The word genie’s magic

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

It is customary for parents to inform us via email, if their child is going to be absent from school. One such email read – “Ananya is unable to come to school today as she is feeling under the weather.”

The last three words kept rotating in my mouth like a lollipop the whole day. Why did the parent choose these words? Was it her style to write like this? Although the email was purely informative and to the point, it tickled me in some way. Was this the writer’s intent?

And what is the role of language? Is it to tickle, to stimulate, to create, to enchant, to charm?

Intrigued, I asked a random set of adults this question. What is the role of language? Why should children learn language? The response was almost unanimous “to communicate, to express”.

But when I asked a child, her reply was, “To talk to myself!”

This set me thinking. And when I was thinking I suddenly realized that I was using language to think about all this!

Suddenly thoughts about thinking, in my mind, ran like the naked Archimedes running jubilantly around in the king’s court!

We use language to THINK,
We use language to THINK,
Sometimes they link
Sometimes they stink
But whenever we blink
We use language to THINK.
Expressions slink
Communications sink
But almost the whole of our day
We use language to THINK.

This insight was almost like discovering fire. Suddenly I could COOK my FOOD. And that too in myriad ways. My stomach – indeed, my whole being – rejoiced at the role of language – to cook, to bake, to boil, to smoke, to grill, to fry, to even burn – thoughts in our brain.

The authors run Geniekids, a learning centre in Bangalore that works with children. To know more about their work visit

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