Chennai:Â Indians being bilingual and, in many cases, multilingual, has saved indigenous languages from perishing, say experts.
Dr G.N. Devy, chairperson of the Peoplesâ€™ Linguistic Survey of India, a rights-based movement, says, â€śPersian, which was the national language at a point in history, lost out. Indian languages have had an inherent quality to survive, they withstood the odds, but Latin and Persian could not.â€ť
Marietta Gadeke, a student organiser from Germany at the world universities debating championship (WUDC), says, â€śWe do see the advances of English in global forums like this but being bilingual helps in preserving the native language. I know German and English.â€ť
Dr Devy adds, â€śThough every language has a lifetime, sometimes it is forced to perish. Marginalisation of communities is the leading reason for the forced death of a language. The language can die naturally as it gets fragmented and is absorbed into others as is the case of Sanskrit.â€ť
When such marginalisation happens, the language needs to be helped. He says, â€śEvery word is a book shelf with memories and many layers of history attached to it. When it perishes, so does history.â€ť
He says, â€śEnglish language is seeing a close death as it is getting oversized. The wordstock of the language has grown and is larger than needed, change in spellings is one of the observed ways.â€ť
Abhaya, a student organiser at WUDC, says, â€śWe have made three separate categories to provide a level-playing field as there are students from the third and first world countries. There is an open category and the others have English as first and second language. We also have placed a language proficiency test in place. Though optional, the test allows contestants to know what the level of competition would be.â€ť
The WUDC will be staging its finals on Friday.