2ndlook

Linguistics of the Jewish diaspora


Our knowledge of Jewish life in the second century B.C.E. comes mainly from Flavius Josephus (37/38-95/100 C.E.), the great Jewish-Roman historian who wrote in Greek, the scholarly language of his time. The hellenization of the Jews had been thorough.The King of Judea and the High Priest of Yahweh had Greek names. (page 240).

During the third century B.C.E., the Tobiads were the principal advocates of hellenization among the Jews (Grayzel 1969:49). The Jewish family called the Tobiads (the sons of Tobias) traced their ancestry to Tobias the Ammonite, governor of the Persian province of Ammon (now Jordan), east of Jordan River, during the tenure of  Nehemiah in Judea in the fifth century B.C.E. One of them, Joseph ben Tobias, became very prominent during the second half of that century. (page 219).

By the beginning of the third century B.C.E. the Jews were being hellenized rapidly. They no longer spoke Hebrew or Aramaic, but Greek. Their religious services were conducted in Greek. Their personal Hebrew names were hellenized: Honio became Onias, Ezra became Esdras, Yeshua became Iesous (Jesus), and Joshua became Jason. Some Jews had Greek names only, such as Antigonus, Hyrkanos, Aristobolus, or Philon (Philo).The choice of such names by Jews for their children indicated the degree of their hellenization. (page 219).

During the reign of Ptolemaios Philadelphos (Ptolemy II, 308-246 B.C.E.), the Torah and other Jewish holy scriptures were translated into Greek by a synod of scholars. (page 215).

During the years that he was the High Priest and ethnarch (175-171 B.C.E.) Jason promoted Greek sports at the expense of Temple worship. Jason did not last long in the office of High Priest. He was unseated in 171 B.C.E. by Menelaos, a member of the noble Jewish Tobiads and a more extreme Hellenizer than Jason himself.(page 224-225).

By the first century, Greek had become the language of the Jews in the”diaspora”. The Jews of the Hellenic world spoke Greek the way present-day American Jews speak English. During the Greco-Roman and the Byzantine periods, from the late fourth century B.C.E., to the early seventh century C.E. most Jews were thoroughly Hellenized.(page 454).

By the third century B.C.E the Jews of Syria, Palestine, and Egypt had become thoroughly hellenized. They worshipped Zeus, Hera, and the rest of the Greek pantheon. There were images of Greek sun god Helios, the wine god Dionysos, and the demigod Heracles on Jewish synagogue floor mosaics at Sepphori an other Gallilean cities as late as the sixth century C.E. But the Orthodox Jews violently resisted Hellenism. The conflict between Helenism and Judaism, or rather between hellenized and Orthodox Jews, was to lead to major trouble in the second century BCE, after Palestine was captured from Egypt by the Seleucid Greeks of Syria. (page 215).

Just as in modern America most Jews use English rather than Hebrew in their religious services and rituals, so Greek was used by the Jews of Egypt, including Judea, in their religion (page 215).

Hellenic culture was much more attractive to the young Jews of Judea than the rigid strictures of their own religion. The Greek myths and deities, projections of the deepest infantile conflicts and family relations, etched into the unconscious mind of every person, deeply appealed to the people, just as the Canaanites myths had to their ancestors. The Tobiads led the wave of hellenization among the Jews. (page 220)

Jews always spoke the language of the land which was their home. When expulsions and persecutions eventually brought about a wider separation between the Jews and the non-Jews, the result was a growing dissimilarity between the intimate languages spoken by each group.(Grayzel quoted on page 458).

in the early fourth century, the Jews were divided into three main groupings. Those living in the Western Roman Empire of Italy, which comprised much of Western Europe, spoke mainly Latin, the lingua franca of the West, and the native European languages of the ethnic groups amongst whom they lived. The Jews of the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium, with its capital at Constantinople spoke mainly Greek, the language of the East. The Jews living in Sassanian Neo-Persian empire east of the Euphrates spoke mainly Aramaic. Hebrew continued to be spoken by Jewish scholars and by the people in their prayers. (page 337).

During the seventh and eighth centuries the lands inhabited by Jew in the Middle East and North Africa were conquered by the Muslim Arabs. Arabic became the language of the these Jews. (page 454).

Text extracts from A psychoanalytic history of the Jews By Avner Falk.

Judaism – an existential challenge

Jews - the eternal victims

Jews - the eternal victims

The Jewish population, followers of one of the oldest religions in the world, across countries and in Israel, today faces an existential challenge. With 0.25% of world population, i.e. less than 1.5 crore Jews left, in a world of more than 600 crore people, they have made enemies of their neighbours around their country.

The Jewish state, dependent on US largesse, hangs by a thin thread. Without Hitler, the world population of Jews would possibly have been not much better. Maybe 2.5 crores instead of 1.5 crores (at the risk of sounding insensitive). Maybe 0.5% of world population, instead of 0.25%. Also, must be remembered that Jewish studies in the modern context are affected by the ‘Jews as the eternal victims’ syndrome.

Genetic analysis of the Jewish populations

So, what is the reason for this fragile position of the Jewish population? One recent study states that

Admixture analysis based on binary and Y-STR haplotypes indicates a high mean proportion of ancestry from North African (10.6%) and Sephardic Jewish (19.8%) sources. Despite alternative possible sources for lineages ascribed a Sephardic Jewish origin, these proportions attest to a high level of religious conversion (whether voluntary or enforced), driven by historical episodes of social and religious intolerance, that ultimately led to the integration of descendants.

(from The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula by Susan M. Adams, et al; Copyright 2008 The American Society of Human Genetics, The American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 83, Issue 6, 725-736, 04 December 2008).

Another study concludes that the Jewish population shares a high level of common paternal similarities.

Several lines of evidence support the hypothesis that Diaspora Jews from Europe, Northwest Africa, and the Near East resemble each other more closely than they resemble their non-Jewish neighbors. The only exception was the Ethiopian Jews, who were affiliated more closely with non-Jewish Ethiopians and other North Africans.

Second, despite their high degree of geographic dispersion, Jewish populations from Europe, North Africa, and the Near East were less diverged genetically from each other than any other group of populations in this study. At the most basic level, the genetic distances observed among Jewish and non-Jewish populations can be interpreted as reflecting common ancestry, genetic drift, and gene flow. The latter two processes will tend to increase genetic distances among Jewish populations, whereas admixture will also have the effect of decreasing genetic distances between Jewish and non-Jewish populations.

Our results suggest that common ancestry is the major determinant of the genetic distances observed among Jewish communities, with admixture playing a secondary role. (from Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes By M. F. Hammer, et al )

Of course, it begs the question, was the Jewish population ever a significant part of global population? One writer who has addressed this question is James Carroll, in his book, Constantine’s sword. He estimates,

Jews accounted for 10 percent of the total population of the Roman Empire. By that ratio, if other factors had not intervened, there would be 200 million Jews in the world today, instead of something like 13 million. (He goes onto recount that the) potential demographic crisis facing the Jewish people is defined by the loss of the murdered millions, not only in the twentieth century, but in all others. (from Constantine’s sword By James Carroll, page 26-27, texts in brackets, mine).

Population growth and changes (of not just the Jews) are subject to interplay of complex demographic factors – like assimilation, disease, migration, reproduction rates and proselytization. Since these factors affect all human populations, further analysis of these factors may just reinforce current red herring theories.

The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!

The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!

Jews – the eternal victims?

Of course, Jews have not been the only population group in the world who have had to face the problems of epidemics, migration, assimilation, and conversion. What could have been a significant reason for the decline in the Jewish population over the centuries?

A 2ndlook at history points out (extracts above) that the Jewish populations gave up their language and culture ab initio. Within a few centuries of its foundation, they were giving up on their culture.

Interestingly, and apparently, language plays an important and crucial role in the expansion and growth of populations – as the Jewish case seems to suggest.

Those who don’t learn from history …

The Jewish history has invaluable lessons for Indians. For one, all those who think that English is God’s special gift to India (and mankind), should look at the eclipse of the Greek language. I am yet to discover the logic which shows that English will fare better than Greek, Spanish, Persian or Urdu.

