[lg policy] Punjabi etc.

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 13 01:30:53 UTC 2011

Dear Christina,

 I  think that this raises an issue I've mentioned on
occasion, that is, the manipulation of data by census authorities.
My focus was on data manipulation in the Indian Census, which
tries to inflate figures for Hindi and deflate others by ignoring small
languages that might want to consider themselves as separate
languages, and conflating them with Hindi to raise the percentages
for Hindi.  The goal is to show that the percentage of speakers of
Hindi is rising.  This means that all sorts of other small languages,
e.g. the Todas and Kotas of the Nilgiris, don't get conflated with
other majority languages like Kannada or Tamil, but just get ignored.
Other census authorities in other countries do this, do--mostly by
ignoring certain groups, or not asking questions about language.  In
the US, questions about German popped up on a special census
(non-decennial) in 1916, just before the US entered World War I.  Again
in 1940, questions about language appeared, then disappeared for

I guess maybe that's going on in Pakistan to inflate the percentages
for Urdu, which we all know are very low, and minimize figures for
other languages.  Panjabi has always been low man on the totem
pole in that region--I've just finished editing a volume of papers on
lg. policy in Afghanistan and its neighbors, and one of the
contributors shows how Panjabi was ignored and denigrated by the
British, in favor of Urdu in the portion of India that is now Pakistan.
So I think there's an "inferiority complex" among the Panjabis, which
Zaidi mentions in the Gowanus article he attached to one
of his messages.  He mentions that Panjabi in India is even written with
nagari script; I thought it was written in Gurumukhi...


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