The Constitution of India has laid down certain guidelines for the preparation of technical terms, language use in administration, and the spread of education through the Indian languages. The Constitution suggests the source from which the new terms are to be derived. Thus, it enjoins upon the Central Government certain responsibilities for the development and spread of the Hindi language 'to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the composite cultures of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule (of the Constitution), and by drawing wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.'
We all know that there are both social and political trends that militate against the dream of the founding fathers of the Constitution. The founding fathers themselves had developed their vision for India based on the practices and decisions that had been tried out by the officials of the British Raj. The British Raj took several steps to bring order to the linguistic diversity in India to ensure better administration and participation of their subjects in the developmental activities undertaken by the government. In this process, sometimes they took steps that denied the legitimate demands of some of the Indian languages.
In this monograph, we present some of the correspondences that relate to the recognition of Indian languages for the purposes of administration and education. The British Raj initiated several programs for the development of the Indian languages as fit vehicles of administration and courts. However, the trend was generally in favor of English. While the government wanted that the native languages should be developed to become fit vehicles of administration and education, the convenience of the rulers from a far off land mattered most and the Indian communities that took advantage of the British rule readily supported such decisions of the government. The correspondences presented here show an excellent insight into the the developing language policy of the British Raj and the Indian educated classes.
We acknowledge with admiration the excellent work done by the Directorate of the Archives of the Government of the Punjab in Pakistan. The correspondences presented here were taken from Development of Urdu as Official Language in the Punjab (1849-1974), published by the Director of Archives (Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry), Government of the Punjab, Pakistan, 1977. This is an excellent collection of the government correspondences on the language of administration, education and courts of law. We believe that such correspondences from the states in India, if compiled and published, will help us understand better the evolution of the language policy in India.
Ranjit Singh Rangila
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The Mughal Rule and Urdu
The Mughal empire that preceded the rule of the East India Company in India was a multilingual empire. People of different ethnic backgrounds with diverse dialects and languages comprised the Mughal empire. The Mughals and the sultans who ruled various parts of India employed Persian and Arabic as the language of courts and administration, but the last few centuries of the Mughal rule saw the progressive emergence of Urdu, an idiom and speech that was an admixture of Persian, Arabic, and Hindi, with Hindi syntax and lexicon providing the base. Urdu was being established as a language of communication during the rule of Akbar. However, it was during the rule of Shah Jehan that Urdu attained the status and recognition of a court language.
The East India Company's Cautious Approach
There were at least fourteen to sixteen major languages spoken in the various kingdoms and princely states when East India Company became the paramount ruler of India. Nearly twenty-five percent of the population followed Islam. There were other significant religious minorities, such as the Sikhs, who followed a language and script that was decidedly different from the language of the court and administration. However, apart from the Muslim population, there were other communities, Hindus and non-Hindus, who also were well acquainted with the use of Urdu. Religious loyalties and linguistic loyalties sometimes went together, especially in the case of the Hindus and the Muslims in north India.
Internal dissensions and lack of any central authority that embraced the entire country marked the beginning of the rule of the East India Company in India. Internal dissensions and lack of any central political power helped the Company acquire Indian territories very easily. The British Raj became bigger and bigger and more powerful with the addition of territories from all over India. These territories were added to the existing provinces. The provinces were only administrative units, never thought of as having any homogeneous culture and language. As pointed out by Hay and Qureshi (1958:3), "India in eighteenth century was a land of rife with internal dissensions and devoid of any central political power. Muslim governors and Hindu chieftains vied with each other for the remnants of the Mughal empire, while most of the population pursued their traditional occupations in relative indifference to the religious or regional origins of their rulers."
Unsure of their own position vis-à-vis the native cultures and languages of India, the directors of the East India Company took a very cautious approach to matters of religion and culture. As far as language is concerned, they followed the tradition of using the Persian and Arabic languages for communication with the natives wherever such languages had been used in the Mughal empire.
Admiration for the Persian and Arabic Languages
Sir William Jones wrote in 1771: "The Persian language is rich, melodious, and elegant; it has been spoken for many ages by the greatest princes in the politest courts of Asia; and a number of admirable works have been written in it by historians, philosophers, and poets, who found it capable of expressing with equal advantage the most beautiful and the most elevated sentiments interest was the charm which gave the languages of the East a real and solid importance. By one of those revolutions, which no human prudence could have foreseen, the Persian language found its way into India; that rich and celebrated empire, which, by the flourishing state of our commerce, has been the source of incredible wealth to the merchants of Europe. A variety of causes, which need not be mentioned here, gave the English nation a most extensive power in that kingdom; our India Company began to take under their protection the princes of the country, by whose protection they gained their first settlement; a number of important affairs were to be transacted in peace and war between nations equally jealous of one another, who had not the common instruments of conveying their sentiments; the servants of the company received letters which they could not read, and were ambitious of gaining titles of which they could not comprehend the meaning; it was found highly dangerous to employ the natives as interpreters, upon whose fidelity they could not depend; and it was at last discovered, that they must apply themselves to the study of the Persian language, in which all the letters from the Indian princes were written. A few men of parts and taste, who resided in Bengal, have since amused themselves with the literature of the East, and have spent their leisure in reading the poems and histories of Persia; but they found a reason in every page to regret their ignorance of the Arabick language, without which their knowledge must be very circumscribed and imperfect. The languages of Asia will now, perhaps, be studied with uncommon ardor; they are known to be useful and will soon be found instructive and entertaining; the valuable manuscripts that enrich our publick libraries will be in a few years elegantly printed; the manners and sentiments of the Eastern nations will be perfectly known; and the limits of our knowledge will be no less extended than the bounds of our empire" (Sir William Jones, 1771, taken from Hay and Qureshi 1958:38-40).
Pro-English Demands from the Natives
"The East India Company, in its initial caution to leave undamaged the traditional bases of Indian society and culture, had decided to sponsor Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit studies as early as the 1770s. Later on when the Company became the paramount power in India, many Indians realized that to get jobs with the new government they would have to learn English, even though Persian continued to be used for official purposes well into the nineteenth century. The more enlightened among them, men like Rammohun Roy, saw that tremendous advantages could be gained by direct contact with the whole corpus of Western learning which English education would make possible, and they therefore raised their voices against the antiquarian policy" (Hay and Quereshi 1958:36).
The British have been using English within the East India Company for all purposes. However, for communication with the Indian people, they tried to use the local languages or a language that had been in use in the past for such purposes within India. However, soon a body of people learned English and, when job opportunities were open with the government, these people who had learned and demonstrated their skill in English got jobs in the government. This created a demand among the Indians that they be given opportunities to learn English in the schools. Slowly demands were made in favor of the teaching and learning of English rather than Persian, Arabic, or Sanskrit. Soon the government began to curtail spending funds on the learning of Persian, Arabic, or Sanskrit.
The Tilt in Favor of English
A momentous decision was taken in the year 1835 by a young officer of the government (he was only thirty-four years), Thomas Babington Macaulay (later Lord Macaulay), that tilted the balance in favor of teaching English and European sciences and technology in the public schools supported by the government funds.
After declaring that "I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the valuation of the Orientalists themselves, I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia," Thomas Babington Macaulay, in his famous Minute supporting the cause of education in English for all in India, argued: "We have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother-tongue. We must teach them some foreign language." And he advanced numerous arguments in favor of instructing the natives in the English language. "In India, English is the language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of natives at the seats of government. It is likely to become the language of commerce throughout the seas of the East." "The question now before us is simply whether, when it is in our power to teach this language, we shall teach languages in which, by universal confession, there are no books on any subject which deserve to be compared to our own. All the declamations in the world about the love and reverence of the natives for their sacred dialects will never, in the mind of any impartial person, outweigh the undisputed fact that we cannot fine, in all our vast expire, a single student who will let us teach him those dialects unless we will pay him .Why then is it necessary to pay people to learn Sanscrit and Arabic? Evidently because it is universally felt that the Sanscrit and Arabic are languages, the knowledge of which does not compensate for the trouble of acquiring them. On all such subjects the state of the market is the decisive test." (from Hay and Quereshi 1958:46-48).
"To sum up what I have said, I think it is clear that we are not fettered by the Act of Parliament of 1813' that we are not fettered by any pledge expressed or implied; that we are free to employ our funds as we choose; that we ought to employ them in teaching what is best worth knowing; that English is better worth knowing than Sanscrit or Arabic; that the natives are desirous to the taught English, and are not desirous to be taught Sanscrit or Arabic; that neither as the languages of law, nor as the languages or religion, have the Sanscrit and Arabic any peculiar claim to our engagement; that it is possible to make natives of this country thoroughly good English scholars; and that to this end our efforts ought to be directed. In one point I fully agree with the gentlemen to whose general views I am opposed. I feel with them, that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population" (from Hay and Quereshi 1958:49).
The correspondences we present and discuss here in this short monograph reveal the struggles that Indian languages had to undergo for recognition from the government for their use in public domains of administration. These correspondences were all written after Macaulay's decision in favor of teaching English in government-supported schools. The people themselves opposed the introduction and/or recognition of certain Indian languages. The administrators, however, took a perceptive view of the demands of administration and argued their cases in favor of various Indian languages ably. Their ideas in most cases were very much ahead of their time, and they laid down the parameters of language planning in India.
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Punjabi, a Modern Vibrant Language
Punjabi is a modern Indo-Aryan language spoken in the states of Punjab in Pakistan and India. Generally speaking, the Punjabi speakers in the state of Punjab in Pakistan are Muslims, but the speakers of Punjabi in the Indian state of Punjab may be Sikhs or Hindus or Muslims. The dominant majority professes the Sikh religion. At present, most people in the state of Punjab in India write the language using the Gurumukhi script. In the past, the Perso-Arabic script was used to write this language. It has been claimed that even the Sikh rulers in the early part of Sikh history used the Perso-Arabic script to write this language.
