Q. What was Franz expected to be prepared with for school that day?
Ans. That day Franz was expected to be prepared with participles because M. Hamel had said that he would question them on participles. Franz did not know anything about participles.
Q. What did Franz notice that was unusual about the school that day?
Ans. Usually, when school began, there was a great bustle, which could be heard out in the street. But it was all very still that day. Everything was as quiet as Sunday morning. There was no opening or closing of desks. His classmates were already in their places. The teacher’s great ruler instead of rapping on the table, was under M. Hamel’s arm.
Q. What had been put up on the bulletin-board?
Ans. For the last two years all the bad news had come from the bulletin-board. An order had come from Berlin to teach only German in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. The Germans had put up this notice on the bulletin-board.
Q. What changes did the order from Berlin cause in school that day?
Ans. M. Hamel had put on his best dress—his beautiful green coat, his frilled shirt and the little black silk cap, all embroidered. The whole school seemed so strange and solemn. On the back benches that were always empty, the elderly village people were sitting quietly like the kids.
Q. How did Franz’s feelings about M. Hamel and school change?
Ans. Franz came to know that it was the last lesson in French that M. Hamel would give them. From the next day they will be taught only German. Then he felt sorry for not learning his lessons properly. His books, which seemed a nuisance and a burden earlier were now old friends. His feelings about M. Hamel also changed. He forgot all about his ruler and how cranky he was.
Q. The people in this story suddenly realise how precious their language is to them. What shows you this? Why does this happen?
Ans. M. Hamel told the students and villagers that henceforth only German would be taught in the schools of Alsace and Lorraine. Those who called themselves Frenchmen would neither be able to speak nor write it. He praised French as the most beautiful, the clearest and most logical language in the world. He said that for the enslaved people, their language was the key to their prison. Then the people realised how precious their language was to them. This shows people’s love for their own culture, traditions and country. Pride in one’s language reflects pride in motherland.
Q. Franz thinks, “Will they make them sing in German, even the pigeons?” What could this mean? (There could be more than one answer.)
Ans. This comment of Franz shows a Frenchman’s typical reaction to the imposition of learning German, the language of the conquerors. Being deprived of the learning of mother tongue would mean cutting off all bonds with the motherland. Teaching the pigeons to sing in German indicates how far the Germans would go in their attempts of linguistic chauvinism.
Q. “When a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.” Can you think of examples in history where a conquered people had their language taken away from them or had a language imposed on them?
Ans. Mother tongue helps a person to express his feelings and thoughts most lucidly and intimately. Conquerors try to subdue and control the people of the enslaved territory by enforcing many measures such as use of force to crush dissent and imposing their own language on them. Since time immemorial the victorious nations have imposed their own language on the conquered people and taken away their own language from them. The Romans conquered many parts of Europe and replaced the local languages by their own language— Latin. Later on Spanish, Pourtuguese, Italian and French developed from Latin. The Muslim invaders imposed Arabic and Persian in the countries of Asia overpowered by them. In many Arab countries the local religion and language have disappeared. In India, a new language Urdu developed from the mixture of Persian and Hindi.
Q. What happens to a linguistic minority in a state? How do you think they can keep their language alive? For example:
- Punjabis in Bangalore
- Tamilians in Mumbai
- Kannadias in Delhi
- Gujaratis in Kolkata
Ans. The linguistic minority in any state is easily marked and faces the same discrimination as the religious, social or ethnic minorities. There is, however, a pronounced difference in the treatment meted out and the level of acceptance displayed by the majority community in that region/city. Some cities like Delhi, Mumbai are cosmopolitan in outlook. The linguistic minority tries to preserve its identity through an intimate contact, interaction and preservation of their language in social get togethers, family functions and festivals of their own region. Adherence to social customs and traditions in family gatherings/group meetings of women also promote the unity between members of the linguistic minority. In short, they create a mini-Punjab in Bangalore, miniChennai in Mumbai, mini-Bangalore in Delhi and mini-Surat in Kolkata.
