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Sikhs For Change: Language - A Barrier For New Sikhs?

Gora_pakora

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Oct 24, 2009
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Hey I read back to the start of this topic. Did any groups or anything get created for people who want to learn together etc?
 

namritanevaeh

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Oct 14, 2012
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language barrier for new sikhs?
So to make things even more interesting, the gurudwara doesnt even have any english words on the building or nearby to suggest that this is a sikh place of worship. Where is a curious mind supposed to go? Or the new convert? The internet first? come on, if the sikhims was really meant to be learned on the net, wouldn't the guru's mention it? I think not.
If any one is interestied in this issue, I'm currently looking for fellow sikhs who are new (converts, or reborn) and sikhs who are open minded and can think "outside the box". I am thinking about setting up a group for this.
Hello ji!

I am probably not actually going to convert to being Sikh. That said, I have a lot of interest in the religion these days AND moreover, a HUGE desire to learn Panjabi. I have been working on it for 2-3 months and AM getting somewhere actually. I eat, sleep and breathe Panjabi practically. Good luck to you! Just chiming in here...


:mundabhangra:
 

Brother Onam

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Jul 11, 2012
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Re: Youth and Language barrier?

An other approach to consider, since Gurbani really is wedded to the Punjabi language, would be Gurdwaras offering Punjabi language classes. I would attend gladly, as even among language instruction courses it is not easy to find good Punjabi offered. And nothing bad could come from spreading the use of Punjabi.
 

Ishna

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I've noticed Gurdwaras can be pretty pro-active about teaching Punjabi language to children, but not so much to adults. I guess not many adults need/want to learn Punjabi, but some Punabi people want their kids to be taught.

There are some great resources out there for learning Punjabi, for adults, books, CDs, and internet. And I'm sure a 'help wanted' ad on the noticeboard will gain me a pronunciation partner. I had a friend (I know, shock!) who was trying to help teach me the lippi and I drove her to distraction with my inability to aspirate.. or is it to not aspirate... :gingerteakaur:

Namritanevaeh ji, good for you throwing yourself into the language and learning it on your own! Inspirational. :cheerleaders:
 
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Kellysingh

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Sep 28, 2011
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i agree. i convert to sikhi couple years back and like alot of new sikhs (or just me) ive flip flopped from the faith to other faiths and then realized this is where i belong. The language barriar is huge. i enjoy the kirtan and read english on screen because it has the kirtan in punjabi,english and punjabi-english (english sound out of punjabi). and when the person speak it all in punjabi. and not really anyone offering help to learn the language ect. ive tried asking and seems like your brushed off. even from english/punjabi convert of longer duration. like they dont help much. if any. ive considered goin to another gurdwara that is a hr and half away instead of 20mins away. i feel the language barriers need to be addressed. ive tried learining from a childs book to learn and it hard to understand.. maybe it just me .
 

Ishna

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Hi KellySingh ji

I think you're referring to the transliteration when you talk about the "English sound of the Punjabi".

Punjabi, like any language, is complicated in terms of it's rules. Learning a new lanugage is no easy task, you really have to study and practice. The language barrier can be off-putting when all you really want is to follow the religion/way of life.

There's no easy fix for this though.
 

Harry Haller

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Jan 31, 2011
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Hi KellySingh ji

I think you're referring to the transliteration when you talk about the "English sound of the Punjabi".

Punjabi, like any language, is complicated in terms of it's rules. Learning a new lanugage is no easy task, you really have to study and practice. The language barrier can be off-putting when all you really want is to follow the religion/way of life.

There's no easy fix for this though.
hey sis,

I do not believe Sikhism to be a religion, more a way of life, following that way of life, which I believe to be encapsulated at the start of the SGGS, for me, is not easy, frankly I have no desire to look any deeper till I have at least got a grip on the first ten lines.

I believe that once you have embraced those magical ten lines, you then get blessed with a limus testing kit that will serve you well as you further your journey.

