SV: Vital Statistics

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Thu Jan 6 00:27:13 UTC 2000

In a message dated 1/4/00 2:51:27 PM Central Standard Time, lmfosse at ONLINE.NO

> 1. Are all dialects of "Hindi" mutually intelligible?
>  2. Do all speakers of "Hindi" dialects regard their language as Hindi, and
> do
>  others share their feeling?
>  In other words: For Hindi to be "Hindi", you need mutual intelligibility
> a
>  broad consensus about which linguistic forms are Hindi and which are not.
> The
>  problem of politics arises if the political authorities decide that a
> certain
>  group is speaking Hindi whereas the members of that group disagree, or if
> the
>  dialect of one group defined or defining itself as Hindi speaking is more
>  less incomprehensible to other Hindi-speakers.

There was an Indian student pursuing graduate studies in linguistics at Penn
in the late 1970s. He had earlier studied linguistics at a university in
Delhi. (I do not remember if it was JNU or Delhi University.) He told me that
a linguistics professor at the university was involved in the processing of
linguistic data on the 1971 census returns. The census returns had shown that
people had mentioned many different local names for their mother tongues
based on the town or area.  The number of names were far more than those of
the major ones like Maithili, Bhojpuri, etc. However, the professor had all
those returns processed as having Hindi as the mother tongue! May be those
familiar with the 1971 census can shed more light on this.

(Doesn't Sahitya Academy recognize Maithili as a language?)

While a deliberate attempt seems to be under way for replacing various
dialects/languages spoken in Rajasthan, Punjab, UP, MP, and Bihar, etc. or
create a standard language for them with the official Hindi, the reverse is
happening with respect to Tamil. Tamil has had a standard form for more than
2 millennia. I have heard from Tamil scholars that some"intellectuals" have
been attempting to eliminate the standard Tamil from as many facets of
linguistic existence as possible.

S. Palaniappan

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