Valare Upakaram, Google

Indic_screenshot.jpg Via the “web clips” which perch above my 5,090 unread GMail messages, news that Google’s email is now down with some brown languages:

Until now, there hasn’t been a good way to send email to friends and family in Hindi, my native language and their language of choice. That’s why I’m happy to announce a new feature for Gmail that lets you type email in Indian languages. If you’re in India, this feature is enabled by default. If not, you’ll need to turn it on in the “Language” section under Settings. Once enabled, just click the Indian languages icon and type words in the way they sound in English — Gmail will automatically convert them to their Indian language equivalent. [link]

3410684214_542408482e_m.jpg Oh, if only there were some way for me to type Malayalam words the way they sound in English to me…and have GMail (or anything else, for that matter) automatically convert them to the correct Malayalam-in-English spelling equivalent.

For example, sometimes while I’m writing, blogging, tweeting or commenting on your Facebook crap, I feel the compulsive need to refer to the side dish I loved most as a small child: a fried, potato-y concoction which I’d spell “oorelkarunga merehkwerty or in a similarly butchered fashion.

Do you know how that shiz is actually spelled?

urulakizhangu mezhukkupuratti

Yeah (Thanks for the correction, sumithar!).

Unfortunately, when I’m trying to pronounce some of these words internally, so that I can sound them out slowly in order to spell them awkwardly, I hear them the way I did when I was four, which is neither helpful nor accurate. Just try and use a search engine to look for a correct spelling when Malayalam spellings are so wacky, and by wacky, I mean REALLY DIFFICULT.

For example, if you have Hindi selected, “namaste” will transliterate to “नमस्ते.” We currently support five Indian languages – Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam, and businesses and schools using Google Apps should see this in the coming weeks. [link]

My father always said it’s not lady-like to gloat, but after seeing four Dravidian languages on a list of five total, I’m gloatin’. ;) Blame my traumatic college days, when almost everyone was of North Indian descent, and the only brown languages I heard were Punjabi or Hindi– even from the handful of other Southie kids! All that aside, this feature sounds pretty cool to me. Like GMail wasn’t already great enough…

127 thoughts on “Valare Upakaram, Google

  1. I am fluent and proud of my Tamizh(read,write,speak). I studied 4 years in middle school in Madurai.I can tell the difference between a Madurai zha, Palghat zha, Nagercoil zha, Malayalam zha. Malayalam has a letter designated for zha.

    BTW. Did you notice the place names of Kerala cities in Google map. They still use the tamil names used by the old tamil surveyors of east india company.

  2. Malayalam has a letter designated for zha.

    I’m not clear on what you mean by this – are you saying Tamil doesn’t? As far as I understand, apart from the aspirated consonants in Malayalam, I thought it shared more or less the same alphabet with Tamil (or Tamizh, if you like), which includes all three L sounds (or two Ls and a zh, if you like). I don’t know the Malayalam alphabet, but with Google’s help and this chart I’m able to produce this:

    മലയാളം = மலயாளம் = ma-la-yaa-Lam (where the first la is made with the tongue further front than the second, more palatal La) – although in Tamil it’s spelled மலையாளம், right?

    தமிழ் = തമിഴ് = tha-mi-zh

  3. if English continues to be preeminent the world over, it will be because 1 billion Indians put their weight behind it. And what if I billion Indians don’t?

    the newspaper with the widest circulation in the world is a hindi rag. vaat is its name? two virtual jalebis for the right answer. and a virtual samosa for the person who can tell the circ.

  4. Kabob

    ‘darkies,’ I thought you were talking about the Dravidians until I finished the sentence. But you don’t want to sent the brahman’s packing, of course, becuase their culture conforms to your definition of “settled in.”

    Kabob, I used the word “darkies” because someone else had used it a little before. Most people I have encountered the world over– and I have lived in 4 continents since the 70′s– are contemptuous of Indians. The only people lower on the totem pole are perhaps Bangladeshis. If you know people who respect Indians as a collective group (individuals fare better, e.g. no one would call Aiswarya Rai ugly but they might say Indians are ugly), I’d like to meet them. From what you write, you appear to have little knowledge of India. Ghori was a plunderer and he didn’t stay in India. Google him. As for taking money out of India, google Nadir Shah, google Ghori–you know he waived all taxes because his Indian excursions took care of that.

