Attitudes to Hindi, Tamil, etc.

Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at
Mon Apr 14 20:09:13 UTC 1997

At 20:43 14.04.97 BST, you wrote:
>I realize this is a contentious issue but I'm sure
>this doesn't need to degenerate. Not on this list,
>I hope. I was simply interested in understanding
>the logic behind language policies, unless of course
>it is just a historical accident. Beside the interest
>it presents for understanding India, to me it is also
>interesting because some day, if Europe is ever to
>become something real politically, I suspect there
>will be a lot of the same arguments going on here.
>For now what I seem to gather is that the problem is
>not soluble. I wonder if one radical solution was
>ever envisaged, namely a "no official language" policy?

As far as Europe is concerned, here is a recipe for creating a common
language: Introduce Esperanto gradually in schools all over Europe and
define as your objective that Esperanto shall be the official link language
of Europe in a given year, say 2050. I think this could be done, and Europe
would have a link language that did not belong to anyone in particular, so
that national pride would not be hurt. However, in Europe as in India,
everybody is jealously guarding their own linguistic interests, partially
for fear of being swamped by English (or, perhaps, American), but also for
reasons of national pride. It seems inevitable to me that a multi-language
state needs a link language, unless you want to create a wonderful market
for translators and interpreters (and a lot of practical problems). India
might have settled for English, but chose Hindi because it was an Indic
language and not a European one, and because it was the language spoken by
the largest group of people in India. Given the political reactions, the
choice was probably not a wise one, but that is a different story. It is
truly hard to make everybody happy.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

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