Bengaluru: If vernacular languages are facing the threat of extinction, blame it on families particularly those belonging to the elite class who will converse in nothing but English with even their tiny tots, says eminent historian from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Prof. Binda Paranjape.
Hope is dwindling when it comes to protecting various vernacular languages and saving them for posterity, said Prof. Paranjape in a detailed paper presented at the ongoing 48th Indian Social Science Congress held here. Unless families come forward in a conscious bid to defend their mother tongue instead of relying on English as the only medium of communication, the future looks bleak, she said.
Explaining how English became the dominant language in the country, she said during British rule, English was the toast of the elite and slowly became all pervasive. “The Andhra Pradesh government’s recent decision to introduce English medium in government schools is another big blow to the protection of vernacular languages. This decision cannot be seen in isolation, we need to see it from society’s perspective. Society as a whole is becoming more and more American and Europe centric. Our aspirations are directly linked with those of the two continents. Therefore, irrespective of family background, we want our children to be educated in English medium,” she observed in her scholarly article – Language and Culture: Shifting Paradigms.
According to her, from the days Sanskrit language declined, to the present day, vernacular languages are facing a similar threat. “In earlier times, although, people used to learn other languages like Farsi, Urdu, Prakrit, Pali or any language that was patronised by the kings at home, they would communicate in their mother tongue. But of late, a new trend is emerging-of every family member trying communicate in English even with a small child in the house. This has become a real threat to many vernacular languages,” the historian felt. According to her, any language, to thrive or remain lively, needs communicators. If family members decide to turn their backs on their mother tongue, no amount of promotion or the government’s intervention can save the language, she stressed.