    I don’t want to send anyone packing. Not the muslims nor the brahmins. Kabob, please learn a little about India before you (and many like you) get all so huffed up and self-righteous. You have made certain assumptions, and now you want to force a fit.

    Someone said North Indians and Pakistanis could understand the same language. And I said I wasn’t so sure. I then went on to say that Turks etc… were not Indian (it is a fairly obvious point but some people don’t see it that way) and I don’t know why elements of their language have to be foisted on all north Indians. (It is, you know, through Bollywood–Bollywood is new to me which is why although I knew some Hindi, I had to look up these words). I am not sure what that has to do with cultural contributions, Sending them packing etc… Your leaps of logic. (PS: there weren’t many scientific contributions that I know of during the Muslim period.)

    About your little train episode, yes there is a lot of bias the hindu has for the muslim. There is also a lot of bias the muslim has for the hindu, the hindu for the christian, the christian for the hindu etc… I guess we don’t send people to gas chambers. We just hold on to our biases. Now you can wag your finger all you want at Indians and bring up the caste system, Aryans (you did and yes that gave you away), brahmans (it is usually spelled “brahmin”) etc… but the ground truth is quite complex and finger wagging is what missionaries do. What is your agenda? To say muslims have it tough in India?

    Most of what you said makes very little sense to me.

    Yeah, I agree, you don’t seem very bright.

    I’m catching a flight now. So no more feeding trolls.

  5. My Dog Ji, although I am not disputing your experiences, in UK at least, Indian Sub Continent people are respected…well lets ignore the underclass, they hate all Darkies

  6. To reply to 100 · Sepiaaahhh Valare is Malayalam for “very”. Upakaaram is of course “help”. Literally “very helpful” but a better translation is “much obliged”,

  7. Jagat: Your response is not even worth replying to, but since you insist on insulting my repeatedly, I guess I will. Thanks for the tip on who to google, but I think I’ll take a pass. I’ve already read most of the original Persian sources that discuss people like Ghori, Mahmood, and so on. You’ve found a few names that fit your argument, and you are going to throw them in my face as though I haven’t heard all this before. I was speaking to general trends, and I reject your extremist attempt to center Ghori as though he proves that every since Turk was bent on plunder. Your own leaps of logic are pretty impressive.

    Perhaps I didn’t go to the trouble to be elegant (or perhaps even coherent), but you seem very unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt. As though I didn’t understand what you intended when you used the term ‘darkies.’ To the contrary, I meant to comment on what I thought was a cheap shot where it was hardly called for.

    What I do find interesting is that your exceedingly rude and presumptive post comes in the wake of my informing you that I’m not Indian. Who are you to tell me to “learn a little bit about India” – would you have said that before I told you my own ethnicity? Perhaps I could ask you to learn a few things before our next discussion. You dont know the meaning of the two simple words common to both Hindi and Urdu – manzil and and dastan – and yet you feel comfortable commenting on the linguistic situation that straddles India and Pakistan. Oh, of course, you’re Indian, and that makes you qualified to explain everything to me, and tell me that I am grossly misinformed and need to go consult wikipedia. There are may be many things I don’t know about India, but I do happen to be fluent in both Hindi and Urdu and have spent over five years living in BOTH India AND Pakistan, and I have no doubt that I’m more well fluent, and vastly more well-read, than you ever will be in both Hindi and Urdu. . But I refuse to discuss any of my own “credentials,” or what I have learned and where. It seems its enough for you that I’m white, case closed.

    As for being “puffed up and self-righteous” – it looks like I’m in good company.

    thanks for the spelling lesson. If I want to transliterate it from Hindi, that’s my prerogative.

    ‘(PS: there weren’t many scientific contributions that I know of during the Muslim period.)” – Do some googling yourself – or read a book.

    ” What is your agenda? To say muslims have it tough in India?”

    Yeah, basically. Because of people like you.

    Enjoy your flight.

