Search for my Tongue Learning Objectives • Consider the importance of culture and language • Understand Sujata Bhatt’s view of language and culture • Discuss the way these views are presented Slide 7 contains link to video on BBC Bitesize What are your views on the following statements? Discuss with a partner. • I don’t like it when I hear people living in Britain speaking a foreign language. When they’re in Britain they should speak English. • It must be a real advantage to slip between different languages • It must be really confusing to have to use two different languages • If you live in Britain and you speak English but your first language is something else, then you should do all you can to keep your first language rather than forgetting about it. Sujata Bhatt [My mother tongue] That's the deepest layer of my identity." "I have always thought of myself as an Indian who is outside India." • Sujata Bhatt was born in 1956 in Ahmedabad, the largest city in the Indian state of Gujarat, where her mother tongue was Gujarati • She is intrigued by two languages interacting in her mind and how this affects her identity Themes • Language is used to symbolise cultural identity • The poet suggests that cultural identity never dies regardless of where you live • She suggests that two cultures mixed together enhance one another This has a double meaning: the physical device needed for speech and the language you speak Search for My Tongue The language you speak is seen as inextricably linked to your culture Conversational style, who is she talking to? Tongue as a metaphor for language is used throughout the poem: extended metaphor Tone changes at the end of this section Lost voice could mean isolation in a new culture You ask me what I mean by saying I have lost my tongue. I ask you, what would you do if you had two tongues in your mouth, and lost the first one, the mother tongue, One must be and could not really know the other, excluded no matter the foreign tongue. what you want. Could You could not use them both together this suggest a desire even if you thought that way. to maintain both And if you lived in a place you had to cultures? speak a foreign tongue, your mother tongue would rot, rot and die in your mouth Negative language gives until you had to spit it out. this first section sickening I thought I spit it out and sombre view of the but overnight while I dream, loss How should this be read? Sadly, angrily, hopefully towards the end. Mark a quotation to back up each possible interpretation The Gujarati script, on the right, is repeated in English at the end of the poem. (munay hutoo kay aakhee jeebh aakhee bhasha) (may thoonky nakhi chay) (parantoo rattray svupnama mari bhasha pachi aavay chay) Why is the same thing said twice in two languages? (foolnee jaim mari bhasha nmari jeebh) modhama kheelay chay) (fullnee jaim mari bhasha mari jeebh) (modhama pakay chay) What is the purpose of the phonetic transliteration below the script? Is this a poem more effective when read out loud or seen on the page? Takes place in a dream; as such, is it real or just something she hopes for? Strong positive natural imagery. What might this suggest? it grows back, a stump of a shoot grows longer, grows moist, grows strong veins, Is it necessary for one it ties the other tongue in knots, to overpower the the bud opens, the bud opens in my other? mouth, it pushes the other tongue aside. Everytime I think I've forgotten, I think I've lost the mother tongue, it blossoms out of my mouth. Positive image could imply that the language is beautiful and exotic Think about… • How does the poem present the argument that our speech and ourselves are intimately connected? Do people not have to search for their own tongue - or authentic voice - even if they have not had to move from one language to another? • What does the last sentence of the poem mean? Writing responses to the poems What is it worth and why? First sentence: pointless Second sentence: personal response, but needs developing The poem contains lots of similes and metaphors (imagery), similes is when you use like and metaphors is when you don't use like. I liked the line about spitting it out (tongue) it reminded me of a horror film. Treatment of how the poem is written is poor - suggests G/F grade Writing responses to the poems What is it worth and why? Gets hold of the importance of this image in the poem Understands what the poet is saying The whole poem is about tongues really, there are lots of images of tongues. Sujata describes her mother tongue as if it was something growing in her mouth, which gets bigger or smaller. She thinks that if she doesn't speak Indian from day to day it will die away. It's like, use it or lose it. But it never actually disappears because at night the tongue 'blossoms out of my mouth', so it's come to life again. Suggests a C/B grade answer Writing responses to the poems What is it worth and why? Clear explanation of a complicated image Short quotations to illustrate what is said Connects images to argument of poem Personal responses to the imagery In English, we use the word 'tongue' to mean 'language' as well as your actual 'tongue'. The poet compares knowing two languages to having two tongues in your mouth, which she calls 'the mother tongue' and 'the foreign tongue'. She is afraid that the mother tongue might shrivel away ('rot and die') like a plant with no roots. But in the last part of the poem, the mother tongue seems to grow back during the night, and 'push the other tongue aside'. It's like when she dreams, she dreams in Gujarati, and this keeps the language alive for her. It connects her to her memories. The image of two tongues growing in your mouth is weird, and a bit disturbing. You can imagine how it would feel. But then it 'blossoms' which also suggests something beautiful. I thought this was a memorable image. Suggests A grade answer Write a response to the following • How Does Sujata Bhatt feel about her mother tongue. Support your answer with quotations • Aim to write half a page of a detailed response to the poem.