Reducing the role of the Indian State

The massive subsidy given by the Indian state towards English language education needs to be phased out. Indian languages (all of them) should start getting back on their feet. The people of India, each individual will choose their language. No bureaucrat, politician, ‘intellectual’ will decide that. Finito. Completo. Terminato. Endlich. Eindig. ändlig.

The Indian language basket also calls for diversification. India needs to learn more foreign languages. The great ‘software success story’ is actually two countries – US and UK who give between 70%-80% of Indian software business? This is coolie labour! We are missing out on the massive Japanese, French and the Spanish markets because we have not invested in those foreign languages. And we have missed out on computing in Indian languages, because we have not invested there either.

The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!

The Israel and USA tango - who is using whom!

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39 Responses

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  1. Aashish Singh said, on August 12, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Namaskar Anuragi,

    I wrote the following at some other blog regarding the 2nd and 3rd generation post independence Bharatiye. I’m copying and pasting here as well as it gel with your content.

    The 2nd and 3rd generation post independence Bharatiye have whole heartedly accepted the fact that Bharat and everything related to it is inferior to West.

    Infact majority of Bhartiye believe that the real development of self, society and country is to become westerners in every possible way and they are striving hard for it. Their only aim in life is to somehow become like Westerners. In whatever possible way and upto whatever extent they can, they want to be like westerners. They keep cursing themselves until death for not being born to white parents in West.

    It is extremely difficult to get rid of our cultural values, our dharma, our language our entire heritage all of which is passed to us by the virtue of being Bhartiye. So, if our very own Bhartiye want to turn like their adorable Westerner then what should they do??. Simple and natural, Start bashing Bharat and everything related to it just like the Westerners do.

    Let me give you an example for the above statement to make sense. In Bharat if you want to be like an Englishmen (which are considered to be our role model and our masters in every sense) then you should speak English to non-English speaking Bharitye. If you can not speak English then atleast try to speak Hindi like an Englishmen. This will help you distance yourself from these demine Bhartiye (at least for your fake ego).

    These westerners have their purpose of diminig Bharat and its culture to project themselves as superior in everything, so that others (We) only follow them and do not compete with them. This is done to maintain their supremacy which they have acquired by faking, looting and deceit. However, our own West adoring people like Rineesh, Romila Thappar, Arundati (Suzzane) Roy etc. join them and bash Bharat and everything related to it. Doing this they think that they have at least something in common with their masters (Westerners) which gives immense pleasure to their fake ego. They think that with such an activity they can distance themselves from the Bhartiye tag and switch to other side which is the aim they are after ever since the unfateful day they were born to brown parents in Bharat.

    At some point of time down the line the western masters of these West-Worshipers-Bharat-Cursers Bhartiye would recognize them for their unasked yet utmost service to the West and will award them (like Bookers prize) for their untiring services of bashing and dimining their own country and countrymen. These fellow Bhartiye will be honored with Medals (and will be inducted in Hall of ‘Flames’) by their masters, which they will flaunt to other Bhartiyes as if what great achievement they have made. They will further urge other Bhartiye to follow them and will also act as role models in the service of Bashing their own motherland and its heritage for the sake of being like their Western masters (wait for some more years for people like Rajdeep Sardasi, Barkha Dutt, Pronoy Roy, Ambika Soni, Prakash Karat, Y.S.R. Reddy etc. to be awarded by the West).

    Bharat, Bhartiyeta, its heritage, its culture, its values, its religion everything is a role model for the entire world even in 21st century. Bharat is the mother and spritual capital of this world. Hindusim (Sanatan Dharma) is the spirit and the faith driving this country. The day Hinduism and Bharat is over this material world will cease to exist. We should be proud of this nation and should consider ourselves privileged to be born in Bharatvarsha.

  2. Anuraag Sanghi said, on August 12, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    श्री आशीष सिंह – नमस्कार!

    मेरी समझ एक चीज़ आती है. जिसकी लाठी उसकी भैंस. हमारा पैसा, हमारे ऊपर, हमारी सरकार, एक विदेशा भाषा चलाएगी? हमें सिर्फ एक चीज़ की मांग करनी है. हमारा पैसा हमारा फ़ैसला. निर्णय हम करेंगे. सरकार नहीं.

    I think the solution is easy. We just need to ensure that State funding of English language needs to end. All your above issues will vanish!

  3. Galeo Rhinus said, on August 14, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Anuraag,

    The Government (first the English and then Congress) used its machinery to promote English and kill Sanskrit.

    India, as you pointed out never had “one” language etc… however – it would be false to extrapolate that to saying India did not have certain common standards that had evolved based on its once common polity.

    What India had achieved was to create an organized society that created standards without imposition…

    Sanskrit as a nearly universal language for most Indic courts was one such standardization… much after the north was falling under Islamic rule – the court proceedings and science in the south in the Vijayanagar empire was done in Sanskrit… the early maratha rule extensively made use of Sanskrit… with the goal of saving “dharma” from extinction…

    The point is that – without this perspective – it would make an easy case for someone to suggest a political breakup of India… Nehru set the stage for such a break-up using the carrots of language based states and with the stick of hindi… neither representing Indic ideals.

    The point is that – any strategic changes that would attempt to revive Indic polity will have to follow a path that keeps an eye on the goal – not simply hope that ending English’s monopoly will automatically resurrect an Indic polity.

    India’s current structure made fragile by english – could be hurt it sufficient thought is not given to a possible restructuring.

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on August 26, 2009 at 9:13 am

      I am sure that Indians have the strength and the maturity to address the valid issues that you raise.

      The subsidy to English language has to end.

      Under a more (and with time a completely) privatized system of education, I am confident that we will not need any ‘direction’ of a ‘guiding hand’.

      We have done it in the past. We have ‘been there and done that!’ Why are so nervous? What is giving you jelly feet? We can do it again! What more, I am sure we can do it better this time around.

      • Galeo Rhinus said, on August 26, 2009 at 3:41 pm

        Use of language in society and in administration are two distinct function. A common polity necessitates a common language to be used for administrative functions. What was unique in India’s case was that the language of the administration was never forced on the subjects.

        Despite the gap of a few hundred years – when the empire of Viajayanagar was revived – they chose to use Sanskrit in their courts – without forcing it on the population. A primary reason is that all the precedents in India’s history are all documented in Sanskrit…. India’s political and cultural continuity is maintained through sanskrit. Indian languages have risen and fallen and allowed the people to live their lives with their own choices – but the rulers always chose sanskrit to allow the continuity of thought.

        Indic polity will never allow Sanskrit to be forced on people… yet – Sanskrit’s relevance cannot be undermined by not holding the rulers to a higher linguistic standard.

    • Galeo Rhinus said, on August 26, 2009 at 3:27 pm

      >>Over time, Persian usage suffered due to lack of state patronage and the decline of Persia itself.

      Actually up until 1857 Farsi was an important language that was taught in the Madarsas and was commonly used. During 1857 – there was a lot of talk of Persia supporting the Indian cause, therefore post 1857 – the English started influencing the madarsas and Islamic education institutes. In order to linguistically separate Persia from India, Persian was replaced with Urdu – without changing the script. The rise of Urdu was also by state patronage.

      This brings us to the point of state patronage… see my response below.

  4. Murtaza Husaini said, on August 24, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Very nice post.

    Cultural identity depends on attire, food, national festivals, local festivals, language, etc. Attire was lost long ago when we Indians chose to drop our traditions dresses. Our generation prefers fast food rather than homemade food. We are celebrating New Year, Valentine’s Day, ect. enthusiastically and give a cold shoulder to our national and local festivals. If you visit France, they prefer their native language and not English, although London is connected by a tube train to Paris. The whole Arabia still prefers Arabic; westerns are learning Chinese to do business with China. Actually, people who were involved in independence process at that time were from British Education system and didn’t emphasize much on the cultural values of India after independence. It’s very simple if we look into the evolution of languages used by different political authorities, Sanskrit was over ruled by Persian, Persian was taken over by Urdu, Urdu was sidelined by Hindi and Hindi is crushed by English.

  5. Anuraag Sanghi said, on August 26, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Attire was lost long ago when we Indians chose to drop our traditions dresses.

    Not really.