  8. Of course Urdu will be seen as the language of the Muslims when it is pitted against a newly invented language (now called Hindi, a term that used to refer to what we think of as Urdu)

    Interesting. I always thought that urdu was hindi, just with persian words interspersed throughout instead of shudh hindi or katibholi hindi. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    It never dawned on my that urdu could’ve been a separate and older language in it’s own right.

    I’d like to know the linguistic history if you could summarize it briefly here, Kabob Sahib.

  9. Urdu is based on the khadi boli dialect of Hindi (which comes from Delhi region and western Uttar Pradesh).

    Kabon Sahib, you make some good points but I do feel your comments are sort of an apology for Muslim invaders’ (and their subsequent descendants’) attitudes towards Hindus and Indian non-Muslims (and their culture) in general. They were not all a bunch of benign folks interested in becoming ‘Indian’ just like the locals.

  10. The following text are from wikipedia entries for Hindi and Urdu, and Mughal: History of Hindi Like many other modern Indian languages, Hindi has evolved from Sanskrit, by way of the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit languages and Apabhramsha of the Middle Ages. Though there is no consensus for a specific time, Hindi originated as local dialects such as Braj, Awadhi and finally Khari Boli after the turn of tenth century.[9] In the span of nearly a thousand years of Muslim influence, such as when Muslim rulers controlled much of northern India during the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, many Persian and Arabic words were absorbed into khari boli and was called Urdu. Since almost all Arabic words came via Persian, they do not preserve the original phonology of Arabic.

    Hindi is contrasted with Urdu in the way both are written, and the use of Sanskrit vocabulary in higher registers. Urdu is the official language of Pakistan and also an official language in some parts of India. The primary differences between the two are the way Standard Hindi is written in Devanagari and draws its “vocabulary” with words from (Indo-Aryan) Sanskrit, while Urdu is written in Urdu script, a variant of the (Semitic) Perso-Arabic script, and draws heavily on Persian and Arabic “vocabulary.”

    Vocabulary is in quotes here since it is mostly the literary vocabulary that shows this visible distinction with the everyday vocabulary being essentially common between the two.

    Hindi is spoken mainly in northern states of Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, and is spoken alongside regional languages like Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi or Bengali throughout north and central India. Hindi is also understood and spoken in other parts of India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Hindustani is spoken by all persons of Indian descent in Fiji. In Western Viti Levu and Northern Vanua Levu, it is a common spoken language and a link language spoken between Fijians of Indian descent and native Fijians. The latter are also the only race in the world of non Indian descent that includes majority hindi speakers.

    History of Urdu In general, the term “Urdu” can encompass dialects of Hindustani other than the standardised versions.The original language of the Mughals had been Turkish, but after their arrival in South Asia, they came to adopt Persian and later Urdu. The word Urdu is believed to be derived from the Turkish, word ‘Ordu’, which means army encampment.[7] It was initially called Zabān-e-Ordu-e-Mu’alla or language of the exalted army and later just Urdu. It obtained its name from Urdu Bazar, i.e. encampment (Urdu in Turkish) market, the market near the Red Fort in the walled city of Delhi.[8] When did Mughals came to India? The Mughal Empire(Urdu: Mughal Sultanat-e-Hind) was a Muslim imperial power of the Indian subcontinent which began in 1526, ruled most of the Indian Subcontinent by the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and ended in the mid-19th century.[1] The Mughal Emperors were Timurids of Turko-Mongol descent, and developed a highly sophisticated mixed Indo-Persian culture

    Does this shed some light?

    Kabob Sahib………..knowledge or just sophomoric babbling about India, whether the word “Manzil” common knowledge for a South Indian, Urdu is not the mother tongue of Kashmiris, there are Urdu newspapers widely circulated in cow belt…….. arrogance or humility……who is to tell in these smattering, half-baked comments on a blog. However, someone who claims to be white on the internet, and uses “Sahib” as a handle on a South Asian blog is quite disquieting, as Sahib word is quite loaded to be used by someone not of South Asian race, and carries centuries of baggage and colonialisation. Bery, bery interesting.

