International Mother Language Day: Tamil poet Bharathiyar's descendant makes language matter

The beginner’s course will lay the foundation for anyone to write and speak basic Tamil.

Published: 21st February 2022 12:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st February 2022 08:44 AM   |  A+A-

Niranjan Bharathi

Niranjan Bharathi (Photo| Special Arrangement)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: 'Yamarindha mozhigalile Thamizh mozhi pol inidhavadhu engum kanom (Of all the languages that we know, there is none as sweet as Tamil),' said Mahakavi Subramania Bharathiyar, expressing his reverence for Tamil.

A 100 years after the poet’s passing, the same words were quoted by his great-great-grandson Niranjan Bharathi, while reiterating the significance of the language, ahead of International Mother Language Day.

In an hour-long virtual session for Koo (Tamil) app on Sunday, Niranjan touched upon his passion projects, challenges encountered by the classical language, and its relevance in the modern world.

Love for the language

As part of his contribution towards promoting Tamil; Niranjan, along with Santhalakshmi Bharathi, Raja Venkatesan and Latha Ragoth, launched MyTamilGuru on Tamil New Year 2021.

The Tamil teaching portal, through its customisable online courses, promises to take the language to a global audience. "We have three courses - Aanaa Aavannaa (beginners), Karka Kasadara (intermediate), and Thenmadhura Tamizhosai (advanced).  Students from the US, UK, Bahrain, Singapore, Malaysia, India, and even Chennai have enrolled. Anybody above nine years of age is eligible," he details.

The beginner's course will lay the foundation for anyone to write and speak basic Tamil. The intermediate course will enable students to learn the nuances of grammar. The advanced course helps students to understand and appreciate the rich and vast literature.

The course is designed in a way that it covers key areas such as spellings, pronunciations, and the basics. "There's an increasing demand and scope for Tamil in western countries. While we're open to taking up a foreign language course, this ain’t any less. In fact, this is more important," insists the course director.

Paving the way for posterity

Besides being used as a communication tool, Niranjan emphasises the responsibility we all have towards passing on the language for generations to come. "Parents must be an example to their children. A lot of families that move abroad tend to forget their roots and seldom communicate in their native language with their kids. This happens mostly in families from Tamil Nadu. We are not half as connected to our language. We have to let go of our complex and instead embrace it as an identity," he says.

The Tamil Nadu government, for its part, has been doing a tremendous job under the Thamizh Valarchi Matrum Seithi Thurai department towards the development of its official language. "The department has a website called Sorkuvai, on which you can find word corpus, e-magazine, and award announcements. There are awards for people who speak thooya thamizh (pure form)," he says.

"Every year, submissions are accepted under various categories to encourage and recognise scholars. Their e-magazine comprises Tamil terms for words in various fields that are compiled by experts. This way, one can speak the language fluently without using English words. Isn't that a great place to start?" he asks.

Unlike a decade ago, plenty of job opportunities and avenues have opened up for Tamil graduates, highlights Niranjan. "By pursuing graduation or even a PhD in Tamil, you can become a newsreader, voiceover artist, radio jockey, teacher or professor, writer or even run your own YouTube channel. There’s a lot of potential for the language," he suggests.

"For starters, the education system must also engage students thoroughly so they develop a deep passion for the language. Many students and parents refrain from opting for the language to score better in board exams. All these are misconceptions. Our attitude must change to keep the language alive," he adds.

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