correct? Who’s Correct? Who Decides?

I’m just back from a trip to India, which is always a soul-stirring, mind boggling kind of experience. I always return filled with questions, and certain of only one thing–how very little I know about anything that really matters.

In the realm of raising questions that matter, consider this film by student filmmakers Ankita Bhatkhande, Dinesh Kumar Mahapatra, Eleanor Almeida, Jamminlian Vualnam, and Shuaib Shafi. Students, I’m proud to say, of my school friend from the last century, Anjali Monteiro and her partner K.P. Jayasankar. Antar Bhaasha means “inner language.”

The language in question is Marathi but the class and caste divides brought to light in this film exist in many Indian languages. Class and regional differences exist, as we all know, in North America as well. Ask any indigenous person whose parents or grandparents endured a boarding school education. Ask someone from Appalachia about the assumptions commonly made regarding that region’s version of standard American English.

The movie raises all kinds of questions about correctness and privilege. In the end, the children’s voices mash together in a poignant call. What do we do to young minds when we tell them that the language they use is not worth speaking?

2 thoughts on “What’s Correct? Who’s Correct? Who Decides?

  1. As a child, I spoke English, but when I got into school, there were children who did not speak English. It was a very intriguing experience for me. When I heard the teacher tell them to “speak English”, I asked “Why don’t we learn to speak their language?” I was told “we all must learn to speak the language that is used in business so we can get a job when we get old enough.” and then I was told to stop asking questions, but at least the teacher gave an answer we could all understand and consider logical AND it was an answer that did not have prejudice as a basis.
    Joan Earnshaw

  2. I think that everyone understands the notion of learning a language in order to survive in the workplace, the marketplace, etc. Dialects of a language and the idea that some are superior to others–that’s a whole different story

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