Browncast Episode 32: Indian Linguistics Podcast

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We had a conversation about Indian linguistics. It was Razib, myself, Avtansa, Indian Linguist and TianChengWen.

I’m quite proud of this podcast since I was able to get some of the linguistic luminaries together. The topic was a broad overview of language in South Asia.

We were able to keep a very strong regional balance since TCW’s specialty is Dravidian. We touched on the role of Sanskrit and its prominence as a literary lingua franca until the late medieval period (until it was supplanted).

Incidentally, we didn’t talk all that much about Indian English instead we delved into the “dialects.” There seems to be a turning point in that the Subcontinent is consolidating linguistically among regional, national and religious lines with English emerging as the great neutral and prestige language.

We touched a fair bit on the specific languages of the Hindi belt but I guess for next time we will have to tackle those that are tangential to the Hindi language sphere like Punjabi, Bengali, and Marathi.

Beware of Hinditvas

I love it when my point is so spectacularly proven. But I find it funny how intense these discussions take considering I prefaced the post with my own thoughts on NawRuz and Persian cultural imperialism.

Yes Islam is vulgar but so is Hindi. Just as obviously Muslim symbols wouldn’t find room in polite society neither would Hindi (hence why English is busy eviscerating it in the Desh).

I find it interesting that none of the Hinditvas condemn my constant insulting of Islam but become hysterical at my criticising of what is an ugly and artificial tongue. Just as I find Liberalstanis to be hypocritical in their silence over Islam’s deeply problematic nature; they have on the flip side these Hinditvas. QeA is probably the prototypical Liberalstani and Nehru the Hinditva; hence why the Subcontinent ended up as the disaster as it was. Both these tribes have been thoroughly colonised and participated willing in the destruction of the British Raj, a wholesale inheritance would have meant a South Asia able to be the light rather than laughter of regions.

The whole idea of the Hindi language was simply to cleanse Urdu of any Muslim association. The language policy has been a complete disaster (language played no part in 1971; I just did a debate on the topic).

It’s neither here or there; it doesn’t matter to me since my own life and choices have been able to traverse the deepening divide fairly easily (the upshot of being half-caste). However the sad bit is that India has lost it’s ur-homeland (Indthings is technically not wrong in claiming that the Vedas weren’t composed in modern day India) and AfPak is becoming a firm reality.

It’s the slow generations but these Hinditvas have driven Pakistan away into the arms of an unwilling Ummah. In that same Ummah Pakistanis will always be second or third class citizens because they’re a bit of a joke. They don’t carry much status in the Muslim world since they aren’t really proud of who they are.

To give an example the Muslim Sindhi people in trying to create a language pride day randomly chose a day in December as Sindhi Cultural Day. With a little thought the Sindhis could have instead started ressurecting the Cheti Chand tradition and actually reach out to Sindhi Hindus (especially their rich diaspora) as a way to strength Sindhi identity.

It’s a sad reality both India and Pakistan have lost out because they have squabbled like silly children, one side insisting on an absurd language and the other on an absurd religion.

I find it heart-warming that no-one agrees with me; it means that I’m actually on to something. The more I live the more I realise just how unique my own perspectives actually and being a child of the divide(s) means I’m never going to think like everybody else or make the same life choices..

Muslims and Urdu in India

The plot above shows the % Urdu speakers vs. % Muslim in states where Muslims are 4% or more of the population. The data is from Census 2011 (thanks for Vikram of the language data). There are some interesting trends. Assuming that the vast majority of Urdu speakers are Muslim, it seems that in India the core Urdu-identified region is in the Deccan and to the east of its traditional heartland, in Bihar. In South India, 30% of Muslims in Tamil Nadu may be Urdu-speaking. But in Kerala the fraction is almost zero, while in Gujarat and West Bengal less than 10% of the Muslims are Urdu-speaking.

Below the fold is the table.

Continue reading Muslims and Urdu in India

Sushma Swaraj’s hard hitting speech

Why one earth is the Pakistani delegate wearing a translation piece? Even I, with my much weaker grasp of Hindustani (decent enough to understand Pakistani dramas), could understand most of this clip with the exception of a few Sanskriti/Shuddh Hindi words here & there.

Brown Pundits