[lg policy] Re: lgpolicy-list Digest, Vol 43, Issue 23

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 26 16:22:38 UTC 2012


Regarding the question of whether India has an "official" language or not,
and my response to that question a while back, I was informed that I was
wrong to claim that Hindi was India's "official" or even "national"
language.  I had misgivings about that reply, so I finally got a chance to
google "rashtra bhaSa" and found the following
article.

Do we need a rashtra bhasha?
Pritish Nandy
25 September 2012, 09:49 AM IST
177

Last week, on my way to work, I saw an Air India hoarding proclaiming 14
September as Hindi Diwas. It was the only reminder of the fact that India
still has a rashtra bhasha. I wonder how many young Indians know this.

There was a time when the Government made a big deal out of Hindi Diwas. It
was an occasion to assert that we must reject English and switch over to
Hindi, the language that promised to bring us all together under one flag.
English, it was argued, was a colonial relic and since we had removed the
statues and renamed the roads, it was time to stop using the language of
the British. To make this happen, the Government set up a huge department
and gave it hundreds of crores.

Today, decades later, English has not only grown in India, it has dug deep
roots. Even the poorest Indian wants his children to study in English
medium. No, it is not because we are any less nationalistic today. It is
because, despite the enormous reach of Bollywood, people still want their
children to speak their mother tongue at home (Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi,
Bengali, whatever) and use English to reach out to the world. In fact,
south of the Vindhyas, English is the actual unifying language, not Hindi.
People there have made it amply clear they will continue to use it even if
Delhi disapproves.

In short, we have realised that English is not about bondage. It’s about
freedom. The freedom to converse with the world as equals, to reach out to
new markets, discover new things. Even the French speak English today. So
do the Chinese. The Japanese held out for a while. But even they are now
convinced it makes good sense to do business in English. National pride,
wonderful as it may be, has nothing to do with the language of work and
learning. One can be proficient in English and yet retain one’s culture,
one’s heritage. If you ask people anywhere in the world to list their ten
favourite authors in English today, most will name at least three of Indian
origin. Instead of spurning English, we own it today.

The world’s most widely read English newspaper is Indian. The second most
widely read financial paper in English is also Indian. As the Government
remains paralysed by its paranoia of social media, more and more young
Indians are using English apps for news, business, healthcare, markets.
Governance will soon become language agnostic. Our cell phones, computers,
tablets are making young Indians in the remotest corners of this country
into world citizens. In the North East, English is the only language that
can see you through the entire region.

The moral of the story is: A young nation must make its own choices. Try as
hard as it wants, no Government can force its will on its citizens. The
time for the Papa State is over. Young India wants to take its own calls
and this is one example where the Government has shown wisdom and quietly
backed off. If we can do this with something as sensitive as language, I am
sure we can show the same wisdom in issues relating to caste, region and
religion. Instead of using a heavy hand, if the State occasionally steps
back and allows the will of the people to prevail, I am sure many of our
conflicts will disappear. Do we really need to call VT station by another
name? Will a Hill Council in Darjeeling change the lives of people? Will
carving Telengana out of Andhra really make a difference to the lives of
people there? Instead of all these reservations, why not let young Indians
learn the importance of merit? Let’s chuck the tired clichés about social
engineering. Let’s discover a new political lexicon.

This could be the best reforms. To finally build an India that leaves
behind its old animosities, its old prejudices to seek a new future. We
cannot right every historical wrong but we can certainly forget them and
move on.


http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/extraordinaryissue/entry/do-we-need-a-rashtra-bhasha

So according to this writer, India indeed has a rashtra bhasha, but little
is claimed for it any more.  So my question still is "what does rashtra
mean"--official or national?

