Growing up in Kenya, it was interesting to see the reaction when people
found out that English was my first language. Some folks thought that it
was rather sad not to have a "mother tongue", because the mother tongue
is what gives you identity, and defined what "home" means. "I speak
English with you, but when I am home, I speak Kipsigis." To know only
English is to not have any heart language - you have to speak work-talk
and market-talk when you are with your loved ones. How impersonal.
It is deeply sad, I think, when parents don't teach their children their
mother tongue. It may seem unnecessary, and even impractical to them.
However, when a culture is lost, there's no way to regain it. And when a
language is extinct, there's no way to bring it back.
By telling the world that they have to know English to succeed, we've
killed many languages, and cultures, and changed others irretrievably.
It's very sad. And when I hear people refer to their own language, and
culture, disparagingly, that's very sad also. And, I find it sad that I
lost my distinct culture and language 6 or 8 generations ago. I would
love to speak Welsh, and know all about the Clan Bowen, but, alas, we
know almost nothing about the clan, and don't speak the language.