    The interesting bit that Greco-Macedonian armies of Alexander took back to Europe were more cultural. It was the current Macedonain national dress - the ‘salvaria’. The entire North West Indian sub-continent, from Punjab to Afghanistan wears the salwar – which is tubular leggings.
    This is a unisex garment – like the sari /dhoti also is. And popular all over India today. Unlike other parts of the world, where women were forced to conform to a male standards and prescriptions of dressing, Indian women were free and dressed like their men did (Feminists note – Indian men were forced to dress, like their women).

    Unisex clothing, saris and dhotis dominated the Indian plains, and the salwars, in the North West mountain regions of India. The Indo-Scythians used leather leggings – which were helpful in case of long marches on horse backs.

    These leggings even today called the salvaria in Macedonia. The Persians at that time had the robes – and purple robes were the sign of royalty. The Greeks wore chitons - and peplos. The Greek fustanella similarly, is very much like tribal costumes worn even today by Gujarathi rabari tribals.

    We are celebrating New Year, Valentine’s Day, ect. enthusiastically and give a cold shoulder to our national and local festivals.

    The interesting thing is that all of ancient and modern astronomy is based on Babylonian astronomy – which (based on current historical evidence) was joint Indo-Assyrian work. The Indian calendar is even today the most complex and complete – which has been jettisoned for the rather crippled Western calendar.

    Sad!

    It’s very simple if we look into the evolution of languages used by different political authorities, Sanskrit was over ruled by Persian, Persian was taken over by Urdu, Urdu was sidelined by Hindi and Hindi is crushed by English.

    Fortunately, your analogy is quite incorrect!

    Sanskrit existed and did rather well till about 150 years ago. Till after 1857, the colonial ‘education’ system affected the base of Sanskrit. And I am sure that with the removal of artificial support given to English, Sanskrit will make a roaring comeback.

    Persian, Urdu and Hindi existed – peacefully. Over time, Persian usage suffered due to lack of state patronage and the decline of Persia itself. Urdu has partially suffered again due to decline in State patronage.Though not as badly as one would have imagined. It may yet come back.

    Hindi has however gone from strength to strength. Hindi films, Hindi newspapers, Hindi TV are all doing very well – and will do much better if the State subsidy to English is removed.

    The success of Hindi is to some extent mirrored by other Indian languages also. For instance, the small Telugu film industry makes more films than the much larger Hindi film industry does. Chennai is the centre for making films in three languages – Tamil, Kannda and Telugu. Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bengal, UP are large Indian language markets for newspapers. English newspapers in these markets are rather poor last position.
    So, Indian languages have done rather well – much against the wishes of our Indian and ‘foreign’ rulers.

    I am optimistic.

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  7. dd said, on November 23, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    “The people of India, each individual will choose their language. No bureaucrat, politician, ‘intellectual’ will decide that. ”

    I as an Indian choose English. Let me be the sole dissenter here.

    Get rid of ALL languages other than English. You keep saying vasudeva kutumbam but you do not follow it. What do you mean by that surely that ALL of humanity is one family and there is no such thing as a foreigner. If there is no such thing as a foreigner then there is no such thing as a foreign language.

    I support English because:
    1) It is everybody’s second language, except for poor people who are forced to learn in non-english languages by the government and are thus denied progress because of it. You privately educated can afford to talk down on english because you can afford to learn english privately, but take the case of the servant maid in my house and her children they are forced to learn in tamil in government schools due to myopic “bureaucrat, politician, ‘intellectual’” who has decided that tamil is better than english. That servant maid’s children are NEVER going to learn computers because they do not know english. And you arm chair english bashers would never have to go through her fate of NEVER learning computers and participating in a modern age.
    2) Every bit of science is published in English, whether you are japanese or korean or chinese or german or spanish every scientific paper is atleast also published in english. if you are going to dump english and wait for these documents to be translated in tamil or hindi you are living in fools paradise and you will ALWAYS be behind in science and mathematics, because whether you like it or not science has become intimately linked to English.
    3) The world needs more communication and lesser languages. It is difficult enough to learn a single language. If we ALL had to learn Japanese, french, chinese, hindi etc etc to communicate with each other it will be a nightmare. It is easier for all of us to learn a SINGLE language and communicate in that instead of isolating ourselves in our language islands.
    4) English is the simplest language in the world it just has 26 letters. If you know of any other language that has lesser number of letters let me know. Hence it is the easiest to learn.
    5) English is the easiest language to type (though it is a nightmare to speak english we live in a typing world not a speaking world). I tried learing to type tamil and gave it up half way because it was too complicated. Now i have a phonetic editor and type tamil using english. go figure that one out.

    I will think up some more objections while I wait for replies.

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on November 24, 2009 at 11:03 am

      I as an Indian choose English.

      Godspeed. Best of luck with your choice. Don’t ever come back and say I didn’t tell you before hand! :)

      Let me be the sole dissenter here.

      I only wish that that was true. Unfortunately, you have much company!

      Get rid of ALL languages other than English.

      While you wish to have the freedom “an Indian choose English.”, you do not wish to give that freedom to others. Do you desire that the Indian Government take money from the (poor mostly) people and support languages (English mainly) that benefit the rich (mostly). And suppress languages and culture of those who paying the price of having a Goverment!

      You keep saying vasudeva kutumbam but you do not follow it. What do you mean by that surely that ALL of humanity is one family and there is no such thing as a foreigner. If there is no such thing as a foreigner then there is no such thing as a foreign language.

      Does ‘vasudevaih kutumbakam’ mean that any language (of your choice) will be forced on people – whether it is foreign or other is irrelevant (for now)! What it does mean that people and their choices will be respected!

      With regard to foreign languages, I have also clearly said is that Indians need to (voluntarily) learn more foreign languages like Swahili and Bantu (my first two choices), Spanish, Arabic, French, German, Chinese, et al. Why this blinkered attachment to English? What is the data which supports your contentions? I have provided extensive links and data on my others posts, which support my position.

      It is everybody’s second language

      This is a myth! Where is your data. I will believe you when I see data! Empty repetition of ‘received’ propaganda will take you (and me) nowhere!

      poor people who are forced to learn in non-english languages by the government

      It is the other way around! Read my other posts – on the Quicktake blog. There is extensive data and facts which shows that English is what the Indian Government supports and promotes!

      take the case of the servant maid in my house and her children they are forced to learn in tamil in government schools due to myopic “bureaucrat, politician, ‘intellectual’” who has decided that tamil is better than english.

      This is ‘false positive’! As anyone knows that primary and secondary education in any Indian language will take you nowhere – because Higher education happens nearly entirely in English! The poor are (especially) smarter than to spend their money ON DEAD END SCHOOLING!

      That servant maid’s children are NEVER going to learn computers because they do not know english. And you arm chair english bashers would never have to go through her fate of NEVER learning computers and participating in a modern age.

      False, false, false! The Indian software success happened on the backs of people whose English skills were rather poor! Japan, Korea, Germany, France have a large computing ecology which is based on non-English systems! They dont seem to have suffered! Third falsehood – India’s ‘great’ software success is actually two countries – USA and UK, who give us about 70%-80% of revenues. We are irrelevant in the rest of the world.

      Every bit of science is published in English, whether you are japanese or korean or chinese or german or spanish every scientific paper is atleast also published in english.

      You are talking about 10,000 people who need to learn English – and who can subscribe to these VERY EXPENSIVE English scientific and academic journals! I assure you it makes no difference to the rest of Indians. Japan’s scientists do quite well inspite of being ‘backward’ – when it comes to English!

      you will ALWAYS be behind in science and mathematics, because whether you like it or not science has become intimately linked to English.

      How did India achieve scientific breakthroughs before English came to India? Are you saying that before English, there was no science and technology? Or are you suggesting that Indians (mostly) prospered for 5000 years, because they knew English for the last 5000 years! Now I am confused!! Truly. What is your theses?

      If we ALL had to learn Japanese, french, chinese, hindi etc etc to communicate with each other it will be a nightmare.

      Yes for lazy minds like me – which knows only English and Hindi, in spite of living, working all over India. In my ‘patronising’ mind, since I knew Hindi and English, was there a need for me to learn any other language? I assure you there are many more lazy minds like me (much to my regret)!

      For those who do not have any such assumptions or lazy minds, are rather proud of the fact that they know 3-4-5 languages. There are many people I know who are very facile with three languages at least – and some go to 5-6 languages.

