Official State Languages query

Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at
Mon Aug 19 14:21:29 UTC 1996

>Not to go into this too far, there are perhaps thousands of dialects in
>India, and probably more than a hundred languages. Your definition of
>"language" is not one used by any linguists or scholars of language.
>Very many of the world's languages have never had a script, and have
>not had written literature (though they are often quite rich in oral

It would seem quite impossible to make linguists and politicians agree upon
what is a language. Norwegian, Swedish and Danish are mutually intelligible
(we often listen to each other's television with few difficulties), but
still count as three different languages and not as dialects. Some German
dialects I have encountered seemed more like mutually unintelligible
languages, at least compared to High German, but still count as dialects.
(But being a non-German, I may be making too much out of the differences).
Similar phenomena seem to apply to Indic languages/dialects. We might be
pragmatic and simply say that what is defined - politically - as a language
is a language, no matter what the linguistic facts are. (Or vice versa: What
can be defined linguistically as a dialect, is a dialect no matter what the
political preferences are). 

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list