Tuesday, July 04, 2006

T e l u g u B h á s h a - F u t u r e -

One has to live away from the Telugu land to truly understand the beauty of its language. The language has a strange innocence and simplicity in expression. At the same time, it is extremely symmetric. For example, take some random phrases "kada daaka nadachi vacchina" (that which comes till the end), "theeru maaraledu" (its nature didn't change), "chilaka palukulu" (rote repitition / parrot speak) , "siggu moggalai" (overcome by coyness / budding of coyness)

However, it is an open secret that this language is dying.

In the rapid pace of life, with all its confusions, the Telugu people are losing. They are not able to identify the Telugu language. Consequently, they cannot speak properly, and thus, they cannot think properly. Due to this, the cultural output of the land has hit an enormous low in the recent times. (The current generation of telugu films/music/literature is at its disastrous low)

To prove my point, let me guide you to a Telugu television channel. A news reporter interviews some people about some topic "Why are the prices rising ?". The person getting interviewed always fumbles. He begins to speak in Telugu, mumbles a few words and finally gives up. He switches over to English, mutters some incoherent phrases and finally flashes a foolish smile. This happens irrespective of the topic and irrespective of the person speaking.

This is true of school teachers, politicians, TV anchors, news readers ..

The Telugu newspapers have become shockingly cheap in the language they employ.

A case in point is the Eenadu newspaper, with its humongous readership. Sometimes, I doubt if the real culprit of the disintegration of the language is Mr. Ramoji Rao - the media baron who owns the Eenadu news paper and the E-TV ! He can single-handedly change the course of the language if he wishes so !

Whenever I make an in-depth conversation with any of my Telugu friends, we switch over into English. Both of us feel ourselves inadequate in expressing in Telugu. And I am talking about people who have excellent knowledge of Telugu prose and poetry (not mere products of English Medium education) The only people who seem to have a reasonable command of the language are song-writers for the films. But even with them, I have my specks of doubt.

What is the reason ?

This is my point of view.

I believe that we have been trying to do it all wrong.

Principally, there are two kinds of languages - classical and liberal.

A good example of a classical language is "French" which owes heavily to "Latin". Whenever modern life presents a new technoligical invention, or political dispute, or psychological trauma, French can readily create a word made from the Latin roots. For example, in French, the word for computer graphics is infographie. The entire language is composed of such words, so they hardly stand out. Thus, the French lead a "classical" life. They try to protect their language from all types of encroachments (principally from the Anglo-Saxon words of English) They consider that their language is golden and that words from other languages are merde (literally, shit) In a way, they are true in saying so !

The best example for a liberal language is "English", which, historically got modified by several tribes - the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons, the French-Normans, the Vikings and so on. Ultimately, it got bastardazed to such a level that one word in English hardly resembles another. The British have always been open to the inadequacy of their language. They have crazily borrowed words from every language possible. Right now, English boasts of a vocabulary of two million words - no other language comes close to this richness. There is a word to express every shade of meaning, and usually, there are twenty words for saying the same thing.

What about Telugu ?

The pundits of the Telugu Academy would want us believe that Telugu is a classical language.

They create tongue-twisting inventions like "Dhooma-sakatam" (train) "Doora-darshini" (TV) "Doora-shravana-yantramu" (telephone). In the recent days, they are encroaching onto the turf of the computer desktop, making words such as "Meetala Palaka" (keyboard) "Paryavekshana Pradesham" (control center) They expect everyone to gulp these monster-words and swallow them down the throat for the glory of the Telugu language !!

But what they don't realize is that by doing so, they are killing the language.

Let me be open.

Telugu is not a classical language.

It is a very liberal language. Throughout history, it got screwed by several influences as wide reaching as tamil, sanskrit, portugeese, arabic, spanish, and ofcourse, now English. The word for key (chevi) comes from the portugeese "chablis". The word for spice (masala) comes from the arabic word (masalla). The list goes on and on. Historically, there have always been twenty words in Telugu for saying the same thing. In this aspect, Telugu is very much like English.

You can say "suvarna-dhaanya-raasi" or "bangaaru panta". Both are valid. But the second one sounds more delicious. That is theta-telugu.

Similarly in English, you can say "cordial reception" or "hearty welcome". The second one sounds much nicer. That is theta-english.

