Es­tab­lish­ing the con­ti­nu­ity of our lo­cal lan­guages within the re­gion

While many lan­guages are spo­ken in the city, it is crit­i­cal to re­spect and recog­nise each one in the con­text of newly emerg­ing means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - SHIKHA JAIN (Shikha Jain is state con­venor, INTACH Haryana Chap­ter and mem­ber of Her­itage Com­mit­tees un­der the min­istries of cul­ture and HRD. She is co-ed­i­tor of book ‘Haryana: Cul­tural Her­itage Guide’; di­rec­tor, DRONAH De­vel­op­ment and Re­search Or­gan­isati

One of the most im­por­tant as­pects of our cul­tural iden­tity is the lan­guage we speak. Through cen­turies of changes, mi­gra­tion and ex­changes among sev­eral castes and cul­tures in the re­gion of Gur­gaon, the di­a­logue of com­mu­ni­ca­tion shows the emer­gence and loss of var­i­ous lan­guages and di­alects. While the Gu­ru­gram of to­day is a cos­mopoli­tan city with mul­ti­ple lan­guages and di­alects, it is crit­i­cal to recog­nise and re­spect each one within the con­text of lo­cal or newly emerg­ing means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion — thus adding to its rich repos­i­tory.

Not too far back in time, as noted in the early 20th cen­tury Gazetteer, 49 spo­ken lan­guages or di­alects were recorded as the mother tongue of the peo­ple re­sid­ing in the Gur­gaon District in the 1961 Cen­sus.

Clearly, Hindi was the most spo­ken lan­guage in the post-in­de­pen­dence sce­nario, fol­lowed by Urdu as an­other im­por­tant lan­guage in the area, then by Me­wati and Pun­jabi in a much smaller but al­most equal per­cent­age. Be­sides these, there were sev­eral other lo­cal di­alects preva­lent in the re­gion. Among the most well-known di­alects spo­ken in the re­gion are Me­wati, Ahir­wati and Braj Bhasha. While the gram­mar for these three lo­cal lan­guages is sim­i­lar, the vo­cab­u­lary is quite dif­fer­ent. There­fore, it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ences in these lan­guages. Me­wati is recog­nised as more of a border lan­guage fad­ing off from the Dhoond­hari (one of the Ra­jasthani lan­guages) in Jaipur re­gion to the Braj Bhasha in the Ut­tar Pradesh area. It also bor­rows a lot of words from Ara­bic, Per­sian and Urdu. Ahir­wati lan­guage links Me­wati with the as­so­ci­ated Shekhawati in Ra­jasthan. Ban­gru and Ba­gri are the other lo­cal di­alects in the re­gion.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, we are more fa­mil­iar with what is known as the Haryanvi lan­guage (also called Jatu) orig­i­nat­ing from the Jats in the Ro­htak area that is pop­u­larly ac­cepted as the lo­cal lan­guage of the state. Of course, the of­fi­cial lan­guage re­mains Hindi.

E. Joseph, posted as deputy com­mis­sioner of Ro­htak district (1910-1912), found great dif­fi­culty in un­der­stand­ing the lo­cal lan­guage spo­ken by the peo­ple. So, he set about com­pil­ing Haryanvi words and giv­ing their mean­ing in English. He also chose some com­monly used English words and gave their mean­ing in Haryanvi. His dic­tio­nary was re­cently pub­lished by Prof K.C. Ya­dav un­der the aegis of the Haryana In­sti­tute of Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Gur­gaon.

Haryanvi is of­ten con­sid­ered as a rude lan­guage as the lo­cals are forth­right and out­spo­ken in their be­hav­iour. Some­times, it is also re­ferred to as ‘Lath­mar Haryanvi’, lit­er­ally mean­ing ‘hard-hit­ting Haryanvi’. But this is just a per­ceived rough­ness in lan­guage, while it is truly elo­quent in its orig­i­nal form, as ob­served in re­cent pop­u­lar Bol­ly­wood movies, such as Tanu Weds Manu and Dan­gal.

It is ex­tremely im­por­tant to cre­ate an in­ter­est for the con­ti­nu­ity of lo­cal lan­guages among the younger gen­er­a­tions to­day. While the new cos­mopoli­tan Gu­ru­gram sees more and more of the English-speak­ing youth and schools of­fer op­tions in western foreign lan­guages, both of which are es­sen­tial in to­day’s global con­text, we need to re­alise that uni­ver­si­ties in the West, in­clud­ing the Ivy League in­sti­tu­tions in the United States of Amer­ica, are ac­tu­ally of­fer­ing cour­ses in Haryanavi, Hindi, San­skrit and other In­dian lan­guages. Hence, it is very im­por­tant for us to es­tab­lish the con­ti­nu­ity of our lo­cal lan­guages within the re­gion it­self in or­der to sus­tain our cul­tural iden­tity.

The re­gion also had its fair share of the clas­si­cal lan­guages through var­i­ous stages of history, in­clud­ing the Per­sian lan­guage dur­ing the Mughal and the Sul­tanate pe­ri­ods, San­skrit dur­ing Har­sha’s pe­riod and Prakrit with Brahmi script as found on the Ashokan Pil­lar in the nearby ar­eas. Lastly, it is ex­tremely im­por­tant to em­pha­sise the ear­li­est script and lan­guage of the re­gion from Harap­pan times that still re­mains un­de­ci­phered and a mys­tery for all ar­chae­ol­o­gists, his­to­ri­ans and epigraphis­ts.

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