Punjabi is a vibrant modern language. It is included in the list of the major Indian languages in the Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India. However, in the past, because of religion and such other factors, the status of Punjabi as an independent language and its fitness to function as the language of administration and education has been questioned. Also in the Punjab of the British Raj, seeking recognition for Punjabi meant downgrading the recognition and status already enjoyed by the languages such as Persian, Arabic, Hindi, and Urdu. It was argued that Punjabi was just a dialect, one among the many dialects spoken in the Punjab and adjacent territories, and that the 'dialect' lacked any literature of its own. Scholars, however, lists three stages of development of the language: Old Punjabi (10th-16th century), Medieval Punjabi (16th-19th century), and Modern Punjabi (19th century to the present) (Bhatia 1992).
The recognition of Punjabi as an independent language was hampered also by the lack of scientific and detailed linguistic information on the language. Grierson, writing for the 1901 Census of India, declared that "Panjabi is not a pure Central language. As we go westwards it becomes more and more infected with features characteristic of the Outer Circle, and merges so gradually into Lahnda that it is impossible to say where one begins and the other ends. The line between Western Hindi and Panjabi is more distinct, and may be taken as the meridian passing through Sirhind (Sahrind)" (Census of India, 1961, Appendix III Census of India 1901).
There had been always some ambivalent positions taken in the writings of several scholars. While recognizing the Punjabi language as a language functioning by itself, they also never failed to mention that it is a mixed language. For example, Grierson in the census report cited above stated that "Punjabi, as spoken in the plains of the Punjab, may be divided into two well-marked dialects-the Standard, spoken around Amritsar, and known as the Punjabi of the Manjh or Central part of the Bari Doab, and Malwai, of the ancient Cis-Sutlej Malawa country." And yet all through the report the focus was more on "the mixed character of the languages of Central and Western Punjab (Panjabi and Lahnda)."
The problem was accentuated by the fact that Punjab was the last of the provinces to be annexed to the British Raj, and the conventions that identified the languages and cultures of various parts of India have already been well set, and these conventions always looked at Punjabi as a mixed language.
Grierson on Persian, Urdu, and Hindi
During this period, the government officials and others interested in the study of Indian languages focused on the stylistic differences between Hindi and Urdu. Persian had already lost its place of importance, and Urdu and Hindi were vying with each other to fill the vacuum created by the exit of Persian. Most people in the government thought that Hindustani is the right medium that should be encouraged. They distinguished Hindustani from Urdu and Hindi. Grierson's report on the languages of India for the Census of India 1901 gives us the thinking current widely at that time. In order to understand the correspondences we present in this monograph, it is important for us to first read the comments of Grierson on issues relating to language use in the various parts of India.
Grierson Against Sanskritising Hindi
Grierson wrote in his report:
"During the last century, the introduction of printing and the spread of education has, in the case of some languages, introduced a fashion of using Tatsamas to which the wildest Johnsonese may almost be compared as a specimen of pure English. It has been proved by actual counting that in a modern Bengali work 88 per cent of the words used were pure Sanskrit, every one of which was unnecessary and could have been represented by a vocable of true home growth. In such cases the result has been most lamentable. The vernacular has been split into two sections - the tongue which is understandably of the people, and the literary dialect, known only through the press and not intelligible to those who do not know Sanskrit. Literature has thus been divorced from the great mass of the population, and to the literary classes this is a matter of small moment, for "this people, who knoweth not the law, are cursed." As Mr. Baines says in the last census report, this Sanskritised form of Bengali is the product of what may be called the revival of learning in Eastern India consequent on the settlement of the British on the Hooghly. The vernacular was then found rude and meagre, or rather was wrongly considered to be such, owing to the absence of scholarship and the general neglect of the country during Mughal rule. Instead of strengthening the existing web from the same material every effort was made in Calcutta, then the only seat of instruction, to embroider upon the feeble frame a grotesque and elaborate pattern in Sanskrit, and to pilfer from that tongue whatever in the way of vocabulary and construction the learned considered necessary to satisfy the increasing demands of modern intercourse. He who trusts to the charity of others, says Swift, will always be poor; so Bengali, as a vernacular, has been stunted in its growth by this process of cramming with a class of food it is unable to assimilate. The simile used by Mr. Beames is a good one. He likens Bengali to an overgrown child tied to its mother's apron-string, and always looking to hear for help, when it ought to be supporting itself. Although Bengali displays the greatest weakness in this respect, and has lost all power of ever developing a vigorous literature, racy of the soil, until, some great genius rises and sweeps away the enchantment under which it labours, other Indian vernaculars, especially Hindi, show signs of falling under the same malignant spell. The center of Hindi literature is naturally Benares, and Benares is in the hands of the Sanskritists. There is no necessity as may have existed in the case of Bengali for Hindi to have recourse to the classical tongue. In themselves, without any extraneous help whatever the dialects from which it is sprung are, and for five hundred years have been, capable of expressing with crystal clearness any idea which the mind of man can conceive. It has the enormous native vocabulary, and a complete apparatus for the expression of abstract terms. Its old literature contains some of the highest flights of poetry and some of the most eloquent expressions of religious devotion which have found their birth in Asia. Treatises on philosophy and on rhetoric are found in it, in which the subject is handled with all the subtilty of the great Sanskrit writers, and this with hardly the use of a Sanskrit word. Yet in spite of Hindi possessing such a vocabulary and a power of expression not inferior to that of English, it has become the fashion of late years to write books, not to be read by the millions of Upper India, but to display the author's learning to a comparatively small circle of Sanskrit-knowing scholars. Unfortunately, the most powerful English influence has during this period been on the side of the Sanskritists. This Sanskritised Hindi has been largely used by missionaries, and the translations of the Bible have been made into it. The few native writers who have stood up for the use of Hindi undefiled have had a small success in the face of so potent an example of misguided efforts. Arguments may be brought forward in favour of using Classical Sanskrit words for expressing technical terms in science and art, and I am willing to admit their force. I am not one of those who (to quote a well-known example) prefer "the unthrough forcesomeness of stuff" to the "impenetrability of matter," but there the borrowing from the parent language should stop. There is still time to save Hindi from the fate of Bengali, if only a led is taken by writers of acknowledged repute, and much can be done in this direction by the use of a wise discretion on the part of the educational authorities of the provinces immediately concerned." (Census of India 1901, given as an appendix in the Census of India 1961, pp. 407-408).
Grierson on the Impact of Foreign Tongues on Indian Languages
"The Indo-Aryan vernaculars have also been influenced by languages altogether strange to India. Contact with the tongues of foreign nations has affected their vocabularies to varying extents. The one which has had most influence is Persian, not the old Eranian language of Pre-Musalman times (though that has also contributed a small quota), but the Arabicised Persian of the Mughul conquerors. Thus, through Persian, the Indo-Aryan vernaculars have also received an important contribution of Arabic, and even some Turki words. The influence of the Musalman religion has opened another door for the entry of Arabic, and few have words have also been imported on the west coast from Arab traders. In the main, however, the Arabic element in all the Indian vernaculars, whether Aryan or not, came in with Persian, and as a part of that language. The pronunciation of the Persian words so imported is that of the Mughul times, and not the effeminate articulation of the land of the Lion and the Sun at the present day. The extent to which Persian has been assimilated varies greatly according to locality and to the religion of the speakers. Everywhere there are some few Persian words which have achieved full citizenship and are used by the most ignorant rustic, and we find every variation between this and the Urdu of a highly educated Muhammadan writer of Lucknow, who uses scarcely a single Indo-Aryan word except the verb at the end of his sentence. Under all circumstances, however, it is the vocabulary, and but rarely the syntax which is affected. Only in the Urdu of the Musalmans do we find the Persian order of words in a sentence. There has been no other introduction of Persian construction, nor are the Arabic words inflected (except by purists) according to their own rules, but they have to conform to the grammatical system of their host. So strong is the native instinct against the use of foreign constructions that Hindu writers class a dialect as Urdu, not on the basis of its vocabulary, but on the order of words which it employs. A well-known work was issued in the last century entitled "Tales in pure Hindi". It does not contain a single Persian word from cover to cover and yet Hindi writers class it as Urdu, because the writer orders his sentences in the Persian fashion. He was a Musalman, and could not release himself from the habit of using idioms which had been taught him by Maulvis in his school days." (p.409)
Grierson on the Characteristics of Hindustani
"As a vernacular, Hindostani is the dialect of Western Hindi which exhibits that language in the act of shading off into Panjabi. It has the Western Hindi grammar, but the terminations are those which we find in Panjabi. Thus, the true Western Hindi postposition of the genitive is kau, and the form used in Panjabi is da. The Hindostani dialect of Western Hindi takes the k of kau, but the termination a: of the Panjabi, and has ka:. So also in all adjectives and participles. Hindostani must be considered under two aspects (1) as a vernacular dialect of Western Hindi and (2) as the well-known literary language of Hindostan and the lingua franca current over nearly the whole of India. As a vernacular, it may be taken as the dialect of Western Hindi spoken in the Upper Gangetic Doab, in Rohilkhand, and in the east of the Umbala district of the Punjab. It is spoken in its greatest purity round Meerut and to the north. In Rohilkhand it gradually shades off into Kanauji, and in Umbala into Panjabi. In the rest of the Eastern Punjab the language is Bangaru except in Gurgaon where vernacular Hindostani merges into Braj Bhasha, which may be considered to be established in the east of that district. In the neighbourhood of Meerut, save in a few minor particulars, the language is practically the same as that taught I the usual Hindostani grammars. It is not, however, as the vernacular of the Upper Doab that Hindostani is generally known. To Europeans it is the polite speech of India generally, and more especially of Hindostan. The name itself is of European coinage, and indicates the idea which is thus connoted, it being rarely used by natives except under European influence. As a lingua franca Hindostani grew up in the bazaar attached to the Delhi Court, and was carried everywhere in India by the lieutenants of the Moghul Empire. Since then its seat has been secure. It has several recognized varieties, amongst which may be mentioned Urdu, Rekhta, Dakhini, and Hindi. Urdu is that form of Hindostani which is written in the Persian character, and which makes a free use of Persian (including Arabic) words in its vocabulary. The name is said to be derived from the Urdu-e mu'lla or royal military bazaar outside the Delhi palace. It is spoken chiefly in the towns of Western Hindostan and by Musalmans and Hindus who have fallen under the influence of Persian culture. Persian vocables are, it is true, employed in every form of Hindostani. Such have been admitted to full citizenship even in the rustic dialects, or I the elegant Hindi of modern writers like Harishchandra of Benares. To object to their use would be affected purism, just as would be the avoidance of the use of all words of Latin derivation in English. But in what is known as high Urdu, the use of Persian words is carried to almost incredible extremes. In writings of this class we find whole sentences in which the only Indian thing is the grammar, and with nothing but Persian words from beginning to end. It is curious, however, that this extreme Persianisation of Hindostani is not, as Sir Charles Lyall rightly points out, the work of conquerors ignorant of the tongue of the people. On the contrary, the Urdu language took its rise in the efforts of the ever pliable Hindu to assimilate the language of his rulers. Its authors were Kayasths and Khatris employed in the administration and acquainted with Persian, not Persians or Persianised Turks, who for many centuries used only their own language for literary purpose. To these is due the idea of employing the Persian character for their vernacular speech, and the consequent preference for words to which that character is native. "Persian is now no foreign idiom in India, and though its excessive use is repugnant to good taste, it would be a foolish purism and a political mistake to attempt (as some have attempted) to eliminate it from the Hindu literature of the day." I have made this quotation from Sir Charles Lyall's work, in order to show what an accomplished scholar has to say on one side of a much debated question. That the general principle which he has enunciated is the correct one I think no one will dispute. Once a word has become domesticated in Hindostani no one has any right to object to its use whatever its origin may be, and opinions will only differ as to what words have received the right of citizenship and what have not. This, after all, is a question of style, and in Hindostani as in English, there are styles and styles." (p. 420-421).
