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Hindi Diwas: Hindi’s place in India

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By Manas Dwivedi

A newborn does not learn a dialect from its mother’s womb. The first knowledge of language any infant gathers is from its parents, in the form of some loving words. In India, most kids hear these words in Hindi. Thus, Hindi words could very well be among the first sounds that a person hears in India.

Language, on a global level, carries a significant importance in examining a nation’s history, culture and heritage. Likewise, Hindi is a vital part of India. A language of honour, dignity and pride, Hindi has given us a unique identity in the world.

hindi-top-img
www.newdelhiairport.in

Hindi, being the mother-tongue of majority of Indians works at binding all Hindustanis together. Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi also said that Hindi is the ‘language of the masses’. Renowned writer Amir Khusrau used to emote in elementary Hindi. Thousands of other writers too made Hindi their Karmabhomi. But unfortunately, the language, which freedom fighters also believed to be a cause of pride for them, is still only the official language of the country and not the national language of India. Hindi is still fighting for its existence, as many believe.

As to how Hindi emerged as a prominent language in secular India is an interesting story. Following the history on Hindi, India’s Constitution declared Hindi as the official language of India on September 14, 1949.  Chapter 17 in Section 343 of the Indian Constitution, part (1), describes Hindi, in the Devnagri script, as the official language of the Union that should be used for its official purposes in the form of an international edition.

Further, upon the Campaign Committee’s suggestions in 1953, September 14 was declared as ‘Hindi Diwas’ in the name of promoting the language in Hindi speaking regions of India every year.

But is it justified to term such a popular language as just an official language? Why can’t Hindi be the national language of India? Different time periods showed different reasons for the issue, most of which were politically motivated.

Long back, during India’s struggle for independence, Mahatma Gandhi first voiced for making Hindi the national language of the country. Chairing the Hindi literature conference in 1918, Gandhi talked about his dream of seeing Hindi as the national language. But in the name of power and politics, Gandhi’s dream was never fulfilled.

Indian Renaissance featuring great leaders like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Keshab Chandra Sen and Maharishi Dayanand recalled the importance of Hindi and also completed most of their literary works in the same language. They were avidly supporting Hindi at that time.

Later in the freedom struggle post 1925, Hindi has played a special role in uniting Indians together. Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore although being a Bangla scholar insisted the country’s revolutionaries to use Hindi for communicating with the masses. This shows the effect of Hindi on India at that period of time.

hindi-1
www.genee-india.com

But when India became independent in 1947, Hindi itself became a controversial topic. There were several groups like Kazhagam (Dravidar Kazhagam), Periyar, and DMK who opposed Hindi’s use nationally. There were even several protests in Tamil Nadu and other southern parts of the country against making Hindi the national language. Various groups marked October 13, 1957 as ‘Anti-Hindi Day’.

Lal Bahadur Shastri, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Morarji Desai and several other leaders desired to support Hindi, but their wish remained suppressed after the agitation and riots in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Soon after the demise of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri opted to stick with both Hindi and English as the official languages and  decided not to name any national language.

By the time Hindi was declared the official language for the first time in 1949, it was decided that Hindi will be the only official language of the Indian Union after the government’s tenure of 15 years. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had also constituted the ‘Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha’ for promoting Hindi in southern parts of the nation. But all such attempts severely failed when the Tamils denied to accepting Hindi as the national language in 1965. Under strong political pressure, the then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri agreed on restricting Hindi to just the official language along with English.

Hindi was restricted from achieving its rightful place due to politics in the name of caste and language by certain politicians. Fragments of leftover western culture were given a more concrete shape by corporate strategies, which left Hindi as just a language of informal communication. Today, such is the mind-set of the masses that many assume people who use their mother tongue to be less educated and less adept at socializing as they do not have an adequate knowledge of English.

Above all, Hindi boasts of a glorious history and the possibility of a bright future. We just need to assure Hindi’s existence in this rapidly changing global scenario. Apart from India, Hindi is spoken and used in various other part of the world as well; but we should never forget its roots. A language like Hindi needs global recognition. This doesn’t pertain to any competition with English, but proclaims the fact that Hindi should be acclaimed and garner fame on the basis of being a wonderfully rich language and not only because the majority of Indians speak Hindi. So let’s start the wave today. Jai Hind Jai Hindi.

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Early Exposure to Language May Enhance Child’s Reading and Writing Skills

Researchers examined the spellings of 179 American children aged three years, two months to five years and six months, who were pre phonological spellers

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Toddler reading a book. Pixabay
  • New evidence suggests that children start learning about the important aspects of reading and writing at an early age
  • In the pre phonological activity, the study found that the children used letters that did not reflect the sounds in the words 
  • The research will enhance the possibility that teachers could get useful information from children’s early attempts to write

July 25, 2017:   The important part of reading and spell is to learn about the use of letters in written words and sound in spoken words. A study carried out by the researchers from Washington University in St. Louis in Missouri, United States has discovered that early exposure to language may enhance a child’s ability to identify and comprehend important rules and pattern of how letters are used in a particular language to develop words.

“Our results show that children begin to learn about the statistics of written language, for example about which letters often appear together and which letters appear together less often before they learn how letters represent the sounds of a language,” said study co-author Rebecca Treiman to ANI.

Researchers examined the spellings of 179 American children aged three years, two months to five years and six months, who were pre phonological spellers. The children used letters that did not reflect the sounds in the words they were asked to spell when asked to try to write words.

The older pre phonological spellers showed more understanding about English letter pattern than the younger pre phonological spellers.

ALSO READ: Toddlers Using Gadgets May Appear Cool but Involve Health Risk 

Treiman said, “The findings are important because they show that exposure to written words during the three-to-five-year age range may be important in getting children off to a strong start with their reading, writing and spelling skills.”

