What about the language?

I just came to read a blog post that discusses the linguistic chauvinism and about the need of preserving a certain language. The language in question was Malayalam. The author of the post obviously got angry by the comment of a Government school teacher that a criminal case should be booked against the parents who send their kids to English medium schools. And I felt that both the comments from professor and the blogger have too much emotional elements in it.

The comment from the professor is of course stupid and irresponsible. Capital punishment to parents for sending their kids to the school of their choice is more of a laughable view point. However, in the process of placing counter arguments I feel that the blogger too has got emotional. There were a couple of questions raised in the post:

1) I speak malayalam, and read/write it with some difficulty, yet I do not see the point in learning poetry and prose! I mean, what is the whole idea?

A language is not just a mere tool for communication. There is a huge wealth of knowledge base that comes with it which is perfected across several years by several generations and passed on from generation to generation. This wealth of knowledge is recorded in various forms – Literature (and by literature, I am not referring to fiction only), proverbs, folk songs etc. Most of these forms contribute to a historical record of the then social system, society, eco system, weather and life in general. These have time and over shaped up the culture and our social and individual identity.

Now a possible question: Can the same not be translated to a globally accepted language, like English, so that it will be available to all those who are interested and they will not have to face the difficult of learning a particular language?

As well know, the language loses it’s beauty and more importantly the context, when it is translated. To understand something that is written in a language with it’s original beauty and context, you need to read it in the language in which it is written. The translations can have several interpretations and can be politically abused.

2) Languages evolve, but do they get killed?

Speaking of the death of a language, here is a quote from Wikipedia:

The most common process leading to language death is one in which a community of speakers of one language becomes bilingual in another language, and gradually shifts allegiance to the second language until they cease to use their original (or heritage) language. This is a process of assimilation which may be voluntary or may be forced upon a population. Speakers of some languages, particularly regional or minority languages, may decide to abandon them based on economic or utilitarian grounds, in favour of languages regarded as having greater utility or prestige.

Ironically, the languages which even evolve in itself can get killed by the same people who use it. The next question would be whether we need to preserve a language which is not in need by the same people who use it. But there comes the importance of preserving the knowledge treasure that the language has generated. And whether a person should acquire this knowledge or not is a personal choice, but there is no doubt that we don’t have any right to deny that treasure to the future generations to come, hence the need of preseverance.

English medium education and Malayalam

Learning English is essential these days to compete in the globalized world. I do not question that (and the sad state of affiars in Kerala state proves that even the English medium schools are not helping our children on using that language properly). But the news that the children being punished or fined for speaking Malayalam in the school premises do not leave a good impression on the kind of English education system that we have. This leaves an impression in the children that speaking Malayalam is a henious thing to do and they would begin to see their own language as third-class (which will then lead to view one’s own culture and tradition as third-class).

Linguistic chauvinism

Too much of love for anything that we hold dear to our hearts could make us extremists. So we need to take good care of the whole language-love not leading to regional or linguistic chauvinism. There is nothing wrong in taking pride of one’s own language or culture but when it turns to establish that only ours is supreme, it will cause trouble. That is what we see from the recent examples of social troubles caused by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena during anti-North Indian campaign or Kannada Rakshana Vedige during Raj Kumar’s capture and death.

[Image source: Wikipedia]

Myth: Tolerance is religion’s contribution

The Sangh Parivar and it’s supporters time and again have been saying that their violence is in response to centuries long oppression that Hindus had to face from it’s foreign invaders. They say Hindus had to suffer because of the tolerant nature of Hindus. They further explain that the Mughal raj, British raj, Missionaries and conversion are all results of this centuries long tolerance and universal acceptance of Hinduism. This has gained quite some sympathy from both national and international audience and is often used to justify the brutally violent acts of Sangh Parivar. But this story of tolerance is nothing but a myth.

Love, hate, tolerance and intolerace are all human traits. Religion could either enhance it or destroy it. The choice is left to the human beings. Jesus Christ taught the message of love and forgiveness to his disciples. He asked them to spread these words whereas some of his disciples simply went after spreading the religion and setting up it’s institution in the name of spreading his words. The abuse of Christianity had resulted in wars and religious persecution. Jesus Christ was gone and a religious institution replaced him. This abuse continues to happen as we hear US president George Bush sayGod would tell me, George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan. And I did, and then God would tell me, George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq… And I did“.

Similarly, Hinduism is a beautiful philosophy. Many of the Hindu holy texts contain some beautiful thoughts and ideas. But by practice, Hinduism was not that universally accepting. The most celebrated “universal acceptance” of Hinduism is primarily based on our racist mentality that exists even now. I remember a couple of incidents – of how a northie wrote that “Madrasi chicks look ugly” which got the entire blogosphere in to a north-south divide discussion and then the most recent one from the first ever BlogCamp Kerala in 2008. One (and only) foreigner who attended the BlogCamp Kerala wrote this in his blog after the blog camp:

People were taking picture of me like I was a tourist attraction. 100 guys, 3 girls and one Guillaume, and everyone is interested in the Guillaume.

Yes, that happened in a so-called intellectual part of the society. Similarly, you go to an event, you see an african-american man and you don’t even feel like sitting beside him. But if he was white, you would definitely use any chance that you could talk to him and be a friend.

The above mentioned is one simple example of the racist mindset that we have. We love the color “White” or anything “foreign“. Hence we had warmly welcomed the Whites and other foreigners. This is one thing that resulted in the British Raj. The rulers of that time while they were treating their downtrodden within their social system (Dalits and poor people) like pigs, welcomed their White friends who later became their masters. Their own racist mindset resulted in all these. British Raj, Missionaries and such. And people call that racist mindset tolerance and universal acceptance. And that racist mentality is exactly what the problem behind conversion. Because it resulted in helping the foreigners, deep-rooting caste-system and poverty in it’s own society which later lead to missionaries and conversion.

If love, tolerance and acceptance were religious inventions, there wouldn’t have been atheists who are as humanitarians as some religious figures. The only difference is that such atheists (and I am not referring to some of those urban atheists who say “I am an atheist” for fashion) do not put any religion’s label in their work. So whenever you hear the Sangh’s doctrine about tolerance and universal acceptance, think again.

Indian Penal Code, Section 377

I can’t understand how they feel this thing! 😮

It is the same way we feel about women!

But still… 😀

Well, they prefer a different way. 🙂

I can’t imagine my son being this way. Would you feel okay if your future kid goes this way?

I wouldn’t. 😀 Now it’s got me thinking, isn’t it pure hypocrisy?


Need not be. You have the right to feel what you feel. But at the time you start imposing on others what you feel, that becomes a legal problem. So as long as your son/daughter dependant on you, you can control them. But once they are on their own, they are free to do it if they prefer it that way. To accept them or not are all based on how broad-minded you are. 😎

Right. And regardless of what I feel, the government should be taking care of the individual’s rights.

Absolutely. On that note, government should not club Homosexuality with Pedophilia. One is sex between two consenting adults and the other is sexual abuse.

Man! Are you gay? 😀

Yeah. 😛 So what? 😀

(That was a conversation between 3 people, including myself, when the news of Union Health Minister taking up the cause of Homosexuality came up)