Message from the Emirates: Modernize Kannada or Die

Faisal al Yafai writes on Al Arabia how the Arabic language needs to become "cool" in order to survive, and not just remain the language of "angels" or the language of lovers' whispers:
Arabic – brace yourselves people of the Arab world – is not considered cool.

To know why we have to look away from Arabic speakers to those who aspire to learn it. Students of Arabic approach it mainly for professional reasons: for academic purposes, for political or literary understanding. That is not the case with English – all across Asia and Africa, across Europe and Russia people are mouthing along to episodes of Friends or singing lyrics from the latest pop hit. As popular as Nancy Ajram and Amr Diab are, there are not many non-Arabic speakers itching to understand their words.

Perhaps that is not surprising, given the pedigree of the language. Arabic carries the weight of faith, a weight it will never lose. It is the language of the Quran and, in the language of the inexpressible, it is hard to express simple, even base, emotions. Arabic sometimes seems like a language destined to be sung by angels or whispered by lovers, not to be the language of the boisterous street.
There are important lessons for Kannadigas here, especially for the kind that thinks that the FM stations mushrooming all around Karnataka are doing disservice to Kannada because of saying "sakkat hot maga" instead of "atishayavaagi shaakhajanakavaagide putrane". This very kind of Kannadiga would rather play down on even "tumba bisi maga" which in reality is no less "cool" than "sakkat hot maga".

On the contrary, it's the FM stations which are keeping Kannada alive in the popularity-vacuum created by heavily Sanskritized Kannada literature which the common man had rather not touch. Old-school writers resorting to Sanskrit words at every opportunity are the ones who are diminishing the usage of our language, not the likes of Urban Lads who are doing great service by modernizing Kannada (either with or without the intention of service) - much to the agony of English-haters.

With Kannada, the problem is not that it lacks the faculties to express "simple, even base, emotions". In fact, it's already the language of the boisterous street. The problem with Kannada is that all these advantages are themselves considered base for not being Sanskritized enough. Languages - if left to themselves - evolve taking in the best aspects of all languages within their reach, like how Kannada is now taking the best aspects from English ("sakkat hot maga" and "table mele idu" are Kannada phraes which lend longevity to Kannada).

It's only when the worshippers of anything old enter the scene that evolution is stifled. And they never get the point that letting Kannada be what it wants to be is not hate of Sanskrit. Even less so is it the hate of spirituality - of which the Sanskrit language has an abundance of, and which Kannadigas can imbibe through Kannada translations. So, while the spirituality in Sanskrit is welcome, the unscientific feeling that Kannada is best when it starts resembling Sanskrit - or that Kannada is best when it's strictly limited to existing old-school poetry and literature - is unwelcome.

Developments such as the Urban Lads, contemporary Kannada film music & our Kannada FM stations are a celebration of Kannada, of democracy, of the future, of liberty, of vibrancy, of youth, and yes, of life.


chandru said...

super piece guru,,

Anonymous said...

Good One.

But the government is gonna start "ಕನ್ನಡ ಭಾಷಾ ಉತ್ಕೃಷ್ಟತಾ ಸಂಸ್ಥೆ". So the Kannada can be more and more Sanskritized

Already, Kannada movies are banned from coining English names.

The Sanskrit ಗೆದ್ಲು is eating away nativity of Kannada.

Somehow Telugu got awake. At Hyderabad I heard FM people saying "Manchi udayam" for Good morning. Udayam is very commonly used word in Telugu for morning and Manchi is Telugu word for good.
Where as some Kannada people use "Shubhodaya" where both Shuba and udaya are hardly used by Kannadigas for good and morning.

In Andra lots and lots words are Telugu "murugu doddlu"(something like this ) for Toilet etc.. all are commonly used words. Unlike Kannada using ಶೌಚಾಲಯ, ಪುರುಷರು etc// utter non sense!

Jai Veerupaksha said...

I think the bigger issue here is we Kannadigas are a bit slow at realising quite a few things.Of course this manifests itself in various forms and hence various being non enterprising, non political,non aggressive.