Given its history, I do not see any reason why we should not borrow more words from English ! By doing so, we always give them our own telugu-ness. We say "taebulu" instead of "table" /teibl/
The English also do the same. They say /khordiul risepshun/ instead of /koerthiale raysepseeyon/ (which is how the French pronounce the same word)

I think it is high time that we have accepted words like "kampyootaru", "key-boardu", "examsu", "teacharu", "offeesu" as true Telugu words. They are our own pride and our own legacy. By doing so, we will free the Telugu language from its shackles and let it flow like the mighty river, that it actually is.

In my way of contributing, I would like to bring life to two projects.

1) A readable roman script for Telugu language. Turkish has one, Japanese has one, why not Telugu ? We need an alphabetic script which is the most intuitive and facile. Please look at these images for a preliminary version. We need quick ways of editing such script and also cross-converting it into the standard Telugu font. I would like to work on both directions.

2) An ever-growing internet dictionary like this.

If you would like to contribute / discuss your own ideas, please drop me a line.


Santhosh said...

ITRANS and RTS are two nice / readable roman scripts for Telugu that you might want to look out for.

I presume telugu is not alone here.
Due to globalization/ internationalization,
many world languages are on the decline.

I agree that there's no point in being rigid
about not accepting the influence of english on
local languages.

Guess what these translate to :)
'dhUma SakaTa gamanA-gamana virAma sthalam'
'tri-chakra taila vAhanamu'
picked up from a play we acted at school, called 'padma vyUham' by tanikeLLa bharaNi

Kiran said...

I am aware of the other standards. After all, I did work in LTRC for 3 years right. :)

But do you really think "dhUma SakaTa gamanA" is readable ? (ignoring the meaning and all)

This looks just too jarring to the eye.

The RIT (rice inverse translation) standard is better. But they developed it for just typing into Telugu. It can also get pretty un-readable.

Nénu oka simpulu standardu kósam vethuku-thunnanu. Ilága ventané chaava-galige-tatlu undaali. Anthe kaakundá d'eenini maamoolu thelugu fantu loeki maarcha-daaniki kooda émí ambiguity undad'u.

You are gravely mistaken to think that many global languages are on the decline. I can readily give you some examples - Français (where I am living) Japanese, Korean, Chinese. They are developing very progressively.

agastyabhrata said...

Kiran, I hope you wouldn't mind me being a little harsh at times.

I think it is high time that we have accepted words like "kampyootaru", "key-boardu", "examsu", "teacharu", "offeesu" as true Telugu words. They are our own pride and our own legacy. By doing so, we will free the Telugu language from its shackles and let it flow like the mighty river, that it actually is.

I ain't sure what made you think they are not accepted as Telugu words! Let me give you some words which you would also find in Modern Telugu Dictionaries : e.g. bassu for Bus, railu for Train - and many more - these have become part of Telugu Lexicon and so have the words that you seem to be mentioning.

"The pundits of the Telugu Academy would want us believe that Telugu is a classical language." - You seem to have taken things out of context. When Telugu Akademi (note the spelling! - another accepted English word into Telugu) - says Telugu is a classical language - it must have been in the context of awarding Telugu the Classical Language status which means that Telugu is a language with a history of more than 1500 years!

A correction: Train in Telugu (old) is dhooma sakatam. dhooma paanam - refers to Smoking.

Now for the point regarding "theta Telugu" - There was a very very BIG debate amongst the Telugu poets and scholars' circle some time ago in the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th Century - you may have heard the name of Gidugu Rama Murthy gaaru - who probably argued tirelessly for the need to develop Vyaavahaarika Bhaasha as opposed to Graanthika bhaasha - and in the end - he won. I must say - the old Telugu Graanthika Bhaasha is dying today entirely and this is of grave concern for any Telugu lovers. Though the Vyaavahaarika bhaasha - may have lost the sheen - to put it better - okappati soyagaalanu kolpoyinappatiki - kotta puntalu tokkutu inkaa jeevinche vundi.

The problem with today's Telugu newspapers and media is that they are not even aware of those simple words that are there in the Telugu lexicon, forget about the complex ones of the old Telugu. I seriously doubt if a majority of the school/college-going students would have seen or tried to refer to a Telugu dictionary. The newspapers do not teach them - nor do the teachers - for Telugu is not required for your livelihood - so why waste time learning it? So, nobody learns.

