SV: Vital Statistics

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Wed Jan 5 17:22:04 UTC 2000

Rajarshi Banerjee [SMTP:rajarshi.banerjee at SMGINC.COM] skrev 05. januar 2000
> The scripts do help give languages some identity, but
> Languages are not differentiated by scripts, but by things like case endings
> grammatical forms, vocabulary.
> the different scripts in india can easily be thought of as different fonts
> of the same script. But the languages have more variation.

For the sake of curiosity, I can mention that the first Pakistani immigrants to
Norway did not want to learn Norwegian but preferred English. Since Norwegian
did not have an alphabet of its own, they did not accept Norwegian as a
separate language! However, they soon had to change their mind.

The difference in script is of course not a "professional" criterion, but it is
closely connected to group identity and thus a cultural matter. Hindi and Urdu
are in grammatical terms one language, but in terms of script and to some
extent vocabulary  they are two languages. And as we all know: the more Sans
kritic Hindi gets and the more Arabo-Persian Urdu gets, the more the mutual
intelligibility of the two idioms is reduced. An interesting aspect here is of
course that the more educated a person gets, the more s/he is able to master
precisely those elements that reduce mutual intelligibility. Thus Hindi and
Urdu speaking sweepers may understand each other quite well, whereas literati
may have problems unless they have taken the trouble of learning the other
party's idiom.


Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone/Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at

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