      4) English is the simplest language in the world it just has 26 letters. If you know of any other language that has lesser number of letters let me know. Hence it is the easiest to learn.

      Join the gang … welcome to the Le club des esprits paresseux (The Club Of Lazy Minds), of which I am the Secretary. It is famous in Germany as Die Verein des faulen Verstandes and in the Spanish speaking world as the El club de mentes perezosas. We have recently added a Russian chapter which is called Клуб ленивых разумов.

      Care to take the position of the President!!

  8. dd said, on November 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    ” Get rid of ALL languages other than English.

    While you wish to have the freedom “an Indian choose English.”, you do not wish to give that freedom to others. ”

    It was a suggestion others need not follow it.

    “Do you desire that the Indian Government take money from the (poor mostly) people and support languages (English mainly) that benefit the rich (mostly).”

    Without private english schools in India English will die. Tamilnadu government charges fees to teach in english (they teach in english at all only because there was a huge outcry from the people when they proposed to abolish english medium). but they do not charge anything to teach in tamil.

    “Does ‘vasudevaih kutumbakam’ mean that any language (of your choice) will be forced on people – whether it is foreign or other is irrelevant (for now)!”

    It is entirely relevant whether it is foreign or not. Your main grouse against english is that it is a western language and not Indian, all your posts drip with anti-west sentiment.

    ” What it does mean that people and their choices will be respected!”

    Definitely and the majority of Indians pay lip service to hindi and tamil and other useless languages but continue to PAY MONEY to learn english at private english schools, you yourself has learned english probably in that way. I will be surprised if you say that you learned english in a government school.

    “I have also clearly said is that Indians need to (voluntarily) learn more foreign languages like Swahili and Bantu (my first two choices), Spanish, Arabic, French, German, Chinese, et al. ”

    Whats the use of swahili or bantu or spanish or arabic or french or german or chinese they are ALL equally useless as hindi and tamil.

    “Why this blinkered attachment to English? What is the data which supports your contentions?”

    There are 200 million websites in english. a mere thousands in other languages. Show me a website that explains:
    1) Einsteins theory of relativity in hindi/tamil
    2) Newtons gravitational laws in hindi/tamil
    3) database theory in hindi/tamil/swahili
    4) teaches c++ in hindi/tamil
    5) the hindi version of this website. The only reason you a hindi walla and me a tamil walla are communicating at ALL is because of english. You are NEVER going to learn
    tamil and I am never going to learn hindi besides what was crammed into me by my school ( i know enough to read hindi but not enough to understand it). Why should we waste time with useless indian languages that does not even let two indians communicate.

    “because Higher education happens nearly entirely in English!”

    Give me a list of links to books in hindi/tamil that explains the DNA sequences of polio virus. Pathology, Hematology, the human genome. Once you can show these simple sciences are available in hindi you can go on show that all other higher education CAN be done in anything other than english.

    “Japan, Korea, Germany, France have a large computing ecology which is based on non-English systems! They dont seem to have suffered!”

    Almost all Japan, Korean, German, France websites ALSO have an english translation. They spend enormous amounts of time and money and effort to translate english works of their entire world and still they are not able to keep up with the output of mankind in english. Why the deuce should we indians also ape them and spend enormous amounts on translation. The problem of translation will me multiplied by at least a 100 to accomodate 100 indian languages. ALL the countries you have named have english has their second language.

    ” Third falsehood – India’s ‘great’ software success is actually two countries – USA and UK, who give us about 70%-80% of revenues. We are irrelevant in the rest of the world.”

    Software is a minor part of our GDP, whats your fix on software?

    “You are talking about 10,000 people who need to learn English – and who can subscribe to these VERY EXPENSIVE English scientific and academic journals! I assure you it makes no difference to the rest of Indians. Japan’s scientists do quite well inspite of being ‘backward’ – when it comes to English!”

    The 10,000 people do not come from a vaccuum they come from the educated masses. If the masses are educated in backward indian languages there will be no 10000 people it will be more likely be 10.

    “VERY EXPENSIVE English scientific and academic journals”

    English is the cheapest languages to get your knowledge from, for any other language you and the people have to spend enormous amounts of money on translation from chinese and japanese and 100 other languages and even then the translation will not be 100% good. Also journals are the past. All scientific papers are available (in english of course) in the internet free of cost today.

    “How did India achieve scientific breakthroughs before English came to India? Are you saying that before English, there was no science and technology?”

    I am not talking about the past. I am talking about the present when English is dominant and the entire scientific output of mankind is available in English also at least.

    ” Or are you suggesting that Indians (mostly) prospered for 5000 years, because they knew English for the last 5000 years! Now I am confused!! Truly. What is your theses?”

    Still I am talking about the future and not about the past. You and other people like you are seriously crippling India’s future by your lingual patriotism.

    “For those who do not have any such assumptions or lazy minds, are rather proud of the fact that they know 3-4-5 languages. There are many people I know who are very facile with three languages at least – and some go to 5-6 languages.”

    Why the deuce should I or the Indian people waste their time in learning 3-4-5 languages when they can spend the same time on learning science or mathematics and be useful to the scientific progress of mankind?

    “lazy minds”

    laziness can be a virtue, you will not waste your time on useless things just in order to be busy and not lazy. You will find better and easier ways to do things so that you can be lazy and have free time for other stuff.

  9. Anuraag Sanghi said, on November 25, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I am not talking about the past. I am talking about the present when English is dominant and the entire scientific output of mankind is available in English also at least.

    I think this is the real point! Your belief is that that history cannot teach us anything! I have a funny feeling that much as as I may try, I will not be able to see your ‘logic’ for this statement! Maybe my ‘backward’ Indian education is to blame!!

    Still I am talking about the future and not about the past. You and other people like you are seriously crippling India’s future by your lingual patriotism.

    You are absolutely confident that English language is the future?

    Well! I am not.

    In fact, I am fairly certain, that without India, English will collapse sooner than later. You want me to hazard a time frame for its collapse? Next 20-30 years.

    It is entirely relevant whether it is foreign or not. Your main grouse against english is that it is a western language and not Indian, all your posts drip with anti-west sentiment.

    A-ha! Is that the problem? Does it hurt too much?

    I think, whether I am anti-anyone/anything is irelevant. What is important is whether my opposition is valid! Any views, ideas, reactions, objections?

    Whats the use of swahili or bantu or spanish or arabic or french or german or chinese they are ALL equally useless as hindi and tamil.

    Well … I think the future (at least in terms of business and economic opportunity) is in Africa – and not the effete West of the geriatric Japan. And the Africans are not desperate (as we are) to learn English. Given half a chance, they will jump at Swahili and Bantu education! And when the time comes, those who are prepared to do business in Swahili and Bantu will do well!

    Give me a list of links to books in hindi/tamil that explains the DNA sequences of polio virus. Pathology, Hematology, the human genome. Once you can show these simple sciences are available in hindi you can go on show that all other higher education CAN be done in anything other than english.

    Have you an answer to the chicken-and-egg question? If you do, you know the answer. If you don’t have answer, you know the question is wrong!

    I have answered a lot of your questions in the following posts. May I request you to critique the entire thesis, after reading the reference documents.

    Shows m ethe logic which says that English will fare better than Greek, Spanish, Persian or Urdu?

    The reason for the success of English language is the massive subsidy given by the Indian state to English language.

    It is time that Indian languages start getting back on their feet.

    For all those who think that English is God’s special gift to India (and mankind)!

    An entire framework on taking at 2ndlook at languages

  10. dd said, on November 26, 2009 at 6:47 am

    “I think this is the real point! Your belief is that that history cannot teach us anything! I have a funny feeling that much as as I may try, I will not be able to see your ‘logic’ for this statement!”

    I am fascinated by history thats all but mostly history is a bunch of pathetic tales of human misery, massacres and other such sad things. Past is backward in time. I am mostly forward looking into the present and future. History is made obsolete by technology. Whatever points you made about spanish, persian, urdu etc fading away does not apply to english because the internet has made those arguments obsolete. English has come to stay because it has gripped the entire humanity at the right time and at the right stage of technology. There is no going back from english no matter how much you spend on non-english translations and educations, people will still study english on their own to interact with the internet.

    “What is important is whether my opposition is valid! Any views, ideas, reactions, objections?”

