Poverty of our semantic

We have wilfully allowed our language to be diminished
"Forfeiture of language is the loss of common pride and quandary to the notion of boundary belongingness." [Representational Image]
"Forfeiture of language is the loss of common pride and quandary to the notion of boundary belongingness." [Representational Image]rawpixel [Creative Commons]

The decade of 60s of the previous century was an unfolding decade in many senses. It saw collapse of Functionalism and emergence of linguistic and gender discourses.

It had also cast shadows on the emergent Political Order of the times and its predictabilities. This is why Immanuel Wallerstein’s ‘world systems perspectives’ and then Popper’s ‘Poverty of Historicism’ created waves in the intellectual world.

History’s capacities to predict were questioned, whether it was Plato’s degeneration perspective, Hegel’s dialectics of spiritualism or Marx’s dialectics of materialism; Popper criticises the use of evolutionary analogies outside biology.

This paved way for reorientation towards understanding human nature and linkages of religion, culture, science and human existence. The cultural studies, especially the enormous contributions of micro French Anthro-linguistic schools, well presented by Derrida, Bourdieu and Lucan took to the realms of human subjectivity and its working for binaries.

They have found that it all rests on language. For ‘humans as social animals’ are now well replaced that ‘humans are language animals’. Debating with Chomsky on human nature, Foucault articulates mistrust formation is in fact overlapping on the native language by other discourses.

Forfeiture of language is the loss of common pride and quandary to the notion of boundary belongingness. We have wilfully allowed our language to be deprived and diminishing.

It is a sad saga that Kashmiri language has not been only neglected by its own people in power sphere, but it has been wilfully impoverished to the extent that it has become a language of underprivileged, to mourn and laugh at them individually or collectively in adverse times. Since assemblage of this language in 14th century, its glory was short-lived.

It lost its sheen and power and went into degradation, when power realm remained in non-native languages and outside domination. After independence, we lost our chance of its empowerment. Kashmiri mindset was allured to non-native distant referent, the chance for accumulation of the language lost beyond measure.

Our leaders have done it to infuse wilful inferiority among our people. The children in private realms were told to ignore Kashmiri and on public platforms the language usage was paid lip homages. Individuals are disillusioned and disappointed with their own making; they have nothing other than wishful thinking of empowerment of their language.

They best can eulogise their mother tongue but feel constrained in using it in official or public realm, in general. The reasons are that our native leadership either had no vision or were not sure of their strength. Great Abdullah, if he had not undone himself, he had tremendous capacities to invoke nativity, a prideful nativity that would have gone in reverberation with the nationality.

Leaders other than him were caged by circumstances and led by the polemics of the Cold War. It is not now easy to realise the potential of Kashmiri language and make it a prideful native language, as we do find other regional languages boasting its strength.

The reasons are simple. Kashmiris no doubt are charming and hardworking people but non-native subjugation over the centuries has made them weak in character and self-pitying folks.

Instead of self-retrospect, we normally escape in blame games that keep our ailment intact. The script of our language is lost and now it is contested. Nativity is fractured and its centre is dislocated.

The fractured populace is stratified much in vernacular sub variations of the language deeply on regional basis. Even before 1990s, when the pandits were not displaced, language stratification was more severe than communal contention.

It is a unique tragedy brought by intrigue of politics of high and low culture, which other than political reasons became instrumental in the vogue for Urdu, Hindi or English.

Language semantics and its ranked variations is reality in lived social stratification. Ask any village woman, howsoever virtuous and beautiful she might be, how difficult it is for her to claim even esteem of her family members, if married to a city person.

Towns have edge over villages and the city downtown is the final referent. This is a living stratification, which even runs in other spheres of life chances, be it politics or distribution progression. More the distinct variation from the downtown Kashmiri, farther the social distance it generates.

Today’s Srinagar has remained a broken pocket of social esteem. Its peripheries are subject to mortification and ire. The reroute to overcome this existential irony is to locate fundamental primate a way of life outside the nativity.

Urdu suits, English preferred and Hindi is compulsion to connect periphery with centre. The playful answer is that our language does not have capacity to employ or potential for advance research. The tacit reasons for disempowerment are finding in agreeable substitutions.

The social geography has changed drastically and abruptly after the closing decade of the previous century. The city of Srinagar now has got socially stratified divisions, cutting across the class dissections. It is visible, if not expressed. In ‘DD Good Morning’ popular show, if the guest is from the down-town, he or she fondly would like to mention it and speak in refined Kashmiri.

The guest if not of the city prefers Urdu and mixed responses. The city’s social landscape does not bring vibrant essences in the universe of the city, which it could boast about, a few decades ago. Although city has expanded, but settlements have social variations to mitigate the class divisions and preferences stand ranked.

Hence, our double standards get exposed. We all appreciate our native tongue, but prefer to avoid our conversations in it. It has become the language of low culture. Kashmiri dramas shown during the late evening programmes, by and large are revealing that chasm of low culture and fractured semantic.

No young boy or a girl would like to converse in such pronunciation, when they are conscious of referent of downtown, a preferred phoenix. Kashmiri Pandits after the displacement have also consciously lost their language.

Because Village-Urban distinctions had become an established social stratification and that would cause unconscious mortifications. The irony is that language is a bond and that common bond is stigmatised.

Therefore, marrying outside community hardly makes any difference. It is not seen as a cultural loss in socialisation and constraint in marital relationship.

We have Kashmiri Department in the University and the state sponsored incentives for language promotion, but how far our academia has been successful in bringing it to even etymological classification to create the sense of prideful belongingness to language is doubtful.

Linguistic pronunciation is a real challenge for an aspiring young girl and young boy in any public institution. It has been a social constraint identified with ignorance, hypocrisy and low cultural traits.

No wonder, its escape in other identity formation is on rise. The tragedy is common. Kashmiri Muslims feel alienation of language, even at their own place and practically allows being like that and Kashmiri Pandits prefer it’s diminishing, while beating the chests for its revival. After all, subsequently after economic betterment, the carving for esteem is desired.

It is alluding. It comes from own language and from own culture. Non-native realm is the realm of uncertainty and sphere of cultural estrangement. Instead of giving solace, non- nativity only disaffects a person even from his or her own self. Mother tongue is a must for good socialisation and for a decent natural lived life.

But, it needs standization, for language cuts across the class distinctions. Academia and institutions with native leadership need to understand it. Our Kashmiri literature, especially its poetry has repeatedly reflected upon it. Mimicry, self-laughter and burst of agony have shown how our literature had been exclusive and a secluded literature from the powerful literary stream.

Had it been properly nourished, our vernacular poetry could have become great literature. We have such beams and possibilities, but ignored in the process of social reconciliation. Imagine, if we would have permitted our blending traditions to grow and empowered it, the world would have valued our poetry that has remained unexplored.

Our poets might have been unlettered or less degree holders, but their verses can match the brilliant literature of our times. It needs to be explored irrespective of its authorship. Time has come to seek resumption about, who we are.

The author is an Emeritus Professor of sociology at Banaras Hindu university

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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