Grierson on the Use of the Term Hindi
" Europeans use the word (Hindi) in two mutually contradictory senses, viz., sometimes to indicate the Sanskritised, or at least the non-persianised, form of Hindostani which is used as a literary form of speech by Hindus, and which is usually written in the Devanagari character, and sometimes, loosely, to indicate all the rural dialects spoken between Bengal Proper and the Punjab. It is in the latter sense that the word was employed at the last Census, but, in the present pages, I use it only in the former. This Hindi, therefore, or, as it is sometimes called, "High Hindi," is the prose literary language of those Hindus who do not employ Urdu. It is of modern origin, having been introduced under English influence at the commencement of the last century. Up till then, when Hindu wrote prose and did not use Urdu, he write in his own local dialect, Awadhi, Bundeli, Braj Bhasha, or what not. Lallu Lal, under the inspiration of Dr. Gilchrist, changed all this by writing the well-known Prem Sagar, a work which was, so far as the prose portions went, practically written in Urdu, with Indo-Aryan words substituted wherever a writer in that form of speech would use Persian ones. It was thus an automatic reversion to the actual vernacular of the Upper Doab. The course of this novel experiment was successful from the start. The subject of the first book written init attracted the attention of all good Hindus, and the author's style, musical and rhythmical as the Arabic saj` pleased their ears. Then, the language fulfilled a want. It gave a lingua franca to the Hindus. It enabled men of widely different provinces to converse with each other without having recourse to the, to them, unclean words of the Musalmans. It was intelligible everywhere, for its grammar was that of the language which every Hindu had to use in his business relations with Government officials, and its vocabulary was the common property of all the Sanskrit languages of Northern India. Moreover, very little prose, excepting commentaries and the like, had been written in any modern Indian vernacular before. Literature had almost entirely confined itself to verse. Hence the language of the Prem Sagar became, naturally enough, the standard of Hindu prose all over Hindostan, from Bengal to the Punjab, and has held its place as such to the present day. Now-a-days no Hindu of Upper India dreams of writing in any language but Urdu or Hindi when he is writing prose; but when he takes to verse, he at once adopts one of the old national dialects as the Awadhi or Tulsi Das or the Braj Bhasha of the blind bard of Agra. Some adventurous spirits have tried to write poems in Hindi, but the attempts have been disastrous, and have earned nothing but derision. Since Lallu Lal's time Hindi has developed for itself certain rules of style which differentiate it from Urdu, the principal ones relating to the orders of words, which is much less free than in that form of Hindostani. It has also, of late years, fallen under the fatal spell of Sanskrit, and is showing signs of becoming, in the hands of Pandits, and under the encouragement of some European writers who have learned Hindi though Sanskrit, as debased as literary Bengali, without the same excuse. Hindi has so copious a vocabulary of its own, a vocabulary rooted in the very beings of the study peasantry upon whose language it is based, that nine-tenths of the Sanskrit words which one meets in most modern Hindi books are useless and unintelligible excrescences. The employment of Sanskrit words is supposed to add dignity to the style. One might as well say that a graceful girl of eighteen gained in dignity by masquerading in the furbelows of her great grandmother. Some enlightened native scholars are struggling hard without displaying any affected purism, against this too-easily acquired infection, and we may hope that their efforts will meet with the encouragement which they deserve.
Varieties of Hindustani
"We may now define the three main varieties of Hindostani as follows: Hindostani is primarily the language of the Norther Doab, and is also the lingua franca of India, capable of being written in both Persian and Devanagari characters, and, without purism, avoiding alike the excessive use of either Persian or Sanskrit words when employed for literature. The name "Urdu" can then be confined to that special variety of Hindostani in which Persian words are of frequent occurrence, and which hence can only be written in the a Persian character; and, similarly, "Hindi" can be confined to the form of Hindostani in which Sanskrit words abound, and which hence can only be written in the Devanagari character. (pp. 420-422).
"The great difference between the poetry of Urdu and that written in the various dialects of Eastern or Western Hindi lies in the system of prosody. In the former the prosody is that of the Persian language, while in the latter it is the altogether opposed indigenous system of India. Moreover, the former is entirely based on Persian models of composition, which are quite different from the older works from which the native literature took its origin. Urdu prose came into existence, as a literary medium, at the beginning of the last century in Calcutta. Like Hindi prose, it was due to English influence, and to the need of text-books in both forms of Hindostani for the College of Fort William. The Bagh-o-Bahar of Mir Amman, and the Khirad Afroz of Hafizuddin Ahmed are familiar examples of the earlier of these works in Urdu, as the already mentioned Prem Sagar written by Lallu Lal is an example of those in Hindi. Since then both Urdu and Hindi prose have had a prosperous course " (p. 422).
It is important for us to remember that the observations of Grierson were written at a time when the British consolidation of their power in India was more or less complete. The British officials were looking towards managing the the country as best as they could, based on their appreciation of the religious, cultural and linguistic diversity of the country. Punjab had now been annexed, and it came to the British with the legal and other administrative arrangements that were followed by the powers that preceded the British annexation. The British wanted to continue the existing structure as best as they could, but were not unwilling to depart from the past conventions and practices.
Focus of the Correspondences
The correspondences we reproduce below were written by the government officials and those connected with the government decision-making process. These were written mostly in the last decade of the nineteenth century, a few years before the 1901 census. Grierson who wrote the chapter on language classification and language use for this census focused more on the controversy and competing claims of Urdu and Hindi versus Hindustani. His focus was on the similarities and dissimilarities between these styles or speech varieties. On the other hand, the correspondences reproduced below focus more on the administrative steps that needed to be taken in relation to language recognition and language use in the government offices and in the courts of law. These correspondences focused also on the medium of instruction that should be adopted in the schools run with government funds. A greater focus was on what languages should be taught in the schools. Some of the points that need to be emphasized are as follows:
In an important sense these documents form a response to the socio-political activity that started after the British introduced Urdu as the language of their administration in the Punjab and elsewhere. A demand for education in the Panjabi language written in Gurmukhi script was first made in 1871 in a resolution by some of the prominent people of the Punjab. Such a demand turned itself into a language controversy by the year 1882, when, contrary to the past practices, the people started rallying around Urdu, Panjabi and Hindi as their identity markers as well as expressions of their political will. The year 1882, incidentally, is a landmark year in the field of education in the Punjab. It was in 1882 that the first printing press was set up in Lahore, and in the same year the Punjab University in Lahore was also established. With such swift changes, it is very natural that by 1894, the year of the documents, the British rulers are seen discussing the issues of education and administration, and the language or languages that should be recognized and encouraged for the purpose.
The arguments for and against Urdu or Panjabi in the discussion presented in the correspondences are not just simple discussions on issues relating to education in the Punjab or the use of Punjabi or Urdu language. Rather, the points reaised in the discussion reveal the dynamics of the comparative power positions of various parties and their assertion within the state. The decision that followed the discussion was not simply a decision for or against a given language; it had certain far-reaching socio-political consequences. However, the consequences could not be foreseen at that time. (Or was it already known and hence the push towards a particular direction?) The British officials were seen to be sorting out the issues of administation and education, as a matter of political expediency, but the socio-political consequences would emerge only later on. In this sense, these documents form an important chapter in the political history of the Punjab.
There is a very interesting argument in these documents. Call it a lost argument for Panjabi. The fact that most of the people of the Punjab, except the rulers themselves, spoke one form of Panjabi or the other was of no relevance for the discussants in these correspondences. The language which every body spoke in the Punjab was just dismissed as no language! It is thought to have no literature. One must say that this was gross ignorance bordering on arrogance, because some of the best literature, i.e., the medieval literature, of Panjabi till date was composed much before the inauguration of the British rule in Punjab.
Further, that the agricultural masses did not understand Urdu was also of no consequence. The expressed assumption is that these masses neither sent their children to school, nor did they find the education offered in the schools relevant. Ideally, this should not have been a ground for winning the argument for Urdu, especially if it was considered that the target group of the original proposal was the children of the agricultural masses. If these people did not understand, and did not find the education offered to them interesting or relevant, forget about them; why change - was the attitude and not the argument that won.