One of the reasons for this slowness is the "antu" or attachment or the clinging on to things/notions old and archaic without realising why we are doing so and what we are losing by not realising this. This "antu" is the main reason which prevents us from breaking free at the right time, being proactive and by the time we realise....we have now to look at things from a defensive/protectionist mode.

Its only when we leave this "madi", keep our eyes and years open and start acting with an open mind that we will change on every front....the variant of the language that we speak being just one of them.

ಆಂಡಯ್ಯ said...

This sanskritization is mostly done by brahmins (no disrespect) and others who feel sanskrit is superior to kannada in every aspect. what they forget to understand is that kannada as a langauge should be spoken and written using (mostly) kannada words. Words from other languages should be used or kannadaized only if there is no equivalent words in kannada. Our literature and some websites like use a lot of sanskitized and hindiized kannada like putra, pati, patni, taila, mruta, naukari, shava, airavata, shishu, nava naveena, dantha, utsava, vivaaha, geethe, bhojana, gruha etc which we dont use in our day to day colloquial language. Then why ordinary kannadigas have to be put to this hardship and oppression?

This has caused a disconnect and divide and also a misconception that using sanskrit words in speech and writings like "aagamana" instead of "bandaru", or "pushpadinda alankaara" instead of "hoovinda singaara" is superior than using accha kannada. I have even noticed few people passing jibes like "mudde", "gowda" if accha kannada words are used. This is not only derogatory but also not crediting mudde eating gowdas, kurubaas, kumbaaraas and others of their love, sincerity and interest in using kannada rather than getting brainwashed by sanskrit.

I am not a brahmana nor a gowda and I dont even hate samskruta or any langauge. I believe if Karnataka was created for Kannadigas (us) and Kannada, then we should stop polluting Kannada & promoting other languages irrespective of which language it is. I have studied sanskrit as a language and can understand and speak to a good extent but I when I speak Kannada I dont want it to be mixed with sanskrit or hindi or english, to the maximum extent.

A few links to mention:

Anonymous said...

bravo AnnaDayya....

As you said in "ಕಬ್ಬಿಗರ ಕಾವಂ", "ಜಾಣ್ನುಡಿ"

Cheluva said...

What kind of kannada is 'khatham'?

Look at the songs of this new (so called) kannada movie - Maccha (The name itself is kongaati)
* Songu Shuru Dancu Shuru (Containts only english and hindi)
* Fanaa Fanaa (only urdu)

The singers for these songs are as always non-kannadigas !!!

What is the essence of being a kannadiga, a kannada portal, a kannada movie or a kannada song?

Recently Rajesh (of Ravivarmana song fame) expressed his displeasure for the song in Junglee - "Hale paathre hale kabbina". Although not rich in saahithya, this song atleast contains the kannada that is spoken on the street by the hale paathre collector. On the other hand what does fana fana mean in kannada? The lyricist's name is kaviraaj. ivanu yaava seeme kavigala raaja?

Listen to this song's lyrics:

This guy's name is Hrudaya Shiva !! what a name and what crap lyrics, yet again.

How are such people allowed to pen lyrics? Why are producers sponsoring such people to write? on the other hand employ mostly non-kannadigas to sing? Who is getting benefitted by all these actions?

Such lyrics are black marks against the ones penned by greats like Chi. Udayshankar, Dr. Doddarange Gowda, R N Jayagopal, Geethapriya etc. This for sure cannot be termed "creativity" !!!

What is our media doing during the release of such movies and albums?

Why dont we have a Sri Rama Sene for such people? KRV should notice this and take some action.

The biggest question remains - Why are kannadigas not realizing this? What the heck is happening to us? What is our future?

kannada movies and videos said...

Agreed. THe new slangs make the adoption of the language (in this case kannada) easier and seems more hip with younger crowd and even with new learners of kannada.

Sticking to literary kannada is good for earning those 7 gnanapeeth awards, but now its time to do the street fight. And hence new kannada slangs should be the new LINGUA FRANCA ..

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