Brown Pundits 2018 Reader Survey

I created a SurveyMonkey poll. Check it out….

(after you are done, you can check out the results)

Create your own user feedback survey


83 thoughts on “Brown Pundits 2018 Reader Survey”

  1. Your question about “Brahmin, Kayasth etc” doesn’t really apply to Non-Hindus. You should have put a Not Applicable option for those of us who think it doesn’t matter.

    Also perhaps questions about levels of educational attainment and profession would have been useful.

    Just suggestions.

    1. Your question about “Brahmin, Kayasth etc” doesn’t really apply to Non-Hindus. You should have put a Not Applicable option for those of us who think it doesn’t matter.

      i made it open-ended so it that it does. eg people who think they are sayyids or whatever can put that down. or menons. i’m always told that non-hindus in south asia have caste informally if not officially. so your mileage may vary.

      i would have added education but wanted to cap at 10 questions.

      1. I answered the question and chose the “Forward Caste” category though I think it doesn’t apply to Muslims (at least the options given). Yes, there are people who think being Sayyid is very important. It all depends on what you are trying to get at.

  2. Also, would have been helpful to add a question about ancestral religious background (especially useful info on those that claim no religious identity – the majority of the respondents so far).

    1. that’s what the religion question includes implicitly. that’s why i had questions on god and how religious you are. last i checked 2 ppl aid they were muslim. one of them was an atheist/agnostic on the god question. the other was in the uncertain category.

      1. Fair enough, but that’s not how the question seems to be interpreted by most people. I can’t imagine half of the readers on a South Asian blog to not have a religious identity in the sense of belonging to particular (religion) community. At least some people are clearly interpreting it is a question of their religious belief or identity.

        1. right. it depends on your background. i said “no religion” because i’m not part of the muslim community in any discernible way, though all my ancestors back to great-grandparents died as muslims (one of my great-grandparents was born a hindu). in the diaspora detachment from religious identity is moderately common, especially from young men who marry out.

          as more indian readers fill out the survey “overnight” the numbers will change.

          1. Makes sense. Personally, I would have found it useful to cross tab personal religious belief against ancestral religious background. Additionally, many non-religious people (not all) still have beliefs/positions/priors that are informed to varying degrees by their ancestral background.

  3. The poll asks if one is a Hindu Nationalist. I have never understood what westerners mean by the term “Hindu nationalist”, namely what the connotative locus of the word is. It can range anywhere from “a Hindu who is a nationalist” to “someone who believes in India becoming a Hindu theocracy”. And in practice there is a wider range of interpretations specific to Indian politics that I don’t want to go into.

    1. i’m trying to get a sense of how many ‘internet hindus’ there are on this site.

      there are lots of lurkers. notice how many whites read this website but probably don’t comment.

      1. Okay, thanks, I get the impression you are using it in the sense of how I use the word “Hindutvavaadi” (a priori, such a person can be a raving and murderous fanatic, or a believer or Indian-style secularism, or even a believer of western-style secularism.)

        1. hindu nationalist seems to cover a huge range of people. but like i said, i’m going to let ppl decide if they want to associate.

          1. Fair enough, but it is possible that the results will not represent the data you want to capture, in that many Hindutvavadis (including me) don’t agree with the use of the word “Hindu Nationalist”, so we will be left out of your net. I will be left out for another reason: I am a Hindutvavadi but not a nationalist, in that I don’t very much like the 75-year-old nation-state called India (but this won’t be a distortion since I am a minority among Hindutvavadis in this respect, and hence statistically insignificant).

    1. Not your fault at all. Most Hindutva fellows are themselves addled brains, they never try to clarify their self-descriptions for their own understanding, and as if that isn’t enough their poor articulation makes everything even more muddled. I am of course not suggesting that you rephrase your poll question, just trying to be clear about the confusions involved.

      1. froginthewell: I’ve not come across as clearheaded and articulate a Hindutvawadi as you. Would love to read sometime about how you would propose the country work towards your goals (however you define them) while still upholding justice, fairness, individual rights etc (not implying it can’t be done, so not a rhetorical question)

        1. I have no idea what a Hindutvawadi is either. Neither does anyone I know. And I know a lot of people (including many muslims and Christians) who love PM Modi.

          Is Rajiv Malhotra what people consider a Hindutvawadi to be?

          sathya, Hindus have no word for religion, only a word for “Dharma” which doesn’t mean what people think it means. Some define Dharma as love in action. [Just as peace is love in feeling and just as truth is love in thought. Hinduism is “love”. The human journey is to find out what “love” is.] According to Hindus there is only one religion. Most Hindus still to this day have no idea about the concept of exclusive faith. In other words a Hindu doesn’t understand what is wrong or contradictory about being a Sunni, twelver, sixer, fiver, Ahmedi, Sufi, Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox (St Thomas Christians are a subset of them), Jewish, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Shinto, Taoist, Confucian, atheist, agnostic, Hindu. A Hindu wouldn’t understand why someone cant be orthodox, believing and authentic in all these things at once. Hindus don’t even understand that why some people will find this strange. This is no exaggeration.

          Hindus think having visions, dreams and experiences with Jesus are awesome. Hindus think choosing Mahatma Brahma Jnaani Jesus as an Ishta Devata is awesome. Hindus for the life of them don’t understand why someone can’t be a Jesus Bhakta (devotee) and authentic orthodox Hindu simultaneously.

          “how you would propose the country work towards your goals (however you define them) while still upholding justice, fairness, individual rights etc (not implying it can’t be done, so not a rhetorical question)”
          Most Hindus would find this question very confusing. A few might answer with something like:
          Love everyone. Help everyone. Feed everyone.
          Doubt you would get a more sophisticated answer than that.

        2. Satya, Let me humbly disagree with your generous exaggeration. But if you would like to talk more on the question you framed, we can talk over email, as it is not right to hijack this thread (already I feel slightly guilty that I wrote too many comments on a minor quibble): mine is my handle at protonmail (I will like to remain anonymous even over email though as it is easier to not be worried about each other’s qualifications/background).

          1. @historumsi: Okay, I should have been clearer and said that “E” being more natural a transliteration was my subjective opinion, and not representative of the view of anyone who is actually knowledgeable about the stuff. Thanks for the additional info in your comments.

            @Violet: I think we are in a minority. I don’t quite understand why though. I certainly understand why there aren’t many takers for Sanskrit literature, as the literary quality of Sanskrit literature generally sucks (far lower than Urdu/Persian, most likely even much lower than Indian Buddhist Prakrit/Pali literature).

            However, I don’t quite understand why there are so few takers for the euphony of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the only language I know (of course with the caveat that my knowledge is limited) where people have made so much of an attempt to choose words whose sounds match the spirit of what they are talking about. Have you noticed that a lot of the Shiva Tandava Stotram consciously uses words whose sounds that are meant to convey Ravana’s what-do-I-call-it, “macho/rAkShasIya bhakti” (mirroring leftist criticisms of Bahubali)? Similarly there is an entire class of what are called “madhura-kAvyams” which are somewhat analogous to chick-flicks and hence would find some place in the Brown Pundits of 10th century A.D., where the exact meaning of the lines of the poem is not very important (though they would typically concern shRngAra, often or perhaps usually in the Krishna-Gopi setting), but where the aim is to deploy soft and pleasing sounds to go with the mood. An example would be the Sri Krishna Karnamrita, whose author seems to be a Telugu guy who perhaps got more popularity in Bengal than in Andhra Pradesh, thanks to the Chaitanya Mahaprabhu group. I doubt the Gita-Govinda can be claimed to belong to this category, but Jayadeva certainly claims the poem to be “madhura-kOmala-kAnta-padAvalI”.