But, alas, the creation of the educational opportunities in the Panjabi was proposed keeping this group of people in mind. If one went by a rough estimate that 90 to 95 percent of the people of the Punjab were either directly or indirectly dependant on agriculture, then the intention of the whole exercise in the discussion was altogether different.
That is, seen from the bottom, there wass never any argument either for this or that. And there was indeed no concern for the masses either. One could argue that it was the 5 percent and odd section of the total population of the state whose education was being discussed and bothered about. This was nothing more than sheer political expediency; a simple case of a polity where rulers were just interested in educating a tiny section of the society to create help in governance, on the one hand, and for the convenience of the ruling elite on the other.
This conclusion may be reached even when we look at the arguments that listed the difficulties in implementing the proposal for recognizing Punjabi as the language of administration, etc. In one of the opinions, the official files (records) were cited as the area of difficulty in shifting from Urdu to Panjabi. There is considerable scope to question this assumption as to whether the so called files were really maintained in Urdu, including the ones that the rulers created. The records were known to have been maintained, right from the days of the Mughals in Persia,n written in Perso-Arabic script. But, even if it was really the case that the existing files were to be translated into a different language, there was no reason why this should not have happened, especially if the education of the masses was really at stake. Moreover, if Urdu was not very difficult to learn for the village lads, then the task must have been easy to accomplish this task.
At a different level of consideration, the documents present a grand scheme of privilege creation and privilege gaining: first you learn an unknown language, then you get education in the language, and only then all the benefits that accrue the learning are yours. It is understandable as to why the level of literacy was low during the British rule in the Punjab. By the same token it also becomes clear as to why Panjabi, notwithstanding the script in which it is written, had to wait till 1950 to officially walk into public educational system (see Zaman 2000 for information on Pakistan).
This issue of recognizing or not recognizing Panjabi relates to the contemporary political reality in a very direct way, because the documents may help raising a central question: should the choice of the language of the masses be left to political expediency only? If yes, then how do polities democratize themselves? By denying the right to get educated in their own language, could societies sustain themselves for long? Given the technological advancement it is possible to educate the people though their own mother tongues even if these people are small in number. Will societies be willing to do that?
Many current issues that are being debated in the language planning circles are present in the documents in one form or another. The officials were aware of these problems, and tried to solve these problems in their own way, as they understood the situation before them and as they were consciously or unconscioulsy guided by their interests. Some of these issues are: A language could be created out of some formal diversity. Only that language that has good body of literature may serve as the medium of education. Education should be such that it relates the educated people to the demands of the socio-political reality, on the one hand, and to the advancements of scientific knowledge, on the other. The State has its responsibility towards the education of its masses. In this sense, the documents form a chapter in the history of the field of knowledge called language planning as well, except for the fact that the idiom in which the statements were made is from an earlier period.
The main question from the point of view of language planning is this: Should language planning be geared up towards what may be called the maximization of the opportunity for all to develop, or should it plan for the perpetuation of a few? How sensible could language planners be if they recommend this kind of extreme and intentional syllabus to the contemporary world? Further, even if such policies are made to justify, would such policies last the test of time? Where from should the test of a language planning package come if it is not linked to the societal consequences?
Finally, language planning is also a matter of conscience keeping (see also Nazm Hussain Sayed 2000), both for the ruler and the ruled. If the rules framed by the ruler do not invite the subjects of the ruler to participate in the game of illuminated life-making, the ruler is bound to perish. The power of the ruler does not last long. Every society, howsoever insignificant in number, has its in-built mechanisms to learn and create. If governance proves to be an impetus to learning, the impact is just astronomical.
The correspondences presented here were taken from Development of Urdu as Official Language in the Punjab (1849-1974), published by the Director of Archives (Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry), Government of the Punjab Government of the Punjab, Pakistan, 1977. This is an excellent collection of the government correspondences on the language of administration, education and courts.
Here are the correspondences.
Lieutenant Colonel J. A. L. Montgomery
Officiating Commissioner and Superintendent, Rawalpindi Division
The Under-Secretary to Government, Punjab,
Home (Education) Department.
Dated 1st September 1894.
I have the honor to forward in original some papers connected with a scheme proposed by Mr. Wilson, Deputy Commissioner of Shahpur (now on leave), for popularising education among the masses of the Punjab. Mr. Wilson's paper is written with his usual ability, and is deserving of consideration. I circulated it for opinion among the Deputy Commissioners of the Division, and enclose in original the replies received from Gujranwala, Jhelum, Sialkot and Rawalpindi. The opinion from the last-named district is that of Lala Sagar Chand, B. A., Inspector of Schools of the Circle, and has been forwarded by Mr. Beckett with the remark that he agrees in its conclusions. The note written by Mr. Watson, Assistant Commissioner of Gujranwala, is a scholarly essay on the general question, and specially creditable to an officer who has only been a few months in India. The opinions of Mr. 0' Dwyer and Lala Sagar Chand are also well considered and valuable.
2. Mr. Wilson recommends that
(1) In all Government schools and colleges and in all Government offices only the Roman character should be used.
(2) In all primary schools education should be carried on only in the Punjabi language written in the Roman character.
(3) A committee of scholars should assemble to draw up in Punjab and in the Roman character a grammar and dictionary of the authorised Punjabi language and school-books composed in that language and that character.
3. I agree generally in Lala Sagar Chand's opinion. The same conclusions are expressed, though more briefly, by Lieutenant Douglas, Officiating Deputy Commissioner of Sialkot. The advantages of the Roman character are enumerated by Mr. Wilson and Lala Sagar Chand, and I entirely agree that we should do our best to introduce this character into the schools. In order to make this more popular, we must, as Lala Sagar Chand says, bring it into use also in our courts and offices.
4. Mr. Wilson's most radical proposals are for the formation of a common Punjabi language and its general introduction as the language of the primary schools and of the courts. I think that Mr. Wilson is here aiming at an impossibility. Urdu itself is no doubt a mixed language which was introduced in a manner by order. But it is a language with a large vocabulary and a wide literature. It is also now generally spoken in a large part of India, including the Punjab. There are few p1aces even in remote parts of the Punjab where it is not understood. To attempt to suppress such a language and to introduce in its place a practically unwritten language, with such poor vocabulary would in my opinion be a retrograde step.
5. I join issue with Mr. Wilson in his opening argument. He says that education is not popular among the agricultural classes because it is given in Urdu. The true reason appears to me to be that there is at present no desire for education for its own sake; it is regarded generally only as a means to Government employment. The fact that Urdu is taught in the schools does not, I believe, in any way retard the spread of education. I would go further and say that I believe the change proposed by Mr. Wilson would not be popular even among Punjabi villagers In any case, Mr. Wilson's paper deserves discussion by all officers who are interested in education, and for this reason I forward these papers to Government.
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Note by J. Wilson, Esquire, Deputy Commissioner of Shahpur on Primary Education in the Punjab and the teaching of Punjabi, in the Roman character.
Dated 21st April 1894.
I wish to draw attention to what I consider to be serious faults in our system of primary education in the Punjab, and to suggest improvements.
(1) It fails to attract more than a small proportion of the boys, we wish to educate, and especially of those belonging to the agricultural classes, in which I include not only land-owners and tenants, but also artisans and village menials. According to the Census Report of 1891 only 4 per cent of the boys in the Punjab between the ages of five and fourteen inclusive were learning to write, the proportion among Hindus being 12 percent, and among Mussalmans 3 per cent; of the whole male population only 5.89 per cent were able to read and write, the proportion among the commercial classes being 17.8 per cent, among the agricultural classes only 1.44 percent and among the artisan class only .88 per cent.
(2) It is conducted for the most part in a language foreign to the people. To the ordinary Punjabi village boy Urdu is almost as foreign as French would be to an English rustic. The Punjabi boy is not taught to read the language he speaks, but a language many of the words in which he does not understand until they are translated for him into his own Punjabi.
(3) Although much has been done of late years to simplify the language of the text-books, it still too often makes use of unfamiliar, pedantic words drawn from Persian, Arabic or Sanskrit, which require to be translated into Punjabi before they are understood by the school-boy.
(4) In so far as education is conducted in the Arabic character, it is conducted in a character totally foreign to the genius of the language employed. The Arabic character is suited only to the writing of Arabic words, and is as unsuited to represent the sounds employed by a Punjabi or Urdu speaker in words derived from Hindi of Persian, as the Hebrew character would be to represent English or French words.
(5) Although considerable improvement has been effected of late years in the subjects studied, there is still far too much prominence given to mere literary instruction, and too little to technical and scientific instruction.
In short, we get out Punjabi village boys to learn Urdu in the Arabic character and then teach them Saadi's Gulistan in Persian, which is much the same as if the system of education for English village boys were to begin by teaching them French in the Hebrew character and go on to teach them Virgil's Aeneid in Latin.
The history of education in England affords an instructive parallel. In the dark ages education was given only in Latin, and was confined to a very small proportion of the population. Later on French became the official language, and education in that tongue spread among the upper classes. But it was not until the native English tongue was adopted as the means of instruction that education became general among the masses of the people. Similarly, in the Punjab, fifty years ago, Persian was the official language and the chief means of education. We have now made Urdu the official language and teach it in our schools, and thus attract a considerably larger proportion of the total population, but chiefly those who aim at obtaining employment I our offices. And it will not be until we offer education to the people in their own familiar Punjabi that we shall succeed in inducing the masses to take advantage of it. There are in the Punjab nearly sixteen millions of people whose mother-tongue is Punjabi. Is it to be imagined that we can in the course of several generations, teach any large proportion of this vast number to read and write a language so foreign to them as Urdu?
It may be objected that there is no one Punjabi language, but several distinct dialects. This is true, but it was also true of all written languages before the particular dialect ultimately adopted became specially favoured by the literate. Modern standard English was originally only one of many dialects; so were modern French and modern German. Similarly, there can be little difficulty in adopting some one dialect of Punjabi and developing it into a language which will be readily understood by all Punjabi speakers, and at the same time capable of expressing all their ideas with as little admixture of foreign words as possible.
