Rafed English

Allow the Child to Speak

A prisoner misbehaving in the prison is sometimes punished by a confinement in a solitary cell. Sometimes the prisoner shouts to satisfy himself that he spoke. at least to the wall.

The human ability to speak is the Creator's blessing. To be able to speak in as many languages as possible is even a greater blessing. To prevent a person from speaking at all or for a period of time is an emotional agony. It is for this reason that a patient who is in a coma is more likely to show an eager sign of some slight response temporarily when spoken to repeatedly.

Do you allow your child to speak?

Speak? Indeed he does -loud and clear -and perhaps. at times. Incessantly; but not in as many languages as his parents speak or his grand-parents spoke. And there can be no valid reasons for it except that the parents never thought about the importance of the tradition of teaching the child all the family-languages as a resplendent string of a family-legacy.

It is said that a child can acquire the ability to speak up to seven languages by the age of nine if he is faced with the necessity of communicating in those languages for this daily needs -such is the natural propensity or aptitude for languages in a child - while he is a child -and this is by the divine design of the Creator not without a purpose. Examples of four languages are not rare yet in certain communities in East Africa. What does the holy Qur'an reveal to us about this?

"And one of His signs is the creation of the heaven and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colours; most surely there are signs in this for the learned"(30:22) Legacy of Languages.

There are other communities too across the world who speak more than one language, - three or four. This comes about because the parents and teachers in the communities speak with the children in the languages which the parents know. The result is a legacy of languages in the family not for the sake of it, but for ensuring that the children, who will later find themselves in their life on their own, are well equipped for a competitive and gainful interaction in the human society. Speaking more than one language is a social accomplishment.

The slaves on their transportation across the Atlantic were laid down flat and chained together in the tiered bunks like tinned salmon (fish). They had to be brought up onto the upper deck of the ship periodically for a short spell of the essential sunshine and physical exercise. The only possible weapon they could have and of which the captain and the crew were afraid was the knowledge of more than one tribal language among the slaves.

They were shipped in such groups as would comprise them of different tribes speaking one different language so as to daunt any attempt of staging a mutiny with the precision planning and timing. This was because communication is power; the more the language-media for it, the stronger the base of this power.

Language As an Asset

For a person speaking more languages is a socio-cultural asset with economic dimensions. Every language is a worthy component of the asset. This asset is enviable by those who as a community or a nation speak only one language - generation after generation.

To let the child gain the asset during the period of early childhood is within the control of the parents who themselves have so gained. When the period of childhood is over, and if the child has not been let to gain the asset in the family in continuation of the legacy, a 'crime' will have been committed against the child by no others than his own parents. The child when adult will have no legacy of 'competitiveness in languages' to pass on. The child will remember the parents, not kindly, for this thoughtless and myopic omission or, worse still, parental negligence.

Adapted from the book: "Child" by: "Mohamed A. Khalfan"

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