The Transition Generation

The Language Barrier

June 21, 2011

So, apparently I was not a very verbal child.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to talk, because I did, I just didn’t see the need to express myself all the time (and, as you have probably realized from these blogs, I still have trouble expressing myself at times).  Anyway, because I didn’t like to talk, my parents were worried that something was wrong was me.  The doctor assured my parents that I was healthy, but that maybe I was confused by the different languages spoken in the house and that they should stick with only one for the time being.

We spoke Urdu and English in the house, and my parents proficient in both.  But when the doctor mentioned his idea, my parents picked English.  I think they did this in part because my brother was learning English in school, but mostly because we were now American and I would live and educate myself in English.  It was a conscious decision on their part to put aside their own culture, for a time, for the betterment of their child’s life – to make sure they succeeded. 

These days, many of my cousins, me included, are not fluent in Urdu.  Some of my cousins have had the opportunity to travel more to the “parent country” as it were, and are fluent and I do envy them at times.  But the language is slowly fading out as members of Generation T (or the Transition Generation as I call us), assimilate to a different country, America, and a different language, English.  Other ethnic groups do not necessarily face this problem, since in most schools for a language we choose between Spanish or French, or perhaps even Italian, and even Chinese is becoming more common which, if we follow the future depicted in Firefly, we will all need to speak one day anyway. 

The good news is that I can still learn to speak and read it – more and more universities are offering it as a language option (and I do hope Rosetta Stone takes the hint as well).  The bad news is that there may not be much of a language for me to learn.  Urdu itself is a mismatched language to begin with, and the name itself means “army”. It was created in the 1600s by an army, which consisted of Persian, Arab, and Turkish soldiers, while they worked to conquer India to allow for better communication between the soldiers.  However, these days there seems to be an English-Urdu hybrid, Endu or Urlish, which has taken over, at least in America. 

So it leaves one to wonder: when does a language die? Are we, as members of Generation T, the reason for the decline of particular languages?  Or are we just speeding up the process?  Are we making a conscious or unconscious choice to let go of this part of our histories to make room for new memories, experiences, and opportunities for our own children? And will our children be better for it, or will they experience a sense of loss they cannot fully explain?

Perhaps these thoughts are too deep for a blog post, but it is something that I wonder about.  Let me know what you think by commenting below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading,



What’s in a name?

May 9, 2011

My name is Mehvish (pronounced mav-ish).  Call me Mehv.  That’s really where my story starts: my name.  It is not your typical American name (if there even is such a thing anymore), but in the 80’s it stood out more than a Flock of Seagulls haircut.  I have also been told by elementary school teachers what a masculine sounding name it is – I should point out here that I am a woman, not a man, so you can imagine what that comment did to my fragile, pre-adolescent female mind.

With my name, or most likely any name, we’re seemingly judged right from the get-go.  In school, teachers see your name before they ever see you, unless you’re slightly tanner than the rest of the class – then they know you’re the odd name out.  But I can’t tell you the number of times I have been judged by my name alone.  Rest assured, reader (if there is anyone reading this blog), that the majority of my teachers were kind and good people and never treated me differently. I was always extremely shy and introverted as a kid, really until college, but still I was judged until they realized I was hard-working and studious.

But before you think I dislike my name, reader, let assure you that I love it, unconditionally.  I believe that people grow into their names and I cannot imagine the person I would be had I grown up with a different name. 

So what does a name have to do with the purpose of this blog? Well, I am a member of what I call the Transition Generation: the children of American immigrants who learn the ins-and-outs of American life and culture and must help their parents, and eventually their own children, transition to an American way of life. My parents, indeed many of the parents of the Transition Generation, came to America in search of a better life for me and my brother.  The life here was and is different from the life they knew, but my brother and I are better for it.  The course of our lives were changed when they made the brave decision to come here, and now I and a plethora of aunts, uncles, cousins and more have benefited from the strength of their parents. 

But we, as the Transition Generation, have faced experiences our parents have not, such as a unique and foreign name in comparison to those around us, and it is those experiences which have set us apart.  A long time ago I realized writing was a good outlet for a shy girl, such as myself, and I have wanted to share my experiences with others.  I also want others to share their experiences with me; what challenges have you faced as a member of the Transition Generation, or what challenges have you seen others face?

On a regular basis I’ll be posting blogs about my experiences and, even if you are not a member of the Transition Generation, I hope you can join me and share in the conversation.

Thanks for reading


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    First generation born and raised American, and member of the Transition Generation © (aka Generation T ©). Join me as I discuss the struggles and joys I have faced as an American. What's your story?


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