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Friday, June 6, 2014

Language its limitless limitation

Sanskrit oath taking, euphoria and nostalgic feelings, demand for Hindi as a predominant language, each state demanding primary education to be in mother tongue – the new trends. Are these the priority now?
Pride of ancestry is the hope for the future. Especially more so of civilizations which had a very rich cultural heritage [even judged by the worst enemy] and a great ancestry and that heritage and ancestry have got either wiped out, kept in abeyance by inimical forces, suppressed etc due to various reasons like natural calamity, dirty wars, colonization and any such negative forces. There is a justifiable euphoria when there are signs, symptoms or serious processes of resurrection of such rich cultural heritage.

But having said that resorting to over generalizations of  inevitable and intricate  variety which was either part of that rich heritage or which grew as a carapace of accretions to life, over  simplification of very complex things , getting into modes of frenzied , hyper emotionally charged chauvinistic zeal coupled with an euphoria over resurrecting relevance and highlighting it as if it the  most wonderful  thing  ever to have happened and the greatest  addition to life over everything else that  has existed and was part  of life  are indicators of  mass hysteria.

The greatest calamity of all mass hysteria is the half baked youth who can easily get carried away.
This is happening among certain sections of the population of India now with utter hypocrisy because what they praise so much in public they cannot afford to follow in their private or personal life because practically it is of less relevance and utility in the scheme of things as they are and for life as it is lived today.
Atlas has really shrugged for good so that there is a comparatively greater sense feeling being part of human race as a whole rather than a fanatical sense of belonging or clinging on to a particular clan or outfit.
In fact in the present day any group which gets over enthusiastically cocooned into such narrow schemes loses a lot in real life.
This big preamble is for people who go over gaga over someone taking oath in Sanskrit, Hindi being promoted as a language of national identity and with a sudden found love of Sanskrit and a craze for promoting a single language, namely Hindi for being identified as an Indian and the concomitant craze by many other linguistic chauvinists to clamour for making primary education compulsory in a mother tongue? All these coupled with pouring venom on Macaulay’s system as the cause for all our ills and slow growth.
I have placed a question mark after mother tongue why? I know a happy loving couple [rarity] the boy a Gujarathi and the girl a Telugu and they live at Chennai . Their child speaks Gujarathi, Telugu and of course Tamil picked up from the maids attending to her and the loving couples in their practical wisdom have been educating the child in a school where the medium is English. Now the father is likely to get transferred to Germany.
Now tell me is Macaulay’s system or his gift of English education a curse or a boon? How many of you who have praised Sushma Swaraj for her taking oath in Sanskrit would like to get your children educated in Sanskrit medium schools? What scriptures in Sanskrit you can make a critical analysis in Sanskrit? Those couples and the poor child would have benefitted had it been forced to have its primary education in Tamil because they happen to work in Tamil nadu? Or if they happen to work in Bangalore make the child have its primary education in Kannada?
I think such fanaticism in the present day life is both illogical and ill placed and can cause immense damage to the very development of the individual as well as the society.
Bahaullah has said:” If language can help create a sense of nationalism, it can equally well help create a sense of internationalism.”
If civilization has conjured up either for good or bad to make English a global language and the pursuit of higher education, economic activities, scientific knowledge banks and even decent survival hinge on one’s ability to communicate in English why should we shun it. If   Kannada or Tamil or Bengali do not have such a wide acceptance beyond the confines of a particular state, these languages do not lose their value or importance nor does it mean that their literature has vanished but it is a fact that these languages have not been able to penetrate beyond their geographical borders a big full stop there, that’s all.
This does not in any way mean that English is the best or greatest among languages. But as a said earlier the stride of civilization has placed her at an advantageous position there is no point in being jealous about it or envy it.
Language, after all, primarily is a tool for communication.
Just a week ago on 29th May,2014 Times of India newspaper carried a central page article titled  ‘HAPPY TO BE UNHAPPY’ BY Suman Chattopadhyay how insisting and enforcing for some decades Bengali medium has caused economic and cultural disadvantage for the Bengali youth.
Every language is an art and science of very vast dimension carrying within it several years of civilization with all its splendor, the experiences of many souls, expressions of many lives and as such each language is a vast store house of both art and science. In short each language on earth is a divine tool or probably the best medium to express our thoughts and experiences. But primarily it is just a tool for communication.
Evolution need not necessarily always work through proliferation in all areas of life nor can we restrain variety through homogenization. In certain spheres evolution reduces the number of entities and this has been the case especially in languages which have been reduced from a few thousands some centuries back to a few hundreds now as it is perhaps a sign of bringing in as many people together through lesser number of  medium of communication.

A more justifiable classification for adopting a language for practical life would be would be, in addition to the number of users of a language, its geographical spread, the wide range and variegated vocabulary to communicate and express as many ideas or events as possible in as many fields of human activity , it must have the syntactic plasticity, flamboyant flexibility suited to both simple and complex modes of expression, and an enormously evolved derivational morphology.  If there is a language that fits into all these criteria adequately, that is English. 

Even within a language the process of evolution causes enormous and drastic changes as has been very well documented by a great linguist David Crystal in his books WORD,WORDS, WORDS and THE STORIES OF ENGLISH.
Here I would like to reproduce some bits of information like  these words science, conscience and shit all had originally common etymology.
I thought for a longtime that the Britishers were obsessed with sex that’s why they have named their places like Essex, Sussex , Wessex, Middlesex etc but I learnt that they  refer to only Saxons occupying different directions with varying dialects.
David crystal writes,  “It remains a lexicological puzzle why some words were accepted and some rejected. Wedo not know how to account for the linguistic ‘survival of the fittest’. Both impede and expede were introduced during the same period as well as disabuse and disadorn, but in each of these pairs the first item stayed in the language and the second did not”.

He also writes, “If English is to remain a world language, then it needs a variety as as a reference standard, but as the result of process which have taken place-and which are an inevitable consequence of the nature of language-the character of building has changed. Whereas Standard English was once viewed as a cathedral or a monument, now it has to be seen more as a sky crapper, with a specific function of facilitating intelligibility, coexisting in a city of other tall buildings which perform other functions, such as the facilitation of local identity. It is no longer the only building in the city, and certainly no longer the only building  thought to be worth a visit”.

1 comment:

Gopi Krishna said...


I have a simple opinion. For the first three or even five standards in school, everything should be in mother tongue. English should also be taught simultaneously but as a language. After primary school, English can be used as a medium of instruction.