Saturday, October 31, 2009

On time evolution of Nepali Language

I was reading an excellent piece of Basanta jee's writing on Nepali Language.

One also can not deny the time evolution of language. The out-cry was there when we decided on 36 consonants in Nepali Varnamala. It is also quite interesting that different people around the world have different accents and hence different number of vowels. I believe that spoken form always has been guiding the written form of language. This can lead us to chicken-egg problem. Think of way people started speaking for communication and hence realizing the need for written form. Grammar comes later. It is refinements of what we want to convey consistently. If many people find it convenient using one way and find that to be popular, it is the time which decides the form of language. The new usage may be in-consistent with the prevalent one. The consistency in error evolves as new rule.
It keeps evolving. People 250 years ago certainly would have been un-happy to see the present form of Nepali language. Shall we go back to please them?

I am sorry, I am not being dis-respectful to any language. I am one of the people who is writing in other language to convey my two cents. The constraints for me to write in Nepali is, however, not regrettable.

Let me state one more example: We have had people aboard in India/Bhutan who has been speaking Nepali Language for eternal time. After Bhutanese govt. decided to impose the local language, they rebelled and hence were displaced. Now, some of the refugees are in USA or elsewhere.  I am curious (about the Nepali speaking refugees) to those who came to USA or other English speaking country. Are they going to be able to preserve the language for another few generations (as they were able to do so for last few hundred years)? Only time will tell. (Note the life style in reference to space and time here and how it may affect the adoption/preservation for next generation.)

It is understandable that people love the native language, and it hurts when people point finger to it. Love for language has to do with personal sentiment.

Many people take that speaking other language as symbol of slavery. In the present context, it is not true. In the present age of information, we all go for information not in what language it is/was written. If we still argue about it, we loose some part of energy on arguments.
I agree with Govinda Jee on usages (comment on Basanta jee's note on Facebook).

No doubt, people should work on prospering their language as it also has to do with "identity".
However, Change is inevitable.


  1. Thank you Nabinjee for continuing the discussion through this article. Its true that we can't deny the evolution of language but we can't make a language lame in the name of 'improving' or 'simplifying' it. Change should be made after a lot of discussion and that discussion should be based upon the new practices in language. It is the discussion that we are facing in Nepal at this time. Some people have made 'trimming' language their hobby and job, just for the sake of their ego.

  2. Basanta jee, I have huge appreciation that you have started a great discussion. (Somebody also pointed out that ill trained media people are heavily responsible for errors in language.)
    I agree with you. These are healthy discussions.

    Here, I am talking about the time evolution.
    I would take the short term "mal practices" as the fluctuations which will smooth out in the long term. If few people just started using language of their convenience, it might not survive. However, if many people find it convenient it may propagate. There will be friction to preserve the change as it is easy to cling to whatever we have in our package. But, we can not overlook the broad possibilities.
    I would like to give an example of how internet evolution has affected the western languages and how the oxford dictionary have been evolving over time.
    When it comes to evolution, we can not neglect the influences and the demand of time.
    If it comes down to making the language richer, and people find it convenient, it is beneficial for the overall development of the language.

    Thank You!


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