HS


On Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 11:43 PM, RAMANUJAM MEGANATHAN <
kankoduthavanithan at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear All
> In the discussion of 'national' and official language, there was a mention
> about Hindi as a national language of India by HS. I would like to bring to
> the notice of all THAT INDIA DOES NOT HAVE A NATIONAL LANGUAGE. Hindi is
> the official language of India and English is Associate Official language.
> There was a national commission in the 1956 on official language in India.
> This was as a result of the debates in the constitutional drafting
> committee that declaring Hindi as a national language may lead to
> linguistic disputes and division.
> Indian Constitution has a separate schedule on Languages.
> RAMANUJAM MEGANATHAN
> NCERT, INDIA
>
> On Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 10:31 PM, <
> lgpolicy-list-request at groups.sas.upenn.edu> wrote:
>
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>> Today's Topics:
>>
>>    1. Re: national vs officila language (dzo at bisharat.net)
>>    2. Re: national vs officila language (Harold Schiffman)
>>    3. RE: The Dark Reality of Secession Fantasy (jayrkirk42)
>>
>>
>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> Message: 1
>> Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 05:08:27 +0000
>> From: dzo at bisharat.net
>> Subject: Re: [lg policy] national vs officila language
>> To: "Language Policy List" <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
>> Message-ID:
>>
>> <1246215828-1353388108-cardhu_decombobulator_blackberry.rim.net-1201909381- at b14.c17.bise6.blackberry
>> >
>>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="Windows-1252"
>>
>> I don't have access to Fishman's article at this time either, but hope
>> it's okay to offer some impressions on use of the terms.
>>
>> As varied as the definitions of "offIcial language" may be (that subject
>> has been a matter of discussion on this list), usage of "national language"
>> seems even more varied and less exact.
>>
>> In addition to the definition mentioned by Dr. Mostari, "national
>> language" may also be a category of language defined by law alongside
>> "official language." This is the case in a number of African countries for
>> example (notably in former French colonies). This usage has been omitted
>> from some discussions of the term that I've seen.
>>
>> On the other hand, I have heard foreigners - again in Africa - refer to
>> the official language as being the national language (meaning presumably
>> that the former is intended to be used nationwide?). This sort of
>> conflation of the two concepts seems to me to be fairly common.
>>
>> Returning to national language as a legal category in Africa, some
>> countries so designate a few of the more widely spoken, while some others
>> include all (indigenously spoken) languages of their population, which
>> would indeed mean that some with very few speakers are considered "national
>> languages."
>>
>> My understanding is that "national" in this context depends on how one
>> means the term. Clearly "national" is not necessarily the same as
>> nationwide. But it could mean that it is part of or belongs to the nation,
>> even if in the case of many languages, only a minority of the population
>> speaks it.
>>
>> Brann (1994) discusses the terminology in more detail, including 4
>> meanings of "national language," and relationship to other terms. Citation
>> below; there is a summary of main points on the Wikipedia article on the
>> subject. (Probably should be a summary of Fishman's article there too.)
>>
>> Brann, C.M.B. 1994. "The National Language Question: Concepts and
>> Terminology." Logos [University of Namibia, Windhoek] Vol 14: 125–134
>>
>> HTH,
>>
>> Don Osborn
>>
>> Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: mostari hind <hmostari at yahoo.com>
>> Sender: lgpolicy-list-bounces+dzo=bisharat.net at groups.sas.upenn.edu
>> Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2012 11:50:40
>> To: Language Policy List<lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
>> Reply-To: Language Policy List <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
>> Subject: RE: [lg policy] national vs officila language
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
>> lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
>> To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format:
>> https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> ------------------------------
>>
>> Message: 2
>> Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 10:33:11 -0500
>> From: Harold Schiffman <haroldfs at gmail.com>
>> Subject: Re: [lg policy] national vs officila language
>> To: Don Osborn <dzo at bisharat.net>,      Language Policy List
>>         <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
>> Message-ID:
>>         <CACqQ=kKv3eikJV8DLimUOkeON2CpAiU2AGeTszpK0npn=
>> xpFWQ at mail.gmail.com>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"
>>
>> This is a confusing topic, and I don't think there's a way to lock down a
>> definition.
>> In India, e.g. Hindi is the "national" language, but not the only
>> "official" one, since English is also co-official at the national level.
>> Then there are the "official" languages of various states, a lot of them.
>>
>> HS
>>
>>
>> On Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 12:08 AM, <dzo at bisharat.net> wrote:
>>
>> > I don't have access to Fishman's article at this time either, but hope
>> > it's okay to offer some impressions on use of the terms.
>> >
>> > As varied as the definitions of "offIcial language" may be (that subject
>> > has been a matter of discussion on this list), usage of "national
>> language"
>> > seems even more varied and less exact.
>> >
>> > In addition to the definition mentioned by Dr. Mostari, "national