  11. My impression is that Kabob Sahib is a Muslim convert/revert who has spent time in Pakistan either for work, and perhaps converted/reverted there, or first converted/reverted in his own country but went to Pakistan as part of his religious experience. Or he very well could be a MFB, muslim from birth, who married an Indo-Pak girl.

    Maybe in Pakistan and India he was referred to as “sahib”? It’s not uncommon to address men as “sahib” in either of those countries.

    Anyway, I still would like to hear from him regarding the origins of urdu.

    Kabob Sahib, don’t let “Jagat” scare you off. There are others on here who are interested in your point of view.

  12. This is a fascinating discussion. I realize, though, what my mistake is. I entered the discussion almost on the fly, and didn’t even think about slowly and coherently forming an argument. The comments above have make me think that I have just not come across the way I meant to, and that perhaps my examples needed to be more clearly elucidated. This must have been my error, otherwise, why would Khush Tandon believe that I think Urdu is the native language of kashmiris (reread my post and you will see I only mentioned kashmir and Urdu in the first place becuase I wanted to demonstrate that there are state employees that may want to utilize advancements in Urdu computing but may not be able to use pakistani software because of their affiliation with the state, despite the fact that urdu is the STATE language of kashmir). I will admit to being caught up in a flurry of arguments and perhaps not being clear. In the future, I will be more precise. At this point, there is not much more that I can do, as I’m really not in the mood to go back and defend every statement I made. I don’t expect a South Indian to know what the word manzil means at all, but I do think that if that someone does not, they might be willing to concede that they are not omnipotent on linguistic minutiae of a potent political nature that exists in a place far from their own linguistic expertise.

    Next, my handle. That’s a pretty big critique there. I’m sorry it strikes you as disquieting. I see where the point is coming from with regards to baggage and colonialism, but I’m not sure how I should feel about it. I’ll have to do some thinking. As a bit of history, I invented the name Kabob Sahib because I had written a silly poem about Lucknow in Urdu and needed a takhallus to round it off. I liked how the phrase rhymed, fit the meter, and referenced one of Lucknow’s specialties. This was long before I knew much about South Asia (relatively), and the thought didn’t even occur to me. Now, perhaps it would, but I’ve used it intermittently for so long I suppose I forgot to reevaluate. But really, I think you’re being slightly unfair. Or do you suspect its my subconscious desire to recolonize India in my own mind by using the term? It probably has more to do with the fact that I’ve often been called “(my name) Sahib” by countless people, from professors own down, without, I think, the subtext you are reading into it. The same people, incidentally, would refer to females as ___ sahiba, as opposed to memsahib, if that makes things any clearer. On this issue, I think you can read whatever you want into it. If you really want to see it as a Freudian manifestation of my own orientalist fantasies, then go for it. But I hope you might give me a little more credit, or look into my own perspective and background a bit first.

    Sepiaahhh, I’m not a Muslim, have never been one, and probably never will be. I just find this topic interesting. I’ll try and talk about the linguistic question below.

    Amitabh, thanks for the more serious response. As I said above, I’ll be more organized next time. I don’t want to come off as being apologetic in any way, for that’s not really what I am trying to achieve. Rather, I don’t think that there is much to be apologized for. What happened in the past is done and gone, and there isn’t much reason to bring it up . if there have been Persians and Turks living in India for 500 years, intermarried and without any connections to their homelands (except, at max, maybe a family tree), then to my mind, they are Indian. What I am trying to question is the idea that to be Indian you have to be Hindu or any other such think. The same thing goes for imported words and phrases. Many Arabic words, for instance, have been so thoroughly Indianized that not only are the not pronounced as they originally were, they don{t even MEAN the same thing as they did in either Persian or Arabic. If its changed so much in its Indian environment, it can’t possibly still be Arabic, but if its also not Indian, then what is it? I hope I am making sense.
    I think these questions have become so wrapped up in political games and picked to shreds that its hard to think about them calmly and rationally. Why are these Urdu words, for instance, so tendentious to us now, when 150 years ago people of all religions were using them without the slightest hesitation. Just take the sikh phrase Wahe gujuji di fateh…is this phrase not Indian because fateh is an Arabic word?

