Sunday November 17, 2019

Preserve languages to preserve culture

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By Harshmeet Singh

Over the past few years, a number of people have raised concerns regarding our ‘eroding’ cultural values without giving a thought to the probable causes behind it. And the few who tried to examine the reasons chose to blame the changing lifestyle for such amendments in our culture. But interestingly, we haven’t given much thought to the close connection between language and culture.

Language is much more than just a medium of communication. It enables us to leave behind thoughts, ideas and attitudes for the generations to come. Memories are based on languages. Different words are associated with different experiences. Our memories of certain events in our lives are based on the very words used during those events. The way we interact with each other, the words we use to express our feelings and gratitude are an essential component of our culture. It is beyond doubt that language forms the basis of any culture. With indigenous languages fast getting eroded in the country and English subsuming them all, the fundamental change in our culture shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

For instance, in our culture, people are addressed and treated differently based on their age and stature, which is not usually the case in Europe and the USA. Hence, while Indian languages offer different words to address people of different age groups, English doesn’t offer such variations.

The western culture puts emphasis on the individuals hence the most widely used words are I and You. In US, for example, ‘you’ is appropriately used to address anyone from the highest of authorities including the President to the kids. In comparison, Indian languages offer a number of other variations which highlight our values of inclusion and accommodation.

It is said that it is impossible to learn Japanese without learning about their culture. Japanese pay a lot of attention to the status and rank of the person while addressing him or her, unlike in Europe or the USA.

We often fail to acknowledge the fact that there are a number of words in our indigenous languages which can’t be perfectly translated to other languages. When the languages erode, they take such words with them, and hence a part of culture dies with the death of every language.

With changing times, new languages evolve while giving a miss to the older ones. Most of us term it as an ‘evolution’ and try to downplay its negative implications. Unless we put an end to this practice and start preserving our languages, we can’t expect our cultural values to stay strong.

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Let Us Celebrate The Diversity In India: Mahesh Bhatt

Mahesh Bhatt and Shahrukh Khan stress on the diversity in India

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Film maker Mahesh Bhatt emphasizes on celebrating diversity. Wikimedia Commons

Film maker Mahesh Bhatt and Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan on Friday stressed on celebrating India’s diversity, with the auteur also lashing out against those imposing their language on the people.

“These are dangerous times. In the age of highest connectivity we are the most divided. That’s why we need story tellers to tell stories which can bring us all together. The glue that held mankind together has withered,” Bhatt said at the inauguration of the 25th Kolkata International Film Festival here.

He said it was high time filmmakers realise their responsibility to ‘whip up’ hopes of a better tomorrow, in a scenario where the “structures all around us globally are collapsing”.

“I think the story tellers must do what mamas did at home. When the house fought and children fell apart mama would bring us all together by telling us the fascinating story that kindled hope. That’s what we are celebrating here today,” he said.

Bhatt said the leaders of mankind have no solution for the problems that stare at people. “It is we film makers, we story tellers, we artists who are generous people, Who will whip out from our hearts the idea of a better tomorrow, and then point in the direction and compel people to walk in that direction”.

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King Khan expects stories that bring us together and celebrate our diversity to be made. Wikimedia Commons

Referring to ascetics Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda and Sister Nivedita, he said the great seers and sages of the country had said underlined the need to ‘speak to man in his language’.

“Don’t impose your language on people. This is a great country. And its greatness lies in its diversity. Let us celebrate this diversity,” he said, adding “As long as film makers are there, as long as artists are there, we will dare to hope and defy those who tell us to speak only one language”.

Shah Rukh in his speech hoped that wonderful films with great stories would continue to be made.

“We keep on making these wonderful films, have great stories to tell, and like Bhatt sab said, stories that will bind us together, bring us together, and celebrate our diversity, instead of questioning one another’s individuality,” he added.

Also Read- Bollywood Megastar Amitabh Bachchan Completes Five Decades in B-town

Later, in her speech, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee praised Bhatt for being “very outspoken”. “When so many people are in fear, Mahesh ji expresses his mind candidly,” she said. (IANS)