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Need to create in own language to help mother tongue survive: Ananthamurthy

With English the most sought-after language as a result of globalisation,Kannada author U R Ananthamurthy warned against the growing influence of the language on the diversity of regional languages.

Written by Chinki Sinha | New Delhi |
March 4, 2009 12:52:25 am

With English the most sought-after language as a result of globalisation,Kannada author U R Ananthamurthy warned against the growing influence of the language on the diversity of regional languages.

As part of the Sumitra Chishti Memorial lectures at the Constitution Club on Tuesday,Ananthamurthy said India is witnessing a reversal of trends,where languages are being threatened.

“We are going to lose our memory. We need English,but not of the ‘call-centre’ sort. It is not a gateway to knowledge,” he said.

The memorial lecture is organised every year in March by the Delhi-based Social Advancement and Development Trust,in memory of the noted economist and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor who passed away on March 3,2005.

Chishti wrote on several issues pertaining to foreign trade,the WTO and women.

Ananthamurthy said under the impact of globalisation,the power of peoples’ languages is diminishing. English is now the language of the world because the USA uses it. If tomorrow China becomes the most powerful nation in the world,it will be Mandarin,he said.

Drawing from his own experiences as a writer,Ananthamurthy spoke of a ‘front yard’ and a ‘back yard’ in the realm of languages. The front yard represents the language of the powerful,where you converse about politics,but it is the back yard,where you talk your language,that is the fertile space that nurtures creativity,he said.

“English had its back yard not in London,but in Africa and maybe India,” Ananthamurthy said. Speaking to a packed audience,he said that languages in India are reflective of the pluralities of the country. But reflecting on the slow decay of Indian languages,he said if the situation is not addressed soon,Indian languages may only survive as kitchen languages. “We need to create in our own language. The English elite in India are not as cultured as the masses. English must be taught orally but children in schools need to create in their own languages,because we don’t think in English. It is a received language,” he said.

“Tribal languages need to be taught in a tribal area and children must be encouraged to create in them,” Ananthamurthy said. Among those present at the seminar were Sitaram Yechury,of the CPI(M). He called it a “fascinating” lecture and said it spoke of the problem looming large on the Indian conscience.

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