            It seems all that hard work has stopped paying off, and Sheldon Pollock may be right.

        3. @satya,

          Have you not been reading manasataramgini?

          Just curious because you mentioned that you found froginthewell to be the first one with this outlook.

          1. It is very unfair to accuse me of having the Manasataramgini guy’s outlook. Although I think that that fellow is twice as intelligent and 100 times as well-read as me, I don’t approve of his politics at all (many super-intelligent people have obnoxious political views, and I put him in that category). In particular, you will never find me using offensive words like “prEta” or “mlEchha-marUnmatta-abhisaMdhi”.

            I am not hateful, though I do have some (rather, a lot of) paranoia. If you think I am hateful, it is probably the case that you extrapolate from the manifest consequences of my paranoia, starting with a limited collection of priors that don’t give my humanity any benefit of doubt. For instance, my reaction to Zack’s post yesterday was paranoid, but I quickly recognized and apologized.

            P.S.: Are there people who actually read Manasataramgini? I sometimes skim over his posts, but actually reading his long posts takes up a lot of time, and I am not convinced the benefit is commensurate. If I had that sort of time, I would prefer to pick up population genetics/machine learning/some languages/whatever Razib recommends.

          2. Hello froginthewell or nUtilOkappagArU (addressing using the Telugu calque or perhaps the original itself rather, is just for fun and not intended as offensive at all), your use of the capitalisation E for the phoneme e without a short counterpart in Indo-Aryan screams your native Dravidian background there! Coupled with the correct usage of Sanskrit consonant phonemes, perhaps it can be narrowed down to Kannada-Telugu background (though this would be horribly dangerous because at once I’d be stereotyping all Tamil(-Malayalam (phonologically)?) people as somewhat not very at home with Sanskrit consonants, especially the aspirates (though many speakers of Kannada and Telugu also have the same experience))? Then also, seeing that you are aware of the Telugu translations of bhartRhari’s poems, you are a Telugu person (again at the expense of horribly stereotyping all Kannada people as somewhat provincial and interested only in Kannada literature (while at it, let me also perhaps stereotype off all Telugu people saying that they are not interested so much in any kind of literature- at least I fit into the Telugu stereotype))? My linguistics-assisted stalking kinda creepy? I think so too, and I assure you that I don’t engage in it very much except for some rare amusement such as in this case (at least I believe this to be one).

            I also once checked the Dravidian linguistic influence on the author of the mAnasataraMgiNI blog by checking his es and it turns out that he typically writes absolutely pure Sanskrit and never capitalises his es. Also note the correct Sanskrit in the feminine case ending of the title mAnasataraMgiNI. He also always puts a hyphen between a Sanskrit stem with nominal case endings and the English plural marker -s, when deemed required. And my inferior IQ brain with a tendency to get so easily jealous whenever it encounters an obviously superior specimen of the same type, was simply too overwhelmed by his extreme brilliance (and of course the rather uncomfortable views) and shut down quite quickly.

            Edit: Yeah, I forgot to mention that a part of the reason that I too was not very hooked to his blog in terms of reading the posts so thoroughly, is that I generally maintain quite a bit of distance to philology (I don’t want to get too consumed by the stuff) and no need to mention that many of his mathematics and biology posts, I can’t even understand properly.

          3. I apologize if that came across as an insult, as I was primarily responding to
            “I’ve not come across as clearheaded and articulate a Hindutvawadi as you.” I was responding along the lines of “clearheaded” and “articulate” part. Perhaps my understanding of Hindutvawadi is muddled.

            My English typing is poor enough that I don’t attempt to type phonetic Telugu or Sanskrit in Roman script anymore (what with half the time battling auto-correct). Kudos to historumsi for getting the translation and phonetics so well. 🙂

            Manasataramgini post on OIT vs AIT model was first linked by Razib on his gnxp blog.
            Analysts of catastrophic failures should always seek out outliers. 🙂

          4. I have to ask what’s with the capital E? No such thing in KH (or are you using any other transliteration scheme)?

            (PS: I find mAnasataraMgiNI quite boring. His posts have a *lot* of over-fitting and far too interested in Brahminical ritual for my liking.)

          5. “e” being a long syllable, “E” is arguably a more natural transliteration. South Indian languages have both long and short versions of this syllable, so for them writing the Sanskrit one as “E” is almost essential.

          6. Sorry, I still have not understood. How is “e” the long syllable?

            Let me put it this way: here’s the KH transliteration. Which vowel do you use /E/ for in the below?


            a A i I u U R RR lR lRR e ai o au M H


            k kh g gh G
            c ch j jh J
            T Th D Dh N
            t th d dh n
            p ph b bh m
            y r l v z S s h

          7. You certainly understand that “a” is short and “A” is long. The point is that the “e” in your list is actually long like “A”, not short like “a”, and hence writing it as “E” is more natural.

            Think of a name like “gaNEsha” (what you would write gaNeza in your KH) – does that “e”/”E” sound long or short to you?

          8. @Slapstik: May be the example of one word might make it look subjective, so let me try to see if it will be easier to appreciate from the perspective of rhythmicness.

            As far as I understand, one factor that makes Sanskrit verses sound rhythmic is that, while many other languages have a whole range of possible syllable lengths, Sanskrit has just two – long (guru) and short (laghu). A meter for a verse in Sanskrit specifies not only the number of syllables but also whether each syllable is short or long.

            One of the simplest kind of meters is one which has 16 syllables, starting with short and alternating between long and short: SLSLSLSLSLSLSLSL. Check out from about 1:40-2:04 of this clip (if it doesn’t annoy you) for an example of a verse in this meter:

            The lines of the verse are as follows (I am following the clip version so you can cross-check, which is different from what I was familiar with):

            sphurad-dRganta(?)-santati-pramOdamAna-mAnasE |
            kvacid-digambarE manO-vinOdam Etu vastuni ||

            Hopefully you can now see that the rhythmicity would all be screwed up if “E” were a short syllable for the composer of the poem (and the same with “O” as well) (alternatively, notice that the syllables follow the alternating-between-short-and-long pattern only if “E” and “O” are interpreted as long).

          9. Hello froginthewell,
            ““e” being a long syllable, “E” is arguably a more natural transliteration. ”
            I have seen relatively few authors transliterate the Sanskrit vowel in question as E. Probably because there is no phonemic length distinction for that vowel in Sanskrit (and most of Indo-Aryan I heard; Pali and Prakrits(?) apparently developed a Dravidian-like short vowel during the course of their development) and it is always long. In prosody, as you said that phone is treated as a heavy unit (guru) only (my understanding of prosody is very basic and stops pretty much at the level of Akshara ganas and Matra ganas), but I think transliteration schemes are mainly dependent on the phonology of a language. It also depends on the transliteration scheme being used- the schemes which mainly cater to Sanskrit have only the Sanskrit language in mind and use the simpler lowercase e for Romanisation and schemes like ISO-15919 (which I use for transliterating Dravidian when I’m patient and want to be very tidy and clear) which cater to an Indian area of languages, in fact use ē for transliterating even the Sanskrit long vowel, just like Dravidian, with e being used for the Dravidian short vowel and not being found much in Sanskrit transliterations because it’s not present in Sanskrit. To deal with the abundance of Sanskrit loanwords in Classical Telugu literature, I have seen Velcheru Narayana Rao transliterate Telugu using the symbol e to denote the Sanskrit and Telugu long vowel and a special ĕ to denote the Telugu short vowel.