Though I agree about the way Eenadu has spoilt the presentation of articles/newsreports in Telugu, we must also thank them for somethings. Thanks to Ramoji Rao, late Dr. Boodaraju Radhakrishna (who expired recently) came up with this book called Eenadu Vyavahaarakosam among many other books which have worked on Modernising Telugu to suit the needs of today. There are many efforts going on in Potti Sriramulu Telugu University now as well.

Our inability to take notice of the changes in the Telugu Literary/Language field should not be a reason for forming definite opinions.

btw, Andhra Jyothi is probably what you would like to read. Their presentation is good and language - as you would like. Weekly magazines like Musi are excellent sources of good articles in/on Telugu.

Kiran said...

Hi Pranav

Thanks for the correction :)) Anyway, how does it matter if it is a smoke-engine or a smoking-engine ? It still sounds pretty ridiculous.

I am a big fan of boodaraju. He is the only one I can think of, who has done any research on vyávahárika telugu. But still, he has not come out with any dictionary. It's still far from it.

And what are these dictionaries that you are talking about. The Sabđa-rathnákaram is a reference for ancient telugu. So is Súrya-raayánđhra.

Since 50 years, Telugu Academy has not come up with one dictionary of modern telugu. What a shame !!

I don't find any fault with some people devoting their energies to document ancient Telugu (like some people in England study the works of Shakespeare and even Chaucer) But we need 1000 % more energy in understanding the current Telugu usage.

What is language ? It is what people speak. It is not what people are expected to speak. You cannot complain that people are forgetting their roots etc.. Who are you to say that ?

By current usage, I believe more than 40% of the Telugu vocabulary will have words with English roots - such as introduce, powerful, super, understand, confuse, sound etc.. They have all become Telugu words now.

If we accept Telugu is a liberal language, we would accept making samaasams with such words - like kanfyusuchésé, sooparu-đebba, introdyoosési (like the word kalipési), andar-stàènd'inchukoni etc..

Even if we have an equivalent Telugu word, we should have no problem in accepting the new addition. (Because the new word will also be Telug'aised ultimately) And we will have a big vocabulary in the end - with words from Theta-Telugu, Sanskrit, English and so on..

We have to extend our grammar to incorporate sandhi-s that happen with such words.

Until then, Telugu people will never be articulate in their own language.

agastyabhrata said...

I wonder what argument you seem to make. At one end you tell me - that language is what people speak. And then - talk about Teluguising using Sandhi and Samaasam - and finally remark - Telugu people will never be able to articulate till English, French or whatever words are not accepted to increase the lexicon.

If I accept your view that language is what people speak (which I do, but not in the sense you seem to mean it)- then let me tell you that the point of 'Telugu'ising is something that is not done through 'legitimizing' the usage by builing grammars for it - but by the process of evolution of the language. The evolution of the language is dictated by the way the Telugu people use the words. So, a word like "super" might turn out to be a metaphorical as "soooparu" - and that is something independent of sandhulu and samaasaalu or all the other grammar points.

What is language ? It is what people speak. It is not what people are expected to speak. You cannot complain that people are forgetting their roots etc.. Who are you to say that ?

Let me first make it clear that I never complaind about people forgetting the roots. My friend, the point of forgetting the roots arises when in first place you know what the history of the language is, what the beauty in the past forms of language is. When one is not concerned of learning, I complain of their lack of concern. A language like Telugu evolved over more than a thousand years - and knowing about the past is one of the least things one can do to respect the language.

I agree, there is a need for more requirement to study contemporary trends in languages, but how will that happen when all those who end up studying languages are those who could not manage to get into Sciences or Engineering?

You may have heard of how the English Professors are worried about the explosion of "chat-lingo" and erosion of the traditions that have created a niche for the English language over the years.

As Santhosh has pointed out, the days of Globalisation have caused a lot of erosion of traditions - which in many cases are rich and full of fascinating stories.

agastyabhrata said...

btw, I noticed that Dr. Budaraju Radhakrishna has come up with
"Adhunika Vyavahaara Kosam" - which is more or less sufficient for regular day to day use.

