Monday, August 3, 2009

Being Telugu

It has been my endeavor for many months now to speak fluent Telugu. I have this fascination for all things Telugu - movies, songs, radio programs and what not. I am trying really hard to learn the nuances of the language. I try to converse with my colleagues and friends in Telugu and scrap in Telugu using the English alphabet on Orkut.

My success is limited. One thing which I need to get the hang of is the "sandhis"; Telugu makes wide use of them. Native Telugu speakers probably don't even realize the abundance of "sandhis" in their language. "Sandhi" is the joining of two or more words to make them sound like one word. To give an example from a recent Telugu song: "Preme ledhannaadee Mallanna". Now the second word is actually three words joined together.

"Ledhaa" + "Annaadaa" + "Ee" = "Ledhannaadee"

which basically means No + said + this. The whole line means "This Mallanna said there is no love"!

These "sandhis" add a whole new level of complication to newbies like me. When I hear a word, I first need to figure out if it is really one word or more words "sandhi"-ized!

To learn any new language we really need to first figure out the rules of grammar with examples and then learn the vocabulary. Vocabulary of any language can be like an ocean with literally thousands of words. But once you know the grammar, the vocabulary can be picked up slowly.

I am probably about 25% there with the grammar.

An important part of my quest to be a Telugu thoroughbred is Telugu films. I have meticulously got myself acquainted with Telugu filmdom - actors, their sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons; that's the way it is in Tollywood, you have entire families working in films. I hear (and now thoroughly enjoy) Telugu music. I can even identify many of the songs as soon as they start.

I naturally try to show off my knowledge about Telugu films and music. For example, the other day a colleague started playing the title track of Oy. I immediately started singing along. What a proud moment! Everyone around me was mighty impressed. I beamed with pride!

I've had my share of embarrassment too. The other day, I mentioned to one of my colleagues, "I am really dying to see Magadheera! Ram Charan Tej has done a phenomenal job, it seems." My colleague nodded and added, "I am more eager to see how well Rajamouli has done."

I shot back, "Yeah! She looks really hot in the banners."

Everyone around me burst out laughing. As it turns out, Rajamouli is the (male) director of the film. I thought that was the actress' name!!

But I am undeterred. I don't give up so easily, you know!

8 comments:

B said...

Kudos to you. My respect for you has increased much more when I see your interest the language of the state.

I am not that fanatic about Telugu etc...but I always think it is a pity that folks who live all their lives in AP do not even know how to speak Telugu. Note that I mention that its a 'pity'...not a sacrilege.

Thrinath J Chakravarthy said...

Wow kamal!U got to know the internals of telugu now n dats really gr8!!

Its not about any one in particular, but the people of hyderabad has to learn telugu.Indeed, they are living in this TELUGU desam since years and donno how to talk telugu or even understand it!! I have a one gud(actually bad) reason to write this out.

Recently when i had been for shopping(for my sis's marriage) to some charminar area i faced an embarassing situation. While bargaining over price(coversation happened in hindi only, n my hindi is not very gud!ofcoz!!), i happened to use some telugu words accidentally. The storevalla was seeing me upside-down giving what-are-you-doing-here-without-knowing-hindi looks!! I felt "Dude! i have to put this question, you living in hyderabad n running a store at charminar, having lot of telugu customers(infact telugu customers will be more than non-telugu customers), its ur business to learn telugu to do ur business well"

So, i feel, Jis desh mein rahthey hon, wahan ki basha samajna bahut jaroori hain!!(did i write it well ;))

s said...

@thrinath
haha thrinath its just a stunt the shopkeepers use. to stop u from bringing down the price.

kartikthum said...

@Thrinath - It's Urdu you are talking about my friend, and to be fair, you should have learnt that too! ;)

Kamal Shah said...

Thanks Bhanu for your comment!

Yes, Thrinath, I agree with you that everyone living here should know Telugu. The problem is in Hyderabad, one can get away without knowing Telugu (unlike say in Chennai) because most people can speak Hindi/Urdu. In Chennai, you cannot survive without learning Tamil.

My quest to learn Telugu is not out of a compulsion because I am staying here however. It is purely the love of the language and the associated culture.

Suresh said...

kudos kamal. long back i can remember the word(bad word) you used without knowing the meaning. hope u can understand those meanings now ;)

Kamal Shah said...

Not yet Suresh, I haven't gone that deep yet!

Dr.Hariharan Ramamurthy said...

dont be afraid to be embarassed.there will always be people who will make fun of your accent for whatever reason in a multilingual country for that matted My english is made fun of by the texans while i could easily make fun of their texas drawl .
when I came to hyderabad from warangal people would make fun of my hindustani
when i was in delhi my hyderabad language ( they wouldnt call it hindustani/hindi/urdu0 was made fun of after 3 years in delhi I come back to hyderabd and my so called Shuddh hindi was made fun of by my collegues who never left hyderabad .
I am a tamilian by ancestry but can hardly speak my 'mothertongue " Tamil .
where as 1 year in Iran I was more conversant in Farsi because quite a it of hyderabdi has farsi ;-)
only way is to force oneself to converse in the language .

in telugu there is a saying

"tinaga tinaga vEmu tiyyanunDu"
I am not translating it for a reason .