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A wilting of languages (hindu)

As a carrier of our cultural memory, language is a precious heritage. The diversity of languages and dialects across the world is symptomatic of the multiplicity of the systems of traditional knowledge systems which have entered the web of multiple modernities resisting monolithic cultural imposition. Globalisation, unfortunately, has unleashed forces that tend to suppress minority voices and their languages. G.N. Devy rightly underlines the gradual extinction of languages of small communities, especially of Adivasis, whose language citizenship is under relentless assault (“Gain in translation”, July 21). But it is not only due to the state’s apathy to languages. The social acceptability given to languages with a pan-Indian appeal such as English and Hindi at the cost of regional languages by the communities themselves is equally to blame. According to UNESCO, even languages such as Garhwali and Kumaoni in Uttarakhand are in the category of endangered languages. City-born Paharis deem it below their dignity to converse in their mother tongue. A folk singer, Narendra Singh Negi of Garhwal, takes a dig at such people in a popular song, “Pahari, Pahari mat bolo mein Dehradun wala hun (do not repeatedly refer to me as a Pahari. I live in Dehradun”).

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