A few thoughts on Palana's weekend thoughts & others

Nasy Sankagiri (narayans@dunx1.ocs.drexel.edu)
Tue, 21 May 1996 16:55:01 -0400 (EDT)

I read with great interest Palana's proposal on bringing out dictionaries
of Telugu maanDaleekaalu, and the resulting discussion. I wish to share
with you some of my thoughts on a few points which struck me as

Palana suggested making of maanDaleeka dictionaries with a view to preserve
them. The obvious question, which I think Kondalarao raised, does
generation of dictionaries preserve a maanDaleekam, or for that matter, a
language? My own guess: it will and it won't: it will preserve it in the
sense of preserving the records of its existence. It won't preserve them in
the sense of daily usage. After all, maanDaleekam results from the daily
talk of the people of a particular region. If there is a change in the way
people talk, then dictionaries cannot force them to talk in the old way.
Nor can literature! However, I found that cinema (and may be TV too) does
have an effect on the way people talk: In the olden days, movie characters
spoke mostly without accent. In the more recent movies, when some
interesting characters sported a peculiar accent - eg. kOTa Sreenivaasarao
in pretighaTana, people from other parts of AP also become familiar with
that accent, and may even imitate it.

There are already quite a few scholarly works on the various telugu
maanDaleekaalu. Some of these feature extensive lexicographies. (If any one
is interested, I can provide a brief review of the material available to
me). There are also quite a few writers who employed maanDaleekaalu in
their stories and novels very tastefully. However, both these forms, I
think, fail to sustain the usage of maanDaleekaalu in daily usage. Only
visual media have that power. After all, the main purpose of language is
communication, and there is no doubt that it is a dynamic thing. If people,
in general, do not want to speak in their own language, no amount of even
government power, let alone scholarly efforts, will convince them to do so!

Palana's second thoughts on the topic were more to the point: a maanDaleeka
dictionary will definitely help the reader/listener enjoy the material
more. Apart from that, the importance of such dictionaries in keeping a
record of the language can not be questioned.

Most of the remaining discussion went on to the matters such as teaching
telugu to the kids in the US. Well, that is a matter of personal choice.
People have to feel the need to preserve their language, culture and all
the stuff that goes with them. If they feel the need, they will find the
time and the energy. What we can do as a community is to provide the
children with opportunities to display their talent, and to encourage them
in this effort. I know a lot of kids around here who can speak telugu very
well, but don't either due to shyness or they just feel funny. I have also
seen several second generation telugu americans taking part in our stage
competitions (in plays and light music) and doing extremely well. How did
they manage it? I also find a new interest among the second generation to
find out more about their native culture - a prime example is Amar
Kosaraju's essay "Am I Hindu?" (yes, religion is a part of the culture too)
which appeared in a recent TANA Patrika as well as in the TAGDV Souvenir.
Children have a great aptitude for languages - it is upto us to feed that
interest. It is great if supplemental material such as books, tapes and
videos are available. However, these are only supplemental - the main
effort has to come from the parents, and then from the community.

A last note on B.Akki Raju's recent post:
>Here : Q 1: Why should we create a new word ? Instead
> We can addopt the same word into our Lang !
> Q 2: If we got to intoduce a new word into the
> lang., what should be the criterion ? Who
> should be allowed to do that ?
>I think the answer for first question is... we shouldn't
>addopt words from aliens like English or other Europion
>languages. Because our origin (I mean Telugu's) is
>definetely not that. (I know the BEERAKAYA PEECHU
>relation of Telugu to Europion languages via Sanskrit).

There are already scores of words adopted from English into telugu. And
many other words which one may presume to be neat telugu have been adopted
from urdu, maraThee etc. This adoption is as natural as the dynamic changes
in the language - no imposition of rules can contain that! We talked about
adopting foreign word vs. coining new telugu words sometime ago on this
forum when Prof. Vemuri Rao requested some translations for insurance
related terms. I am reminded of ghTOtkaca's dialog in mAyAbazAr -
"pANDityam kannaa jnAnamE mukhyam".! If it serves to convey the meaning
more effectively, to more number of people, then foriegn words are just

>Its now totally mixed up in AP. So the language
>is gradually taking a shape which everyone can
>understand. This is very much automatic and we cannot
>and need not stop.

I confess I failed to understand what the author meant by these statements.
Isn't the spoken language always understood by everybody, at least in that
geographical area? Also, the mANDaleekam emphasized by Palana goes beyond
mere accent - it incorporates special words and idioms peculiar to that
region which may not be intelligible to people from other areas.

This concludes this long post. Like Bapa Rao said, I hope I also have
collected some credits in terms of the screen lengths:-)
Comments and criticisms welcome.