    Anyhow, why do I care so much? I think its absolutely to everyone’s detriment to argue that certain people are foreign, or that a certain language is foreign, and that we can delight in watching it die out (see above.) This, to me, is incredible. In a world we we want to conserve everything, that someone can delight in the death not only of an abstract being, but in the death of an entire culture. This is what I am against, and what I am trying to argue against. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what Ghori did or what Mahmood did. It has little bearing on the life of a poor sayyid living out his life in Hyderabad, eating mangoes and suffering the heat and the floods with the rest of the city. It can’t feel nice to do all that, and have people who don’t even know you tell you you are a foreigner.

    What I do find interesting, for my part, since Khush brings up the question of colonialism (whether he wants to implicate me in that or not), is that a lot of what I am reading here was first proposed by British historians themselves, who certainly had a vested interest in maintaining the idea that Muslims were only interested in rapping and pillaging the Hindus of India. It was these historians who would comb Persian chronicles for anything that sounded anti-Hindu in order to translate them and put them in readers and ‘academic’ articles. I don’t think that the few examples given above really bear out the claim that “they were not all a bunch of benign folks interested in becoming ‘Indian’ just like the locals.” Again, I am not interested in blaming anyone, or being apologetic for anyone, but in as far as I can tell, the presiding tone of the discussion above has not been nuanced, and wants to make broad statements based on convenient factoids. Finally, I will never claim to be most-knowledgeable when it comes to India, but I do think I’m entitled to present my own opinion without my ethnicity being given TOO much weight.

    Phew, after all that, I am not sure that I can type much in response to your question, Sepiahhh. At any rate, I am not intimidated by some of the comments above. I have spent a great amount of time reading and researching on the question of Urdu/Hindi, and if anyone wants to question my opinion, I hope that they do so not out based on my ethnic background, but on academic grounds.

    The short answer to your question is that there were many dialects which were spoken around Delhi and in North India. One of which, Khadi Boli,eventually came to form the basis of what we now think of as Hindi/Urdu. Because of its longstanding interaction with speakers of Persian, Turkish, and so on, it eventually took on many words from those languages. At that time, the langauge was referred to by many terms: rekhti, gujari, hindi (which, in Arabic, just meant ‘indian’). The language was used as a lingua franca, but was not systematized or formalized for centuries, and you could not look at a text and say that it belonged to either of the modern categories of “Hindi” or “Urdu.” … Eventually, the language came to be known as Urdu, and it had many registers, and was not considered a ‘Muslim’ language. It was extremely common, and was written in the nastaliq script.. In the 19th century, there was a movement to ‘purify’ it. The devanagri script was adapted/designed to fit it, and sammelans or committees were formed to start replacing ‘foreign’ words with sanskritized ones. This was all exacerbated by the politics of the day, and everyone is to blame for it. Including Muslims, who began to see Urdu as ‘theirs’ and started rewriting history themselves (erasing, for instance, the names of many great Hindu poets of Urdu). It was then argued that Hindi was the ancient language and Urdu the recent and foreign interloper. This, despite the fact that Hindi as it was then devised had never been spoken before. The literature is ample testament to this. While there is Urdu (in the modern sense) literature going back several centuries, Hindi literature is really grasping at straws (claiming Khusrau) for instance, until the 19th. There are plenty of other traditions – Braj, or Awadhi, for instance – but not in “Hindi.” What we call Hindi today is a modern thing. Nothing wrong with it, but its just one of those interesting twists of fate that the sammelans were so successful that most Indians are convinced beyond a doubt that Hindi existed first, and that Urdu replaced Hindi words instead of the other way around. But this has been discussed so many times before. What I am writing here is a simplified version. I hope my fellow commentators won’t find anthing abhorrent/colonialistic in it. :)

  13. agg, I meant to say omniscient, not omnipotent…its late, cut me some slack this time around, guys. :)

  14. Did I really write “wahe gujuji”!! Another lesson learned: spell checking.

  15. na-chiz kabob,

    peace, i think i over-reacted too, partly, hindi for a north Indian is not for someone who is south indian, and learns hindi (their vocabularly tend to be slighlty different as a more formal language, and their commonality with sanskrit) with their south indian mother tongue………..use na-chiz or sahib, as you wish.

