Attitudes to Hindi, Tamil, etc.

Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at
Mon Apr 14 14:55:14 UTC 1997

Narayan Raja wrote:

>I think more people in the world would study Tamil 
>if we Tamilians would achieve something remarkable.  
>Many people are now learning Japanese and Korean.  
>It's because of those peoples' achievements.  Not 
>because of their boasting, quarreling, and being 
>just plain unpleasant.  You can't even sell a Big Mac
>by being confrontational.  Much less convince people 
>to study your culture.

If it is any consolation to you, Narayan, the confrontational frenzy is a
fact of life in all societies that enjoy the luxury of being the home of
more than one language (to the best of my knowledge). Such societies can
roughly be divided into two groups: Those where people kill for reasons of
grammar, and those where people are just nasty to each other (e.g. speakers
of Dutch and French in Belgium, and Norwegian adherents of "bokmaal" and
"nynorsk"). In Norway the language debate has been a burning issue for
almost a century, and in 1917, when the Russian revolution broke loose, the
Norwegian cartoonist Blix pictured a bunch of angry Norwegian
revolutionaries building barricades in the streets. They are visited by a
Russian commissar who asks them: "How is the revolution coming along in
Norway?". The answer: "So far, we have been fighting about how to spell it". 

Is there any consolation in this?

Anyway, I agree that a confrontational attitude rarely brings any good in
such conflicts. Conflicts are very much number games. If noone is able to
gain a decisive advantage, and that is usually the case in such matters, the
conflicts drag on forever and cause the waste of tremendous resources. India
has more than enough conflicts. We should not contribute to make the
situation worse.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

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