Vital Statistics

Rajarshi Banerjee rajarshi.banerjee at SMGINC.COM
Wed Jan 5 15:40:51 EST 2000

> The scripts do help give languages some identity, but
> Languages are not differentiated by scripts, but by things like case
> grammatical forms, vocabulary.
> the different scripts in india can easily be thought of as different fonts
> of the same script. But the languages have more variation.

For the sake of curiosity, I can mention that the first Pakistani immigrants
Norway did not want to learn Norwegian but preferred English. Since
did not have an alphabet of its own, they did not accept Norwegian as a
separate language! However, they soon had to change their mind.

The difference in script is of course not a "professional" criterion, but it
closely connected to group identity and thus a cultural matter. Hindi and
are in grammatical terms one language, but in terms of script and to some
extent vocabulary  they are two languages. And as we all know: the more Sans
kritic Hindi gets and the more Arabo-Persian Urdu gets, the more the mutual
intelligibility of the two idioms is reduced. An interesting aspect here is
course that the more educated a person gets, the more s/he is able to master
precisely those elements that reduce mutual intelligibility. Thus Hindi and
Urdu speaking sweepers may understand each other quite well, whereas
may have problems unless they have taken the trouble of learning the other
party's idiom.

Yes I was not thinking about urdu and hindi, where there are 2 very
different scripts used to represent virtually the same language. thanks for
pointing that out. Many muslims refer to what they speak as urdu, although
they carelessly use sanskritic or other words for which there are easy(for
indians) equivalents in Arabic/persian. Sometimes its just a question of
personal terminology.

Its interesting about the pakistani immigrants, they could have been told
that like norwegian, urdu does not have a script of its own and just uses



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