The irony is, I believe you to be much, much further ahead than me, but not aware of it, the true meaning of modesty :)
 

namritanevaeh

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I agree (about it being hard). I don't know honestly how far I'll get in this but my original aim was pleasantries. How-do-you-do's and thank-yous and stuff. I find that really pleases people and I already know them in several languages. But quickly I learned more than that. Then I was like "if I could help a lost child find his mother wouldn't that be cool?"...and thinking of talking about the weather and simple things like my favourite colour. I'm THERE. I know enough vocabulary I could at least ATTEMPT to help the lost child. I know how to say it's raining or snowing (maybe not ALL aspects of meterology ;-)). I know my favourite colours in Punjabi, how to indicate the # of kids I have and their ages, etc. My GOAL right now is to be fluent. I don't know how long that will take me but I have decided that I am going to a gurdwara every sunday to volunteer for 2 hours. It is one where there aren't actually a lot of people who speak much English (so much the better for me). I probably won't make any friends super quickly but gradually I hope I'll be told things like "could you pass me that" or "could you get me some milk from the fridge" and slowly get there with those phrases. I want to practice more but...I'm shy. :-/
 
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lizziec

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Nov 29, 2014
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Southeastern Wisconsin
Reading this makes me so incredibly thankful the gurdwara I attend does do English. Lots of Punjabi is spoken but English is as well, especially by the younger set. Thursday services are entirely in Punjabi, which is what I encountered on my first visit but Sundays are in Punjabi with the English translation projected on a screen. I've also been encouraged to seek out the library if I want to enhance my understanding so I can only assume that there are English translations in there.
 

Ishna

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You'll likely find a lot of books written in English in the library, too. In my experience the library is where the real learning happens - the people who are interested in the meaning of Gurbani and what it is to live Sikhi are found in the quiet places, in the small Gurbani classes, rather than the langar hall or even Darbar Sahib (although these areas do serve their own purposes).
 

ActsOfGod

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Aug 14, 2012
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Regarding English translations of Gurbani:

There is something unique about Gurbani in that it is multi-layered and very complex. Gurbani has been described as an ocean, the deeper you dive, the more you discover how deep it is, and eventually you slowly come to realize that you don't even know how much you don't know.

The issue with translations into other languages like English, etc. is that it locks down the interpretation, as according to the person who performed the translation. If anyone reads the English translation of the shabad, he or she should be aware that they are only getting a small part of the picture (a representation of one persons interpretation at one particular moment in time), a one-dimensional explanation of a multi-dimensional idea or thought. It cannot convey the full meaning, nor can it evoke the emotion and feeling expressed in the poetry, nor transport the reader to the heavenly realms, or apply the salve to soothe pain, which the original Gurbani can do.

This is why it is so important to learn Gurmukhi and make every effort to read the original Gurbani. It is difficult, even for Punjabi speakers, because the languages of the Guru Granth Sahib are not the same as modern Punjabi, they differ in grammar and syntax and vocabulary. Some are very very difficult. However, because of the nature or Gurbani (as Divine revelation), as the reader puts effort and concentration, Gurbani connects his or her soul to the Infinite, and then each word, each character, has deep personal meaning for the reader -- a meaning and connection that can never be obtained through the middle-man of a translation.

That being said, English translations are often useful as a starting point. One can get the gist of what's being talked about and a very general and surface-level understanding. These should be used as a starting point for further reflection, research, study, learning and introspection.

Spend as much time as possible with the Guru's Bani, connect with the Bani, make it a part of you, and wonders will happen in your life.

Guru Sahib Kirpa Karan.

AoG
 

ActsOfGod

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One other point about English translations: they are not always accurate. Due to differences in vocabulary, a lot of times substitute words are used that cannot quite convey the meaning. Sometimes this causes a minor deviation, other times it results in differences in meaning that are huge.

There are so many concepts and ideas that are extremely difficult to describe using the English language. There is also a lot of debate about the real meanings of words, even in Punjabi itself, let alone English.
 

Ishna

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There are so many concepts and ideas that are extremely difficult to describe using the English language. There is also a lot of debate about the real meanings of words, even in Punjabi itself, let alone English.
This 100%.

Another layer of complexity is that many shabads are witty, and require an understanding (or at least an awareness) of 16th century Indian politics, culture and religions to understand the underlying messages.
 

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