The Scholar’s Mother Tongue

A King's court and a priest.

A learned Pundit once visited the court of Akbar. He told the King and his courtiers that he had mastery over many different languages.

The Pundit could speak many languages fluently. He was so fluent that no one could find out what his mother tongue was. He challenged everybody at the court to name his mother tongue. When everyone failed, the challenge was taken up by Birbal.

New words

mother tongue, challenged, tickled, irritated

Man tickling the priest with a feather.

That night, Birbal went quietly to the Pundit’s room when he was asleep. He whispered into the Pundit’s ear and tickled it with a feather. The Pundit, half awake, cried out suddenly and shouted out words in his mother tongue.

Birbal came to the court the next day and told everyone that the Pundit’s mother tongue was Telugu. The Pundit was surprised and accepted the truth.

King Akbar then asked Birbal, “How did you find the truth?”

Birbal answered, “In times of difficulty, a person speaks only in his mother tongue.” He also told the King how he had gone to the Pundit’s room at night to find out the truth.

– Adapted from Akbar and Birbal stories

4Reading is fun

1. Who came to Akbar’s court?

2. What did he claim to know?

3. How did he challenge everybody?

Let’s talk

1. What is your mother tongue?

2. Tell the class a joke in your mother tongue.

3. Do you know any other language? Do you know a joke in English? Tell your friends.

8Let’s listen

1. Listen to your favourite advertisement on the radio or T.V. Repeat it with stress on the words. Act, draw and write the advertisement.

Say aloud

ask, bask, mask, task, scholar, school, scan, skim

We say – I learnt my lesson. (action word)

But A learn-ed pundit came to the court. (describing word)

We pronounce it as learn-id to rhyme with



1. Tick (✓) the words which end with the sound id. Say each word aloud

accepted ☐ answered ☐ irritated ☐ failed ☐

completed ☐ challenged ☐ cried ☐ surprised

find ☐ licked ☐ celebrated ☐ fried ☐

Word building

1. Make a class dictionary with words from the story. Try to find suitable words for them in your mother tongue. Say these words aloud.

Then make sentences with those words in your class dictionary.


Words in English Sentences

2. Write all the words that show you are happy.

For example : Hurray, Ha! Ha!

Add more

3. Tick (✓) the right answer.

(i) ‘I visited the court of Akbar’ means

(a) You always live there. ☐

(b) You came there for a short time. ☐

(c) You were born there. ☐

(ii) To imitate someone means to

(a) copy someone ☐

(b) tease someone ☐

(c) make someone angry ☐

4. Look and fill in the columns. One has been done for you.

quiet quietly

5. Match the words in Column ‘A’ with words in Column ‘B’.

king children
teacher patients
doctor courtiers
bus driver clients
lawyer passengers
mother students

6. Play this game with a friend. Pick up what you want from any basket.

Add a or an before it.

Now say the sentences below, using these things –

rug, pillow, bed sheet

alarm clock, wall clock, wrist watch

apple, orange, banana, ice-cream

bow, arrow, ball, bat, doll

waistcoat, longcoat, raincoat, umbrella

Neena: Can I have _____, please?

Rahul: Yes, here you are.

Jeevika: Can I have _____, too.

Nikhil: No, sorry. You can’t have that.

Make more sentences using words from the baskets.

Let’s share

1. How did Birbal find out about the Pundit’s mother tongue?

2. Act this out with your friends and make it into a class play.

The Truth Balloon

Suppose you are going on a camping holiday. What are the four most important

things you will carry with you? Choose from the tags attached to the hot air


A hot air balloon with tags stating important things to carry along.

Tool Box, Radio, Blanket, Sewing Kit, Money, Candle, Football, The Five Values Book, The guide to a happy life, Jewels, Food Packets, Box of Matches, First Aid Kit, Water Bottles

Fun time

Crossword fun

India is a country of many languages. Let’s see if you know what the people of the states in this crossword puzzle speak. The clues are given below. The first letter of each answer has been filled in for you.


1. This language is spoken in Orissa

2. It is spoken in Karnataka

4. The people of Assam speak this language

7. This language is used in Andhra Pradesh

8. You can hear this spoken in Maharashtra


3. The people of Kerala speak this language

5. This language is spoken in most parts of North India

6. The language of the Goan people

7. This is spoken in Tamil Nadu

9. It is widely spoken in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere

A crossword based on different languages spoken in India.