  16. You’ve just hit upon the linguistic purging which isn’t being discussed in this thread.

    my parents and their fellow tamilians had always made it out to seem that tamil is the least sanskritized language. but when i studied hindi, i realised that the sanskritized forms of the words in the standard literary form of hindi were a lot closer to their counterparts in tamil. the reason this was not obvious is because hindustani is what is heard and that resembles sanskrit to a much lesser extent. which begs the question whether tamil is really heavily sanskritized aka which way did the influence go? and yoga fire is right – this is a highly taboo topic. i tried sharing my newfound knowledge, only be to have it dubbed ‘propoganda’ by the tamils.

    The problem is sometimes one can get confused, forget what r sounds like, and get totally tripped up.

    azgh ;)

  17. Kabob Sahib:

    First of all let me make it clear your ethnicity does not matter to me. You obviously have a more educated and nuanced point of view than many a narrow-minded speaker of either Urdu or Hindi.

    But, I disagree that Urdu is older than Hindi. Urdu IS indeed older than modern standard Hindi as used in India today. But that’s it. It’s not older than any other variety of Hindi. Hindi varieties such as Braj, Awadhi, Khari Boli etc. predate Urdu. You can not say that Braj is not Hindi. It is certainly part of the Hindi language family. So is Awadhi. So is Haryanvi. Admittedly there are other languages/dialects lumped under Hindi where the relationship is much less close (such as Marwari or Bhojpuri, which on linguistic grounds alone can be considered fairly distinct from Hindi). Punjabi is actually a lot closer to colloquial Hindi than Marwari is to colloquial Hindi for example.

    In any case, khari boli’s heartland, even more than Delhi, is in the districts of western Uttar Pradesh that are right next to Delhi (think Meerut, etc.) Hindu villagers living there were speaking rural forms of Khari boli for a long time before formal Urdu came to exist. You could say it was a rough, raw, rustic Urdu precursor, without the huge PersoArabic vocabulary that entered later. And it was most certainly a form of Hindi. It does not matter if it was labelled as such back then, but in retrospect that’s waht it was. Of course it was unpolished and unwritten back then, just a spoken dialect.

  18. My understanding is that both Urdu and Hindi evolved out of Khariboli. Wikipedia calls both Hindi and Urdu “standardized registers” of Khariboli. I’m not a linguist, so I’m not sure exactly what standardized registers means.

    Wiki also makes the point that because Khari-boli was based around Delhi, it came to be seen as more urbane and sophisticated than other dialects of Hindi such as Avadi and Braj Bhasa.

    About the word “sahib” having colonialist connotations, I don’t really think so. When I was in Pakistan, I added Sahab to people’s names (for example, university officials) out of politeness. I see it as being analgous to “Mr” or “Sir”. That said, I can see that for some people when it comes to Indian-White relations, someone calling themselves by that title might make some people a little uncomfortable.

  19. It also has to be realised that the Urdu culture, in its refined, courtly form, was quite oppressive and dismissive of local indigenous culture. Kabob Sahib, you love Urdu so much…let’s take Lucknow, one of the main centers of Urdu, as an example…Lucknow is the heart of Awadh, home to the famous Awadhi dialect, which Tulsi Das wrote Ram Charit Manas in. But Awadhi was neglected and relegated to (Hindu) villages while Urdu flourished in (Muslim) Lucknow. So you can not deny the political aspects, the religious aspects, and the power imbalance. Urdu can certainly not claim to be more indigenous to Awadh than Awadhi can; yet it’s a celebrated aspect of the Lakhnavi (Lucknow) culture. There was definitely a certain amount of oppression involved there.

  20. From the little I know of Hindi, Braja bhasha and Punjabi, punjabi sounds closer to modern hindi than braj does.

    Akbar was a muslim ruler who had respect for Hindu culture and himself followed a sort of Hindu-Muslim fusion synthesis. There are several tales of him patronizing Hindu saints in the Braj region.

    Urdu is a beautiful and poetic language no doubt. I have some urdu ghazal cds and even though I don’t know most of what they are saying, it sounds incredibly romantic.

