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Editorial

Official language not common

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By EMN Updated: Sep 06, 2013 9:48 pm
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[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat is the common language of Nagaland? Sure, English is the official language of our State but not everyone speaks or writes it well. In fact, many speak it badly not to mention writing. So, the majority of the people speak Nagamese which is unofficially accepted as the lingua franca and practically everybody speaks it albeit their individual tribal accents notwithstanding.The exasperating, or convenient, nature of Nagamese is that it is practically pidgin Asomiya and also without any grammar thus making it usable in various ways to convey or communicate.
Nagas also tend to go for pidgin Hindi—if there such a word for it—because many prefer to go for Hindi films and TV serials rather than Hollywood blockbusters which the majority find difficult to comprehend unless the films deal with martial arts.
A State such as ours does not need to push for education in English because it is already doing so and in another sense, it is also the common language of the better educated who are not familiar with all the numerous other Naga tribal languages.
India has two official languages, English and Hindi. It is in this context that numerous Naga students have also taken to studying full time Hindi at the graduate level on the grounds that their proficiency in the common language of India would open more avenues of employment in the education sector.
Still, it may be said that we are better off than the Chinese where the matter/issue of a common language is concerned. Even today, more than 400 million Chinese are unable to speak their national language, Mandarin. China’s ruling Communist Party has been promoting Mandarin for decades to unite a nation with thousands of often mutually unintelligible dialects and numerous minority languages. It pushes its campaign in the third week of September every year.
Xinhua, China’s state media on Thursday reported that more than 400 million or 30 per cent of Chinese are unable to speak their national language and large numbers in the rest of the country speak it badly. The country has been hampered by its very size and lack of investment in education, especially in poor rural areas.
Officials have reportedly admitted that they will probably never get the whole country to be able to speak Mandarin, formerly called Putonghua in China, meaning “common tongue”, suggesting everyone should be able to speak it. Our link with China is best summed up by the chowmein that is one of the best selling items in the hotels as also the many items of clothing imported primarily from Guangdong Province of China via Thailand and Myanmar.
As far as our State is concerned, the status quo of English, Hindi and Nagamese triangular would be difficult to change in any manner whatsoever. So, the next best thing is that the various Naga tribal languages should be taught in the various districts concerned as a subject. Perhaps teaching the language while simultaneously conveying some aspects of history and folk tales would be in order. And this aspect the education department must study for the loss of any language will eventually result in loss of culture and identity.

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By EMN Updated: Sep 06, 2013 9:48:18 pm