    Your opposition is indeed valid but not because it is right. It is valid because we should always welcome counter opinions to current wisdom otherwise we will get in a rut. The current wisdom is that english is good for the future because it is tightly linked to science and technology. And I fully support you in your opposition of current wisdom even though I dont think you are right. I don’t think you are right because of the GEOMETRIC increase of science otherwise I would join you in learning sanskrit or whatever.

    “Well … I think the future (at least in terms of business and economic opportunity) is in Africa – and not the effete West of the geriatric Japan. And the Africans are not desperate (as we are) to learn English. Given half a chance, they will jump at Swahili and Bantu education!”

    I agree with you africa may be the future but I don’t agree with you that they are going to dump english anytime in the future. They just have to jump on to the english bandwagon if they want to get their science and technology up to date. Also they have a long way to go in democracy, coming out of the islamic dark ages etc. before they will be a serious contender.

    ” Give me a list of links to books in hindi/tamil that explains the DNA sequences of polio virus. Pathology, Hematology, the human genome. Once you can show these simple sciences are available in hindi you can go on show that all other higher education CAN be done in anything other than english.

    Have you an answer to the chicken-and-egg question? If you do, you know the answer. If you don’t have answer, you know the question is wrong!”

    How then do you expect the government to implement higher education in anything other than english if even these school level sciences are not present in hindi? Where are the required text books, where are the required teachers to populate such non-english universities? How are you going to make the chicken(govt) lay the egg(non-english higher education) if it doesn’t have the necessary vitamins(textbooks and teachers in non-english)?

    “I have answered a lot of your questions in the following posts. May I request you to critique the entire thesis, after reading the reference documents.”

    I read them all but I dont think they are right.

    From one of the links you posted:

    “Assuming that a 100,000 essential books need to translated into local languages, at a cost of say Rs.100,000 per book, it still amounts to Rs.1000 crores. Is that a large sum of money for modern India.”

    Science and mathematics is progressing at a GEOMETRIC rate. The number of science and mathematics papers DOUBLES every ten years. The science text books of today is made obsolete very fast by such rapid advance. Once a paper appears it SHOULD sooner or later appear on the textbooks say within 10 years or the text book will become obsolete. One million papers were published in the last ten years. That is equal to the entire production of mankind in the last 10,000 years. Another two million papers will be published in the next 10 years. ANOTHER four million papers will be published in the next 10 years after that. How do you think we are going to keep up with the translation efforts with such a volume of output?

    It is not the english bloc US-UK-Aus alone that contributes to the english output. Evey tom dick and harry on earth is outputing in english. Why do you yourself have a website in english and outputing in english and contributing to the output of english? Why don’t you shut down this website and open a hindi version of it so that you don’t add to the english output? If you do that you will not waste your time arguing with me at all because I CANT read such a website. Why have you named this website in english (second look and quick take are english words you know). Why didn’t you name them doosra dek or some such thing? And wordpress.com is an american site. Why have you hosted a America bashing site in America why didn’t you register doosradek.in and host it in india?

  11. Anuraag Sanghi said, on November 26, 2009 at 8:11 am

    How then do you expect the government to implement higher education in anything other than english if even these school level sciences are not present in hindi?

    Well. Three points.

    One – I wish the Government would slowly reduce its role in education.For some time, it can support Indian languages.

    And immediately and quickly get out of English language education. You cannot have any objection to that – since, English is so important, and everyone (except me) can see it, and will pay for it. So, English should stop getting State support. That is all I ask for actually. I am quite happy, if I am wrong.

    If English is such a huge gift to us – and mankind, (as you claim and think it is) we can all pay for it! Let English stand on its own two legs. And after another 10-15 years, let Indian languages also sink or swim!

    立即. Immediately. Pronto. Onmiddellijk. Immédiatement. Sofort. すぐに. 즉각. Немедленно.

    Two – Like the RK Laxman cartoon showed 50 years earlier, the situation remains much the same. By the way, you may be (un?) pleasantly surprised to see how well a lot of Mumbaikars have done from Marathi medium municipal schools – in various professional and academic disciplines. The only place where they seem to suffer is in their minds, where they feel lesser than English medium types. Wrongly.

    Three – I think the immediate task at hand appears (to you) as a insurmountable – but is simpler than you believe.

    Whatever points you made about spanish, persian, urdu etc fading away does not apply to english because the internet has made those arguments obsolete. English has come to stay because it has gripped the entire humanity at the right time and at the right stage of technology. There is no going back from english no matter how much you spend on non-english translations and educations, people will still study english on their own to interact with the internet.

    I am sure that is what people thought when Latin, Greek, Persian, Arabic, Spanish, et al were at their heights. Till 1945, in Hyderabad, under the Nizam, Urdu was seen (the received wisdom) as the last word on all subjects. English was given some importance. Telugu? Hindi? Wazz zat! Huh!

    At the end of WW2, the whole world thought that Britain will remain a super-power for ever. Not a nearly Third World kind of klutz economy it has become.

    So, you may need to change your opinion faster than you (cannot) imagine!

  12. dd said, on November 27, 2009 at 8:50 am

    “And immediately and quickly get out of English language education. You cannot have any objection to that – since, English is so important, and everyone (except me) can see it, and will pay for it. So, English should stop getting State support. That is all I ask for actually. I am quite happy, if I am wrong.”

    Sure. I support this. The government is not as important to higher education as you seem to think it is. I got my higher education from loyola university which is a private trust not a govt sponsored thing. The ONLY thing that I ask is that the govt teach English atleast as a second language to the poor people of India so that they too get a shot at higher education. At present they are not taught a single word of english due to myopic anti english hatred.

    “I am sure that is what people thought when Latin, Greek, Persian, Arabic, Spanish, et al were at their heights. Till 1945, in Hyderabad, under the Nizam, Urdu was seen (the received wisdom) as the last word on all subjects. English was given some importance. Telugu? Hindi? Wazz zat! Huh!”

    When sanskrit, hindi (you seem to conveniently drop these two out of the fallen list), latin, greek, persian, arabic, spanish were at their heights there was no mass communication, there was no internet, there was no science to speak of (not a thimble ful compared to what science we have now). New languages develop when populations are isolated for long periods of time. When there is mass communication, languages start to coalesce due to intermingling of words. For example: If I listen to tamil film songs of fifty years ago at the time of India’s independence, it was 100 percent classical tamil, by today using enlish in tamil songs has become common. After another 50 years it may be the opposite they will be using a few tamil words in a tamil song. So your wish that English will fade away is just that wishful thinking.

    “At the end of WW2, the whole world thought that Britain will remain a super-power for ever. Not a nearly Third World kind of klutz economy it has become.”

    So what? how can you say that it was their English that led to their downfall. When they were at their height they were still using English were they not? Besides India is worlds largest English country now. More indians know English than the entire population of US-UK-Aus.

    So you don’t like US and UK, lets us list everyday items and see how many were invented in the west and how many were invented here and how many of their inventions that you can do without.

    1) Turn off your Refridgerator it was invented in the US
    2) Turn off your computer it was invented in the US
    3) Turn off your electricity it was invented in the UK
    4) Don’t travel in the railways. rail was invented in the UK
    5) Don’t travel in cars and bikes, internal combustion engines were invented in France and UK.
    6) Turn off your electric lights and go back to oil lamps. they were invented in the US.
    7) Turn off your fan and air conditioners, they were invented in the US.
    8) Don’t live in high rise buildings, RCC was invented in the US. Go back to living in thatched mud houses.
    9) Unplug the internet. It was invented in the US.

    You want to use all these US/UK inventions without any shame or any thanks whatsoever but you do not want to use English invented there. That is what comes of thinking of them as aliens. They are as much your cousins as I am and all of humanity is one huge family whether you like it or not.

    Just what everyday items were invented here? You will say we invented the number zero, so ok that was 5000 years ago. What have we invented since then that is of everyday use? Why do you have this much hatred for US and UK? Why can’t you get over our colonial past?

  13. Anuraag Sanghi said, on November 27, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Sure. I support this. The government is not as important to higher education as you seem to think it is. I got my higher education from loyola university which is a private trust not a govt sponsored thing. The ONLY thing that I ask is that the govt teach English atleast as a second language to the poor people of India so that they too get a shot at higher education. At present they are not taught a single word of english due to myopic anti english hatred.

