Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ulagath Tamizh Semmozhi Maanaadu (World Classical Tamil Conference) - Will it help to revive Tamil language?

This is A.R. Rehman' theme song for the Ulagath Thamizh Semmozhi Maanaadu, which is to be conducted/celebrated by our Government from 23rd to 27th of this month (June '10) in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. The lyrics for this song was written by our Chief Minister, Karunanidhi. Direction is by Goutham Menon. Here is the song:

A.R. Rehman is a great music director. I love his 'Vande Mataram' song. It is so nice to the ears. I heard this song for Tamizh Semmozhi Maanaadu 4-5 times. Only a couple of lines in the beginning of the song, has registered in my mind. Everything else is just loud noise. Karunanidhi is a great writer, his lyrics are not heard at all. Direction by Goutham Menon is not up to the mark either. Many singers are used for each and every line, but we are not able to recognise their voices in the medley, except for a few voices!

Although Tamil and a few other languages such as Greek, Latin and Sanskrit enjoy the status of classical language in the academic world thanks to their antiquity and rich literary heritage, Tamil is the first living language to be given the official status of a classical language. (the Hindu article)

As mentioned above, Tamil is a very ancient language. It seems to be dying slowly. Tamil scholars like Karunanidhi are trying to revive this language, but is this enough? We might think that he is conducting this conference for political gain, but he is a true Tamil lover. Even our ex-CM Jayalalitha is good in this language. But they are not able to improve this language, esp. the 'spoken Tamil', in any way.

Until a few years ago, the spoken Tamil language was not this bad to the ears. Now, even the accent of the educated people while speaking this language is becoming bad to worse. Yes, now English is influencing everywhere. But I don't see this much deterioration in other regional languages, in pronunciation. Whether it is political meeting or other conferences, or interviews, people are confused whether to use pure Tamil or colloquial Tamil. Even writer Sujatha, actor Kamal Haasan, who are good Tamil writers, while giving interviews, get confused which form of Tamil to use. I don't see this problem in Hindi or Kannada or anyother language.

தமிழ் - this is Tamizh, which is the correct way to pronounce, Tamil. But most of the people use this 'l' instead of 'zh'! அவள் becomes அவல். In Tamil language, like in Marathi, there is difference between two 'la's, like here: ' सकाळी ' and here: 'ठेवला'. The original Tamil language is so nice to hear, but now, whenever I hear people speaking this 'gal gal' Tamil, I get so upset and angry. This has invaded the Tamil writing also in sign boards. Earlier only illiterate people were not able to speak good Tamil. Now, I hear, lawyers, doctors even Tamil teachers, using this Tamil.

I just hope these leaders will take steps to revive good Tamil...first they should train their party cadres to speak good Tamil in political meetings, then give their attention to schools.

Destination Infinity
has done a post on this subject with some beautiful photos of the World Classical Tamil Conference venue.

Many national leaders and international leaders, including our President, are attending this conference. A huge amount of tax payers' money is being spent on this conference ...Coimbatore roads are re-layed (even the good ones!), the bus terminal is renovated to international standards!

Let us hope that our language will revive its past glory.


Swaram said...

Your posts always have nice illustrations to drive home the matter Sandhya. I like reading them :)
Its sad that language gets killed this way :( esp. in writing! We can't help that English has made its way into all our languages, but we need to preserve its pure form while writing and in important oral affairs. I do hope we remember that and work towards it.

Bikramjit said...

I love coming to your blog and wait for new articles cuse there is always something new to learn.. something that i dont know of .. and it stand true always

I did not have a clue about the status of languages .. GOD WHERE DO I LIVE :)

AR Rehman is good I listen to him sometimes

BK Chowla, said...

I dont know much about the subject, but, I believe AIADMK and DMK are trying to score points on this issue.

KParthasarathi said...

