Hindi etc.

Robert J. Zydenbos zydenbos at giasbg01.vsnl.net.in
Wed Nov 27 13:03:10 UTC 1996

(In reply to Lars Martin Fosse)

lf> > lmfn> May I ask Robert Zydenbos the following question: Is there
lf> > lmfn> any other Indic language than Hindi that offers a
lf> > lmfn> certain amount of "transnational" communication
lf> > lmfn> (and does so better than Hindi)?

lf> > A "certain amount"? And do you mean international Indian
lf> > languages? 
lf> By "certain amount" I mean that the language is mastered by other
lf> people than mother tongue speakers at at least an elementary level.

In India? Practically every language...

lf> By "transnational" I mean that the language can be used as a means
lf> of communication between speakers of various mother tongues. I
lf> should also add that it would be the language preferred as a second
lf> language by a fair number of people.

lf> In our context, the word is relevant in so far as India has a
lf> number of states made on the basis of linguistic criteria. But I
lf> would agree that the word transnational is not entirely apt in this
lf> context, since India is the "nation" and the states do not
lf> constitute "nations" in the common sense of the word (although they
lf> may have their own subnationalisms). The bottom line

Do you realize that you are making the discussion vague to the point
of being meaningless? We cannot bandy words and phrases like
"certain amount", "fair number" and "transnational" in this way without
stricter criteria. (And I may add here: all the persons who have spoken
up here in defense of the status quo of Hindi vs. other-modern-language
studies have been doing this. It is useless, quasi-statistical
argumentation in support of a myth.)

lf> >Consider: a knowledge of standard modern Kannada gives one access
lf> >to all the literature in that language since Basava (12th
lf> >century). Written Tamil has [etc.]

lf> It seems to me that we are entering a kind of discussion where we
lf> quarrel about the cultural merit of various Indian regions.
lf> Everybody "knows" that Bengali literature is "vastly superior" to
lf> Hindi literature,

I have given here not a literary evaluation of Hindi vs. Kannada/Tamil,
but a very hard, totally objective historical fact that can be verified
by anyone. There is just much more history in Kannada and Tamil (and
other literatures) than in Hindi. This is simply _not_ a debatable
issue. And this is an Indologically crucial matter.

[about quantitative, quasi-statistical argumentation]

lf> Isn't this a rather emotional argument? Quantitative arguments are
lf> important, given the fact that academic studies have to be funded.

There are no quantitative arguments that stand rational, critical
investigation: that is the poor joke of this discussion. I must repeat:
before a quantitative argument has any force, a qualitative criterion
must first be established -- otherwise we don't know what we are
talking about, and the discussion becomes murky and useless. There is
nothing emotional about this - quite the contrary.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list