of Correct Attitudes and Beliefs about Language and Languages in Indian
occasion for this note was a request circulated by the Director, Central
Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore (in his D.O.No.F.10-27/71 of
8.4.1971) for suggestions for the implementation of professor P.B.
Pandit’s proposal accepted by the Institute’s Expert Advisory Committee
(in its meeting on 14.1.1971) that essays be prepared that are suitable
for secondary school pupils in India and that explain the origin,
growth, diversity and inter-relationship of Indian Languages.
The writer of this note endorses this
proposal but suggests towards language in general as also to remove
common misconceptions towards it arising out of what may be called
folk-linguistics, as prevalent in India. It is not enough to remove
factors hindering emotional integration of the country, but also to
create in the more positive fashion a frame of mind for the proper
solution and resolution of the problems arising out of India’s linguistic
diversity and of the attempts to usher in a modern society and culture.
Further it will be useful to consider
not only suitable topics but also along with them the choice of points
of entry-i, e. the age and the curricular head. Simple lessons could
be introduced not only in the school language readers (the school
language being English, Hindi, the regional language or the minority
language as the case may be) but also in the social studies texts
of history, geography and civics.
In the list of themes that follows
suggested age levels and curricular heads (SLR school language reader;
H History including human origins; G Geography; C Civics; H Hindi
as second language or as regional language; MIL Modern Indian Language
i.e. school language other than English) are given against each theme.
The themes are arranged broadly from the more general and /or abstract
to the more specific and/ or concrete.
Needless to say, this note is no more
than a working draft, subject to modification and extension. It may
be a good idea to bring out a collection of essays in English. It
must be borne in mind, however,
that they will have to be not so much translated as adapted to the
various modern Indian languages. Illustration will be drawn from the
Importance of language in the emergence of man as a civilized
animal; utility of language as a practical instrument (Age: 14 +;
Some languages are merely spoken, a few are both spoken and
written. Literature can be both spoken and written. Some languages
are more commonly used for composing literature; others less often
so. Literature and writing are not the whole of language. (Age: 15
+ head: SLR)
The Fable of Aesop on the Tongue as the great divider and binder
of people. Being loyal to one’s own language does not entail despising
or hating others’ languages. (Age: 10 +; head: SLR)
The games people play with language. Style in everybody use
of language. (Age: 15 +; head: SLR)
No language is free from change or free from regional or social
variation. The terms “language” and “dialect”. No writing system is
free from compromises and therefore “perfect”. (Age: 12 +;
When a language changes, it tends to diverge. The concept of
language family as a way of explaining striking and detailed similarities
between languages. Thus, all languages are equally old and equally
new. The expression of same common meanings in the languages of India
presented so as to bring out their family groupings. (It is much better
to present India’s linguistic diversity in this concrete manner than
to do it in the context of migration of people into the sub-continent
which encourages facile identification of language and race. Besides,
the accepted account - Aryans pushing Dravidians into the South and
all that – is likely to undergo profound revision in the next few
decades anyway) (Age: 13 +; head: SLR)
All languages are born equal. A way of saying is correct or
incorrect only within a language variety at a particular time. Language
varieties are not “good” or “bad”; they don’t “improve” or “deteriorate”.
They are only appropriate or inappropriate; more widely or narrow
useful. Standard and non-standard, (In the case of Bengali, Hindi,
Tamil, Telugu, the diglossia would also be touched upon). (Age: 10
+; head: SLR, C)
No language is “pure”. Some languages borrow more directly;
others prefer to borrow through translation. No language is too advanced
to borrow; no language is too humble to borrow from. Not only languages
but also dialects borrow and lend. Once a word is borrowed it is an
integral part of the borrowing language (Age: 14 +; head:
SLR, C). At this point, one day draw attention to
S.M. Mate’s Marathi essay on “Bhashabhivruddhichi Samajik Drushti”.
The languages of India – their genealogy and their distribution
(Age: 11 +; head: G)
The scripts of India – their genealogy and their distribution
(Age: 13 +; head: H)
India as a linguistic area – how it came to be one historically.
The part played by Sanskrit, Persian, Hindustani, and English as links
and sources of borrowed words in all Indian languages (Age: 13
+; head: H)
Essays on each of the following languages: history, what the
language is like, place in India’s cultural history, Important names
in literature, script, etc. English, each of the 15 languages in the
Eighth Schedule. (Age: 12 + to14 +; head: SLR).
Learning a language/about a language. The proper use of a dictionary.
The structure of a dictionary better in entry. Why is using a monolingual
dictionary better in the long run in learning a new language? (Age:
15 +; head: SLR)
It will be noticed that the notorious
language problems and controversies of India have been left alone.
This is not an oversight on the part of the writer of the writer of
this note, but the result of a considered choice.
This was prepared in April 1971 and
circulated without much response. It has remained unpublished.