Classicalization of Literary Form Erects Barriers to Mobilization

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Several articles on Karnatique in the past have talked about the distance between colloquial Kannada and the literary form of Kannada. If you have not come across this topic before, you would get a fair understanding by reading this article.

In many of the discussions regarding the distance between colloquial Kannada and the literary form, the question invariably arises "is this something specific to Kannada?". The answer is "no". Some people have also suspected that because Kannada belongs to Dravidian family of languages, borrowing words from the Sanskrit language (belonging to Indo-European language family) for usage in literary form of Kannada is the reason for this distance. Well, it might come as a surprise to many that even the languages belonging to Indo-European family, Hindi for instance, have this enlarged gap between the colloquial and the literary forms. The gap is mainly due to giving up of the words regularly used in spoken forms to make way for words from the Sanskrit language. One research paper that was published in the year 1968 has captured this phenomenon. Language Hindi is the subject of study in that research paper. In this article, we shall understand the phenomenon, with the help of findings mentioned in the research paper.

Linguists Joshua A. Fishman, Charles A. Ferguson and Jyotirindra Das Gupta have come up with a book titled “Language Problems Of Developing Nations”. The book, first published in 1968, is a collection of research papers around the subject of socio-linguistics. In the book, there is a research paper titled “Language, Communication and Control in North India”, jointly written by Jyotirindra Das Gupta and John J. Gumperz.

The research paper talks about the developments around languages in the geographical area that fall under the present day states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, in the Indian Union. The developments recorded in the research paper have occurred in the 1900s. The below pasted text is an excerpt from the research paper that sheds light on how the standardization efforts moved the literary form of Hindi far away from the colloquial forms.
The Hindi scholars have interpreted the task of language development as being synonymous with increasing classicalization. But classicalization implies that the literary language diverges sharply from the common speeches, thus causing an increasing separation between the media of elite communication and mass comprehension. Evidently, the Hindi scholars are less concerned with standardizing the language for popular use than for retaining its purity from the contamination of the outside influences. Hence the policy of elitist sanctity has been of greater salience to their conception of language planning than the policy of extension of mass communication.
In summary, the official Hindi that is being used in teaching and for governmental communications today is built to suit elite communication, rather than mass comprehension. As the written form of a language moves away from the spoken form, naturally the masses find it difficult to comprehend.

The authors of the research paper have also listed a couple of examples that have been sourced from sign boards intended for the public, and also from the text of the Indian Constitution. The examples listed below have been reproduced from the research paper.
Example 1:
- dhuumprapaan varjint hai (official text)
- smoking prohibited (English translation)
- sigret piinaa manaa hai (approximate equivalent in the colloquial)
Example 2:
- raastrapati kaa nirvacin eek aisee nirvaacik gan kee sadasy kareengee (official text)
- the president’s election will be done by electors chosen to include (English translation)
- raastrapati kaa cunaaoo eek aisee cunee huwee sadasy kareengee (approximate equivalent in the colloquial)

Apart from these two examples, the authors also cite the words used commonly in the literary Hindi and their counterparts in the colloquial Hindi. Some of those are:
- yadi for agar (if)
kintu for magar (but) 
atah for isliye (therefore)
pratham for pahlaa (first)

By citing these examples, and highlighting the differences between the literary Hindi and the colloquial Hindi, the authors opine thus:
It seems evident that the new grammatical differences between colloquial and literary Hindi resulting from recent language reform materially add to the ordinary speaker’s task of learning literary Hindi. Many of the new rules are irregular in that they affect only certain parts of the vocabulary. Others affect deeply ingrained pronunciation patterns. Considerable exposure time is required before such rules can be mastered. Many native-speakers of Hindi, including some educated persons, feel uneasy about their control of literary Hindi. On the other hand, those who have been exposed to the present form of literary Hindi as part of their family background have considerable advantage in the educational system. New barriers to mobilization are being created, providing an opportunity for elite particularism to assert itself.
The situation is not much different in my mother-tongue Kannada. The present day literary form of Kannada language has drifted far from the colloquial Kannada. There are efforts to bring the literary form of Kannada as close to the spoken form as possible. Such efforts help undo the barriers to mobilization that have been erected. In the end, any language standardization process must strive to make the literary form suitable for mass communication. Mass communication will only succeed with mass comprehension, won't it?

2 comments:

ಮಹೇಶ ಭಟ್ಟ said...

ಇತ್ತೀಚೆಗೆ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷಿನವರೂ ಕೂಡ ಲ್ಯಾಟಿನ್ ಗ್ರೀಕ್ ಪದ ಬಿಟ್ಟು ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಮೂಲದ ಪದ ಕಟ್ಟಲು ಆರಂಭಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ

venugopal narayanswamy said...

A karnataka regiment must be started in the indian Army in recognition of Karnataka's martial prowess.

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