While languages cannot be issued birth certificates, d***h certificates can be issued with a fair degree of certainty. Linguists issue d***h certificate to some language when the last of its speaker perish, but the procedure for the d***h of a language and atrophy begins much sooner. Before the d***h of a language, it goes through a lengthy phase of “linguistic famine”, a stage where it is deprived of sciences, trade and technology, ceasing for a car of economic action and social advancement. Finally because of this ‘slow starvation’ from the oxygen of contemporary sciences and trade, a stage is reached if a language is neither capable of expressing scientific thoughts nor will it act as a medium of trade and trade.
The transition from the country of linguistic famine to linguistic departure is a slow process. Languages do not die because the radio speaker has suddenly stopped talking it. The language spoken during childhood would most probably be spoken the whole life. Languages, the same as culture and customs, perish during inter-generational move. As the mother tongue gets less applicable to economic and social demands, speakers from 1 creation to another progressively lessen the use of the mother tongues, until a stage is reached when several generations down the line they have no memory of the ancestral language. This diminishing economic and social vitality of formerly strong languages, passed down from 1 generation to another, eventually contributes to the d***h of a language.
Something remarkably similar is happening to Hindi (although I use the example of Hindi, the same is true for all our Indian languages). Note that no formal business tasks, scientific research, technology, medical and legal instruction are conducted in Hindi. In Independent India, even in case you know all the Indian languages, but not English, then it is not possible to climb the ladder of professional success. The domain of Hindi has been reduced to that of bazaar vocabulary and mass market entertainment. It lacks prestige. The only need for Hindi these days are in national sphere or in the marketplace. 1 way to gauge the decrease of Hindi would be to ask, how many people have utilized the Devanagari script after our college for any formal purposes? It reveals. A search for Devanagari keyboard on www.amazon.in gives one result.
As the domain name of Hindi stays restricted only to popular amusement and colloquial usage, there’s been a gradual hollowing from its language. Next time you talk on finance, economics, science, technology, or legal matters in Hindi, see the flooding of English words drowning from the Hindi language. Notice the way Hindi business channels use English words for even straightforward accounting conditions such as resources and liabilities. Notice how many people would fight to discover the Hindi equivalent of common terms like engineer or plumber! The ability to convey complex thoughts in Hindi is quickly being dropped by Hindi speakers. Deprived of its domain, Hindi has barely any subject-matter for its speakers to speak about and barely any expert vocabulary to talk in. Thus, despite its substantial amount of speakers, both Hindi’s standing and pedigree is slowly eroding, that eventually nobody would want to utilize it. The fate of a language is sealed, when it is regarded as a barrier to social and economic advancement.
Even the ‘slow starvation’ of Hindi in sciences and trade is matched with the decrease of Hindi from the literary domain. Who will be the modern day Dinkers and Premchands? Given the current state of Hindi literacy levels, do we even recognise a possible Dinker or even Premchand? How many possible Premchands and Dinkers are consigned to a lifetime of obscurity since there are very few takers for serious literary work from Hindi? How many of us are even conscious of any modern Hindi writers or poets? The Hindi publishing industry today survives on publishing interpreted works of hot English fiction, pulp fiction books and self employed books. Our mushrooming literary festivals are solely for the English language crowd and authors. A neighborhood language writer might be extended a slot or 2 to bring some sophistication.
Discrimination Against Hindi
The significance of Hindi is further exacerbated with the busy discrimination it faces in the private sphere. Indian firms only publish their annual reports and financials only in English. Even if a company makes fertilizers for Indian farmers, the sites and product information would nevertheless be exclusively in English. The good thing is that in case you don’t understand English, then you are not great enough to participate in the capital markets or be a part of the rise and development of the market. European multinational companies publish their annual reports from multiple European languages, but also in India they can do so completely in English. Why is it not compulsory for our businesses to adopt the three-language formulation and report their financials and annual reports in Hindi and the other Prakrit?
Our e-commerce businesses have sites completely in English. Our startup eco-system cater only to the English-speaking population of the nation, the rest 90 percent of the non-English speakers are somewhat insignificant. The sites of our private airlines to get ticket booking are only in English. Actually, the 2nd biggest airline in India has a site that features language collection of Italian, Italian, Mandarin, Dutch, Spanish, German, and French although not a single Indian language!
The crassest type of discrimination against our languages occurs in colleges. There are hundreds and hundreds of convent schools in India where students would be punished for speaking in their mother tongue! India is probably the only nation on earth, where this is allowed to happen. The ‘inferiority’ of the languages and the shame associated with talking it are ingrained from childhood. This author analyzed in a college, where students were told to keep tabs on the classmates and report promptly if anyone is heard speaking in Hindi or Bengali. From a young age, we’re educated to be traitors to our very own language!
Government forms, the driving permit, lifesaving medicines and even Hindi theatre tickets are wholly published in English. The nutritional and ingredient labels on our daily food things are exclusively in English. There’s not a nation on earth where a company may get away selling mass-market food without notifying most of its consumers, in their own language, what they are consuming. In Western nations, such advice is published in a number of languages.
We have only scratched the surface. The list of discrimination against speakers of Indian languages is lengthy. Though our socio-cultural activist beats the drum of caste, no one ever looks at the language issue and its barbarous part in perpetuating inequality and stratification of the Indian society. Before Freedom Mahatma Gandhi had agonised over the state of the languages, writing, “The process of displacing the vernacular has been among the most bizarre chapters within the British link.”
It’s not that a large part of us are not conscious of the glaring discrimination and the precipitous decline of our languages. That’s the reason why there is misdirected backlash from ‘Hindi imposition’, ” particularly in the southern states. Sometimes we even decide to hide the guilt of only using our coloniser language by claiming that English is our language also. Leading Kenyan writer, Ngugi, offers a stinging rebuttal for this debate, stating: “When you erase an individual’s language, you erase your own memory. And people with no memories are somewhat rudderless, unconnected for their own histories and culture, mimics who have put their memories in a “psychic tomb” from the mistaken belief that should they master their coloniser’s language, they will own it.” He further claims that this deracination from ethnic roots “makes them see their past as a single wasteland of non-achievement also it makes them want to distance themselves from this wasteland. This makes them want to identify with what is furthest removed from themselves; for instance, with different people’s languages instead of their own.”
This competitive claim on why English was even championed by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru if he asserted that English also needs to be considered a sauteli bhasa (step-language) of India, to that Premchand had wryly commented, “Far from being a sauteli bhasa, it is quite a patrani bhasa (head language) and the other languages of India are low to the position of beggars in front of her. The shame is that individuals who call themselves our leaders tend to be ignorant of the mother tongue and the consequences of a society where its leaders have come to be so far removed from society that they don’t have any connection with their terminology are in front of their eyes.” An individual could have easily ignored such sentiments out of a Hindi author if this was not so devastatingly true.
In the subsequent three parts of the essay we search for the source of the pitiable state of the languages and provide some concrete options. In part 2, we chronicle the way Hindi vocabulary, deprived of Sanskrit, was not allowed to grow to its possible, in part three, we explore how Hindi and the other Indian languages were deprived of sciences by making English as the exclusive medium of higher education and in part four, we indicate some pressing intervention to stem the eventual ancestral collapse.