    Great. So, we have some agreement!

    My submission is that if English is such an advantage, why do you want the Government to support and subsidize it. The British Raj wanted to impose their language on the Native people for obvious reasons. Why should the Indian Government continue with that? And if Indians see an obvious benefit, anyway there is no need for imposition!

    Is it that you subscribe to the Platonic belief that a few bureaucrats, intellectuals will sit on high chairs and tables and decide what is good for the ignorant’ masses!

    When sanskrit, hindi (you seem to conveniently drop these two out of the fallen list), latin, greek, persian, arabic, spanish were at their heights there was no mass communication, there was no internet, there was no science to speak of (not a thimble ful compared to what science we have now).

    Well – I thought you were not interested in history! Hence, I will not expand on why Hindi and Sanskrit are not ‘fallen’ languages!

    More technology will help competitive languages also. No mass communication, no internet will also come in the way of growth of languages – and similarly, in today’s age, French, Spanish can more easily compete with English. Therefore, technology cancels itself out.

    The best example of that is Hindi and Tamil. Technology and economic liberalization gave a huge boost to Hindi and Tamil TV media channels. As a result, these two languages, for instance, no longer need any ‘promotion’ by Government. And the English language soaps and channels (remember Bold and the Beautiful) are in survival mode

    You want to use all these US/UK inventions without any shame or any thanks whatsoever but you do not want to use English invented there.

    These are funny notions!

    Various traders bring products and technology for my consumption. I cannot invent everything! So, whatever, product that others want to peddle to me, and whatever I need I buy. Obviously, I am producing some goods and services which gives me the money to buy these products. So obviously, there is an exchange in outputs! Where is the shame and thanks involved in this.

    I have no problem with English!

    It is the mis-appropriation of my tax dollars that grates. And to support a language that a few bureaucrats, ‘intellectuals’, politicians sitting on high chairs and tables decide is good for the ‘ignorant’ masses! That rankles!

    Why do you have this much hatred for US and UK? Why can’t you get over our colonial past?

    Like I said, my like or dislike is a matter of your conjecture and complete irrelevance!

    What is important is the validity. Is my criticism of the West (or anyone else) valid, is the point!

    So what? how can you say that it was their English that led to their downfall.

    Where did I say that? I didn’t! You are claiming that I said that! Read the post again.

    When they were at their height they were still using English were they not?

    Since you consider history to be irrelevant, I will not get into historical debates – except to say that you are wrong!

    Besides India is worlds largest English country now. More indians know English than the entire population of US-UK-Aus.

    Wrong again! Please check the stats that I have attached in one of my posts.

  14. dd said, on November 30, 2009 at 10:44 am

    “My submission is that if English is such an advantage, why do you want the Government to support and subsidize it. … Why should the Indian Government continue with that? And if Indians see an obvious benefit, anyway there is no need for imposition!”

    Let us for a moment lay aside the language and paraphrase what you said:

    “”My submission is that if Education is such an advantage, why do you want the Government to support and subsidize it. … Why should the Indian Government continue with that? And if Indians see an obvious benefit, anyway there is no need for imposition!”

    Do you see the point? Education is obviously a great advantage I am sure that you will agree with this. And it is obvious also to you is it not that the poor can’t afford to educate themselves no matter how much a great advantage it is? They are totally dependent on the government to help them educate themselves.

    Now let us reintroduce what language in the argument.
    1) We have shown that the government must impose education because no matter how great an advantage the poor need help to take advantage of that advantage.
    2) I have proved above that higher education especially in science is highly dependent on English.

    I am not asking the govt to provide the poor with higher education, what I am asking is the government teach english to the poor in the mandatory education that they MUST provide the poor anyway so that when the poor finish their schools they have a chance to enter a private university using scholarships and such for higher education. As it is since they have been educated all through in non-english they have a terrible time to switch over to english at the higher level of a sudden after spending 10 years in non-english.

    Lingual patriotism seems to me to be a tool to keep the poor in poverty. Deny them English and make them feel patriotic about it too and they will be denied higher education because of that choice and thus they will be denied a chance at prosperity. While the rich will of course educate themselves in English as a matter of course.

    “I cannot invent everything!”

    Sure you can’t. You can’t invent ANYTHING. To invent you must learn what has been invented already which you cant do because the details of what is already invented is in English. It has to be translated and by the time you finish the translation, more has been invented and now you have to translate that too and by the time you finish that translation even more has been invented.

    We Indians are not interested in science, in research, in inventing things. All we are interested is in taking credit for our country/language/religion/ancestors/history and propping up dead languages and doing chest thumping at our (borrowed from ancestors) greatness.

    “I have no problem with English!

    It is the mis-appropriation of my tax dollars that grates. ”

    Last time I checked our currency was the rupee?

    “And to support a language that a few bureaucrats, ‘intellectuals’, politicians sitting on high chairs and tables decide is good for the ‘ignorant’ masses! That rankles!”

    The government found it easy to switch over primary education to non-english because translating school level science is easy but they have not been able to switch over higher education to non-english not because they haven’t tried but because they CANT.

    ” When sanskrit, hindi (you seem to conveniently drop these two out of the fallen list), latin, greek, persian, arabic, spanish were at their heights there was no mass communication, there was no internet, there was no science to speak of (not a thimble ful compared to what science we have now).

    Well – I thought you were not interested in history! Hence, I will not expand on why Hindi and Sanskrit are not ‘fallen’ languages!”

    Persion, Greek, Arabic, Spanish, Urdu also will claim they are not ‘fallen’ languages. Sanskrit is as dead as latin. Name a state in our glorious country that speaks sanskrit and whose state language is sanskrit?

    Besides Urdu that you have listed as a fallen language is just hindi using arabic script. Non hindus to whom the word hindi is unpalatable because it sounds like hindu call their hindi “urdu”. (I know hindi and urdu have lots of common words because as part of my job I studied 64 human languages to create a phonetic editor, not deeply but enough to learn the characters and some words. I have also studied four hundred computer languages. Aint I lazy?)

    “The best example of that is Hindi and Tamil. Technology and economic liberalization gave a huge boost to Hindi and Tamil TV media channels. As a result, these two languages, for instance, no longer need any ‘promotion’ by Government. ”

    Are you kidding? I don’t know about hindii but the tamil government takes great pains to promote tamil among the poor misguided poor. They charge to teach in english which only the middle class take advantage of. They don’t charge anything to teach in tamil which is entirely used by the poor who keep themselves poor by denying themselves higher education by the promotion of tamil by the government. Besides hindi tried to impose itself in tamil nadu and with our great tamil patriotism we repelled the imposition of hindi. Ha ha. Repelling of foreign language on smaller scale. The reason I didn’t learn hindi well at school was because we had a tamil fanatic teacher who was always ranting against the evil languages hindi and english. As a kid I swallowed his bullshit and neglected my hindi studies (much to my regret now). But I picked up english despite his rantings because I was interested in science and much of science is in english. So do you see the danger of lingual fanaticism. It prevents the people from learning other languages even though those languages may be useful.

    ” esides India is worlds largest English country now. More indians know English than the entire population of US-UK-Aus.

    Wrong again! Please check the stats that I have attached in one of my posts.”

    Single language countries have a terrible time in embracing english because of their lingual patriotism but multi language countries like ours make it easier to embrace english. It is just one more language out of many and if it will give us scientific boost we the indians should have no trouble in embracing english at least for science and maths subjects. Think about it. Whats wrong with education of only these two subjects in English. We can switch over all other subjects like History, social studies, humanities etc etc to our languages but keep English because it will make our science the world’s best.

    “And the English language soaps and channels (remember Bold and the Beautiful) are in survival mode”

    Are you dreaming? Youtube.com (which has mostly english videos) gets one BILLION (with a capital B) searches a DAY, most of the searches are for english stuff. Besides I don’t have a TV in my home (who still has that outdated uninteractive idiot box when we have got the interactive internet and computers).

  15. Anuraag Sanghi said, on December 1, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Extract from

    Indian education – Stirrings at the margin

    Gandhiji, in correspondence with Sir Philip Hartog, (chairman of the Auxiliary Committee on Education), laid out the the pre-colonial scenario, which has now been buttressed by research by Dharampal, a Gandhian, in his book, Beautiful Tree, Indian Education in the 18th century.

