‘Bangalore will be nothing without Kannada’

S.A.P.” on his grand-uncle G. Venkatasubbaiah, the centenarian who edited the 9,000-page, 8-volume Kannada encyclopaedia and presided over the Kannada sahitya sammelana in Bangalore last year, in The Economist, London:

“To hear Venkatasubbaiah tell it, Kannada is threatened, but the situation is not grave. ‘Our modern literature is full of life. And Kannada has an ancient literature of great quality—especially epics and poetry. We are not going anywhere,’ he said. But if Kannada’s favoured position in Bangalore is at risk, he says, the state government is to blame. Most politicians in Karnataka speak Kannada as a first language, but their advocacy efforts are limp….

“He believes Kannada can be promoted alongside, and not to the exclusion of, languages like Hindi and English. He suggests that the government should strengthen primary education language requirements and sponsor more programs that instill in Kannada-speakers a sense of pride in their language….

“Venkatasubbiah recognises that his world is changing. But he is not motivated by the sort of aggrieved conservatism that characterises so many older linguistic commentators. He knows better: language changes. So even while he documents the influx of Hindi and English into the Kannada of his fellow Bangaloreans, he doesn’t despair.

“‘This trend isn’t of any evil consequence. Hindi and English borrowings have already been assimilated, welcomed into the local tongue,’ he wrote in an email.

“Yet he isn’t complacent. ‘Bangalore is changing. Hindi, Urdu, English, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, and Marwari are the languages heard on our streets,’ he said. His is, ideally, a Kannada city. ‘The multilingual quality of our Bangalore can be a great advantage, but no scheme would ever be complete without Kannada. If nothing is done, I am afraid that Kannada will be pushed back into second place here.’

Photograph: Prof G. Venkatasubbiah who celebrated his 100th birthday at his residence Jayanagar in Bangalore on 22 August 2012 (Karnataka Photo News)

Read the full article: Kannada, threatened at home

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