          10. I guess now that the discussion is deep into E vs e distinctions, I want to comment on “nUti” too.
            My layman translation would’ve been “bAvi”. And “vi” would’ve turned to “yi” in slang. Heh, who knew local geography could be inferred in such detail from a few words.

            @froginthewell, you choose well for your example 😀. I wonder if others find it as addicting as I do.

          11. @historumsi: Okay, I should have been clearer and said that “E” being more natural a transliteration was my subjective opinion, and not representative of the view of anyone who is actually knowledgeable about the stuff. Thanks for the additional info in your comments.

            @Violet: I think we are in a minority. I don’t quite understand why though. I certainly understand why there aren’t many takers for Sanskrit literature, as the literary quality of Sanskrit literature generally sucks (far lower than Urdu/Persian, most likely even much lower than Indian Buddhist Prakrit/Pali literature).

            However, I don’t quite understand why there are so few takers for the euphony of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the only language I know (of course with the caveat that my knowledge is limited) where people have made so much of an attempt to choose words whose sounds match the spirit of what they are talking about. Have you noticed that a lot of the Shiva Tandava Stotram consciously uses words whose sounds that are meant to convey Ravana’s what-do-I-call-it, “macho/rAkShasIya bhakti” (mirroring leftist criticisms of Bahubali)? Similarly there is an entire class of what are called “madhura-kAvyams” which are somewhat analogous to chick-flicks and hence would find some place in the Brown Pundits of 10th century A.D., where the exact meaning of the lines of the poem is not very important (though they would typically concern shRngAra, often or perhaps usually in the Krishna-Gopi setting), but where the aim is to deploy soft and pleasing sounds to go with the mood. An example would be the Sri Krishna Karnamrita, whose author seems to be a Telugu guy who perhaps got more popularity in Bengal than in Andhra Pradesh, thanks to the Chaitanya Mahaprabhu group. I doubt the Gita-Govinda can be claimed to belong to this category, but Jayadeva certainly claims the poem to be “madhura-kOmala-kAnta-padAvalI”.

            It seems all that hard work has stopped paying off, and Sheldon Pollock may be right.

            (replied to the wrong comment earlier, so deleting and pasting it here).

          12. @froginthewell

            I did not intend any offence whatsoever there. Sorry if I hurt you. I use similar subjective transliterations at times too (because who typically reads what I write lol). They are very bad. My personal favourite (and the most silly one) is to write s for the voiceless dental/alveolar sibilant, S for the voiceless palatal sibilant and Sh for the voiceless retroflex sibilant (lol). I know; it does not make any sense whatsoever, right?


            I was fairly aware; but the thing with me is that I really love me (bordering on pathological) the purest of Telugu, so since I knew very well that nUyi/nuyyi has pure Telugu etymology and that the origins of bAvi are somewhat unclear, I went ahead and wrote nUtilOkappa, joyfully building the oblique stem nUti first, then appending the locative postposition lO and finally adding the ‘frog’ word. I learned now that I made it up and that it is not really in usage, from your message as well as my mother’s reply that she heard of bAvilOkappa but never nUtilOkappa when I asked her about this stuff during our phone call just a while ago.

          13. @historumsi: I don’t see why differing opinions on what is a natural transliteration for a particular syllable should be hurtful at all. I was indeed being careless, and did not clearly articulate what I meant; in addition to your knowing more about the topic and hence contributing helpful insights. That said, I won’t comment on the correctness or wrongness of your speculation about my mother-tongue, and hope you will be content with less scary sources of amusement in future.

          14. @froginthewell,

            I am nowhere near as knowledgeable about other literature. (other than regular schooling in Telugu and Sanskrit, and some Garikapati listening). But I do think Kalidasa is awesome in both sabdalakara and ardalakara based on the little I got to learn (“Indumathi swayamvaram” in Raghuvamsa and some exposure to Kumarasambhavam, only translation of Abignaanasakuntalam).

            I do get that somewhat aggressive nature being expressed through “sabda”, like the Shiva Tandava Stotram. It is so intense in the opening stanzas especially (Damaddamadda…Dhagaddhagad..etc). I know what you mean by Gita Govindam too. It flows. There are hardly any “parushamulu” when you start “Saavirahe thava deena krishna, manasa manasija vishika saraadipa baavanaya tvayi leena..”.
            Atmashatkam is calming while Shiva Tandava Stotram energizing, even if you ignore all the meaning behind them.
            Literature and poetry are a part of what I call “a good life”. (To quote old movies “koosintha kalaa posana undala..”), and usually I find charm in all types of things. Imho, it is not worthwhile to compare between languages. 🙂

            Your hunt for purity also belies the origins in Krishna-Godavari deltas whereas common folks of arid lands around Pinaakini have their own vocabulary. 🙂
            But then I can appreciate your joy in the way you felt like careful building of a card house. One of the joys of mastering a new language as an adult.

            (Boy this is a long comment…)

          15. @froginthewell

            “…and hope you will be content with less scary sources of amusement in future.”

            May God help me! I did not really realise how creepy and as you said, how scary, that was. I sincerely apologise and promise to never do such sort of things in the future.

          16. @ Violet

            Thank you! Though my native dialect is the Krishna dialect (a non-standard form of it with articulating retroflex Ls as alveolar ls in gemination in some words, word initial v-loss, etc. quite the norm, at least in our family: example- Modern Standard Telugu: veLLu, ‘to go’, my family and grudgingly myself while conversing naturally: ellu, ‘to go’), I (thankfully I personally consider) have no much physical connection to that area and was born and brought up (again thankfully I think) in Hyderabad. I can say that my love for Telugu and increasingly the pure part of it (what’s called acca telugu- the one without Prakrit, Sanskrit, Perso-Arabic, English, etc. borrowings) singlehandedly led me to Dravidian linguistics and at some point in the future I hope to see to what extent natural pure Telugu can develop more advanced vocabulary than it currently has, for newer and newer concepts of the world, irrespective of the tradition of recruiting Sanskrit to make new words and of the natural spirit of the spoken language to incorporate more and more content word vocabulary (and waste little time doing actually really stupid stuff like making pure calques or other types of coinings) from the languages where the action is going on at a given moment- be they English, Persian, anything. This is quite an extremist disposition, I agree, but thankfully I was given the ability to keep my extremist thoughts in check and not let them seep into action and I’m quite confident that I will be successful at this most necessary endeavour. In fact, I will likely indefinitely suspend my effort towards the above mentioned goal also, at a very nearby point in the future (at least I badly want to do exactly the same- that is to disengage totally from the exercise), as I realise more and more that the fundamental nature of Telugu is radically different to that of my personal plans for it, however mild they are and how much ever tolerance I mandate to be involved in the execution of them.