As regards the character to be used, there can be little doubt that in the circumstances the Roman character is the most suitable. Being a character developed by speakers of Aryan languages, it suits the genius of the Punjabi tongue much better than the Arabic character, which is fitted to express only words of Semitic origin; it does not require so many dots and diacritical marks as the Arabic character; it is easier to write it clearly; it can be printed very much more clearly and satisfactorily; it is the character used in English, which is rapidly becoming the official language and the language of the educated classes. No doubt the Gurmukhi or Nagri character is much better suited to express indigenous Punjabi words than the roman character, but it is less able to express words of Persian, Arabic or English origin, of which there are now a considerable number adopted into ordinary Punjabi speech; it is much more difficult to write and print clearly; and it would never be adopted by the Mussalman portion of the population, while all will readily accept the Roman character.
The adoption of the roman character has been artificially and unnecessarily rendered more difficult by the introduction of diacritical marks and dots intended to make it represent distinctly every sound in the language, and event he derivation of foreign words. For instance, what does it matter to a Punjabi speaker whether Sawar, Sabit, Sadar are spelled with a sin, a se, or swad? To him in all three cases the sound is a simple s. Or again, why should he be required to distinguish between the Arabic letters te and toe, as in tan and talab? To him the sound is the same. Moreover, even where the sound of a letter differs to his ear, there is no more necessity for his having different marks to represent the different sounds than there is for an Englishman's having different marks for the different sounds of the th in thin and in this, or for the different sounds of the u in under and in unit. Thus, although it may be necessary for an Englishman, learning Punjabi to represent the different sounds of the two ts or two ds or two rs by putting a dot below the letter for one of them, no Punjabi requires such help in reading his own language. He does not even require marks to show when the vowel is long or nasalized as an Englishman learning the language would. For instance, if the sentence tittar te bater a turda phar lenda hai, what native Punjabi, who knew the Roman character and was accustomed to this mode of writing could fail to read it correctly and understand it, although it might at first sight puzzle an Englishman? It might possibly be found advisable at all events in printed books, to distinguish the long vowels by an accent over them, and to mark the nasal sound by a circumflex over the nasalized letter (it ought never to be represented by the letter n), but it can never be necessary in books printed in Punjabi for Punjabi-speakers to dot the different letters so as to mark slight differences of sound which come naturally to their lips. If the attempt, in some cases pedantic, in others unnecessary, to distinguish by marks and dots letters which have the same or nearly the same sound be abandoned, the writing and printing of Punjabi in the Roman character becomes a much more simple matter than is generally considered necessary in books printed in that character under the guidance of English scholars.
Again in grammars and dictionaries of Punjabi drawn up under the guidance of European scholars, the object being to represent the different dialects as they really are, many different forms of the same word or inflection are necessarily shown, and the subject thus rendered confusing and complicated. But if one particular dialect wee adopted as the authorized Punjabi language, just as has been done in the case of English. French, German, and indeed all standard literary languages, and only those words and inflections shown which were approved as belonging to that authorized language, a grammar and dictionary of Punjabi would be very much simpler than such books ordinarily are, just as a grammar and dictionary of the "Queen's English" is much simpler than one that takes account of dialectical peculiarities and obsolete words and inflections.
I would suggest that a committee of competent scholars, European and Native, be appointed to determine what words and inflections should be accepted as belonging to the standard Punjabi language, and what should be discarded as merely dialectical peculiarities. In deciding any doubtful point regard should be paid to the extent to which the word or inflection is current throughout the Province, and favour should be shown to the simple forms as compared with the more complex. For instance, the ne or nai of the agent case might be dropped with advantage, as it is in Western Punjab and Mooltani, and wherever a nasal or an aspirate is found to be dispensed with in some of the current dialects of Punjabi, it should be dropped out of the authorized language; and no word should find a place in the authorized dictionary which is not current at least over a large portion of the Punjab.
The language having been thus fixed, a grammar and dictionary should be drawn up, entirely in Punjabi and in the Roman character, without any diacritical marks except those necessary to mark the long vowels and nasalized letters. School-book should be printed in the same language and character, and by degrees a literature would spring up written in a language readily understood by all the people of the Punjab and printed distinctly in the roman character. All instruction in Primary Schools controlled by Government should, without exception, be given in the Punjabi language and the Roman character.
Similarly, all advanced instruction in schools and colleges controlled by Government should be given either in the Punjabi language and Roman character or in English, which is already the language of the educated classes throughout India, and is rapidly supplanting Urdu for purposes of higher instruction and communication between natives of different Provinces. If a Punjabi boy wishes to learn another language besides his own, he will find English a much more useful acquisition than Urdu, and if he has from the first been made familiar with the Roman character he will not find English so difficult to learn as he does at present; and his mind not being burdened and confused as it now is by a smattering of Urdu or Persian besides his native Punjabi his progress in real education and knowledge will be more rapid. Youths who wish to study foreign or ancient languages such as Urdu, Sanskrit, Persian or Arabic should be left to obtain an education in those language in private schools and colleges supported by their fees or by private liberality, and the public monies, which are largely subscribed by the agricultural classes, should be expended only on education given in a form which will commend itself to those classes and be directly useful to them.
There can, I think, be little doubt that if all education in primary schools were given in the Punjabi language and the Roman character, and the school-books were drawn up in clear, simple words ordinarily understood by the peasant, and dealt with agriculture elementary science, geography, history and kindred subjects, in short, if they aimed more at explaining to the mind of the village boy the common objects of his daily life, education would rapidly become more popular, and the numbers of scholars in village schools would rapidly increase.
In this country, where so large a proportion of school boys look forward to employment under Government, it is no doubt essential to the success of the proposed change that the conditions of Government service should altered to suit it. All work in Government offices should be conducted in the Roman character and either in English or Punjabi, the Urdu language and the Arabic character being entirely banished. But if it be admitted that the change would be a beneficial one, neither the Government nor the Education Department should wait for the other to commence it. Both should take it up at once and work for it together.
The change would of course have to be gradual and would take years to carry out. But it must come some day and the sooner the better. If the system of education in the Punjab had been started on these lines forty years ago, who can doubt that education would by this time have been much more general and much more sound than it is? My suggestion may be summed up as follows:
1. In all Government schools and colleges and in all government offices only the Roman character should be used.
2. In all primary schools education should be carried on only in the Punjabi language written in the Roman character.
3. A committee of scholars should be at once formed to draw up in Punjabi and in the Roman character a grammar and dictionary of the authorized Punjabi language and school-books composed in that language and that character.
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The Commissioner and Superintendent
Dated 9th June 1894.
In reply to your Circular No. 48/1293 dated 2nd May 1894, forwarding for opinion copy of Mr. Wilson's letter No. C-29 dated 21st April 1894, regarding the education of the agricultural classes, I have the honor to forward a note on the subject by Mr. Watson, Assistant Commissioner, with whose opinion, as expressed in paragraphs 6, 7 and 8, I generally agree, and to make the following remarks seriatim with reference to the suggestions made by Mr. Wilson regarding the present system of primary education in the Punjab and the teaching of Punjabi in the roman character:
1. Mr. Wilson says that "the present system of education fails to attract more than a small proportion of the boys we wish to educate and especially of those belonging to the agricultural classes." I am not sure that this is so much the fault of the medium of instruction as the result of backward state of civilization. Is it a fact that where instruction is given through the medium of the popular language, e.g. Urdu in most of the North-Western Provinces, Marhatti in the Deccan, that primary education is much more popular than in the Punjab?
2. I think the foreignness of Urdu to a Punjabi school-boy is rather exaggerated. No doubt many of the words are unfamiliar to him at first, in the same way as polysyllable English words are unfamiliar to an English school-boy learning his a primer; but just as the English boy improves his vocabulary as he goes on, so does the Punjabi boy. The Urdu words he learns-where they are not pedantic terms which have useful and simple Punjabi equivalents-are so much gained, even admitting Mr. Wilson's parallel, an English boy's study of French increases his vocabulary and his mastery of his own language.
3. The argument that the language of the text-books too often makes the use of unfamiliar pedantic words drawn from Persian, Arabic or Sanskrit, which require to be translated into Punjabi before they are understood by the school-boy, is rather one against setting up a bad standard of Urdu than one for the elimination of Urdu altogether. The difficult is one that can be overcome-
4. I admit the disadvantage of the Arabic characters. It is a stumbling-block to every English official who has to transact work in vernacular. The substitution of the Roman character would be open to similar objections as regards representation of Punjabi sounds, but would have many administrative advantages from the point of view of the English official. The transition from the use of one to the other in records, files, & c., would be attended with many difficulties and inconvenience.
5. The fact that too much prominence is given to mere literary instruction and too little to technical and scientific instruction is a matter concerning the substance of the education rather than the medium of form through which it is conveyed. The unpractical nature of the education is perhaps the main reason why it has caught on with the agricultural classes. If you ask a zamindar why he does not send his son to school, his reply is that it unfits the boy for the plough. Even some of the most intelligent zamindars, who are most anxious to give their sons a good start in life, think it a wise precaution not to give even the rudiments of education to the boy who is destined to carry on his father's work of agriculture.
Surely there can be no more conclusive proof than this of the unsuitability of the present system of instruction.
As regards Mr. Wilson's three suggestions in his last paragraph I would remark-
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H.D. Watson, Esquire,
The Deputy Commissioner,
Dated 30th May 1894
I herewith submit some remarks on Mr. Wilson's suggestions as to the alteration in the system of education in the Punjab contained in his letter to the Rawalpindi Division. I know little as yet both of the working of this system and of the Punjabi language which Mr. Wilson wishes to substitute for Urdu in its curriculum, but I will put down some of the ideas that have occurred to me in the perusal of his note.
