|With a Montenegrin Sheepdog|
An Indian born and educated teenager, representing an American University in a service program designed for an East European nation…Asawari said it did raise a few eyebrows in her months at Novi Sad and Nis and not in a deprecating way. The one word response invariably was, “Interesting!”
But if I were to describe the essence of her tenure in Serbia in one word, it would be ‘communication’. Communication had to be the engine, the driver and the maintainer of her Serbian experience. To convey, convince and cajole in an alien language would have taken some heart. Surrounded by a new family that did not speak English, Asawari would have been forced to draw upon non-verbal resources such as her body language, facial expressions and gestures until she acquired a reasonable degree of comfort with the Serbian language.
More than anything else, this time away from familiar surroundings taught her the value of language and how it is the feeder of the human engine of prosperity and development. In an enviable position at the end of a year in a strange land, to be able to compare several international languages, there is a new found appreciation for what she calls the ‘density’ and ‘richness’ of the English language. The mode of verbal communication has to have appropriate and enough words to voice complex and sophisticated thoughts. A reduced language equals a reduced existence, in other words.
So then, how does one preserve and build upon the potency of a language? What steps do you take to keep a language from sliding into the lazy morass of an exclusive onomatopoeia? “Duh..uh..ah…wo…!” The single word answer again is, “Effort”. It takes effort to note down unfamiliar words, follow up on their usage and meaning and crown it all off with actually putting the words to use. A vibrant language is the symptom of a flourishing culture and civilization. You take away their language from a people and you have a community of babblers lost without a compass.
Lesson one, Serbia.
Note: All pics in Montenegro