            About the wonderful Penna, I read that it is not a perennial river but does it not have a significant amount of delta area with well-watered lands and all that? I have been imagining so, kinda, all the while. And regarding the vocabulary of the people along the Penna, can you list some items that you believe are peculiarities in the dialects of the region? I noticed my maternal grandmother with origins in Krishna use a word geTanavvaDam to mean ‘being capable of managing [some stuff]’ in the exact form that I wrote above. It took me a very long while to realise that this word might be an old loanword from English (likely “get on”, ‘to make progress’) into the Krishna Telugu (at least my grandmother’s family’s Telugu lol) during some time of the British rule. Some other peculiarities like ebbeTTu, ‘not pleasant’, ‘repulsive’, ‘gaudy’, etc., the old English loanword gADI (from gaudy) itself, orra (which my grandmother used to say as varra), meaning ‘spicy/hot’ (a paryAyapadam of the more familiar kAram) used to be present in my maternal grandmother’s speech. I don’t know if they are Krishna peculiarities but it is rather sad anyway that she has been using lower and lower amounts of such vocabulary these days. She is getting very anglicised herself due to the influence of the younger folk on her.

            Thank you very much again for the conversation till now!

          17. @froginthewell

            Think of a name like “gaNEsha” (what you would write gaNeza in your KH) – does that “e”/”E” sound long or short to you?

            I now see what you mean, but I think the confusion perhaps arises from the impression that Sanskrit has such a thing as a short (hrasva) /e/. It does not. In fact, Vedic Sanskrit had no /e/ (whatever length) at all, just the diphthongs /ai/ and /a:i/ which changed to /e/ and /ai/ respectively in Classical Sanskrit.

            The phonetic inventory of Sanskrit is different from that of Dravidian languages, and so is the phonetic mapping to the svara-vyaJjana Avalyau. Prosody or meter has little to do with it in my opinion.

            as the literary quality of Sanskrit literature generally sucks (far lower than Urdu/Persian, most likely even much lower than Indian Buddhist Prakrit/Pali literature).

            Sorry, but WTF?
            Are you speaking of Sanskrit literary quality in just the modern period or in all time?
            If the latter, the comment is so outrageous that I can’t decide whether to seriously respond to it.

          18. I know that this conversation is not addressed to me, but I am wondering about one point:

            What is this need to purge Telugu of Urdu and Persian words? Does this reflect some kind of need to rewrite History?

            This is a serious question. I am not trolling. I appreciate any clarification. Thanks.

          19. @historumsi: Thank you for your understanding. Please don’t worry about that any more.

            @slapstik: I don’t think anyone here assumed that Sanskrit has/had a short ‘e’. You are the only person here who got confused on that point, probably because you interpreted some statement (likely mine) to be stronger than it was. I get, at least informally, your point that the phonetic inventories of Sanskrit and Dravidian languages differ – I am of course aware that for saMdhi etc., a vowel in a Dravidian language “remembers” whether it is a part of a Sanskrit word or a Dravidian word. However, I don’t think that impacts the argument at hand.

            I am however now confused by your comment historumsi’s earlier, on prosody vs phonetics: isn’t the prosodic syllable length informed by phonetic syllable length, at least for Sanskrit (I am assuming that the latter notion is well-defined)?

            As for the Sanskrit literary quality clarification, the latter.

          20. @froginthewell

            Prosodic syllable length is informed by the natural phonetic inventory of a language of course, but not the other way round. So evidence from euphonics alone is not a sufficiency test. Though I agree it can be indicative.

            Yes, the confusion was all mine because I mistakenly thought you were averring two vowel lengths (for which one would need /e/ and /E/) in Sanskrit.


            Secondly, I’m not sure if you are being serious or tongue-in-cheek regarding the “sucking” of literary quality of compositions in Sanskrit. It is an extremely strong statement and not to be lightly made. Let’s just leave it at that.

          21. @slapstik, Yes there is no point in debating whether the assertion is true (too much non-falsifiability), but I am curious as to why you found the comment “extremely strong”. Is it based on your own experience with Sanskrit literature (say have you read some and tried to relate to it in Sanskrit as opposed to in translation?), or based on your reading of scholars who have actually compared the quality of literature across languages? My impression is that most scholars wimp out of such comparisons simply out of political correctness.

          22. Hello Kabir,

            Actually no Telugu person bothers about purity of the language. The outlook of Telugu is drastically different to that of languages like Tamil or Sanskrit which are very conservative. Some people of the recently (and at some points earlier) powerful central coastal districts (Krishna-Godavari mainly) may erroneously believe that “pure Telugu” = the actual pure Telugu (which I personally define as the part of the language naturally inherited and developed by the people of eastern Deccan after their dialect split off from its immediate ancestor in Proto-South-Dravidian-II (Proto-Telugu-Gondi-Konda-Kui-Kuvi-Pengo-Manda)- so this definition excludes all Kannada, Tamil, Prakrit, Sanskrit, Perso-Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, Hindustani and English loanwords) plus Sanskrit and Prakrit and try to feel superior to the inland people of Telangana whose dialect they perceive to be laden with Persian everywhere and undesirably, but if we point out to them that their dialects also have a good amount of assimilated Perso-Arabic, Turkish and Urdu loanwords, they understand the issue and typically don’t pursue the matter any further. After all, all the spoken dialects of Telugu without any fail have been getting increasingly anglicised. If Persian was to play the exact same role as English in the current period, I’m confident the exact same thing would have happened and people would be having massive amounts of Persianate vocabulary in the spoken registers.

            But that said, I think there is a point in the central coastal peoples’ conception also. The relationship of Telugu to that of Sanskrit is similar to that of the relationship English had and continues to have, with Latin and French. Just like how English feels most at home with Latin more than, say German, its closer relative, or Sanskrit and Persian (other classical languages), Telugu feels most at home with Sanskrit more than, say Tamil, its genetic cousin, or Persian and Latin, when it comes to who to turn to for creating new vocabulary for incorporation into the language. For this reason, there is always this tendency that excessive English (which is actually Latin in disguise for a substantial amount of time) loanwords in the spoken language is very undesirable and there is a significant amount of resistance (though not very high) for English loanword vocabulary from the spoken language to get inducted into the dictionaries and also the “proper” ideal registers for which Sanskrit calques and stuff are routinely coined (and quite rarely used).

            It appears to me that Persian did not really have that much of a widespread impact on Telugu lexis- it mostly affected specific registers like legal, administrative, judicial, etc. while Sanskrit vocabulary is everywhere- both in what is considered the most classical form of the language, and also the spoken language. The battle really is or going to be between English(and Latin) and Sanskrit.

            I’m a pure Telugu (Telugu sans loanwords from K, T, P, S, Pe, A, Tu, Po, E, etc.) enthusiast which is as strange and sterile an entity as an enthusiastic Tamil person on the weird side suddenly deciding he has had enough and undertaking a deliberate project of lexically liberalising Tamil by writing literature with higher amounts of foreign loanwords, etc. (Some people in the past perhaps tried to do that in the form of Manipravalam, etc. but it was not that successful, at least in the majority portion of the old Tamil country- this literary dialect very highly influenced the west coastal dialect of Tamil-Malayalam or what is called Old Malayalam and its descendants though.)

            And as far as I know, there is no apparent desire to falsify or rewrite history. If anything of the form exists, it is not yet manifest in the linguistic domain as far as I can see. Central coastal dialect speakers (who are the most Brahminical but not very aligned at the same time with the Hindu political right) have a tendency to harass the people of Telangana but they typically do nothing more than that and definitely did not take any systemic steps to purge Telugu of any specific language. If anything, people are mainly becoming increasingly uncomfortable about the massive incursions of English loanwords into spoken Telugu.

          23. @historumsi
            “no Telugu person bothers about purity of the language”.