2. In the first place, does he not rather exaggerate the difference between Urdu and Punjabi? The difference appears to me to be mainly one of words; the construction of the sentences and the syntax in general is pretty nearly the same. In learning French one has to accustom one self to new modes of expression and construction, not, it is true, so numerous or so difficult as would be found in earning Greek or Latin, but still enough to puzzle the beginner very considerably. In Punjabi, on the other hand, so far as my studies have gone, you can generally turn an Urdu sentence into Punjabi simply by substituting Punjabi words and inflections for the corresponding Urdu ones, and leaving the construction of the sentence as it was before. This is due of course to the fact that Punjabi is simply a dialectical variation of Hindi (the syntax of which is the same as that of Urdu) and is not a separate language. A priori therefore I cannot speak a posteriori I should say that a Punjabi boy ought not to find it so very difficult to learn to speak Urdu as Mr. Wilson would make out.
3. I would venture also to disagree with Mr. Wilson's remarks as to the Arabic character. The Arabic alphabet with a few Hindi and Persian letters added has for long been the character adopted in written Urdu, and it seems to me to be admirably adapted for expressing the sounds of the various consonants and vowels. The fact that this character has so long been employed with success in Persian also is additional evidence to its suitability for a language in which there are so many Persian words.
It is certainly suited for Punjabi in which there are several sounds which cannot adequately be represented by Arabic letters, but to say that you might as well represent English words in Hebrew characters as Hindi or Persian words in Arabic is surely an exaggeration. There are numerous words common to Urdu and Punjabi which can as well be represented by Arabic as by Gurmukhi letters.
If Punjabi be substituted for Urdu in the Government schools, Mr. Wilson urges the adoption of the Roman character in the place of the Gurmukhi or Nagri. I should have thought the Roman character was very ill adapted to express indigenous Punjabi words, more so even than the Arabic character, which in its 'Aryanized' form adequately expresses the sounds of some of the Hindi letters.
4. But granting that the Roman character is so far superior to the Gurmukhi or Nagri, would the change be so readily accepted as Mr. Wilson contends? I should have thought that Sikhs at any rate would strongly object if, as I understand, the Gurmukhi alphabet was invented, or rather adapted from the Nagri character, by their Chief Guru, and is the character in which the Granth is written. Mr. Wilson thinks that a committee of European and Native scholars might set up a standard Punjabi language which would come to be universally accepted throughout the Province. He says that just as what is now modern English was originally one of many dialects, so a single Punjabi dialect could be easily adopted and developed till it became intelligible to all Punjabi speakers. But I am not sure that the analogy is correct. Modern English can hardly be said to have been originally a dialect. It is, I suppose, a conglomeration of words of Saxon of Latin origin, and it was not developed from one particular dialect, but was the langue of the towns and centers of civilization, the original pure Saxon being considerably modified by an admixture of new words and phrases which intercourse with other nations brought into use. You do not call the language of Chaucer a dialect; his is a well of pure English undefiled and modern Queen's English is its direct descendant. It represents the original stock and modern English dialects are its off shoots that branched off most of them long ago and still retain words and expressions formerly in use in another language, but now obsolete. Since the separation each has gone through many modifications, but he fact still remains that the one was originally contained in the other and was not, as Mr. Wilson seems to hold, a joint offshoot of a higher stock.
5. In Punjabi the case is different. Here we have nothing but dialects, derived, mainly from Hindi, which is little spoken in the Province; there is no one parent language which can be set up as a standard; it must be left to the committee of experts either to select one particular dialect and say "this shall be the universal standard," or to make a selection from all the dialects and insist on that as the true and pure Punjabi language, -- a task of very considerable difficulty. It is as if one were to try and establish a standard English language by taking the dialects of Northumberland, Norfolk, Cornwall, Somerset shire and the London coster, and either saying, 'The coster's is the language of the future; any one who fails to drop his h's or calls a donkey a moke is committing a solicism', or else insisting on every one speaking and writing a language arbitrarily formed by a selection from all these dialects, and so neither fish, flesh, fowl nor good red herring. I know nothing of the various Punjabi dialects, but I imagine that a native of the extreme west of the Punjab would hardly be intelligible to a native of the extreme east, and to provide a language which would be acceptable as a standard to both would be no easy matter.
6. But granted such a language could be established would it be a satisfactory one and capable of fulfilling all the demands made upon it? A dialect has never very extensive vocabulary; it has not many words for expressing abstract or complex ideas. It requires a long course of elaboration and development before it becomes a literary language. Urdu, with the help of Arabic and Persian, has far more capacities in it. If you have a standard language, it ought to be a good one and a suitable vehicle for all kinds of expression. In this case Mr. Wilson wishes to substitute a language which is still in a comparatively rudimentary state and is spoken little by the educated classes for one which ahs reached a high stage of development, and is far better suited for expressing the technicalities of legal phraseology and abstract or complex ideas in general. It would be a very long time before Punjabi could attain to the elegance of Urdu, and it could only be done if at all, by a large importation of Arabic and Persian words which Mr. Wilson desires as much as possible to exclude.
7. And lastly, even assuming that the teaching of Punjabi in Government Schools and the adoption of it in place of Urdu as the official language have all the advantages Mr. Wilson claims, would the change be worth the trouble? The transition would inevitably be extremely difficult. At present all the vernacular files are in Urdu; in future Mr. Wilson would have them written in Punjabi and the Roman character. But, unless Mr. Wilson would recommend having the old files rewritten in Punjabi-an immense labour-for many years to come native officials would have to know both Urdu and Punjabi, and in the schools there must be means of teaching both languages; else how could the administration be worked? When once an official language for records has been fixed on and in use for a long period, it is surely a doubtful policy to throw everything into confusion by the arbitrary substitution of a new language and character unless you can show overwhelming reasons for the adoption of the latter.
8. The chief advantage to be gained by such a course as Mr. Wilson suggests would be that more children would be attracted to the Government schools. On the other hand, I would urge that a child can find no very great difficulty in learning Urdu, that it will not be easy to set up any particular Punjabi dialect as a standard and get every one to conform thereto; that if you do succeed in setting up such a standard you will be substituting for a language that is comparatively highly developed and a suitable vehicle for expressing the technicalities of legal and other phraseologies a dialect that as such cannot be well adapted for use as an official language, and can only be made so by borrowing largely from foreign sources; that by adopting the Roman instead of the Arabic or Gurmukhi character you will not be making a change that will be any great improvement or very acceptable to any one except the English themselves; and finally, that the difficulties of the transition would be so numerous, the unnecessary expenditure of labour so great, and the period of confusion resulting therefrom so prolonged that even if there were no other objections to Mr. Wilson's proposals it would seem hardly worth while to carry them out at such a cost.
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W.S. Talbot, Esquire,
The Commissioner and Superintendent,
Dated 26th June 1894
I have the honor to reply to your Circular No. 48-1293, dated 2nd May 1894, regarding Mr. Wilson's suggestions for the improvement of our system of primary education in the Punjab.
2. It cannot be doubted that, if it were possible to Punjabi the medium of education, our system would be more attractive than at present to the agricultural classes, and would in all probability bring to the schools a considerably large proportion of boys of those classes. Whether the increase would be as great as Mr. Wilson believes is a matter as to which there is room for doubt. It will be along time before education for its own sake becomes popular with the agricultural classes. Meanwhile the change proposed would be a step in the right direction.
3. There would be no serious difficulty in evolving a standard Punjabi for the purpose, though the task would be no light one; and if Punjabi is to be introduced at all, it will be well to make the change through one, and introduce the Roman character as well. Its only serious is the Arabic character, and Mr. Wilson has given good reasons for preferring it to that character.
4. But the change, it is said, would involve the supersession of Urdu by English or Romanized Punjabi in all the Government offices. The difficulties here would be great; the bulk of officials, especially those in the subordinate grades, have been educated in Urdu only, and a coming generation of officials is being educated for the most part in the same way. It is true that Urdu-educated Punjabis would only have to learn the Roman character, and the slight variations of the standard Punjabi from that to which he was accustomed; and for English-educated Punjabis the fresh knowledge to be acquired would be even smaller; but it would be impossible to send all our subordinate officials to school again even for the acquisition of this slight knowledge, and the only other way of preserving their usefulness, while providing for a new generation of Punjabi-educated men, would be a partial introduction of the new language, which could never be effected even after years of preparation without dislocating the whole system, and at least causing very serious inconvenience for many years.
5. Very strong reasons would have to be shown before such a sweeping change as this could be effected; and I venture to think that the disadvantages of the present system have been a little overstated. For instance, Mr. Wilson's argument that Urdu is as foreign to the Punjabi village as French to the English rustic. It is of course indisputable that Urdu does not come naturally to the Punjabi rustic, but he can as a rule catch the drift of what is said to him in Urdu if he chooses to try.
6. One disadvantage of the change, if thoroughly carried out, would be the isolation of the Province, or rather of the Punjabi districts. Mr. Wilson meets this objection by saying that English is rapidly becoming the medium of intercourse between different parts of India, which is doubtless true; but it is surely the case that Urdu is still (and will be for a long tome to come) far more used than English for this purpose.
7. I do not feel competent to give an opinion as to the practicability of Mr. Wilson's suggestions. The difficulties which would be met with are formidable, but should not be insurmountable. At any rate his proposal is worthy of full discussion in the way suggested by him.
8. I regret the delay in replying to this reference, which is due chiefly to the papers having been mislaid by me.
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The Inspector of Schools
The Director of Public Instruction
Dated 23rd June 1894
I beg to reply to your demi-official asking for my opinion on the points raised by Mr. Wilson in his memorandum on education in the Punjab.
2. Before being sent to me the paper was given to Babu Hari Singh and Lala Amlok Ram to criticize, and when it came to my hands I gave it to Lala Sheo Lal, so that the most important points for or against Mr. Wilson's proposal have already been noticed by one of other of these gentlemen. Lala Sheo Lal has also contributed a history, herewith submitted, of the attempts made from time to time to extend the use of the Roman character both in this and elsewhere, which is interesting.
It is hardly necessary for me after this to make any lengthened remarks on the memorandum, and I shall accordingly try to be as brief as possible.
