Remember the Hindi news telecast on Doordarshan back in the 80’s? And their insistence on using “purified” or “sanskritized” words only? In an entertaining passage the actor Utpal Dutt (a.k.a. Bhavani Shankar from the movie Golmaal) writes about how the purist attitude – or the ‘lack of adaptability’ that I wrote about few posts ago [Like an Ever-flowing River] – can end up obstructing the growth of a language.
The present rulers have gone after Hindi with a knife, excising every work of Urdu, Persian or Arabic origin (even though that word may be understood all over India), and replaced it with something concocted from a Sanskrit dictionary. The result is a new broadcast which no one but Benares pundits understand. ‘Ab aap hindi mein samachar suniye,’ wo bolte hain aajkal. Bolna chahiye, ‘ab aap samachar mein hindi suniye.’ That would make more sense. For example, replacing a word like zaroorat. The word zaroorat has entered every single Indian language from Bengali to Marathi. It is, however, being replaced by something called avshyakta. […] Anyway, what is the object of setting a bunch of half-educated clerks to massacring a beautiful and simple language such as Hindustani? What is the reason behind this madness? The ruling class, all over the world and throughout history, wishes to create an esoteric language of its own. And the Indian rulers describe this destruction of Hindi as the restoration of an ancient tradition, as if our rishis in their forests spoke like TV newscasters.
Thus their vague insistence on a “link language” – whatever that might mean for India – not only wilfully obstructs the growth of other languages but destroys Hindi itself. It makes Hindi a barren grammatical exercise, not spoken by anyone in the country. A language grows only by being spoken by millions and by borrowing from other languages – consciously and unconsciously. Far from uniting the country, this idiotic bastardization of Sanskrit is rapidly disuniting it. [Emphasis is mine.]
(By the way, the movie Chupke Chupke was a hilarious satirical take on this purist attitude.)
Word-import is a very important trait, a zaroorat if you will, for the survival and growth of any language. So let’s loosen our grips and borrow words and phrases from other languages. That’s the most simple and unrestrained yet effective way to save our vernacular languages.
[Hat Tip: The Middle Stage]