Kiran said...

Hi Pranav
You missed my whole point. I was trying to argue that Telugu is a liberal language. By a liberal language, I mean a language which borrows words from all kinds of sources and modifies them to gel with the rest.

What is Telugu-ness ?
Observe a word like "simpulu". It does not look much different from the word "panthulu". This is how we should borrow new words and modify them, to build a bigger vocabulary.

To do this, we need language-scientists to observe how people actually do this in day-to-day use and document the grammar of sandhi's and samaasams.

You can call this "vikruthi-zation" of english words. Just like we made "vikruthi" of sanskrit words.

By doing so, we will have Telugu words for modern technological inventions - words which gel smoothly with the Telugu language.

The so called lovers of telugu language think that this is blasphemy. I am trying to argue that this is natural.

This is necessary if we want to give a voice for millions of Telugu people around the world.

We also need grammar for creating new words out of Theta Telugu words (and even mixing them with English-borrowed words)

For example :
what is the word for "mobile phone" ?

If you go by the Telugu Academy, they say that the word is "sanchaara siđđha đoora-shravana yanthramu"

We have a theta telugu word "kađulu" We have to use it for making new words. What is mobile - It is not "kađilae", not "kađilincha-galgé", not "kađala-galgé". Why not create a new word "kađulgu"

So "mobile phone" will become "kađulgu phonu" An equivalent word "mobailu phonu" can also exist.

This kind of naturalization is urgently needed for the survival of Telugu language.

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తాడేపల్లి బాలసుబ్రహ్మణ్యం said...

తెలుగు dying language కాదు. మీరు ఏ గణాంకాల ఆధారంగా ఈ నిర్ణయానికొచ్చారో తెలీదు. కొంతమంది తల్లిదండ్రులు తమ పిల్లల్ని తెలుగు బోధించని బళ్ళల్లో చేరుస్తున్నమాట నిజమే కాని, తెలుగు నేర్చుకుంటున్న పిల్లల సంఖ్య ఇప్పటికీ 75 శాతం కంటే ఎక్కువ ఉంది. అది 90 శాతం ఐతే బావుంటుందనుకోండి. భాష అంటే ప్రధానంగా మాట్లాడబడేది కనుక ఆ దృష్టితో చూస్తే ఇండియాలో తెలుగు తమ మాతృభాషగా పేర్కొనేవారి సంఖ్య 9 కోట్లకంటే ఎక్కువ ఉంది. తెలుగు వార్తాపత్రికల దైనిక సర్కులేషన్ ఇప్పటికీ కోట్లల్లో ఉంది. తెలుగు సినిమాల సగటు కలెక్షన్ శక్తి 50 కోట్ల రూపాయలు. ఇంత పెద్ద భాషనే మీరు dying language అంటున్నారంటే ఇక మనకంటే చిన్న భాషలైన ఒరియా, మలయాళం, కన్నడం లాంటి పరిస్థితి ఏమిటంటారు ?

మీ సూచన నాకు చాలా నచ్చింది. భాష అంటే ప్రధానంగా మాట్లాడబడేది కనుక లిపికి మరీ ఎక్కువ ప్రాధాన్యం ఇవ్వాల్సిన పని లేదు. కాబట్టి Roman లిపిని తెలుగు అవసరాలకి అనుగుణంగా ఒక ప్రత్యామ్నాయంగా రూపొందించుకోవడం ఈ యుగ ధర్మం. ఏదేమైనా, మీరు పరాసుదేశంలో ఉండి తెలుగు జాతి గురించి ఆలోచించడం చాలా సంతోషం కలిగిస్తోంది. తెలుగువారంతా మీలాంటివారే ఐతే ఎంత బావుంటుంది !

అవును మీరు ఈ బ్లాగులు చూశారా ?


Kiran said...

Thanks for posting baala subrahmanyam gaaru.

Numbers do not mean anything !

There are 75 million people in Andhra Pradesh who speak Telugu. But what is the literary output of the region ?

Telugu film industry is making crores of profits. How many of these films get felicitated in reputed film festivals ?

How many Telugu people can speak and think in Telugu ??

oremuna said...

I differ with your opinions:)

Here you go!




Ray Lightning said...