    For instance, Sreelatha Menon, in a post in Business Standard, never makes a mention of Dharampal, whose work is the most authoritative But instead she lionizes Tooley, a (for sometime) IFC-World Bank employee, this research resulted, (funded by the Templeton Foundation) in a book - of course called, The Beautiful Tree.

    You see a problem with taking

    credit for our country/language/religion/ancestors/history and propping up dead languages and doing chest thumping at our (borrowed from ancestors) greatness.

    But, yet, you do not seem to have any problem in ‘borrowing’ from ‘foreigners’. On one hand you think that the whole of humanity is one – and on the other you seem to have issues with ‘borrowing’ from one’s ancestor!

    hindi tried to impose itself in tamil nadu and with our great tamil patriotism we repelled the imposition of hindi

    I support the resistance of the Tamils to imposition – as I would resist any imposition. Why just languages.

    So do you see the danger of lingual fanaticism.

    Yes I do see the danger of fanaticism. The point is do you!

    Indians, earlier pagan, after getting ‘educated’ in English, have become monotheistic and started ‘worshipping the only One ‘True God of English’! Complete and total fanatics about English. Look at yourself. In your book, it is wrong to be Tamil fanatic – but OK to be English fanatic. And I am sure that you will defend your fanaticism.

    Instead what I am suggesting is that language is fluid entity. And Indians need to expand their linguistic basket. No fanaticism at all – about any language at all.

    the government must impose education because no matter how great an advantage the poor need help

    I do not share your warm feelings towards Governmental interference. I see nothing but disaster in that direction.

    I also do not share your contempt and disrespect towards the poor. I don’t know by what stretch of logic, you (or your nominees), derive the right to decide for the poor. I see the poor as perfectly capable and more importantly, have the right to make (even wrong) choices, of deciding what is good for them.

  16. dd said, on December 4, 2009 at 9:15 am

    “But, yet, you do not seem to have any problem in ‘borrowing’ from ‘foreigners’. On one hand you think that the whole of humanity is one – and on the other you seem to have issues with ‘borrowing’ from one’s ancestor!”

    I see no foreigners. I am not borrowing from anybody to make myself feel great. The point was do you want to achieve anything of your own in life or are you going to keep taking credit for your ancestors your entire life?

    “Indians, earlier pagan, after getting ‘educated’ in English, have become monotheistic and started ‘worshipping the only One ‘True God of English’! Complete and total fanatics about English. Look at yourself. In your book, it is wrong to be Tamil fanatic – but OK to be English fanatic. And I am sure that you will defend your fanaticism.”

    I am pro hindu atheist. I have no gods not even English. Unlike you language is of very little importance to me, only science is. My patronage of English is because of my devotion (can an atheist show devotion?) to science.

    ” the government must impose education because no matter how great an advantage the poor need help

    I do not share your warm feelings towards Governmental interference. I see nothing but disaster in that direction.”

    “My submission is that if English is such an advantage, why do you want the Government to support and subsidize it.”

    So your contention is The government must not support or subsidize anything that is of advantage to the people. In other words they should only support and subsidize things that are of disadvantage to the people. Do you see the ridiculousness of that position? It may describe the current govts but it should not be the ideal definition of what a govt should do.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_schools_in_Chennai#Medium_of_instruction

    If you look at the link you will see that ALMOST if not ALL private schools are ENGLISH while almost all government schools are non english. So your assertion that government is imposing english on the people is false.

    What you do not realize is that your government schools that you despise is your ONLY tool to impose Indian languages on the people. The poor go there because they cant afford anything better even though they know that government education in non-english is next to worthless. The poor are not dumb they know which side of the bread has the masala. Given half a chance they switch over to private ENGLISH schools to give their children a better chance. My grandfather was very poor so he joined my father in total tamil medium govt school just after independence. My father had a terrible time switching over to english when he joined college. He had a doubly difficult time because he was also working at the same time pursuing evening college, so he resolved to join his kids only in english medium. Prosperity is a 1000 times more important to the poor than lingual patriotism. And Science is a million times more important to prosperity than any language.

    “I also do not share your contempt and disrespect towards the poor. I don’t know by what stretch of logic, you (or your nominees), derive the right to decide for the poor. I see the poor as perfectly capable and more importantly, have the right to make (even wrong) choices, of deciding what is good for them.
    Reply ”

    Here is a possible scenario of how lingual patriotism will kill itself.

    1) Private schools and colleges are almost entirely english. In fact I don’t know of a single private non-english medium school or college.

    2) You can’t dictate anything to the private. You cant make royal decrees mandating them to teach Indian languages, a) they will simply ignore you b) they will tie up the royal decree in courts. c) the indian electorate has a record of severely punishing autocratic govts that issue royal decrees.

    3) The government schools are almost the ONLY reason that non-english medium is still alive.

    4) India is rapidly coming out of poverty. Within say 50 years there will be NO poor peole left in India. Already they are a minority. And this is happening because of science and not because of any language or a belief in the greatness of our ancestors or language.

    5) Once there are NO poor people left there will be ZERO takers for government schools with their useless non-english education and non-english medium will die.

    6) The only way to keep non-english medium alive is to make the government schools more useful by making them teach english atleast for the science and maths subjects. If you (by you I mean the govt) don’t do that the poor will prosper on their own and will owe you nothing. So whether you like it or not the future of non-english medium is bleak unless the govt acts now. But the possibility of that is zero as the govt both at the center and the state both in the legislative and the bureaucracy is filled with anti-english idiots whose stated motive is to kill english.

    So ok if you are still against govt interference go for it, kill off all the government schools you will hasten their death that is going to happen anyway once the poor on their own come out of poverty. I don’t care two paisas if there are govt schools or not they are completely useless as they are now. Destroying useless things like govt schools will free up public resources for better things.

  17. samadhyayi said, on October 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    zakir naik’s islamic research foundation posted your article. because it seemed to be against jews. have you noticed.

  18. samadhyayi said, on October 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    you know if indians were speaking french instead of english. the french would have been the super power rather than america. it is a pity the french are missing on the opportunity. they should spend huge amounts of money investing in encouragin french education in india.

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on October 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm

      Your underlying logic is truer than what most people imagine.

      America’s economy rests on Indian ‘labour’. The fact that Indians are the richest ethnic group sub-group in the USA is more by US design than Indian ‘efforts’. I have given a statistical analysis of how US industry survives due to Indian ‘workers’.

      • A fan of your blog said, on October 4, 2010 at 1:07 am

        Funny how self aggrandizement works.

        My Mexican friends tell me that the US economy “rests” on Mexican labor. If Mexicans left USA, US agriculture would come to a screeching halt and people in the US would not have anything to eat.

        I talk to my Chinese friends and they telll me US economy “rests” on Chinese manufacturing. If the Chinese stopped supplying to the US, all the stores would go empty.

        My Japanese friend swears US automobile and electronics industry “rests” purely on Japanese genius. If japanese had not invested their talent and labor into Toyotas and Sony’s of the world, US would never have seen the electronic and automobile revolution. From what I have seen, Japanese do not even immigrate to the US anymore. They say they created enough jobs and money so that their top talent can come to the US, pay for schooling and return right after to high paying jobs in Japan.

        Koreans swear Samsung, LG and Hyundai are the greatest companies ever that have reduced their cost of manufacturing to half and taken the technologies that the Japanese invented to another level. If their innovative companies did not come to the US markets, US would lose its supremacy in the world.

        And, of course, my Indian friends tell me that we Indians, with our Sanskrit language base, are the greatest software programmers ever. If we did not do outsourcing, the US would not be able to continue their digital revolution and the US would be carrying a begging bowl. We already took so many jobs away from the US, and so many more jobs will be “Bangalored”, that the US is a superpower due to us alone. Look at all the Indians working at NASA and Microsoft and all top US companies.

        And you ask the immigrants of each of these great nations why they left their homes and what brought them to the US. Each one will tell you that they got better opportunities, better work environment and far greater recognition of their talents in the US than in their own homelands.

        Interesting, isn’t it?

        Makes me think why all these “laborers” want to supply their labor to the US alone. Why not supply to their own homelands and make their homelands great? Something I ponder over quite a bit. What is it that makes people want to supply their talent to the US? For all we know, the US is not in the slave trade business anymore. So what is so magical about the US?