            Good for Telugus. In contrast, craze for ‘pure Tamil’ has been carried to crazy , crazy heights (or depths) in Tamilnadu. Tamil being more ‘conservative’ is just a myth , it is no more conservative than any other south Indian language. While ‘pure Telugu’ is a fringe phenomenon and a hobby for enthusiasts , ‘pure Tamil’ has become politically powerful and is the ruling ideology for Dravidian movement and it’s splinter/successor parties . ‘pure Tamil’ while being vocal and aggressive has lost real influence to English so much so that even rural parents want their children to go English medium schools . You can find most vocal proponents of pure Tamil in the internet from English educated people who are outside India also. ‘pure Tamil’ proponents’ most implacable hostility is reserved for Sanskrit since somehow Sanskrit is alleged to have displaced Tamil which was spread all over India to one corner of subcontinent ( AIT rings a bell?) and to have completely corrupted written and spoken Tamil . Tamil in Dravidian ideology also comes from Lemuria 50000 years ago , presumed to be a sunken continent in the Indian Ocean and is the mother of all world’s languages. The whole of Dravidian linguistics in pure Tamil movement is to glorify Tamil as the progenitor of all Dravidian languages.

            The net result of pure Tamil is to increase diglossia vastly . I hope Telugus don’t follow that route . Purist movements as a rule only weaken the language and bring avoidable angst .

          24. @froginthewell

            but I am curious as to why you found the comment “extremely strong”.

            Yes, it is based on my experience of reading Sanskrit literature and my discussions with my Sanskrit guru (Prof Madan Mohan Kelkar – at Pune Uni and later N Maharashtra Uni) who is sadly no more. He was an accomplished dramatist in Sanskrit and Marathi.

            I can sort of maybe understand why you think Sanskrit literary composition “sucks”. Sanskrit kAvya tradition was definitely too self-concious in the medieval and late medieval period. Encumbered by incessant and hackneyed similies and metaphors, that serve no purpose other than vaicitrya in alaMkAra shashtra.

            However, it is grossly unfair to characterize all of Sanskrit literature in this way. I believe this thumb-rule application of bog-standard similies etc was a result of a dwindling Sanskrit speech-community 8th-9th century onwards. Peer review of work was limited and mindless training in the art of kAvya, for writing prosaic prashastis for kings and stuff, took precedence over genuine creativity. Kalhana’s work stands out in this period as piece of genuine accomplishment unburdened by mindless embellishments etc – but it was an exception to the rule.

            I try to keep up my practice of reading Sanskrit by going through the Rajatarangini, which is not only a seminal text in later Sanskrit literature but also holds emotional value for us Kashmiri Pandits. It is, quite literally, our Shahnameh.

            I am also trying to practice reading the Vedic scripture in the original metrical Old Sanskrit. The preponderance of non-standard grammar makes it very hard. Yet even a novice like me can enjoy some fantastic early Iron-age poetry – the construction of the hiraNayagarbha sUkta is particularly masterful in my opinion. I’ve the whole of it committed to memory and my 2y old loves the lilt.

            (Apologies to the mods for the long comment. I will say no more on this thread.)

          25. Okay, thanks. Let us just take it that our tastes are different. For me already Kalidasa, who is from well before the 8th century, is (mostly) worthless. Nevertheless it is interesting to have read what you just shared, and thank you for that.

          26. Hello V.C.Vijayaraghavan,

            While I agree with you in that I too obviously see the same unnecessarily intense fervour with which some Tamil people perceive almost non-existent threats to the Tamil languages, I don’t agree with you when you Tamil is not more conservative than the other Dravidian languages. Perhaps spoken and thus the most natural Tamil is not but the Highest of the High one, is, and historically always been that, I believe. Also, by the word “conservative”, I referred to lexical conservatism which is a thing employed by some languages to make words when need arises, by exclusively calquing the words from source languages in which those concepts are originally developed, from completely native inventory, without borrowing the words as they are with or without assimilation. Though the earliest Tamil was in the same position as the other Dravidian languages when it first encountered the Prakrit language with superior material and cultural vocabulary and the Sanskrit language with both the above but also vocabulary catering to advanced philosophical concepts, it for some interesting reason whatever it was, decided to respond very differently compared to the other to-be-literary Dravidian languages. It welcomed the Sanskritic influence greatly but kept the lexis of the language relatively formally pure by making calques from native Tamil roots for Sanskrit concepts. Perhaps that’s why we see a developed meaning for the word nUl as ‘science’ in Tamil and Tamil alone while in all the other Dravidian languages, it just means ‘thread’ (Sanskrit sUtra, ‘thread’, ‘treatise’). Now, because of the above reason, the influence of Sanskrit on the Tamil language is exactly equal to that on Telugu and Kannada but Tamil still has that formal lexical purity much like the much more powerful Sanskrit language which Telugu and Kannada lack. Perhaps this is also a factor that caused the emergence of the sharp diglossia of Tamil (which I believe was always there in Tamil’s history in some form and to some extent)- we already see the author of Tolkappiyam appearing to deem the spoken dialects as not very highly, labeling them as koTuntamiZ, literally ‘crooked Tamil’. Perhaps the spoken Tamil dialects also carried more assimilated or unassimilated (this one worse than the former from the point of view of Old Tamil intelligentsia it appears) direct Sanskrit loanwords (much like today’s spoken Tamil I hear) in addition to the usual processes of sound change, etc. in grammatical suffixes, etc. and the early Tamil intelligentsia pursuing a project of maintaining formal lexical purity for the highest of literary composition probably felt the need to sharply separate the language into High vs. Low, with High being the cultivated register maintaining purity of form but not the stagnation of thought and society with respect to the vocabulary aspect of this business and Low being the naturally evolving spoken language that had the tendency to incorporate direct unassimilated or phonologically assimilated loanwords from culturally powerful adstrates and superstrates. My idea falls apart completely if some vast amounts of early koTuntamiZ literature or documents are found and they were found to contain no more or no less direct Sanskrit borrowings than the early centamiZ literature, and that the only significant difference between early centamiZ and koTuntamiZ is the developed verb-endings in the latter and the archaic ones in the former.

            But my speculation has some basis, I believe. As you said, we see the spoken dialects of Modern Tamil (the descendants of koTuntamiZ or do Tamil people still refer to the spoken dialects as koTuntamiZ), which are what constitute Modern Tamil in its entirety (as you know, literary Tamil dialects are entirely different and do not take so much inspiration from Modern Tamil but are mostly based on a frozen Tamil from 13th century or so, I hear) itself, laden like any thing with English loanwords. So I’m speculating it may be reasonable to believe that all through its history, Spoken Tamil had significant quantities of direct borrowings from cuturally powerful adstrates and superstrates (like Sanskrit, Prakrit and to a minor extent Persian and Marathi) without painstakingly loan-translating every introduced concept, unlike High Tamil.