Namaskáram Kirañ Gaaru

Meeru porapátu gá arṫham chésukunnáru. Mana telugu lipi ni maarcháli annađi ná udđeśyam kaađu. Oka bhásha ki kévalam oka lipi maatramé enđuku undaali ? Japaneese bhásha ki nálugu lipulu untáyi - okati Chinese bhásha laaga véla symbols thó koodinađi (kanzi), maró rendu syllabic scripts (hiragana/katakana), nálgóđi direct gá Roman lipi.

Ee saukaryam undavalla Japanese bhásha ki é viđhamaina nashtamú léđu. À bhásha đina-đinábhivrudđhi chenđatléđà ?

Meeru communist tarahá ló alóchisthunnáru. Mana bháválani, udđeśyalani prajala meeđa balavanŧam gá rudđalémandi. Avi entha goppa alóchanalainá !

Meeru dabbulu gurinchi maatláduthunnáru. Government nundi funds enđuku thecchukóválandi asalu ? Market economy ló saraina company, product lú unté dabbulu avé vastháyi.

Meelanti viggnulu sáhithí séva chési telugu bhásha ki thódpaduthunnáru. Bhásha ki ponđaina alankárálu eppudainá kathalu, kavithalu, sangeetha sáhithyálé.

Telugu bhásha meeđa mamakáram-unnaváru ee kalá séva ki thodpadithé ađé pađi vélu. Kaani ee naati pandithulu rools pusthakálu ráyatam lóné busy gaa unnáru.

Ee roolsanní chivaraku bhásha ki chétu kaliginchévé.

Telugu bhásha oka telugu vaariđi maathramé kaađu.

Thyágaráju keerthanalú, Thikkana kavithalú, Vémana sookthulú prajalandirikí áhládánni panchi icchévé. Maró lipi undatam valla ee sampadalanu véré bháshalu thelisina prajalu kooda ásváđincha galugu thaaru.

Complete gaa arđham chésukó léka póyiná, kaneesam search chésukóvadánikanná upayógincha galugu thaaru.

Uđáharaña ku www.musicindiaonline.com laanti website ló prasthutham telugu sangeetham gurinchi search chéyadam entha kashtam gá unđó choodandi.

Ituvanti sađupáyálu oka telugu vaariké kaadu, prapancham lóni prajalandarikí kaaváli.

Mana telugu lóni ruchulanu anđarikí panchi idđám.

Śelavu. Mee mithrudu
(maró) kirañ

PS : Nénu type chésina ee message ni sudđhamaina telugu lipi lóki maarchadam computer ki chálá suĺuvaina pani. Ađé, direct gaa Roman lipi ló type chésthé convert cheyyadam kuđiréđi kaađu. Grahinchárá ?

Nénu ee pani cheyyadáni ké oka software nirmidđámané udđeśyam thó unnánu. Appudu, elánti lipi ló káválanté á lipi ló telugu ni chaduvukóvacchu. Evvarainá !

Nagaraja said...

హాయ్. మీరు ఇంగ్లీషు లిపిలొ తెలుగు వ్రాసే విధానం నాకు నచ్చింది. బాగున్నాయి మీ ఆలోచనలు. ఇకపోతే ఈ మధ్య మన వారు తెలుగులో వ్రాసే ప్రయత్నం మొదలుపెట్టారు. తెలుగులో నా బ్లాగు చదివి మీ అభిప్రాయం చెప్పగలరు.

ఇట్లు, నాగరాజ (http://ten.nagaraja.info)

Anonymous said...

తీపి తీపి తెలుగు ఇది తేట తేట తెలుగు

Vijay B said...

I think this is a futile exercise. You cannot stop the gradual globalization. One of your writers correctly notes that a language that isn't necessary for a livelihood has no chance of surviving. As much as we may despair, India moves on and as the country gradually moves past the divisions of our grandfathers, i.e. caste, language, religion, regionalism, most of India is moving towards learning Hindi and English - the influence of TV, radio and internet. Say what you want, we should appreciate and hold onto Telugu much like Latin and Sanskrit. Time is the great equalizer. Frankly, I think its sentimental nostalgia, and as pragmatic parents, I'm making sure my kids learn English, Hindi and Spanish. If I can get them to learn Chinese, even better. Telugu - of no use.