>> > language" may also be a category of language defined by law alongside
>> > "official language." This is the case in a number of African countries
>> for
>> > example (notably in former French colonies). This usage has been omitted
>> > from some discussions of the term that I've seen.
>> >
>> > On the other hand, I have heard foreigners - again in Africa - refer to
>> > the official language as being the national language (meaning presumably
>> > that the former is intended to be used nationwide?). This sort of
>> > conflation of the two concepts seems to me to be fairly common.
>> >
>> > Returning to national language as a legal category in Africa, some
>> > countries so designate a few of the more widely spoken, while some
>> others
>> > include all (indigenously spoken) languages of their population, which
>> > would indeed mean that some with very few speakers are considered
>> "national
>> > languages."
>> >
>> > My understanding is that "national" in this context depends on how one
>> > means the term. Clearly "national" is not necessarily the same as
>> > nationwide. But it could mean that it is part of or belongs to the
>> nation,
>> > even if in the case of many languages, only a minority of the population
>> > speaks it.
>> >
>> > Brann (1994) discusses the terminology in more detail, including 4
>> > meanings of "national language," and relationship to other terms.
>> Citation
>> > below; there is a summary of main points on the Wikipedia article on the
>> > subject. (Probably should be a summary of Fishman's article there too.)
>> >
>> > Brann, C.M.B. 1994. "The National Language Question: Concepts and
>> > Terminology." Logos [University of Namibia, Windhoek] Vol 14: 125–134
>> >
>> > HTH,
>> >
>> > Don Osborn
>> >
>> > Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
>> >
>> > -----Original Message-----
>> > From: mostari hind <hmostari at yahoo.com>
>> > Sender: lgpolicy-list-bounces+dzo=bisharat.net at groups.sas.upenn.edu
>> > Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2012 11:50:40
>> > To: Language Policy List<lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
>> > Reply-To: Language Policy List <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
>> > Subject: RE: [lg policy] national vs officila language
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
>> > lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
>> > To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format:
>> > https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list
>> >
>> >
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
>> > lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
>> > To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format:
>> > https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list
>> >
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> =+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+
>>
>>  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 gmail.com
>> http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/
>>
>> -------------------------------------------------
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>> ------------------------------
>>
>> Message: 3
>> Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 09:50:42 -0600
>> From: jayrkirk42 <jayrkirk42 at yahoo.com>
>> Subject: RE: [lg policy] The Dark Reality of Secession Fantasy
>> To: Language Policy List <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
>> Message-ID: <9yeqa5h1u9s0dha0bnb35tc8.1353426642643 at email.android.com>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>>
>> Martyrdom syndrome - everybody's got it, legitimate or not. If you
>> perceive that your ideology is being persecuted, it somehow makes it more
>> legitimate.
>>
>> I enjoyed this, being a Floridian recently transplanted to Texas. In
>> Florida I grew up with the regional identity of the South being important.
>> In Texas, the state identity of being Texan is the big deal. In both cases,
>> there was a sense that these identities are more American than America
>> itself, as you said. Granted, Texans would probably be fine having their
>> own identity, since they aghast do, anyway.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Sent from my Samsung Epic™ 4G TouchGareth Price <
>> garethowenprice at gmail.com> wrote:Hi All,
>>
>> I thought some of you might find interesting a recent op-ed I wrote for
>> the Huffington Post. It's on language, nationalism and the recent secession
>> petitions in the US:
>>
>>
>> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/garethprice/secession-petitions_b_2152763.html?utm_hp_ref=tw
>>
>> (If that link breaks, then this one is shorter:
>> http://tinyurl.com/c35d6fn  )
>> Comments welcome - bearing in mind that some of the nuances of the issues
>> have to be glossed over for a non-academic audience.
>>
>> There's also a couple of older pieces on language and politics, here:
>>
>> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/garethprice/
>>
>> Apologies for the paucity of my contributions to the list this year ...
>> I've been snowed under ...
>>
>> Best,
>>
>> Gareth
>>
>> --
>> Gareth Price, Ph.D
>> Visiting Assistant Professor
>> Linguistics Program
>> Duke University
>> 316 Languages, Box 90259
>> Durham, NC 27708-0259
>> USA
>>
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>> ------------------------------
>>
>> _______________________________________________
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>
>
> _______________________________________________
> This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
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-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 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 gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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