subodha taraha se bAtacita karanA

pventhb at pventhb at
Thu Nov 14 09:56:17 UTC 1996

Robert Zydenbos wrote:

>I believe that my original statement, along with this elaboration (sorry for
>this apparently necessary lengthiness), still holds good. But if it is not
>politically correct for an Indologist to speak about the majority of the people
>of India - or if we are not supposed to look at what actually happens in India
>- or if we should not question the "cultural spread" of Hindi (which I did when
>I wrote about the now banished i[...] c[...]) - or if we should hush up that
>people have died for the official recognition of their languages and for the
>creation of linguistic states - or if we should not wonder why the value of
>Indian banknotes is printed on them in so many languages (remember our earlier
>postings?) - or if all this has already been discussed, or if persons in
>INDOLOGY start yelling at each other or bash or accuse others of bashing, -
>well, then we can discuss on-line libraries, fonts, and other nice things. :-)
 Robert Zydenbos

As the urheber of the Cash Cow thread which spun out into the int. conv.
discussion, I might add that the things brought up in the recent postings
seem to proove the point that I made. Hindi/Urdu and its linguistic, social
and cultural history is an integral part of South Asian culture along with
the histories of other languages and regional cultures. By reducing teaching
Hindi to the level of learning the modern language of India the linguistic
map is simplified beyond recognition. For every pupil of Hindi it is
worthwhile to learn of the development of the language, the relationships
with Middle Indian languages and early NIA-literature, and the influence of
Persian vocabulary and idioms. This will certainly make one respond more
critically to voices that  equate Hindi with Hindu.

The essence of the conversational issue is that there are, and have always
been, many different registers in the use of language within a community and
between different communities. The persianised Urdu of poetry and
theological discussions is Swahili to any speaker of Hindi, yet it is the
same language. The mullah and the Hindi-speaker, if they live in contiguous
social environments, can chat easily in an everyday register. The
Sanskritised Hindi of grammarians and literary scholars is Norwegian to a
speaker of Urdu in -say- Lucknow. Perhaps the Nepali mentioned in previous
postings could get around in Delhi if they only knew some simple Hindi
phrases in the right register ... etc. etc.(which is what most foreigners in
India do succesfully).
Understanding the nature of this linguistic (and cultural) diversity is what
the study of modern languages and literatures of India is about, in my
opinion. Apart from the political implications of language in a modern
nationstate, this is a situation that is not so very far removed from the
interaction of Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit and Munda languages in earlier
periods of Indian culture. The issue should therefore appeal to every

Thomas de Bruijn

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