Hindi is a little child in diapers says kamal haasan.(Page 43)

Posted: 11 months ago

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Posted: 11 months ago

TL/DR: People who argue for a national language in India are wrong. I present evidence. Regressive-Thug is wrong when he says tools are as important as desire. I present evidence. 


There are some Indians who believe Hindi should be the national language of India. Usually, there are two primary reasons given why India should have a national language. One is that a nation needs a common language to unify it. The second is that a common language makes communication possible. If you read through this thread, there are several people calling on and hoping for Hindi as a national language. 

It is in light of these comments that I made the contentions that a) a nation exists because of the idea of the nation and not a common language b) communication requires desire and not a common language. My sole basis for making these two statements was as a counter-argument against those in favor of a national language. And I will reiterate, anyone who calls to make any language the national language of India is misguided in their efforts. 

Language had nothing to do with India becoming a nation in 1947. We exist because of a common struggle against colonization and the united front our ancestors put up against colonizing powers. Diversity has always been a double-edged sword for India. Had it not been for religious divides, we may have been a much bigger nation. Linguistic, religious, cultural, regional, economic, and even culinary differences constantly bubble up and cause friction within India. But diversity is also the strength of India. It is what makes us different than other nations. Some nations are diverse because of immigration, we were diverse from conception. Diversity is what makes people fall in love with India. We honestly would be a very boring nation if we were homogenous. 

I won't deny, a common language does make communication easier. I've seen so many immigrants struggle over language in the United States that I have started to better appreciate my English education. English also has served well when I travel. It is easier to find your way around Charles DeGaulle or take public transit alone in Taipei as an English speaker than it is as a Hindi/Konkani/Marathi speaker (the other languages I speak)

But a common language is not necessary to communicate. When I was younger I did wonder why everyone in India didn't just learn Hindi. Sometimes in the USA, I do get frustrated and wonder why everyone cannot learn English. But the fact is learning a new language, especially as an adult is fucking hard. Like seriously pull your hair apart or blow a bullet through your head fucking hard. I cannot count the number of times I have tried to learn French or Spanish and then given up because it was too hard. I cannot tell you how many people I know who did four years of Spanish in high school and then some in college but stare blankly at native Spanish speakers. And not everyone is privileged to have a multilingual upbringing. Some people in this world are lucky to even have an education let alone learn a second language. Even if you somehow manage to learn a new language overcoming accent is another challenge. Pop culture and slang add another layer of complexity. You won't know the difference between 'This is shit' and 'This is the shit' unless you are a native English speaker in a relatively westernized region. 

But somehow we communicate. People travel abroad. People live in other countries. People immigrate. It is all because people want to communicate. Desire is everything. The telephones, television, cellphones, the internet - all communication tools exist because people wanted to connect and communicate. 

Now Regressive-Thug has decoupled "communication requires desire" from "communication doesn't require a common language, ergo the need for a common language for communication is a weak argument for a national language." I do find that this decoupling although done with the best intents is a bit dishonest. In general, taking statements out of their context is a bad thing. Considering the entire thread has been about whether or not Hindi (or some language) should be a national language, the decoupling seems even more egregious. 

That being said "communication" is an independent topic of discussion on its own. Communication theory can be discussed outside of political or national language discussions. Why one would isolate communication theory in a political national language discussion thread is beyond me. But I do want to address the argument. 

If I understand correctly Regressive-Thug claims "tools are as important as desire." To a certain extent that is true. 

Hieroglyphics were undecipherable despite the best efforts and desires of Egyptologists to decipher them until a tool (the Rosetta stone) was found. But why was the Rosetta stone engraved? Why was an Egyptian edict translated in Greek and pre-Coptic script? Well Ptolemy V wanted as many people as possible to read the Memphis edict. He desired to communicate with more people. Hence the stone was engraved. But unlike Egyptologists who set to translate hieroglyphics as soon as the stone was found - I just took a photo. One of the world's most important communication tools - and I just put it in a travel album. Because I was just a tourist and had no desire to translate hieroglyphics. (I don't read Greek or pre-Coptic either) 

When you analyze most "essential tools" they were all created because someone had a "desire" to communicate. And they all are rendered "useless" if there is a "lack of desire."

Sign language didn't exist until deaf-mute people were like "geez, we wish we could talk to each other"

Interpreters wouldn't exist if people weren't like "geez, we wish we could talk to each other"

Phrasebooks wouldn't exist if people weren't like "I wish I could communicate better when I travel"

Learning second languages wouldn't exist if people weren't like "it's practical to be able to communicate with more people"

Desire came first and then the tool. Without desire, the tool doesn't exist. And if there is no tool, desire will drive the creation of new tools. That is why even though tools are nice and handy, desire to communicate is the most important thing. Without desire to communicate you will just take a photo of the tool and put it in your album. 

That is why people who expect others to learn Hindi/English/any language genuinely don't want to communicate. If they want a national language so others should learn a new language they are doing so out of sheer laziness and no logical reason. Communication is a two-way process. If two Indians who don't speak the same language meet and want to find a way to communicate they will find a way - wild hand gestures, finding someone to translate or a translation app. But if even one of them thinks you should have learned my language because you are in my country/state they will refuse to communicate even if there is a translator or other tool available. Sorry, I could not decouple the communication theory from the larger discussion. 

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