    Regarding Tamil. Maybe the “pure” form of Tamil does not use Sanskrit words? Or maybe those words were originally Tamil to beginwith but got subsumed later into Sanskrit?

    Being that Sanskrit is supposed to be the language of the Vedas and “vedic culture” is preserved to a large extent in Tamil culture, that is why there appears to be so much Sanskrit in Tamil language. So then the question could be asked, was the area known today as Tamil Nadu the original seat of ancient vedic culture and not the north as most are led to believe?

  21. And by the way Kabob Sahib, I’m surprised nobody here has yet referred you to read “Orientalism” by Edward Said. LOL.

    A book that is over 30 years and based on events hundreds of years old, but somehow we are supposed to buy into his arguments hook, line and sinker for the present age.

    I guess it hasn’t dawned on people that there are some of us who were born at a time when we just didn’t experience what Said said we did, or what Said says we are supposed to, even though he said it over 3 decades ago.

    Enough Said!

  22. What I am writing here is a simplified version. I hope my fellow commentators won’t find anthing abhorrent/colonialistic in it. :)

    I didn’t quite understand your story about the Hindus speaking rudely about Muslims….b/c I’m sure as My Dog Jagat said, jerks can come in all religions and not just Hindus.

    I think your assertions might be touchy b/c you aren’t South Asian…although you are Polish and not British, in Asia you would be considered white, so I guess it’s somewhat natural for some South asians to be dismissive. But that’s not to say that your ethnic, national background doesn’t mean that you don’t have valid points. I’m just saying it, some people might dismiss your opinion as a first reaction.

    You said you are Polish so perhaps the comparison would be if on a Polish blog, Russians or Germans started telling you what languages should take precedence in your country. Knowing German, Prussia’s and Russia’s long history of conquest and hegemony over Poland, I can understand if some Polish people would be suspicious of people who had formerly conquered them, killed about 6 million during wwII, telling them how they should linguistically run their country?

    Has there been language wars in Poland? Any attempt to force Russian or German languages?

    Can this whole Hindu/Urdu thing be compared to some extent to Ireland or Taiwan? For centuries Irish people were conquered and exploited by the British and now Ireland is making a concerted effort to bring back Gaelic…even though English is very much their language (If some Irish feel differently about what I wrote, it’s just my opinion) or in Taiwan, where indigenous Taiwanese language was suppressed for Mandarin, and some of those who are ethnic Taiwanese resent the use of Mandarin?

  23. Can this whole Hindu/Urdu thing be compared to some extent to Ireland or Taiwan?

    The difference is, Gaelic and English are two totally different languages; Taiwanese and Mandarin are as well. Urdu and Hindi on the other hand are at heart the same language, just with different scripts and different (albeit overlapping) vocabulary sets. These differences in vocabulary become more apparent in formal situations; colloquial versions of Urdu and urban Hindi are very close if not almost identical. And the average Hindi speaker uses quite a lot of Urdu words and vice versa.

    I think a great analogy is with Turkish. The literary language of Turkey used to be Ottoman Turkish. It had a Turkish base with a large amount of PersoArabic vocabulary, and was written in a version of the Arabic script. Certain people in power in Turkey decided in the early 20th century (or possibly earlier) to remove all the PersoArabic elements and replace them with pure Turkish words (or coin new Turkish words if necessary). And to write this language in Roman (English) script. Within a generation people forgot Ottoman Turkish. It is largely an incomprehensible and unreadable language for, pardon the expression, young turks. I would say Urdu bears the same relationship with Modern Standard Hindi that Ottoman Turkish bears with Modern Standard Turkish. Now, to extrapolate further, Turkish is mutually comprehensible with a number of other ‘Turkic’ languages, such as Azeri (spoken in Azerbaijan). Azeri probably bears the same relationship to Turkish that dialects like Braj and Awadhi do to Standard Hindi.

  24. The difference is, Gaelic and English are two totally different languages; Taiwanese and Mandarin are as well.

    yes, good point.

    I think a great analogy is with Turkish. The literary language of Turkey used to be Ottoman Turkish

    Your analogy seems to be a good one.