Saturday, October 3, 2009

The best of times

Today's newspaper reports that the Congress-NCP plans to start "Marathi language conservation fortnights" and the BJP-SS combine plans to have the best world literature translated into Marathi.

In a previous posting, I had suggested that:

"It might still be possible to do something that would charm and attract people to learn Marathi and appreciate its depth and beauty, its literature, its poetry..."

and I'm happy to find that all major parties have finally listened to me!

Of course the BJP-SS could not resist adding the demand for a law requiring celebration of Marathi Week each year. I don't find compulsion very pleasant but I'm gratified that they want to use legal compulsion rather than their knuckles. Other local parties aren't being so reticent and their threats to make us love Marathi or lose our teeth will make their supporters (and occasional fellow-travellers [link deleted]) happy.

Now one does hope that the translations planned by the BJP-SS combine are done by genuine litterateurs (there are plenty of them in this state) rather than party hacks. Otherwise we might end up with "ईट वास बेस्ट ऑफ टाईम्स..."।

P.S. I know people think I exaggerate, but please come to Colaba and take a look at the wonderfully named बेस्ट टी कोल्ड्रींक आणि स्नेक बार (BEST tea coldreenk aani snack bar) at the bus station outside the Museum! The only Marathi word in this title is "aani" meaning "and". Are there no words in Marathi for tea and snacks?


Kapil said...

There are two distinct things that are often mixed up in language chauvinism --- the language itself and its script. As you have pointed out, writing a sign in Devanagiri using mostly English words has nothing to do with the language itself.

Hindi and Marathi have often been written in scripts other than Devanagiri in earlier times.

Thus the insistence that signboards be "in Marathi" or "in Tamil" makes little sense to me since most people in India who _can_ read can usually read the Roman script. Moreover, this does nothing to promote the language --- only a specific script that is currently used to write the language!

Promoting Marathi culture and literature requires far more effort than the thuggish parties can muster. There was a massive rally in Shivaji Park "to promote Marathi literature" by the MNS some years ago. A relative of mine who teaches Marathi was invited to visit this exhibition. When she asked why there were such small posters of Gnyaneshwar, Tukaram and their writings as compared with the huge larger than life posters of the MNS leader, she was told that "Tyan mahajananchi mothi chitran anta kashin kadhnaar?" (How can we take big photos of those greats now?)

Sunil Mukhi said...

Kapil: Yes the distinction between a language and its script was highlighted by me in this blog posting last year.

Angika said...


I did not know until yesterday that you wrote a blog! Glad to find out. Will read your other posts in peace soon. I like this one, though :)


Morya said...

There is no need to promote marathi culture and literature as it is already been here since last 1000 years, taking pot shots at politicians are now a days become fashion and it also shows no respect to democracy. India is only country in the world with so many languages and the contribution of marathi people and literature in India's success is undoubtful, besides the marathi posters and signboards, it is the Indian law since 1948