            Actually, I have a suspicion that the above holds true for all spoken languages at all points of human history without fail. Unassimilated or assimilated direct borrowing is the primary and the easiest choice to make rather than to perform a lot of effort and do loan translations and use them instead. The latter wastes a really lot of time and energy which people speaking spoken languages (who are the ones who really decide whether the language survives or dies, by virtue of being the majority) can’t afford. It also appears there is an intrinsic aversion to loan translations from the point of view of spoken languages- it certainly feels extremely unnatural and stupid to me as a human to use dhUmazakaTavAhanaM or some such construction instead of Trein/Treinu while speaking with my friends and family. (But that said, pogabaMDi, ‘smoke vehicle’- made of pure Telugu poga, ‘smoke’ and baMDi, ‘vehicle’ which is a vikRti of Sanskrit bhAMDa, ‘cart’ has a certain naturality to it though it maybe because of my cultivated and unnatural liking for some kind of harmonious pure Telugu/close-to-pure-Telugu calques. Certainly no normal person has any more preference for pogabaMDi compared to dhUmazakaTavAhanaM. Rather the real scenario is as this: the most recent English borrowing Treinu completely replaced any all previous words, whether directly borrowed or calqued, known to refer to the object ‘train’ in question, in the spoken language. It is extremely interesting that the Treinu word completely replaced the previous loanword railu which was also from the same good old English language, in the spoken language. This tendency towards high and periodic lexical replacement seems to be one of the characteristic features of most, if not all spoken registers. The causes may perhaps be speculated as intense bilingualism with one language and a specific contemporary register of it acting almost as a superstrate to the native language. I have this idea that most of my English loanwords that replace existing words, pure Telugu or otherwise, arise simply as a result of biological causes what with my overwhelming day-to-day wrestling with the English language, however ungrammatical and Indianised.

            I believe the spoken Tamil dialects are oppressed by the Tamil diglossia in that, firstly, they are not being deemed worthy of the ultimate literary expression they are very capable of, with their natural sound changes and natural semantical development; secondly, the people whose mother tongues are the spoken dialects are kinda being forced to learn almost an entirely different language (and a very removed one in time at that- the High Tamil with its archaic suffixes and all) to be even successful for the basic purposes of communication, as the formal sphere is hegemonically dominated by this High Tamil, increasing the language burden on children in the process. From the point of view of the hegemon however, it is probably necessary to force itself upon the masses in some way and maintain a sense of connectedness to the land, however increasingly illusive, because the people have not stopped speaking it. The alternative, High Tamil may argue, that it would become like a Sanskrit, universal and without an earthy individuality, if it stopped harassing the speakers of natural Tamil to continue to speak itself also. We can’t evaluate the merit of High Tamil’s justification but it really may become like another Sanskrit if it does not make periodic upgrades to itself and accept inspirations from the spoken language (I read somewhere that even Classical Sanskrit was highly influenced by the spoken Prakrits in its early period) and make amends to some of the reprehensible worldviews of itself as you pointed out- it is highly repulsive that some people controlling the life of High Tamil need a scapegoat in Sanskrit to sustain it. First of all, this portrayal of historical enmity between Sanskrit and Tamil is factually incorrect (perhaps what the two have had is some kind of mild, positive and competitive rivalry (actually Sanskrit might not even have cared) but not any kind of enmity) and thus instantly repulsive. Secondly it, unsurprisingly again, erroneously and disrespectfully victimises the majestic Tamil language- both High and Low. Thirdly, it is an insult to the ancient Tamil people who adopted and made their own, all good aspects lent to Tamil culture by the Sanskrit language and culture, to whatever extent possible to them.

            The evil (lol) High Tamil may also argue that one must not give total reins to the spoken language because it is perennially subject to the phenomenon of invading cultural superstrates and thus its lexis is bound to get replaced in neverending cycles. At least some amount of diglossia is a must to save the identity of a literary language, it may argue. I believe High Tamil has a point here. That’s the reason I also believe Telugu also has some amount of diglossia (though of a different nature than the Tamil one in that the Telugu Highest of the High forms have archaic Telugu lexis and large amounts of abundance of Sanskrit lexis while the Sanskrit lexis is comparatively very low in the Tamil High dialects; the next level High dialect represented by the Modern Standard has the tendency of conserving the olden lexis that the colloquial registers so casually discard and replace- for example, you may find authors using both railu and Treinu as synonyms, etc. instead of completely forgetting the railu, unlike the spoken language.) with formal dialects somewhat different from the informal spoken ones, but definitely not to the extent of the ridiculous Tamil diglossia though. Modern Standard Telugu diglossia being very mild also means that it is not fundamentally averse to influences from non-Sanskritic languages, unlike the Classical Literary dialects, and to some extent, the scientific registers. In modern prose, modern poetry, novels, print media, etc., in which the Modern Standard dialect dominates, the most positive aspect is that authors do not shy away from using words like frijju/frij, ‘refrigerator’, kampyUTaru/kampyUTar, ‘computer’, jarimAnA, ‘penalty’, etc. instead of using some actually unknown but bound to be existing Sanskritic calque for ‘refrigerator’ or gaNakayantraM or some such things and the most negative aspect is that the verb endings of the Modern Standard which are of the central coastal variety have to owe their existence just to a historical accident and there is also the problem of some speakers of the influencing dialect feeling themselves privileged and superior compared to the speakers of other regional dialects (happens a lot actually).

            And regarding the question of Tamil’s extreme diglossia and its pseudo-intelligentsia’s repulsive scapegoating of Sanskrit being the cause of its increasing failures in the modern world and decreasing numbers of students studying in Tamil medium schools, I don’t believe that is the case. That phenomenon is a pan-Indian phenomenon and probably has other, more powerful causes of which I’m current unaware. Even the excessively Sanskrit-worshipping Telugu people don’t enroll their children in Telugu medium schools even if they are some of the best places where one can find large amounts of Sanskrit vocabulary- especially in the physics, chemistry, mathematics, social studies and such subjects. Even the relatively wide palate of source languages available for Telugu to choose lexis from- such as Telugu, Sanskrit, simple English, compared to Tamil’s just one old Tamil, did not ensure Telugu language produced world class gems of modern literature in the fields of science fiction or magic-fantasy, etc. Even if some world class literature that appeals to the modern spirit in the above mentioned fields is produced, since the reach is lower than English’s, the awareness is bound to be much lower and thus reduced incentive to produce further. This ties back to English medium education in some way but as I said earlier, I think the cause for the overwhelming preference of English medium education is something else and not literary lexical conservatism and furious hate politics (I’m not saying that they are good of course). It is sad but rather inevitable that Telugu and Tamil as historically not hugely culturally powerful languages are bound to be less successful than English in the contemporary modern world (at least the Anglophone modern world). Quaint literary languages like Tamil or Telugu can only aim for survival- the struggle involved is very constant and painful too. More painful than the struggle for survival faced by non-literary languages having speakers majorly outside mainstream society, like say, Kurumba or Toda.

            And what you say about the angst being very avoidable is so true I don’t even know how to convey how hugely I agree with you. My life has decidedly taken a turn for the absolute worst after I discovered Dravidian languages and linguistics and attached myself to this stupid pure Telugu.

          27. I looked up the Wikipedia page for loanword ( in self-doubt and it turns out that in many places where I used the word “loanword” in the previous post, a simple “word” or “foreign word” is more applicable. I’m unfamiliar with the terminology of this subject, rather of any subject within linguistics properly, because of not being trained, so I apologise for the large numbers of mistakes I must have made, not only to do with terminology but also conceptual understanding, and thus caused massive amounts of avoidable awkwardness.

