You know those clusters of friends generally hulking about aroudn corners or near staircases (why the straircases? Not like there is a lot of room there already!) – anything between three to fifteen of them – out of whom most speak one language and a minority does not? Lets just take hindi as that language for now, though I've seen doesn't happen so often with northies(North Indians) as it does with mallus(Malayalis), bongs(bengalis), and tams(Tamiliams). Why do they insist on speaking hindi, when English is available? I realise some things are best said in your mother tongue, but when there is a conversation in a group, it is most unfair to exclude the minority – and when an alternative is open, and ready for the taking! Do they not realise how uncomfortable and irrtated the few get?
Must admit, I'm guilty of this too… but I've actually seen a pair in a group of three do this – brings a whole new meaning to "two is company, three is a crowd" almost like tacking on a "… so go away". There are people who ALWAYS use thier mother tongue, at the slightest oppertunity, blithly ignoring the need to translate for those who don't understand. This total lack of consideration on their part – and I've been a party somtimes – is very irksome. It's a whole different ball game when it's just two people talking – then, yes use timbactooian if you wish…
Consider the case in the lab today. We went to the teacher to demonstrate our project, and that man, on learning I was Tamilian, switched to that language. (On the positive side, we were spared the torture of his broken english) It would not have been a problem if I weren't the only one who understood the language. ALL the suggestions, ideas and corrections were made in a stream of strongly accented palghatian dialect. Understandably, my teammates were pissed.
I'm multilingual. I call myself the jack of all languages… and master of none. Obviously, my English is reasonably fluent, and my hindi comes a distant second. Hindi mein kuch na kuch bol to detein hoon. (I manage to say something or the other in Hindi) Those are the only two I can read and write. Of course, I can write Sanskrit too (comes with the script) but what little I learnt back in school seeped out of my head – sideways. ..
But I do speak Tamil. But (here's the catch) it is Iyengar Tamil – that most of my fellow state-mates deem alien language and pull my leg for. Therefore I dont' speak it often enough – I'm constantly told that I can't even talk like a Bram properly. Not my fault Iyengars are a minority. It took me some time after I landed up in Tamil Nadu before I realised that 'You speak Bram tamil!' was NOT a compliment. But I've always been dense that way.
I can also manage Telgu and Malyalam, and understand Punjabi (duh! anyone who know hindi…) … And at the end of the day, (btw) struggle for words to clearly, concisely express what I'm thinking. So it's very rarely that I get excluded from the rgoup we were talking about earlier (ah! you thought I was rambling aimlessly, just blowign my own trumpet) … but anyone who has seen the lost looks or blank faces or staring-off-into-the-distance-with-a-grim-set-to-the-mouth has got to agree with me.
One just has to use the language that maximum number of people use – the object of it, after all, is to communicate.