Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Queen's language or Rashtra Bhasha ???

Whenever I see any interviews given by Bollywood stars and other celebrities, one thing always amuses me. And that is the inevitability with which the language of communication becomes English. Even if the channel is Hindi, it is quite strange to see the anchor asking questions in Hindi and the celebrity answering in English. Even if someone tries, the most he or she can manage is two sentences. After that, its back to the queen's language. The reason I specifically mentioned Bollywood stars is because they are supposed to work in the Hindi film industries and mouth dialogues in Hindi for a living. And yet, when it comes to facing the camera without a dialogue sheet, they are back to the language that they are most comfortable with. This is not to say that other celebrities are whizzes in Hindi. But atleast sports stars and politicians converse much better in Hindi as compared to them.

Now one might think that I am being too touchy on a small issue, but I really feel about our national language and the way we have neglected it, especially someone like me whos mother tongue is not Hindi. I used to like, and still like, pure Hindi, the way Premchand, Harivanshrai Bachchan and others used to write (and which were an integral part of our school textbooks). But somehow, have we virtually stopped the use of Hindi in our daily life, to the point where we are no longer comfortable speaking in front of others ? Or is it that it is no longer considered 'cool' to converse in Hindi ? Either case, it is a sad state of affairs. Now two questions that might occur to you: Does Amit consider himself a stud in Hindi ? and if so, why is this post not in Hindi ?? The answer to the first question is an emphatic 'No' and as regards the second one, I need to master the art of typing in the Devnagari script and someday, I hope to blog in Hindi and Marathi. Infact, I am so un-used to writing in the Devanagari script that I can barely write a line in a decent handwriting.

Talking to conversing freely in Hindi, last week's episode of 'Koffee with Karan' was extremely interesting. The guest on this show, which I consider bastion of the Chopra-Khan-Johar coterie, was none other than Rakhi Sawant. It was indeed refreshing to see her talk in Hindi (not withstanding its corruption by the Mumbai lingo) just as we do in our normal conversations. She was also candid in admiting that she was from a vernacular medium school and hence not comfortable in English. Bravo Rakhi !!! If only some others can take a cue from her and promote the use of our beloved national language.

Till the next post,


Alam said...

forget rashtriya bhaasha ... take any bhaasha... I my make a mistake or two when reciting Ka, kha,ga, gha... many of my Tam friends can't write a single word of tam ... English (roman script actually, but with the script comes the language) has become the defacto medium of communication.

What english has done to Hindi ... Hindi has done to the many dialects (avadhi bhojpuri ...etc etc) ... they have taken the urban populace away from the language that their forefathers spoke (i didn't use "wrote" because many forefather's would not have known writing)

I see atleast two major problems because of this trend.

1. It will take a couple of generations for new urban populace to start thinking and expressing well in the newly acquired homogeneous language (english , hindi whatever be the case) ... for that period they will be in the "Trishanku" stage of being total masters of no language (neither the old avadhi/bhojpuri/hindi/etc ... nor the new english/Hindi). Serious thinking and (more importantly) beautiful expression of powerful ideas, in simple words will suffer.

2. The beauty and charm of the old languages was immense... ( I still like the old "Dohas" in dialectic hindi and the beautiful poetry in now dieing Urdu) ... these languages developed in our midst .. they are very well suited to carry our thoughts and emotions with elan ... Infact they developed over years to suit our needs .... it would be shame if those years of evolution is lost ... (When "customized" and "designer" is so much in style one wonders why people gravitate towards "mass market" languages)

According to me the ideal state will be when everyone is a champion communicator in various flavors of locally suited language... where languages keep evolving into more beautiful forms by interacting with each other. Where the "linking language" (which is increasingly english at global scale and hindi at national level) needn't necessarily be the "thinking langauge"... where the "pinging language" (of computer expression) doesn't eat into the "singing language" of (emotional expression)

Dhananjay said...

I disagree with any language killing other language. As people move across geographies and mix so do the languages. Taking Alam's cue about old languages, Sanskrit and Pali mixed together to give us Prakrit, which is the base for most of the dialects spoken across the deccan plateau, which includes our Mother tongue Marathi. Same for Urdu, its a mixture of Pharsi and Hindi. Languages evolve to meet the needs of the people at a particular place and particular, after all they are a medium of communication. We are already seeing an amalgam of Hindi and English in Hinglish which is being used by most of the current generation to communicate within themselves. English has so many words from other languages that it can be hardly called Queen's English anymore, atleast not the english in which the bard expressed his thoughts.
Any language which fails to evolve to meet the needs of the society for communication either gets marginalized or dies. Look at Sanskrit, what percentage of Indians can today speak that wonderful language, reason it didn't make it to masses.
I find your point on the movie stars giving interviews in english valid because most of the people who watch the interview and to whome they cater are non english speaking. But what if thats the best way they can express themselves?
About appreciating sports star and Rakhi Sawant speaking in Hindi and not in English is like appreciating INC for there choice of women as a presenditial candidate.

Amit Gokhale said...

Nice to see such views from both of you.. it was just an top-of-the-mind kind of post and honestly did not expect such responses :)..
I think both are essentially pointing out the same thing.. of languages being in an eternal flux.. after all a language also mirrors our culture... 'Queens language' will soon become a thing of the past.. my apprehension is that are we changing too fast ??.. We anyways have got our Hindi messed up with so many English words.. and now even our written English is being invaded by the 'SMS script' :).. at this rate, I wonder if we will have a 'stable' language...

Dhanno: I appreciated Rakhi not for speaking in Hindi (as you hinted, she really had no choice) but to admit her shortcomings in English.. that too on a show whose target audience is the English-speaking urban youth...