3. The reform in our educational system advocated by Mr. Wilson is three-fold, first, that Urdu should be replaced in our schools by Punjabi, second that the Roman character should be substituted for the Persian character; and third, that more prominence should be given to scientific and technical than to literary instruction in the scheme of studies.
4. The ground on which the first change is desired is that Urdu is foreign language to a Punjabi as foreign in fact as French to an English rustic. Now, with all respect for Mr. Wilson, it is, I think, scarcely correct to say that the relation between Urdu and Punjabi is similar to that between French and English. The former appear to be dialects of the same language; the latter are fundamentally different. An Englishman travelling through France and knowing no French would not be able to make himself understood. A Hindustani making a tour of the Punjab would find few place (leaving out the Pashto-speaking districts on the frontier and some of the hill tracts in the north) where he would not be able to make his meaning known, the vocabulary and the grammar of the two languages being fundamentally the same. And not only do these languages agree in all essentials, the knowledge of Urdu is widely diffused in the Province through social and commercial intercourse, and through it's being the language of the courts. No doubt the last census report shows that only 17 percent of the people speak Urdu, while 62 percent speak Punjabi; but the report does not show what proportion of the Punjabi-speaking population can converse in Urdu also. If such statistics were available they would show that Urdu is widely known in the Punjab; and so great is its influence on the sister language in towns at least, it is changing the character of the latter by modifying its pronunciation and idiom.
While, therefore, it cannot be said that Urdu is as different from Punjabi as French from English, it may be admitted that to a Punjabi lad books written in his own dialect would be more familiar.
5. The question, however, whether Urdu should be replaced by Punjabi in our schools does not depend for its solution upon this consideration only. We have to see whether the change is on the whole desirable, and on this point the weight of argument seems to be in favour of preserving the status quo. In the first place, as I have endeavoured to show, Urdu is not so very foreign to the Punjabi as is alleged, whether we consider its grammar and vocabulary or its wide diffusion in the country. In the second place, the people are reconciled to it. There is, therefore, no urgent necessity for the change, and a step involving consequences of such magnitude as this should not be taken without an imperative call for it. Moreover, Urdu has now become literate; and it would take many years before any dialect of the Punjabi could arrive at the same stage of development. Is the progress of the country to be put back for a generation while a new instrument of thought is being perfected?
6. Mr. Wilson draws a parallel between the history of education in England and that in India. He says: "In the dark ages (in England) education was given in Latin, and was confined to a few. Later on French became the official language, and education in that tongue spread among the upper classes. But it was not until the native English was adopted as the means of instruction that education became general among the masses." From this it is argued that if Punjabi were taught in our schools, the masses would flock to them too.
With regard to these remarks I would respectfully observe that while no doubt the fact of Latin being the language taught in the schools was one of the causes of the backwardness of England educationally during the middle ages, there still more potent causes at work tending to the same result. In the first place, the mass of the nations was at that period quite indifferent education, as the bulk of the people of India are still. They prized only the profession of arms, and did not think much of book-learning. In the second place, printing not having been invented, mass education, or even a large extension of it, was an impossibility then. The same cause prevented the spread of French among the masses later on. And, moreover, mass education was not thought of in the dark ages. Even after English became the official language, the masses remained for a long time sunk in ignorance, and it was only in the last century that people began to turn their attention to the mental improvement of the great body of the nation. Therefore the history of education in England does not seem to lead to the conclusion that Urdu repels boys from our schools. If when Norman French was introduced into England a State department of education had been in existence there, to look after the advancement of the people in reading and writing, and if cheap books had been available French might have made great progress in England.
Similarly, in India the knowledge of Persian was limited to a small number of the people under the Muhammadan Kings, not chiefly because Persian was repellent, but for want of cheap books and for want of an organized attempt to spread it among the people.
I may here observe, to guard against being misunderstood, that trying to extend the knowledge of a language among a people up to a certain standard is not the same as trying to change their language. In India it would be quite possible, for example, to widely spread a knowledge of English up to the Upper Primary Standard, say; that would not be changing the language of the people, but the attempt would be so expensive, and so utterly useless, that it is wise that nothing of the kind is done. (Note: Teaching Urdu in our schools, however, is, in my opinion, not teaching a foreign language.)
7. Holding these views, I repeat it does not seem desirable to make any change in the language taught in our vernacular schools, but the adoption of the Roman character is dictated by every consideration of policy.
As remarked by Mr. Wilson, "it is easier to write it clearly; it can be printed much more clearly and satisfactorily; it is the character used in English, which is rapidly becoming the official language and the language of the educated classes; "and last, but not least, it would enable people to write their petitions in a character known to the authorities, who would be less liable to be deceived by their Munshis. There is also hope that if adopted in the Punjab it might become general in the whole country, removing one difficulty in the way of a stranger acquiring the numerous languages spoken in India. Mr. Wilson's remarks regarding the transliteration of Indian words into the Roman character seem very just. The spelling would perhaps at first vary, but would gradually become fixed, and I see no inherent difficulties in the way of carrying out this change, but it must be introduced into the Vernacular Government offices first. This could be easily done, as it has already been ruled that from 1896 forward all ministerial offices in districts such as those of Sarishtadar, Naib-Sarishtadar, Kanungo, Naib-Kanungo, & c., shall be filled by men knowing English. All new hands would thus be transliterate. And as for the old hands they could learn it in a short time. All that is necessary is that it should be ruled that from such and such a date all writing in the Persian offices must be in the roman character.
The charge need not be necessarily more expensive. You can write very well with reed pens on country paper, with country ink, sitting down on the ground, with the paper you are writing on placed on your knee for a table. There would be no difficulty in teaching this character in the schools either. Transliteration was formerly a subject in Normal Schools, and could be easily introduced in them again; so that our schools would gradually be furnished with teachers knowing this character. And if introduced into the Government offices, it would acquire an importance which would guard its being neglected. Gradually it would be possible to give all instruction through the medium of this character. (Note: Some think that because past attempts to introduce the Roman character into India have failed, therefore, it is proved that the people of India will have none of it. This I do not admit, for it was never adopted in the Government Offices. Its introduction is now advocated on the express understanding that it is so adopted.)
8. The third point in Mr. Wilson's proposal is that the present scheme of studies gives too much prominence to literary and too little to scientific and technical instruction; and he proposes that "the school books should be drawn up in simple words ordinarily understood by the peasant," and that they should deal with Agriculture, elementary Science, Geography, History and kindred subjects. Now, what Mr. Wilson says regarding the subjects that should find a place in the vernacular Readers is very just, but the Department has already anticipated him in this, and the new Readers for vernacular primary schools are written very much on the lines suggested by him. As regards the remark that undue prominence is give in the curriculum to literary at the expense of scientific and technical instruction, it should be noted that for the last 15 years natural Science has formed an optional and sanitation compulsory subject for the Middle School Examination; that more recently Object Lessons have been prescribed for all the classes of the Primary Department so as to accustom the boys to observation from the very beginning, and that especial schools have been established for the children of zamindars (whose education is particularly desired by Mr. Wilson), for which a special course of study with agricultural Readers has been prescribed. Beyond this it is hardly possible to go at present.
The language of the Readers has also been greatly simplified, as Mr. Wilson admits.
9. In conclusion, I would remark that in condemning the present scheme of studies as not sufficiently attractive to the people, especially the agricultural classes, we should bear in mind the following fact:
First, although it is true that compared with the mass of agricultural children of a school-going age in the country the numbers of this class actually under instruction are small, they yet constitute the majority in our public primary schools, and also I believe in the private schools open to inspection, where the education is one the same lines as in public schools: at least such is the case in these schools in this circle. The percentage of agriculturists in secondary schools is low, but this is owing to the latter being mostly in towns and to the fact that secondary education, especially Anglo Vernacular is expensive. The low percentage is no way attributable to the vernacular taught in our schools.
Second, the reason that large numbers are not attracted to our schools is not that our scheme of studies repels boys, but there is yet no general desire for education in the country. Education is sought for by persons from one of two motives, either because to be illiterate is regarded as a disgrace, or because it helps a man to get on in the world. Now, the state of society in the country is not such as to render a certain amount of mental cultivation a necessity for every one, and the bulk of the people follows occupations in which the ability to read and write is not much needed. The classes which live by the pen, e.g., the Kayasths, will be found to be almost wholly literate. The trading classes also contain a large proportion of men who can read, write and cipher, but chiefly in the Mahajani character, though numbers of them having taken to Government service can read and write in the Persian character, too and know English. But the non-literary classes (as I may call the agriculturists and artisans) are, as a body, indifferent to education.
But lastly, suppose for a moment that our schools are unpopular. In asking for reforms so as largely to extend education, we should remember that even as it is, even with the present very limited demand for education, we are unable to provide adequately for the wants of the country. Local Bodies are constantly complaining of the drain upon their resources made by education, and are unwilling to contribute money to provide more class accommodation, furniture and teaching, power and if the desire for education became general, it would be impossible to provide for it. Even if the numbers were doubled, it would be difficult to make both ends meet. All that is possible with the limited means at the disposal of the Government is being done for the country, and we must not be in a hurry.
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Lieutenant M.W. Douglas
The Commissioner and Superintendent
Dated 6th August 1894
In reply to your No. 48-1293 dated 2nd May 1894, I have the honor to state as follows.
Mr. Wilson's scheme resolves itself into two propositions.
I am in favour of the first proposal. But I think it would be very unpopular, and in order to introduce it at all we should have to instruct both in the Arabic and in the Roman character.
I am not in favour of the second proposal.
1. There is no such language as Punjabi, and it would I think be a difficult matter to construct one which would be comprehensible to all classes. There is no doubt a skeleton of a language talked throughout the Punjab in various forms differing according to race and tract. Muhammadans as a rule enjoy the Arabic character in writing this language; Sikhs, only numbering about two millions, the Gurmukhi character. The nearest approach to literature is the Adi Granth of the Sikhs, which is so interspersed with Hindi, Sanskrit, and Mahratti words as to be unintelligible to the ordinary Punjabi I doubt there being sufficient data for the formation of a general Punjabi language.