Languages are subject to change exposed as they are to diverse influences.The Tamil of each century varies from the previous.We can see this even in a short period of sixty or seventy years in the films.If we attempt to keep a language pure without assimilating new words and phrases, it would atrophy.But the point that Tamil as spoken in most films and public meetings is jarring to the ear is well taken.Colloquial Tamil is not bad but the language as spoken in the city using disrespectful or meaningless slangs is bad.There are many leaders even today who speak Tamil in public platform- politica, social and religious- in an excellent manner.Let us hope the conference would give an impetus to keep Tamil as spoken is pleasing to ears

vimmuuu said...

Tamil, the language, as such is wonderful. No two thoughts on it. But why utilise so much of money, time and effort for such an occasion when there are many more important issues for the govt to address.

nimis540 said...

:) Informative post on Tamil..

English is ruining all indians languages.. Malayalam too has become Manglish..

kanaguonline said...

I don't think this will revive the language... when the day-to-day living in our country is questionable(consistent rise in food prices) who is going to give importance to language except the patriarchal thinker Mr. Karunanidhi...

destinationinfinity said...

I guess its more like that in the cities. I travel to a lot of places in TN - especially west and south and find the Tamil spoken there to be quite good! And thanks for the mention...

Destination Infinity

SG said...

Very informative post. I hope they dont make this a political show.

By the way, a friend of mine, Professor George Hart from University of California, Berkeley, is in Coimbatore presenting a paper on Sangam Literature. He is the head of the Tamil Department at UC Berkeley.

ANULAL said...

I am first time in your blog. It is really nice. Keep going..

Aparna said...

I confess I do not know much about the language but I do feel with subsequent generation all languages in India are losing their sheen. More and more of our children are becoming used to speaking English at school and at home. Kids who grow up outside their home states also have not learned to read and write their mother tongue. If they do not get exposed to good quality reading, how will they learn the language?

indianhomemaker said...

I wonder if a language can be saved like this :(

I feel encouraging authors, theater, movies, lyricists, poets, schools, scholarships and job offers to learners, poets and most importantly good translators would help better.

It might also help if it became easier to net surf and research, find encyclopedias and good translations of all literature from other languages in Tamil. even popular children's reading like Harry Potter and Fantasy fiction. That is how English has thrived and grown. Including new words like mobile, computer and television instead of coining new words is a good idea too - though a lot of people might disagree. Language is that which is used for communication, why do we try to create a new 'coined', but seldom used language?

Availability of science and higher studies in all subjects should be available in Tamizh - basically why do people choose to learn English or any other languages? Remove the problems - anybody would prefer to, and benefit from learning in their mother tongue.

Sandhya said...

Swaram: All languages change themselves according to their atmosphere! The Tamil people who live near Kerala border, will speak Tamil with Malayalam accent and use some of the words of Malayalam too, likewise the people who live near the borders of Andhra, Karnataka etc. will get influenced by their languages. That is not wrong at all. But many Tamilians have started using 'gal gal' Tamil, when it is not that much difficult to use the original sound, which was done until a few years back. This is not happening with other languages, I have noticed. English influence is entirely different and it is happening everywhere.

Bikramjit: Thank you, Bikram! AR Rehmaan has produced many many beautiful songs.

BK Chowla: Here, more than political rivalry, Karunandhi wants to do something using his post, which will be included in Tamil history. He has built the Secretariat also, for this reason...history! He is bent on doing memorable things to Tamilnadu (using the tax payers' money, though) which will broadcast his name forever!

KParthasarathy: Yes, many good orators are there in DMK and AIADMK. But nowadays the 'bad Tamil speakers' have taken over. Using English words have become common and our ears are used to this, now. But when 'பள்ளிக்கூடம' becomes 'Pallikkoodam', the meaning itself changes. This is happening in sign boards also! As I have mentioned in the post, even educated people have started using this Tamil, which was not there before.

I can understand when TV anchors and Radio jockeys use this language...these are there just for making money, to please the youngsters. But when Vividhbharati programme announcers too talk like this, I get so irritated. Hindi or Kannada announcers never spoil their language. I love Tamil and if spoken well, it sounds very nice to the ears, Parthasarathy. I am not talking about English influence at all, here.

