Nowadays I find many youngsters feel “proud about Thamizh which is a hoary language and is replete with rich literature”. Of course, it is a hoary language none can gainsay that. I have had the opportunity to read Hindi and French also and being a Master’s degree holder in English Language and Literature I feel every language has its impeccable beauty. Every language has a rich repertoire of literature and every language has its beautiful nuances.
For any language to be alive the people who speak the language should “really love” the language and most importantly constantly imbibe new words into the language so that the language constantly grows. Language is a means of communication and therefore it directly reflects the nature, culture, and societal qualities of the speakers of the language. When I learned French I came to know a lot about French Culture.
We have seen the way the English language has evolved over the years. Many words have come into existence in the recent past. For instance, we casually use words like 10k to refer to ten thousand. Let us see the changes the word reception has gone through – when I was a schoolgirl it changed from reception to foyer and now it has become a front office. Same with the case of Toilet which became Restroom and now it is a washroom. Round-the-clock service has now become a 24 by 7 service and we never say “say yes or no to my question” instead we prefer to say “I want a binary answer” and the list of newly evolved words goes on.
Now let me come to Thamizh. At the outset I want to make it abundantly clear I am not against Thamizh – actually I write in all the languages I know and I am in the constant process of bettering my language skill and am never tired of learning new languages. I have studied Thamizh literature only till school final and I truly liked the Thamizh literary pieces which were prescribed for our study and luckily I had a good Thamizh teacher who made the classes truly enjoyable.
The Dravidian parties use the Thamizh language only as a political tool and have made Zero contribution to the development of the Thamizh language. Getting a classical status for the Thamizh language is not going to enrich the language in any way. When we look at all the Indian languages we will find that Thamizh alone stands apart and has few things in common with other Indian languages. All other Indian languages have aspirates (which are very important for any language) and all have four “ta” four “the” four “pa” and four “cha” whereas the Thamizh language has only one in this category. This is a very big handicap and that is precisely the reason that Tamizh language speakers find it extremely difficult to speak other languages. Thamizh language’s “stand-alone tendency” will only be a deterrent for its growth.
Many Thamizh lovers tell us that only Thamizh has words to depict different stages from a bud to a flower – some six or seven. Agreed it is fantastic- now the main question how many of us know that these many words exist in the Thamizh language.
Recently one of my friends, who is also a writer in the Hindi TV industry told me that when she saw Thamizh serials she felt that we can write the dialogues if we know hardly a thousand words in Thamizh. What she says is true because Hindi serials are primarily a writer’s medium and they repeat the same idea but they camouflage it with various words since their vocabulary is very rich. This enrichment is partly because Hindi does not hesitate to use Sanskrit and Urdu words generously.
But Thamizh language has become stagnant. Certain modern expressions cannot be said in Thamizh and if we attempt, we have to beat around the bush. The youngsters of Thamizh Nadu are very proud of Thamizh but when it comes to speaking the language they use weird expressions which certainly would not add to the pride of the Thamizh language.
Magazines and media are supposed to use standard language – but in Thamizh, they prefer to use the “local language” instead of standard Thamizh which would not help the language to grow. Most of the ground reporters of media houses struggle for words when they are asked to narrate the events and they are unaware of the subtle nuances that exist in sound in pronouncing certain words. And most importantly the media has completely changed the basic grammar in sentence structure. In any language, subject-verb agreement is very important. But Thamizh news if you notice constantly uses singular verbs even if the subject is plural. Most of the artists of serials and Cinema do not speak their lines but their voices are dubbed by other artists – a phenomenon that is seen only in Thamizh Cinema.
DMK is the first party that “used the Thamizh language” as its main electoral plank and to this, it is using the Thamizh language as an indispensable electoral tool. So much so that our PM Modi to appease Tamil people learns by rote lines from Thamizh literature and recites them in public meetings. This effort of his is not appreciated either by the public or by his adversaries. The general public does not care because they do not know the lines that Modi recites in his speeches and so do the politicians of Thamizh Nadu. Stalin proved his “love for Thamizh” when he made more than one mistake in just “reading” the four lines which Modi effortlessly recited without mistake though he had trouble pronouncing many words. But Stalin could not even read the lines properly and was fumbling at every step and so much for his love for Thamizh.
Thamizh contemporary literature was once very rich. During my younger days we had exemplary writers like Indira Parthasarathy, Sujatha, Sivasankari, Vaasanthi, Sudamani, Manian, and Savi, and before them were PVR, Lakshmi, Rajam Krishnan, Jayakanthan, Devan to name a few. They all wrote not only in good Thamizh but understood and mastered the art of story writing and they excelled in all genres be it short stories or novellas or novels. Even now they continue to appeal to me and any piece of writing that survives the test of time is indeed a classic.
Unfortunately, now I find that Thamizh contemporary writing has gone for a great fall. Almost all the writers prefer to talk about only the marginalized in society. I do not understand this idea that anything written about the downtrodden and the underdogs alone should be considered as “good writing”. Even a simple emotion when described effectively becomes a good story and all stories deal essentially with conflicts – either internal or external. But the present generation writers do not know the difference between an essay and a short story as revealed by their stories. The stories of the rich with emotional problems make equal sense and interesting to read- a point that is completely neglected by the Thamizh writers of today.
The Thamizh language lives effectively in Thamizh Nadu “politics” than in Cinema or literature because in the latter the Thamizh language used does not belong to the standard language category. Magazines that were once standard have gone for an abysmal fall and the new pulp magazines that have cropped up in Thamizh use a substandard type of language because the readers prefer that “type of language” which uses weird and funny expressions that do not belong to the Thamizh language at all.
On the contrary, when I see Hindi Channels or read Hindi magazines I find them being meticulous in the choice of words and the way they speak. While the ground reporters of Thamizh Channels cannot fluently speak the Thamizh language and “struggle” to pronounce even the word “Thamizh” I don’t find such instances in Hindi channels. They are very fast, fluent, and invariably use very good expressions in their reports and since I am constantly in the process of making my language skill better I love to listen to their language. On such occasions, I feel sorry at what pathetic state my mother tongue Thamizh language is. Very rarely do I come across a person who speaks Thamizh correctly, effectively, and properly without grammatical errors.
A friend of mine who is a great lover of the Thamizh language and ‘hater’ of all other languages had to concede defeat when I pointed out the mistakes that are committed in the media reports. He truly made one profound statement- I agree with you, our politicians “made a lot of noise” about the Thamizh language but did nothing to develop the language but Hindi people without a whimper silently developed their language.
It is not enough if you pay lip service to Thamizh. The lovers of the language should truly contribute to the development of the Thamizh language. And media houses should make conscious efforts to modernize the Thamizh language and try to encourage and bring in people who speak and write proper Tamizh without mistakes. Will that happen? It is a million-dollar question!!