  19. samadhyayi said, on October 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    i have been poking you a lot on facebook. you are never logging in.

  20. dd said, on November 30, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Do you have any articles on abolishing the patent system?

    I am entirely for copyright and trademarks but am entirely against patents. I think patents harm the world and stifle innovation. Do you have any thoughts on this?

  21. samadhyayi said, on December 7, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    @a fanor your blog.

    yes. my friends usa is magical. it is the magical land of the native americans. california is sacred land.
    great spirits roam in usa. there is more space in there than the other countries u mentioned.
    thats why i think people go there. but they would go to canada or australia but aussied are worse than usa.

  22. samadhyayi said, on December 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    but also the ghosts of native americans also might be roaming somewhere inusa.

  23. mikemagee said, on December 29, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    That was an interesting discussion between Anuraag Sanghi and dd. For me, dd won the argument pretty clearly, and not because I am a native English speaker, but on the sense in their (ie his or her) arguments.

    Sure we should learn from history. What else could it be good for, after all it is done, finished for ever. But it can teach us something. The present starts now and can only go forwards, not back. So attempting to turn the clock backwards is likely to fail. Yet we can see in history, as the debate revealed, that there are always languages that dominate by common consent, as the language of diplomacy, trade and so on. They are the “lingua Franca”, so called in English because it was one French that served the purpose in Europe, and Latin before that! Various languages seem to have served in India. But they all come into being as common property by usage and practice, and the consent follows.

    That is where English is in the world now. While I have been blogging, I have been slowly adaopting American English because of its greater usage than British English, which I nevertheless think looks and sounds more elegant, even though I know that several rules in English perversely uphold supposedly French roots — it is overcoming upbringing and national prejudice. US English abolishes the false French, whence “honor” (US) instead of bogus French “honour” of British English. It is hard to change the habits of a lifetime, but it is for the common good.

    If India became the main English speaking country in the world in 50 years time, which seems possible, many syntactical structures and words from native Indian languages will certainly have entered English, and the language will look much different from how it looks now. It will be Indian English. Then India will be dominating the scientific and technoligical output. I am assuming civilization will still exist.

    • Anuraag Sanghi said, on January 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Well Mike –

      1. Currently English is a dominant language for now.
      2. Going by the past, for how long will it remain dominant.
      3. Possibly 25 years. Max-50 years.

      What after that!

      • dd said, on June 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm

        “2. Going by the past, for how long will it remain dominant.”

        The past is not always indicative of the future, because the past didn’t have Internet, computers and global reach. These three change the equation in favor of English remaining dominant even after 50 years possibly with the demise of most other languages. Unlike past dominant languages which didn’t have these three. It is like the battle between betamax and VHS tapes. The sony betamax was a superior technology but it never could beat VHS because VHS came into the field first and was able to enter a dominant position. When everyone else is using VHS no one is going to get betamax as it will not allow them to participate in the VHS (dominant) ecosystem. Similarly, even if we concede that some other language may be superior to English, no one is going to learn anything other than English (apart from their native language) in order to participate in the global Ecosystem called the internet, that ensures the further entrenchment of English. Other languages or derivatives of English may become dominant only after inter stellar travel becomes possible and language islands are established once again because of vast distances between stars. Isolation is very important for language development, in the absence of isolation, languages coalesce into the dominant language.

  24. mikemagee said, on December 29, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Typos! “once” French, and “technological”. My apologies when the subject is English!

  25. desicontrarian said, on May 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Fascinating debate between dd and Anurag.

    Monopoly of an eco-system used by human beings happens in other fields as well.

    I can give some examples from the software industry.

    IBM mainframes were one of the 7 systems (including Burroughs, Control Data, Univac, etc).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BUNCH

    All of them had ,more or less equally good operating systems. They all had fair market shares. But then IBM suddenly ran away with market share following the IBM/360 system. It was mostly a marketing success, and not strictly on technical merit.

    Once it succeeded, more and more programmers started writing more code for it, and therefore the platform became richer and more popular. This set up a virtuous circle of success. It became so dominant that competing architectures folded up, merged with each other etc, but could not displace IBM mainframes. A competitor called Amdahl had to licence core technology from IBM, to make compatible mainframes!

    All new practitioners flocked to learn IBM systems, it was extensively taught and evangelized in universities (I learnt it at IIT, Chennai in 1976). It seemed that there was no alternative to IBM.

    Yet, new competing architectures emerged and succeeded against IBM. Digital Equipment Corp. came up with elegant mid-range systems which did well against IBM. Soon the same cycle of virtue started with DEC, and many universities became fans of this system. It had 2 operating systems, VMS and Unix. It had Unix before any other platform had it. Many people thought that compared to the heavy-handed, clunky way we used IBM mainframes, DEC had a lot of ease of use.

    Merely due to technology and more computing power, mainframes became less popular. Today we have more power on our PCs than mainframes had in the 1960s. Mainframes today are more data stores than computing resources.

    The point of these examples is that it is possible to break out of an eco-system, if a set of people have the will. They did not believe that There Is No Alternative.

    If significant number of efforts are launched to write software, compilers, operating systems and core software in the daughters of Sanskrit and the Dravidian languages, we get a good foundation. This is easier to do today because of technologies like compiler generators, which take a grammar and generate compilers. A pAninian programming language and pANini-grammar based compiler would mean that the non-English populace can start participating in it. It can use Indian scripts, and the agglutinative style of Dravidian languages and so on. The language base can be tamil, kannaDa, marAthi, gujarAthi etc.

    I have personally seen a Sanskrit software parser that automatically tags nouns, verbs, tense(past, present, future), person (first, second, third), gender (masculine, feminine, neutral) in natural Sanskrit, and used Devanagari script, This cannot be done in English naturally occurring sentences.

    At least in software, a lot of possibilities exist.

  26. Lloyd Hargrove said, on August 14, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Nice job of researching where all the Jews have gone. At a recent genology club meeting regarding Czechs, I asked the question of how many Jews were forced to become Catholics. The answer was, “Convert them? They just killed them!” The lost tribes of Israel perhaps didn’t get lost so much as they simply lost their language and culture as your genetics study points out, but it seems there has historically been a bent towards eradicating them one way or another by someone, someplace, somehow. As to the use of the English language, why not have it all? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cutting_off_the_nose_to_spite_the_face

  27. desicontrarian said, on August 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Both Hindu and Muslim traditional education was abolished/sabotaged after 1835. Were we not adequately educated before British rule? There are any number of works in Unani medicine, Ayurveda , Hindu and Islamic astronomy, history (Ai-Biruni’s Kitab fi Tahqiq ma li’l-Hind, Abul Fazl’s Akbar Nama), Mathematics etc. India was well-educated and prosperous. Did we have English education then ?

    The biggest illusion created by English education is that everything has to be looked at through Anglo-Saxon eyes. This was the intention of Macaulay when he said that the empire needed a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.

    It is understandable from a British colonial view-point, but why continue with that system 60 years after independence? The reason is we became spell-bound by its material benefits. This could have happened also in Sanskrit, Persian and Urdu, if we had the collective will and inclination for it. It was a failure of imagination by our founding fathers, principally Nehru the Banyan tree – which influenced everything in our outlook.

    All the other problems like caste inequalities, regional divisions, exclusive education, religious and sectarian differences etc were there earlier as well, yet India was well-off compared to Europe. It had income fell from 22.6% in 1700, comparable to Europe’s share of 23.3%, to a low of 3.8% in 1952. Who was responsible for this?

    The European renaissance was triggered only after it rejected the church dogma of the medieval period and went back to its Greek and Roman classics. India, Asia and the non-western world should do the same, revive their classical education, and their languages. Science and technology will get incorporated even without English. It has happened in France, Spain, Germany and Scandinavia. The “English or Perish” model has to be examined for its detrimental effects as well.

    Should we keep in mind the history of appropriation of other cultures’ intellectual contributions by the West?

    Cutting a gangrene in the foot is a well-known life-saving procedure. A gangrene in the nose is also possible, and it may need cutting to save the face, and the body.

  28. desicontrarian said, on August 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Oops. The correct link to Indian Mathematics.


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