Language: November 16th

Nanowrimo word count 594 running total 23924

She is a vulnerable person because of her age and the fact that she lives alone, so I have been visiting my mother once a week. I think I am allowed although we are in a tier 3 area in Scotland. The last time I was with her I asked in Punjabi, ‘Tusi naha liya?’ She looked at me, quizzically. It is difficult as she wears a hearing aid, but still does not always make out my speech. Then switching to the English word for bathing, I said, ‘Tusi shower lai liya?’ Her face lit up with understanding (shower), and she said, ‘Yes!’ Today the same thing happened.
English words are dotted around in her vocabulary. She doesn’t hear the Punjabi equivalents. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is because of how my younger brothers speak to her and how she responds to them as she thinks she’s helping them.
I began speaking English when most people around me spoke either English or Punjabi (not a mixture), so I keep my languages separate. I’ve been told my spoken Punjabi is perfect as if there is an expectation, from my westernised look, that it won’t be. I was talking to a bi-lingual friend who thinks this happens in other families as well. In India, it’s the same. English has become an addition to Hindi and whichever local language has been learned by the speaker. I understand that the French are possessive of their language and want to keep English words out, but it must be more difficult as so many internet and social media terminology is in English.

Note to self, I must not be annoyed when my mother does not understand my Punjabi. She’s a modern mother in her ninth decade.


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