          28. @historumsi

            Yes Tamil has lot of native words for religious concepts. Dharma, Artha, kama in Sanskrit is known as aRam, poruL, inbam . Vishnu is known as mAl or tirumAl. tiru is Tamil for Sri. Lot of strictures or grammatical rules which come from Tolkappiyar (early Common Era ) to Nannul (13th Cent CE) pertain to writing traditional poetry. The traditional grammar in Tamil is not like what we understand as grammar ; they pertain to writing fine traditional poetry and highly prescriptive. OTOH, the business of everyday life and business of state were anything but ‘pure Tamil’ . From the earliest epigraphical material of about 200-300 BC to the medieval ones which number in tens of thousands in stone and copper plates , we have Tamil with admixture of Prakrit and Sanskrit words, sometimes written in Grantha script. So the ‘pure Tamil’ movement of the last 100 years reject a large part or even majority part of the Tamil linguistic heritage and go for an imaginary language, which never existed. About traditional Tamil grammarians, one exception was Virachozhiyam by Buddhamitran , a Buddhist , written about 12th century explicitly takes on board the Sanskrit influence .
            ‘pure Tamil’ enthusiasts’ animus for English mixture is futile. For ‘bus’, most people call it bus. For pure Tamil , it must be pErundu. Due to lot of political pressure, you will find ‘pErundu’ in government usage . But what about hundreds of parts which go to make up a bus, like tyres or camshaft or engine. There ‘pure language’ completely fails . For ‘train’, we have ‘pugai vandi’ in Tamil (smoke vehicle) . Again 95% of speech among Tamils would only use ‘train’

            The ‘pure Tamil’ movement has this delusion that language is primarily written and as long you control written language , the language is in your hands. Modern linguistic theories start with spoken language. So ‘pure Tamil’ gives no status to spoken language , considering it as a can of worms (which it is for Tamil – that is a big subject in itself) best left unopened.

            Anyhow, I would like you to continue your interest in ‘accu telugu’ ; as long as it is done out of individual fun and interest, that is fine. Only when it becomes a powerful movement with a superiority complex, it leads to social anomie.

          29. @ V.C.Vijayaraghavan,

            Thank you very much for the enlightenment and the insights! I was under the wrong impression that the language of Tamil inscriptions was also some kind of High Tamil of the literary variety, using loan translations more than direct loanwords. Actually, it appears there is some dichotomy in how languages deal with foreign vocabulary pertaining to more physical things and that pertaining to abstract concepts (though there is an overlap between these two at many places). For example, I was surprised to find that Tamil directly loaned words like ‘ladder’ in assimilated form first as the reconstructed *cENi which subsequently turned into the historically known ENi, from Sanskrit zreNi(or zreNI- can’t be bothered about the silly haphazard gender of Sanskrit things lol), ‘ladder’, vaNDi, ‘vehicle’ from Sanskrit bhAMDa, ‘cart’, Ayiram from Sanskrit sahasra (via *cAciram [cAsiram]), ‘thousand’, etc. (By the way, a point of pride or a silly idiotic chest-thumping: Telugu is the only Dravidian language to have a native word for the number ‘thousand’- vEyi/veyyi thought as derived from Proto-Dravidian *veyam, ‘extensiveness’.) But Tamil made it a point and was more successful in loan-translating words for more abstract concepts like the ones you mentioned- dharma, artha, kAma, Vishnu, sUtra, and a hell lot of others into Tamil as aRam, poruL, inpam, mAl (mAl, ‘dark one’, ‘black one’ from the root *mA, ‘dark’, ‘black’ is a direct translation of the Sanskrit kRSNa and not a reference to any pre-Indo-Aryanisation Tamil god; Tamil extremists go crazy lol), nUl, etc. This behaviour I observe in such languages like English also which we (at least I do) tend to perceive as kind of not very conservative languages, perhaps erroneously; for example, I have seen a paper where a linguist so painstakingly translates all the words and original concepts of Tolkappiyam like eZuttu, acai, pA, etc. into Latinate (and Anglo-Saxon also but mostly Latinate) English. Formal Telugu does the same and translates all the Latinate and Anglo-Saxon vocabulary in physics, chemistry, linguistics, and definitely western philosophy (if translations exist), etc. into Sanskritic (with little to no pure Telugu) Telugu. But it appears it is difficult to loan-translate a word for concrete things like laptop, refrigerator, etc. (I see gives things like aGkasaGgaNaka, ‘bit computer’ and even an utsaGgasaGgaNaka, apparently literally ‘lap computer’! I’m sure Telugu cannot use things like this because Telugu people don’t know what an utsaMgaM means (the Telugu medium students may be familiar with aMkaM, ‘bit’ though)- so ridiculous things like oDi gaNakaM, ‘lap computer’ or such things result which sound stupid to the extreme- other strategies perhaps exist but anyway, the point is that it seems rather difficult to do single concrete word translations of some very concrete things like bus, car, tyre, screw, spanner, printed circuit board (PCB), charger, router, engine, fridge, bank, etc. as you also said, as opposed to abstract philosophical concepts, etc.) for example, without being at least some amount of ridiculous. Actually, I now guess my major hope is to somehow try to increase the pure Telugu element in this words for abstract concepts category, but people generally are very eager to point out to me that we can’t mess with that stuff like that, as the principle of keeping coinages friendly to expanding word families gets disturbed and it is better to coin all words in such domain in Sanskrit only as historically it’s done like that and also because Sanskrit is so mindbogglingly powerful (which is so absolutely true) and because pure Telugu may really be not capable of doing it (of course it wouldn’t be- we never understood its word formation strategies, etc. properly till very recently to see to what extent it is capable and employ it) while keeping in the mind the principle about word families. I should probably come to accept that pure Telugu’s golden age (to whatever little extent) is over, never to return, in the last centuries BC to the first centuries AD. As I noted in an earlier comment, the modern world appears to be increasingly dominated by battles between classical languages with formal lexical conservatism, like Latin and Sanskrit in the field of abstract vocabulary word coining, and English- assimilated and internalised Latinate and Anglo-Saxon (actually nothing else than English, it appears, at least for the Anglophone modern world, as after all Europe and Anglo-America continue to lead the world in terms of these things in the future also; Mandarin may become more powerful in the future later on- I don’t know when and to what extent) in the field of words related to material advancement. I will probably give up this nasty exercise some time very soon, hopefully. It is making me more miserable than I already am. Probably misery is bound to attract even more misery like it’s happening in my case. Hopefully I’ll come out of it completely and if possible get back to my pre-amateur Dravidian linguistics time period, which though was not perfect, was at least not as miserable as now.

            Thank you very much for the exchange. And thank you to all people who interacted with me. This little sub-thread, though so off-topic on the main thread, has been so extremely helpful for me personally in the process of my detoxification.

  4. Razib Khan is right that many caucasions view this site but don’t comment. I get a lot of e-mails and phone calls about Brown Pundits. A lot of people ask about this person called “Kabir.” I kid you not.

    Can all the non commenters please bother to take the poll?

    1. OK seriously, can we not personalize things? I have lots of things I can say about other contributors on this site but as Zack said to me “Let’s stay above the fray”. I will apologize for any personal comments I made in the past and promise to stick to the topic from now on.

      Anan, anyone who is interested in who I am can use Google. I have not given my last name on this forum for a reason but with the details I have included in my bio, it’s not very hard to figure it out.

      But it seems foolish to start making this a gossip site about one person. Razib can take the final call on this. Thanks.

      1. yes. please let’s let this drop.

        if it devolves while i’m away i’m just going to nuke all the comments on this post, which is for the survey anyway….

  5. AnAn – Is AnAn associated with your real world identity? Would love to learn more about the “real” you.
    Also, it seems that you have finally given up on appeasement. Kudos!
    PS: What type of reaction are you getting about the said person?

    1. Sayyid and Sayyida are deeply honored. They rock!

      people who put excessive emphasis on their lineages, whatever it may be, are usually judged lesser by me. so i disagree.

