Let's say no to pessimism!

I have come to feel that the Kodavas are like any other linguistic people in India, in feeling that their linguistic identity is becoming increasingly meaningless in today's world. Only, the Kodavas may be an extreme example of a people stuck with this feeling. But living with that feeling is no answer to the questions confronting the Kodavas or any other people of the world. I believe that the best way ahead for the Kodavas, as it is for every other linguistic people, is to do away with pessimism and bring their language up to speed so that it can compete in today's competitive world.

There is no denying that languages such as Kodava, that have not much of a history of literature, have more ground to cover than those that do. But this must not turn into fatalism, in the same way that a child lagging behind in the class must not consider his/her progress at school impossible.

I do not like to call any language as underdeveloped or laggard, because these terms are applicable when one uses a linear measuring scale to compare languages. Languages are not linear systems; they are mindbogglingly complex nonlinear ones, and linear scales can never do justice to 'measuring' them. It is as meaningless to 'measure' a language as it is to 'measure' a flower. Kodava Tak may not have much literature, but it has served the purposes of the Kodavas for thousands of years, and the Kodavas are a great people in many ways.

But the unfortunate reality of today is that languages are being measured using the linear scale of modern science, technology and human organization. Languages that have not been tailored to suit this linear scale are being called underdeveloped or laggard languages. The 'proof' of this is the relative material poverty of their speakers, which is oftentimes inflicted by the speakers of the languages 'at the forefront' in this respect.

In such a world, the speakers of every language have two options: (1) to accept the challenge and fight to win, and (2) to accept defeat in the challenge. I believe we should all accept the challenge and fight to win. And when we win, we should remember that we have not won, for believing it to be a victory is agreeing with the oppressors. Instead, we should win with the full understanding of our colossal defeat. Only then can we deliver ourselves from the bondage of the duality of victory and defeat.

(Pic: dinodia.com)


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