India: Kerala to claim classical status for Malayalam

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Nov 10 20:23:19 UTC 2008

 Classical language status: Kerala to lay claim

   C. Gouridasan Nair
  M.A. Baby
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Stung by the Central government's decision to
leave out Malayalam while according 'classical language'status to
various south Indian languages, the Kerala government has decided to
approach the Centre with a 'statement of facts' that puts forward the
language's claim to be considered on a par with Kannada and Telugu,
which got the coveted 'classical' status recently.Education and
Cultural Affairs Minister M.A. Baby told The Hindu over telephone from
Kochi on Sunday that the government had requested poet O.N.V. Kurup
toprepare a 'statement of facts' showing how Malayalam is eminently
qualified to be accorded the 'classical' status along with Kannada and
 Telugu. The report, prepared in consultation with writers and
linguists, was ready andhis information was that it had a persuasive
argument about how Malayalamqualified for 'classical' status
historically,linguistically and in terms of literary merit, Mr. Baby

 O.N.V. Kurup   "We have nothing against Kannada and Telugu being
given classical status. Our only plea is that Malayalam should also be
treated on a par with these languages. And our endeavour is to impress
upon the Centre, Malayalam's claims to be declared a classical
language. We are extremely happy that our Governor R.S. Gavai, who is
a non-Malayali, couldunderstand our sentiments and declare openly that
he would take up the issuewith the Centre" Mr. Baby said. Mr. Gavai
had come up with the declaration while inaugurating a youngwriters'
workshop here recently, in response to Chief Minister
V.S.Achuthanandan's expression of dismay at the exclusion of
Malayalam.The Chief Minister himself was reflecting the growing tide
of opinion amongwriters and scholars in Kerala against the Centre's
decision.Eminent persons like jurist V.R. Krishna Iyer, litterateur
Sukumar Azhikode andpoet K. Satchidanandan have openly questioned the
wisdom of the government taking upon itself the task of classifying
certain languages as'classical' and creating unhealthy hierarchies
among languages. Such measures, Mr. Iyer had said, would only help
foment 'linguistic fanaticism.'

>>From the Hindu

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at


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