Wednesday, 26 January 2011

An Illusion of Two Different Languages

Hindustāni meiṅ Absraik (Abstract in Hindustani)

Āj bhī jab Pākistān aur Bhārat ke log ek dūsre ko jab bolte huye sunte haiṅ to vo ek dūsre ki zubān samajhte haiṅ. Aur ye sirf ek dhokhā he ke Hindī aur Urdū do alag-alag bhāshā he. Is kā sabūt ye he ke Urdū meiṅ gāne Bhārat meiṅ kāfī pasand kiye jāte haiṅ aur Hindī meiṅ filmeiPākistān meiṅ bahut caltī hai. Is ārṭikal meiṅ yahī batāne kī koshish kar rahā hūṅ. 

Resumo en Esperanto (Abstract in Esperanto)

Kiam personoj el Pakistano kaj Barato renkontiĝas kaj parolas inter si, ili facile komprenas unu la alian. Estas nur iluzio, ke ekzistas du malsimilaj lingvoj - hinda kaj urdua. La kantoj en urdua estas popularaj en Barato kaj televidprogramoj en hinda estas famaj en Pakistano. Se hinda kaj uruda estus apartaj lingvoj, ĝi ne estus eble.

The Article

It's been more than 60 years since we gained political independence from Britain. The freedom came at a huge cost: the country, originally known as Hindustan was parted into a Muslim majority Pakistan and a Hindu majority India. 

The partition was far from being a calm affair - it resulted in the displacement of more than ten million people across the newly drawn border and approximately a million people were killed in religious riots between fanatic Muslims on the one side and zealot Hindus-Sikhs on the other.

The partition not only resulted in the division of territory, the common language of country,  Hindustani, also fell a victim.

The fundamentalists started promoting Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hindus, in India and Arabic, the language revered by the Muslims, in Pakistan. But because they could not convince or force their populations to speak in Sanskrit or Arabic, they played a game.

In India, religious gurus littered Hindustani with words from Sanskrit and started calling it Hindi. The fundamentalists from Pakistan reciprocated in the same manner by borrowing unnecessarily from Arabic and Persian and declared Urdu (along with English) the official language of Pakistan. And thus, almost overnight, two new official languages - Hindi and Urdu - were born. 

To give an illusion of two separate languages the Indian government encouraged the use of Devanagri (a Sanskrit based script) to write the langauge and Government in Pakistan adopted Nastaleeq (a script based on Arabic-Persian characters). And the official stand, regarding to the writing systems used in both countries, is still the same.

Though people in both countries don't write it in the same script the colloquial spoken language is only as different as British and American English or Castilian and Latin American Spanish.

To cite you an example, here is a song I've been listening to a lot in the past few days. It is sung by Atif Aslam from Pakistan for an Indian movie. Ask any one from Pakistan or India to listen to it and then tell you if it's in Hindi or Urdu.

An Indian will swear to God that 'it's in Hindi'. In contrast, a common man in Pakistan would laugh at you if you suggested it's not in Urdu! As a result of decades of propaganda, people here are afraid of Urdu and consider it an "enemy language." Many here don't even have an idea about what Urdu is like or how close it is to Hindi. The same, I believe, must be true of Pakistan too.

That song by Atif Aslam is more of a rule than an exception. Indian movies and television serials (in Hindi) are popular in Pakistan and the shaer-o-shaeri (in Urdu) is widely appreciated in India.

Incomprehensibly occurs only when you swap to your everyday vocabulary in favor of more Sanskrit or Arabic (or Persian) words. And that's what the textbooks do in both countries. It's easier for a Pakistani to read a newspaper in Hindi and for an Indian to do the same than reading each others' textbooks.

To conclude, I'd say that the masses in both countries continue to use the pre-partition-language in daily life, the name Hindustani has been completely erased from their memories and there is only an illusion of two different languages.