P.Chidambaram, Nallakkannu, Jayalalitha and many other people speak very good Tamil. I am not able to digest people murdering a good ancient language.

vimmuuu: Did you see the proceedings, yesterday? It is sheer waste of money. Only Karunanidhi's two family's members are highlighted!

Uma Padhmanabhan's narration was excellent. In between one 'special reporter' started speaking the 'galgal Tamil' - hopeless.

nimis540: English influence is common nowadays, here, Tamil language is dying...!

Kanagu: After watching the proceedings of this maanaadu yesterday, it is visible, Tamil is secondary, here. Two families of Karunanidhi are fighting for attention apart from Azhagiri and Stalin's fight for upper handedness.

destinationinfinity: Political leaders from all over Tamilnadu, who speak on public platform, mostly use this Tamil, DI, maybe, common people are not yet influenced over there.

SG: This is more of a 'Karunanidhi Show'. As a person he is a great Tamil scholar. But, here, we may have to wait and see the 4 days' proceedings!

It is nice to know that an American Tamil Scholar is participating here. I will try to watch his presentation.

Anulal: Welcome here, Anulal! Thank you

Aparna: You are right, Aparna! When people who know the language, do not bother to spoil it, we can't expect the next generation to learn their mother tongue, which is not going to be of much use, in the future.

Sandhya said...

IHM: This conference is not going to 'improve' the language. But is supposed to highlight Tamizh history through the years.

Yes, like English language, our regional languages can take some prominent words from English as it is. I have noticed that Hindi is changing just the accent and uses the words as they are, like 'technical - takneeki' and manyother words. In Tamil, computer becomes Ganini, Electronic becomes minnanu and many many Tamil conversions have become common now. There is no harm in using them as they are, but I feel that the English word should be written in brackets, so the prnounciation stays. In Tamil 'ka' and 'ga', 'pa' and 'ba', 'ta' and 'da' etc. have got the same letter! We cannot recognise the English word if written in Tamil!

Usage of Tamil language in computers is becoming prominent now. I read Tamil stories too in computers.

Many articles of Tamil writers are translated into other languages and vice versa. We have got very good Tamil writers even now and very good Tamil magazines. Most of the Tamil households buy Vikatan and Kumudam (famous Tamil magazines) regularly, even now.

I too feel like you, IHM, when Germans, French and Russians can learn science and maths in their own languages, why can't we? But it is too late to start now, isn't it? We are drowned in English now, even my generation!

radha said...

Nice post. I am married to a Tambrahm and I get to listen to things like this quite often!!

Rakesh said...

Am i dreaming or did i just see Shruthi hassan @ 4.41

*blushing* :P :P

Sandhya said...

Radha: Galgal Tamizh?!

Sandhya said...

Rakesh: Welcome! Yes, she is! You are not dreaming...!

Chandrika Shubham said...

Nice post! :) Traditional languages of India should be revived.

nimis540 said...

You guys are at least trying your part..Malayalis are bust transforming themselves into mallus.. Sick..

deepsspeakingup said...

So agree, Sandhya..and not just Tamil, English is influencing all our languages. Like Nmmy said, Malayalam too has become Manglish!

Its saddening. I'm not against English. But this diversity of languages that is the essence of our country seems to be suffering because of an overrated importance given to English.

Sandhya said...

Chandrika Shubam: Will it happen in the near future? I doubt.

nimis540: Have you noticed? If two Tamilians meet anywhere, inside Tamilnadu or outside, they speak in English, even if their English is not very good. I haven't seen this happen with Malayalees, Kannadigas or others.

deepsspeakingup: English has become a common language throughout our country. But when two people from the same region meet, they should try to speak in their own language. That will be a first step towards retaining our regional identity. Hindi and English are also important for us, Indians.

karthick said...

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Lolitha said...

Tamil language is a rich language and a classical language. Tamil language letters had variants in formal writing and speech. Its very simple for learn tamil using tamil app.

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