????Cash Cows for Hindi teachers?????

Richard.Barz at anu.edu.au Richard.Barz at anu.edu.au
Wed Nov 13 04:14:04 UTC 1996

>Replies to msg 12 Nov 96: indology at liverpool.ac.uk (ucgadkw at ucl.ac.uk)
> uau> From: Dominik Wujastyk <ucgadkw at ucl.ac.uk>
> uau> Subject: Re: ????Cash Cows for Hindi teachers?????
> uau> It is ironic that in western democracies Sanskritists
> uau> require a career in
> uau> Hindi for economic reasons, as they did in the former
> uau> Soviet block for
> uau> ideological reasons.
>What is still more ironic is that, in spite of the bad movies and of the
>official promoting of Hindi by New Delhi (e.g. through the mass media), the
>percentage of the Indian population with whom one can have an intelligent
>conversation in Hindi is very limited indeed. (Personally, I have had more
>useful conversations in Sanskrit.)
>This brings up the question: why should we be interested in learning modern
>Indian languages? To (a) learn about post-ancient India, (b) to get access to a
>mass of secondary literature on various subjects in those languages, and (c) to
>interact with living people, obviously. Hindi has always been a minority
>language, and a very young one at that. With this in mind, it is saddening that
>academic positions in other Indian languges (e.g. Dravidian) are actually
>dwindling in number in favour of that one minority.
>I wonder whether the Hindi motivation in the western democracies isn't,
>ultimately, largely ideological too.
>Robert Zydenbos

It's fashionable in some circles, for ideological and other reasons, to
indulge in Hindi-bashing.  But, sorry, it just isn't true that "the
>percentage of the Indian population with whom one can have an intelligent
>conversation in Hindi is very limited indeed".  In fact, if one ignores
>the artificial divisions between Hindi, filmi Hindi, Hindustani and Urdu
>and just calls it all Hindi, then Hindi is the only South Asian language
>in which one can have any kind of conversation, intelligent or not, any
>where in India, Pakistan or Nepal.  In fact, since English really is the
>language of a tiny elite, Hindi is the only language in which one can have
>any chance of having a conversation anywhere in India.  Naturally, Tamil,
>Gujarati, Bengali and so on are fine languages every bit the equal of
>Hindi but none of them have any where near the geographical and cultural
>spread of Hindi.

Richard Barz
Richard.Barz at anu.edu.au

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