My husband and I hail from the same State in India. However, my husband’s ancestors moved to a neighbouring state around 80 years ago.
So, though we share the same mother tongue, my husband’s version is laced heavily with borrowed words from the neighbouring state, where his ancestors settled.
While I can now understand most of what my husband’s family speak, the initial days of our marriage had me figuring out new words and their meanings.
This was because certain borrowed words, which my in-laws used in their language, meant something totally different in our mother tongue.
Two such funny incidents come to mind. A few months into our marriage, I came down with a cold and sore throat that slowly turned into a bad cough.
As I coughed away my father in law, asked me, “You seem to be barking badly.”
I thought I had heard wrong. I apologized and asked him to repeat what he’d just said.
He repeated the same sentence about barking. I laughed and asked him if he meant ‘coughing’ in our mother tongue.
We were all in splits. What was a common everyday word to them meant something totally different in my version of the language.
The other incident was about a clock. My mother in law asked me if the clock in the living room had stopped or if it was walking. Clocks in our mother tongue usually ‘run’. Another round of laughter.
The hands of clocks ran on one side of the border, while they walked on the other side.
I sometimes ‘walked’ and sometimes ‘ran’; my new family did the same, and slowly we learnt to appreciate the differences in our language, cooking, rituals and practices and started to enjoy the best that each other had to offer.