Hindi etc. in Karnataka

Robert J. Zydenbos zydenbos at giasbg01.vsnl.net.in
Sat Nov 30 11:09:45 UTC 1996

(In reply to Shrisha Rao, replying to Gail Coelho)

sr> Well, now, Calicut is not exactly part of the area under
sr> consideration.

Are you saying that Calicut is not in South India? :-)

sr> As for the first three (none of which I actually mentioned),

But they are more representative of Karnataka than the peripheral
Hyderabad Karnataka towns you mentioned.

sr> One point to be noted is that your ability to judge how well
sr> Hindi/Urdu are spoken and received, would be related to your own
sr> ability to speak those languages fluently. May I ask if you do
sr> speak them well?

I think I do, if you don't mind my intruding here.

sr> If not, it is but natural that people would speak
sr> to you everywhere in English only, making your judgement
sr> questionable.

When I did not know Kannada yet, I tried both English and Hindi. I second
Gail Coelho's remarks.

May I ask a mean but pertinent question? Have you, Shrisha, ever spoken
English in Karnataka? And Hindi, to compare? Or were you always (as one
should!) speaking Kannada, as a native speaker? Your judgment may be
equally questionable.

sr> You wouldn't get anywhere trying to direct an auto-driver in
sr> English: most are Urdu-speaking Muslims with less than a
sr> high-school education.

I challenge that assertion about the Muslim majority among rickshaw
drivers, as well as the statement about giving directions. In the beginning
I went everywhere in Bangalore using English in rickshaws. (And whatever
the driver's religious background may be, also when speaking Kannada, you
have to give instructions using English words: 'right', 'left', 'stop'...)

sr> In fact, Karnataka has slightly more than the national average
sr> percentage of Muslims, and all speak Urdu at home.

Wrong. The Muslims on the coast are migrants from Kerala who speak
Malayalam and refuse to use Urdu, out of pride of their distinct identity.
Most Muslim Kannada writers are from that group.

(By the way: should we confuse Urdu and Hindi? My Urdu-speaking
acquaintances [university professors, shopkeeepers, carpenters, automotive
mechanics] all have a contempt for Hindi, which they consider an 'ugly
upstart language'. When I tried Hindi in Muslim shops, I was answered in
English... [And don't quip that my Hindi must be bad. :-) In Benares I
spoke Hindi with everyone.])

Robert Zydenbos

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