      1. The first time i came across the word Sayyida was while playing Crusader Kings 2. You get good relations with all muslims if you are a Sayyid/Sayyida

  6. It is interesting that out of the 54 respondents so far, there is only one woman. This is a very skewed gender distribution and there must be some fundamental reason that this blog seems to not interest female readership. It can’t be that women are not interested in History, Genetics, India or Pakistan. So it must be something else.

    1. The blog is far too dense tbh; super-heavy topics.

      I prefer the lighter ones as well since I am the only person on this blog in a cross-border relationship.

      So I’m more interested in topics that unite us rather than divide us.

      Just booked tickets to Veere di Wedding which just got banned in Pak.

      1. I don’t think “super heavy topics” explains the lack of female readership. Unless you mean to imply that women are not interested in “heavy” topics–which I don’t think you are implying 🙂

        There should be a mix of light and heavy topics. Some of us are looking for intellectual stimulation and Bollywood is not it.

        Though I recently watched “Bride and Prejudice” again after 10 years and it is surprisingly still quite entertaining. I was on a “Pride and Prejudice” kick after reading “Eligible”, a modern adaptation set in Cincinnati in 2013, and then watching the famous BBC adaptation of the original novel starring Colin Firth. I thought Gurindar Chada did a good job transferring the action to Amritsar, where arranged marriages are still a thing (Also as a Paki Punjabi I quite liked the bhangra dancing).

        I am with you on topics that unite rather than divide. Let’s give Hindutva and Political Islam a break for a while.

  7. An interesting aspect of the survey (at least according to the current results) is that approximately half the people polled identify as “European”. This seems a bit strange for a blog where the topics of discussion seem to mainly be the Partition of 1947, the Hindu-Muslim question, the Aryan Invasion Theory, etc. I am wondering what brings all these Europeans to a “Desi” blog?

    1. the traffic is modest. there are plenty of people interested in plenty of different things.

      i read chinese history and christian theology. neither chinese nor christian.

      1. I read a lot of European History and European Literature and I am big on Western Classical Music. That doesn’t make me European. So I get what you are saying.

        I still found it surprising that of your poll respondents more people claimed to be European than South Asian. At least last time I checked the poll.

        1. i’m not. i know several of the readers of my other blogs follow this blog. mostly they are curious.

          also, this weblog is pretty unique. it got written up in SF chronicle it’s first 6 months.

          1. That’s pretty cool.

            So the “white” people read the blog but they don’t comment. Is that the conclusion we are coming to?

    1. Hmm. Perhaps if they commented we would have less India-Pakistan back and forth (what we call in Urdu “tu tu mein mein”–meaning a futile argument which is not a real debate).

  8. Kabir said: “I am wondering about one point: What is this need to purge Telugu of Urdu and Persian words? Does this reflect some kind of need to rewrite History? ”

    I don’t see anything like that by reading the comments above. If you were referring to the comment by historumsi: “(pure Telugu) the one without Prakrit, Sanskrit, Perso-Arabic, English, etc. borrowings…” “… led me to Dravidian linguistics…” the conclusion you drew was out of context. Please note the list included Sanskrit. There is no such purging contemplated in Hyderabad Deccan area where Telugu is prevalent. Be assured.

    1. The language of Hyderabad was actual proper Urdu, at least under the Nizams.

      I may be oversensitive to attempts to write Muslims and Islam out of the new Hindutva India’s History.

      1. Kabir says, “The language of Hyderabad was actual proper Urdu, at least under the Nizams.”

        It is sometimes called Deccani. It is not considered on par with Lucknow Urdu. Deccani has many local expressions included and pretty well integrated with its surroundings. I have caught a Pakistani TV program a few years ago where they make fun of Deccan Urdu in a derisive way. There are always purists everywhere.

        “I may be oversensitive to attempts to write Muslims and Islam out of the new Hindutva India’s History.”

        As an observer of Indian scene, I would say the hypothetical situation you mentioned is far from true. You probably read yesterday’s byelection result in U.P., the Kairana parliamentary seat is won by Tabassum Hasan as a candidate of Rashtria Lok Dal party. She won against a Hindu woman and the seat was held by her father, a Hindu before. Many things are pretty even in India and not sensational as one would imagine.

        1. I know Deccani is not what my ancestors spoke.My dadi was an ahl-e-Zaban from Agra. But it is still Urdu. I am sure the Nizam was having courses taught in standard Urdu at Osmania University.

          I did read the by-election results and I am very happy the Opposition was able to unite and defeat BJP. May Hindutva rule end and end quickly. Only then can India’s Muslims be safe.

  9. @historumsi,

    Some fun words
    “meTTu”(not step but shoe, also, rascal)
    “Petara” (sometimes with “athi” prefix, perhaps from adanapprasangi)
    “bokka/bokkadam” (hole, eat, steal)
    “Yegeyyi”(pump up)
    “Dandaga”(waste, useless)

    Sorry swear words are stuck in memory longer than good ones. 😀

    Telugufied English:

    Oldeen: hold on
    Emden: leader/fierce. Name of German ship patrolling Bay of Bengal during WW II.

    1. Thank you very much Violet!

      Of those words, I never knew meTTu being used in that sense and petara at all. bokka, ‘hole’ and bokku, ‘to gorge’, I knew in those senses but not others and they are also not part of my family’s native vocabulary- I heard them being used by some surrounding people. My family inherited mekku for ‘to gorge’ and cillu, kannaM and such things for ‘hole’ (they also use words with other meanings like guMDraM, ‘circle’ to refer to ‘hole’ in some cases) though they tend to use the English-based hOl itself increasingly. And egEyu (or rather egavEyu from the point of view of the highest Standard), etymologically ‘to make [something] fly’ is familiar to us as egEsukonu, which means ‘to pump up oneself’ used as egEskunellipOyADu (Standard: egEsukoni (Super-Standard: egavEsukoni) veLLipOyADu), ‘He went very unnecessarily enthusiastically’, literally, ‘Having pumped up himself much, he went’. But it would be really great if it’s the case that Penna region dialects use this word to indicate the other, technological meaning also, the physical act of ‘pumping up [something]’. We at our house are anyway very anglicised (while also having not very superior intelligence and also having a high amount of laziness) and simply say pamp ceyyaDaM, etc. to refer to ‘pumping’. And daMDaga (older forms and perhaps the Super-Standard: daMDuga) my family also inherited.

      That OlDIn from “hold on” is quite similar to my grandmother’s geTan (or geTana or geTanu- I don’t really know as it was always used by her in sandhi with avvaDaM; I’ll ask her) from “get on” though they are evidently not supporting any sound correspondence dealing with the first vowel in the English word “on”. And the southern dialects having the “Emden” word is very interesting because I earlier knew from someone’s answer on Quora that the word exists in Tamil also. My family, though of the coast (not strictly coastal though), does not seem to have inherited the word.

      Thank you very much again, Violet!

      1. Yegeyyi also means grow/increase. e.g., “manTa yegeyyi”(grow/increase fire, Grand ma used it even for gas stove although it made more sense for wood fire – pushing more wood into the fire) or “Yellu yegasana buddhi digasana” (years increased, wisdom decreased), but then yegasina for fly is common I guess (“Egasina hrudayamu pagulaneekuma…” or “yegasi pade keratalivi….”).

        Getan kavadam also very common. A few more:
        pudingi: busybody
        somberi: lazy bones

  10. @historumsi,

    Some fun words
    “meTTu”(not step but shoe, also, rascal)
    “Petara” (sometimes with “athi” prefix, perhaps from adanapprasangi)
    “bokka/bokkadam” (hole, eat)


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