Friday, June 8, 2012


India has 22 "official" languages.  These are languages that are recognized by the Central or State governments, are spoken by a majority of people (at least one million), and are the languages used in government schools and official government documents.  There are also over 1,300 dialects that are spoken by other small people groups.  So, you may wonder, out of all those languages and dialects, what language do the Pratts speak?
Alyssa and Naomi, with some of our church young people, at the India/Pakistan border.  We live about 5 hours from the Pakistan border. 

We are living in North India, in the state of Punjab.  There are 2 main languages spoken: Hindi and Punjabi.  Since, we live in the city, Hindi is the main language spoken, and the language that we have learned (err...are still learning!).  Punjabi is spoken more in the villages throughout Punjab.  
When we arrived in Punjab in 2005 we had a language tutor for about 6 months.  We also worked with a computer-based language program.   Since then, we have continued learning by being immersed in the language.
Visiting a new mother in the hospital.

What about the children???
Within a few weeks of moving to Punjab, our children started speaking in Hindi.  I think it was mainly in self-defense!  So many children (who didn't speak a word of English) were coming to check out the foreign kids...they were outnumbered!  If you would hear the children speak now, you could mistake them for native speakers.
When we moved here, we considered speaking only Hindi at home, in order to learn the language.  We quickly found out that this method would not work for us!  In the first months, our Hindi was very broken.  I realized that the children would NOT learn proper Hindi from me!  Also, where would they learn proper English?  We had met other missionaries in the US whose children were hindered because they did not speak good English.  We had also met Indian people living in the US, whose children spoke proper English, but also were fluent in their "mother tongue".  So, I thought, if they can do it, so can we!  The end result being, I speak with the children almost exclusively in English. (So much so that for a while Ethan didn't think Mom could understand Hindi! HA!)  We do our schooling in English, our prayer and devotions in English, at home.  When we are outside, or around others, we use Hindi.  This may not be the method others choose, but it has worked nicely for us.  The children are fully bilingual, and Brian and I are close! 
We did send the children to a Hindi tutor for a few years, so that they could learn to read and write the Hindi language.  Now, they have started studying Punjabi.  I feel so blessed that my children are able to be bilingual (and someday trilingual) from a young age. 
Studying Punjabi.  The older girls are also good translators, when needed.

Not really related to this post...but found her sleeping like this the other day!
 Kara, is a different case altogether!  She will speak English to those that she considers English speakers (i.e. Mom and Dad, Pastor Dubish, Grammie and Grandpa on Skype)  To Hindi speakers, she will speak Hindi, and she usually keeps them separate.  She can be speaking English to me at the table, and someone next to her will ask her a question in Hindi, she will immediately switch languages.  Ethan was the same way, I guess that comes from learning both languages at the same time! 


1 comment:

  1. I look forward to reading your posts! Thank you for taking the time to do this. The residents at the nursing home still ask about the kids. We miss you all!