Q. Is it possible to carry pride in one’s language too far? Do you know what “linguistic chauvinism” means?
Ans. ‘Linguistic chauvinism’ means an aggressive and unreasonable belief that your own language is better than all others. This shows an excessive or prejudiced support for one’s own language. Sometimes pride in one’s own language goes too far and the linguistic enthusiasts can be easily identified by their extreme zeal for the preservation and spread of their language. In their enthusiasm, love and support for their own language, they tend to forget that other languages too have their own merits, long history of art, culture and literature behind them. Instead of bringing unity and winning over others as friends, having excessive pride in one’s own language creates ill-will and disintegration. The stiff-resistance to the acceptance of Hindi as national language by the southern states of India is a direct outcome of the fear of being dominated by Hindi enthusiasts. The result is that ‘One India’ remains only a slogan.
Q. English is a language that contains words from many other languages. This inclusiveness is one of the reasons it is now a “world language”. For example:
petite – French
kindergarten – German
capital – Latin
democracy – Greek
bazaar – Hindi
Find out the origins of the following words:
tycoon, barbecue, zero, tulip, veranda, ski, logo, robot, trek, bandicoot
Answer ( Word – Origin )
- Tycoon – Japanese –
- Veranda – Portuguese –
- Tulip – Persian –
- Robot – Czech –
- Logo – Greek –
- Zero – Arabic –
- Bandicoot – Telugu –
- Ski – Norwegian –
- Barbecue – Spanish –
- Trek – Afrik
Q. Notice the underlined words in these sentences and tick the option that best explains their meaning:
- “What a thunderclap these words were to me!” The words were
- loud and clear.
- startling and unexpected.
- pleasant and welcome.
- “When a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.” It is as if they have the key to the prison as long as they
- do not lose their language.
- are attached to their language.
- quickly learn the conqueror’s language.
- Don’t go so fast, you will get to your school in plenty of time. You will get to your school.
- very late.
- too early.
- early enough.
- I never saw him look so tall. M. Hamel
- had grown physically taller.
- seemed very confident.
- stood on the chair.
- startling and unexpected.
- are attached to their language.
- early enough.
- seemed very confident.n.
Q. Read this sentence:
M. Hamel had said that he would question us on participles.
In the sentence above, the verb form “had said” in the first part is used to indicate an “earlier past”. The whole story is narrated in the past. M. Hamel’s “saying” happened earlier than the events in this story. This form of the verb is called the past perfect.
Pick out five sentences from the story with this form of the verb and say why this form has been used.
- For the last two years all our bad news had come from there. (The ‘coming’ of bad news happened earlier than the bulletin in the story.)
- Hauser had brought an old primer. (The event of ‘bringing’ happened earlier than Franz noticed it.)
- That was what they had put up at the town-hall! (The ‘putting up’ of bulletin happened earlier. Now it is recalled.)
- He had never explained everything with so much patience. (The action of ‘not explaining’ had happened before).
- For forty years he had be there in the same place. (the action of living here had completed the day when he was leaving the place.)
Q. Write a notice for your school bulletin board. Your notice could be an announcement of a forthcoming event, or a requirement to be fulfilled, or a rule to be followed.
Q. Write a paragraph of about 100 words arguing for or against having to study three languages at school.
Q. Have you ever changed your opinion about someone or something that you had earlier liked or disliked? Narrate what led you to change your mind.
Change of Opinion
Facts are sometimes stranger than fiction. Many occurrences of life come as eye-openers. Such an experience occurred the previous day which led me to change my mind about our hostel warden Miss Angela Thomas. Overnight the terrible titan was transformed into a loving and affectionate elder sister full of milk of human kindness. Now when I remember how I disliked her and invented nicknames and pranks to tease her, I feel ashamed of myself. Yesterday, I had a terrible nightmare and I cried and wept. My room-mate failed to console me and reported the matter to the warden. God knows how long I remained unconscious! When I came to my senses I found my head in the lap of Miss Angela Thomas. Her eyes were red with tears and lips moving in prayer. She had really proved an angel for me and saved me.