Friday, January 6, 2017

Tongue twisted by time

I visited home last week and spoke to my brother after quite a long time. We last met during my wedding. So we discussed our usual topics—anthropology being our absolute favourite—and we ended up talking about the decline of languages in urban scenario. Throughout history, there have been long battles waged between languages under the garb of culture. A lot of languages died, some survived and the rest merged into something else. Even today, mother tongues tell us a lot about where we are and where we are heading. An existential method of looking at any decline is to say that nothing matters. Everything perishes after a while. True. But the problem is change doesn’t always happen for the good. We lose a part of something that’s bigger than we’ll ever be. Lingual bullying isn’t a modern reality and it takes place so slyly that one doesn’t even realize why ‘chup kar’ became uncool and ‘shut up’ became the norm. This contest of preference has been around for ages. Besides, there has to be a reason why Maharashtra is the only state in India whose official language (Marathi) has registered a decline in the census. But then again, we don’t care much about such things. To us practical mortals, language plays a key role in communicating our ideas and expressing ourselves better. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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