NapunsakalinguisticsMany, many days ago, I said to someone that someday I'd like to learn (properly) the Sanskrit and Urdu languages. The reaction surprised me. That person said "why would you learn Urdu?". And indicated that it wasn't what this person considered "ours", and not something that people like "us" be interested in.
I don't want to approach this topic by attaching any "-isms" to it, but however I see, it's hard to call it anything but jingoism. I was aware of the person's political leanings, but the reaction still took me by surprise. I didn't understand how language entered into political ideology at the personal level. What would cause a person to be repulsed by a language, or even think it to be "tainted"? I didn't think Urdu was forced down the populace in the same way English was pushed in Ireland (and to disastrous consequences for the Celtic culture). Is it considered the "language of the oppressors" or "the language of the opponents"? I can't explain the reaction for a member of my generation with a profile similar to mine.
So is the only -ism that applies here to be preceded by the word "jingo"? Anyone who has seen Hindi films over a period of time would have imbibed a fair amount of that mellifluous language unconsciously, right? I'm no linguist and I can't always explain my tabassums and my tarannums, but I don't see why anyone shouldn't feel an affection for the finely nuanced and poetic thoughts that emanate from it. How can anyone wish that away?
From my limited experience, we don't have a great deal of respect for our linguistic advantages and prefer to label & file them away into convenient drawers. This is a fallacious generalisation, but as a thumb rule, I've always thought anyone who knows 2 or more Indian languages is likely to be more "tolerant", or at least have a less narrow understanding of their surroundings. If you could understand Pu La or Tagore or Bharatiyar or Ghalib, wouldn't you stop thinking only your kind has to be the finest?