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He further added, “Our results show that there is change and improvement with age during this period before children produce spellings that make sense on the basis of sound.”

The research further enhances the possibility that teachers could get useful information from children’s early attempts to write.  It would thus show whether a child is on track for future success or whether there might be a problem, Treiman explained.

– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter @Nainamishr94

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Language Lessons For Your Baby May Start in Womb

The study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech in the womb

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The findings if a new study by MIT researchers could offer a possible way to reduce the risk of autism. Pixabay
  • A baby can distinguish the difference between sounds used in various languages even a month before being born
  • The study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech in the womb
  • The team examined 24 women, averaging roughly eight months pregnant

New York, July 18, 2017: Love to speak to your unborn baby? Well he or she can typically distinguish the difference between sounds used in various languages even a month before being born, an interesting study has shown.

The study showed that foetuses can hear things, including speech, in the womb, although the voice is muffled.

In the study, the foetal heart rates changed when they heard the unfamiliar, rhythmically distinct language (Japanese) after having heard a passage of English speech, while their heart rates did not change when they were presented with a second passage of English instead of a passage in Japanese.

“The results suggest that language development may indeed start in utero. Foetuses are tuning their ears to the language they are going to acquire even before they are born, based on the speech signals available to them in utero,” said lead author Utako Minai, associate professor from the University of Kansas.

Also Read: Pregnancy seems Safe for Breast Cancer Survivors: Study

“Pre-natal sensitivity to the rhythmic properties of language may provide children with one of the very first building blocks in acquiring language,” Minai added.

For the study, published in the journal NeuroReport, the team examined 24 women, averaging roughly eight months pregnant.

Minai had a bilingual speaker make two recordings, one each in English and Japanese — argued to be rhythmically distinctive language, to be played in succession to the foetus.

“The intrauterine environment is a noisy place. The foetus is exposed to maternal gut sounds, her heartbeats and voice, as well as external sounds.

“Without exposure to sound, the auditory cortex wouldn’t get enough stimulation to develop properly. This study gives evidence that some of that development is linked to language,” explained Kathleen Gustafson, a research associate professor at the varsity. (IANS)

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World’s oldest Languages: 10 spoken in world today

Over the years, languages have taken up many forms diverging from different roots. These ten languages have survived the threat of extinction and are still spoken around the world today.

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10 oldest languages
One of the 10 oldest languages: The Torah is the holy book for the Jews. It is written in Hebrew, the Jewish language. Wikimedia

June 7, 2017: 

Lingual identity is a part of community’s identity. Over the centuries of societal evolution, languages have evolved too. The languages that were born many years ago have provided the basis for some of the contemporary languages that we see today. However, these 10 of the world’s oldest languages still live today. 

Lithuanian

Lithuanian is the oldest surviving Indo-European Language. It is related to Sanskrit, Latin, and Ancient Greek. Around 4 million people in the world today speak Lithuanian. It was added to the official languages of the European Union in 2004. 

Oldest Lithuanian Book. Wikimedia

Farsi

Farsi is the name given to the Persian language in Iran and is the official language of the country. It is primarily spoken in Iran and Afghanistan. 

Farsi Alphabets. Wikimedia

Icelandic

About three and a half million people are estimated to speak the Icelandic language today. It’s spoken in Iceland and in Northern Ireland. It was named the official language of Iceland only in 2011! The language is so historically old that words had to be introduced by the language purists. Icelandic did not have the word for ‘computer’, so the people came up with one.

Extract of Icelandic language. Wikimedia

Finnish

Along with Swedish, Finnish is the official language of Finland. Around 7 million people in the world speak Finnish. The language emerged in written form only in the 16th century!

The first page of Abckiria (1543), the first book written in the Finnish language. Wikimedia

Georgian

Georgian is the biggest Kartvelian language. It is the official language of Georgia. So about 4 million people in Georgia speak the language and an additional 5 hundred thousand abroad. It is the only Caucasian language with an ancient literary tradition.

Georgian Language. Wikimedia Commons.

Basque

A mystery to the linguistics, Basque is spoken by Basque people in France and Spain. There is evidence that it existed long before the birth of romantic languages- before the Romans brought with themselves Latin to the European land. 

Location between France and Spain where Basque langue exists. Wikimedia Commons.

Hebrew

The Jewish language fell out of common usage back in 400 CE, but the Zionist movement popularized the language once again. While the Jews in Western Europe continued to speak the European language that prevailed on land, the Eastern European Jews sought a Jewish homeland in Israel and began using the Hebrew to establish Jewish solidarity. 

Tamil

There is compelling evidence that Jewish language Hebrew is in fact derived from Tamil. It was the Asura language of the Babylonians. Many African languages are derived from Tamil as well. Because of its antiquity, it is was declared a classical language by UNESCO. The official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore is spoken by 78 million people worldwide. 

Ancient Tamil Script – Tanjore Bragadeeshwara temple. Wikimedia Commons.

Macedonian

The Macedonian language dates further back than the origin of the Slavic languages. It shares the same dialectic continuum as Bulgarian. It is the official language of the Republic of Macedonia. 

Macedonian Language. Wikimedia Commons.

Irish Gaelic

Gaelic (called Gaeilge) is the official language of Ireland. It is called Irish Gaelic to differentiate it from Scottish Gaelic. It was used by the Celtics. The study of language is compulsory for school children. 

Advertisement in Irish Gaelic. Wikimedia

Though there exist many other languages that are counted amongst the oldest in the world- The two most popular and oldest being Sanskrit and Latin, from which contemporary languages have emerged, but the number of people still using this language is substantially small. Back in 2001, Sanskrit was estimated to be spoken by 15,000 people as their native language. The influence of Latin is also seen in various other languages (and fields) but as such the language is not spoken today.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394