2. It is objected that to the Punjabi rustic Urdu is a foreign language. Not more so, I think, than English was a century ago to the Gaelic-speaking Scoth rustic. Similar analogies exist no doubt in the cases of Ireland and Wales. I imagine that in due course of time Punjabi will go the way of the original languages of Britain, though the illiterate condition of the women of this country will no doubt retard its disappearance.
3. Given a Punjabi equipped with ability to read and write in one language, it would be better that the language should be Urdu than Punjabi. The former is the language of our courts, and proficiency in it would at least place the rustic on more level terms with the village money-lender. A knowledge of Urdu would, moreover, be of avail to him anywhere in Northern India, whereas the value of Punjabi would, only extend to this own province. I am in favour of the extension of Urdu instruction as much as possible, but am averse to any additional impetus being given to the study of Punjabi.
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Establishing a Connection Between the Government and the Subjects
In the following correspondences we observe that although the British officials were interested in the use of English as the official language of India and the provinces, they were no less keen to develop an Indian language or Indian languages to function as the languages of administration and courts. They felt that the Indian languages were not really adequate enough to carry this load, but they recognized that it was in the British interest to establish a connection between them and their subjects through the use of Indian languages. They saw the need for the civil servants to learn the languages of the people. Towards this end, they wanted to develop suitable textbooks, dictionaries, and systems of testing and evaluation. They realized that the language or the style used in these textbooks and tested in the examinations was rather pedantic with no relevance to the needs of interpersonal communication. They also realized that the officials, both high and low, would not come forward to learn these languages unless there was some support given to these people in the form of monetary inducements. Then they began to rank the languages in terms of their importance for a province and the functions these were expected perform in various departments. It is amazing to see that most of the correspondents had some firm opinion about the linguistic demands that the administration needed to meet, and the resources already available in the market. It is also amazing to note that the "language experts" among these officials were very critical of the officialese, and wanted that the writings in the Indian languages be more natural, and that the Indian languages develop their styles according to their genius. They were very much against the extremes. Some like Sir Trevelyan indeed feared that if the Indian languages failed to come up to the standards they should have, when used as the language of administration, they would soon be replaced by English.
Most of the correspondences presented here were written around 1864, just seven years after the First War of Independence or Sepoy Mutiny. The correspondents wanted to establish better contacts and communication with the natives. They would love to learn and use the Indian languages, but at the same time they recognized that the Indian themselves were quite willing to learn English, and use English words in their native language sentences. Borrowing from English to the Indian languages was already well set. They hoped that learning English by the natives "would lead to a more complete remoulding of the popular language." While such a remoulding took place, it was all the more important for the British and Indian officials to learn the local languages, they conceded. But the officers who knew the local languages were very few, they acknowledged. Some of them argued that "we ought to renew our endeavours to install the popular language in the courts and offices of Government." Several applied linguistics principles were enunciated and encouraged to be adopted in the preparation of textbooks, etc. For example, consider the following quotation:
"Whenever an English word is better understood by the natives than an Arabic synonym, the English word should, of course, be preferred; and, as between two technical words, one English and the other Arabic, both of which are equally unknown to the vulgar tongue, the English word should be chosen. Every new English word imported into the language establishes an additional link of connection with ourselves and our literature; and it will, at least, be known to us and to the large number of natives who learn English, whereas new Arabic words are known to nobody except to a few persons who have had a complete education in Muhammadan literature."
Similar objections to the excessive use of Sanskrit words were made. Officials declared that it was their policy to develop a common medium that would be understood by the vast majority in the country. We see the roots of the language provisions incorporated in the Constitution of India in these declarations.
Minute by the Hon'ble Sir C. E. Trevelyan, K.C. B., on the tests to be passed in the Native language by Junior Civil Servants in Northern India.
Dated Calcutta, the 25th July 1864.
Thirty years ago I took an active part with others in obtaining the exclusion of the Persian language from the courts and offices of Government. On my return to Northern India, at the commencement of last year, I made particular enquiries as to the course which the matter had taken during this long interval, and I found that, under the name of Hindustani, an official language had grown up which was more Persian and Arabic than ever. At first this seemed incredible, but, on a slight examination, it was easily accounted for. Hindustani is a purely popular language which has few scientific or abstract terms of its own; and as legal improvement and codification advanced, it became necessary to borrow various new words from other quarters. According to the prevailing practice, these were taken from Persian and Arabic and the result is that, with the exception of a few Hindustani verbs and post-positions, we have a language which is totally unintelligible to the people at large. The barrier between them and ourselves is more impenetrable than ever, and the time both of Europeans and Natives is wasted in acquiring an imperfect acquaintance with a medium which has nothing to recommend it, except that, for the present, it is entrenched in the strongholds of our judicial and administrative systems. We are revolving in a vicious circle. The official language cannot be fully under stood without learning Persian and Arabic, and, by compelling our administrators to learn Persian and Arabic, this type of official language is perpetuated. The translations of the code and other textbooks are written in it, and the class books used in the examinations at Calcutta are as near an approximation to it as can be found.
This state of things cannot continue. If some effectual steps are not taken, English will be substituted for this Persianized, Arabicized jargon. The pressure for this change on the part of the increasing class of. independent Europeans is already strong; and since the mutiny, the English language has been studied by the upper and middle classes of the natives on a scale beyond all former precedent. The change from Arabic and Persian to English would be a decided improvement, because the official language would then at least be understood by those who have to administer justice; the natives, would have a stronger motive than ever to learn our language and literature and it would lead to a more complete remoulding of the popular language, which it may be desirable that the country should go through. But, whether desirable or not, I repeat that this revolution is inevitable if the matter is allowed to drift on in its present course.
The state of the official language also exercises an injurious influence on the general intercourse of our civil officers with the natives. Mr. Carnac, Officiating Commissioner of the Agra Division, remarks on this point as follows:
"The official language of your courts, which 25 years ago was entirely Persian, may now be said to be Persian with the exception of the Grammar, which is Hindi; and it is, I think, much to be lamented that the tendency of officials should be to exclude all Hindi words in the transaction of the business of our courts, and in practice to ignore that language altogether. The result is, that officials, in their intercourse with the People, not uncommonly converse in a language which is almost as foreign to the peasant of the country; as the official mother tongue would be; and the number of officers throughout the presidency, who can converse freely either in Bengalee, in pure Hindi, or in the Punjabee corruption of Hindi, form, I believe, but a comparatively small proportion of the whole civil service."
According to every view we ought to renew our endeavours to install the popular language in the courts and offices of Government. For this purpose the study of Persian should no longer be obligatory, which is the view taken by the Secretary of State, the Calcutta Board of Examiners, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Maine, and myself; the codes and other text books should be retranslated on the principle of arriving at the nearest possible approximation to the popular language; and the selection of class books for students in the languages should be similarly revised.
Up to the present time, whenever a legal term was wanted which the ordinary language could not supply, it was taken, as a matter of course, from Arabic, even if there were familiar English terms in general use. This pedantic practice ought to cease. The great merit, of the Hindustani language is that it affords a medium which admits of the easy and unlimited assimilation of foreign words, from whatever source they may be derived. It is in this respect, like our own composite English, when it began to be powerfully acted upon by Norman French. So far from being opposed to the introduction of English words, the natives are decidedly favourable to it. It is natural that they should be so. It is of the utmost importance to them to be understood by those who have the determination of their interests. When they particularly wish to be intelligible, they constantly use English terms; and it is interesting to observe that a class of words which have a peculiar significance in connection with Christian morality, such as "character, "Conscience," "duty," "honour," & c., has come into use.
Whenever an English word is better understood by the natives than an Arabic synonym, the English word should, of course, be preferred; and, as between two technical words, one English and the other Arabic, both of which are equally unknown to the vulgar tongue, the English word should be chosen. Every new English word imported into the language establishes an additional link of connection with ourselves and our literature; and it will, at least, be known to us and to the large number of natives who learn English, whereas new Arabic words are known to nobody except to a few persons who have had a complete education in Muhammadan literature. When the existing official obstructions are removed, Hindustani will absorb English words faster than it ever did Arabic and Persian, because we have the advantage of a popular system of English education. The Bengalee language is rapidly undergoing this process.
As regards class books for students in the language, there has been a great deal of unnecessary difficulty made in reference to the diversity of dialects. If a person approaches the subject with a Persian or Arabic standard fixed in his mind, he accepts the Bagh-o-Bahar and Ikhwan-us-Safa as works of authority; while others, who take the Sanscrit line, exclude every Arabic and Persian word, as has been done in the Prem Sagar. None of these books, however, arc written in the language of the People, and they are intelligible only to very limited classes. But there is a common language of daily life which is understood by every body, both high and low. Hitherto the Missionaries have been almost alone in the cultivation of this popular common medium; and the Hindustani translation of the New Testament, which was originally written by Henry Martin in high-flown Persianized Hindustani, and has since been tone down by successive revisions, till it has been conformed to the language actually spoken by the People, is, perhaps, the best model of this standard Hindustani. As observed by Mr. Cust, the familiar parts of the New Testament are, owing to the beauty and simplicity of the style, the best text book for a person who is beginning to learn a new language, especially if he has a previous acquaintance with the sacred scriptures. Our endeavour should be to provide class books on this principle which will approximate, as closely as possible, to the language which will be most generally intelligible.
It is one of the advantages of our position in India that one simple, flexible language is more or less understood in every part of the continent, with no greater differences of dialect than prevail in different parts of the United Kingdom. It is obviously our policy to favour the development of this common medium. No language was ever successfully cultivated by learning it in its component parts. It is only when a language begins to be studied for its own sake, and when a demand has been created for good books in the form in which it is most commonly spoken, that real improvement commences.
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One Army, One Language
The correspondences presented below deal with the policy of British Raj regarding the need for and recognition of a common language for the British Indian Army. These correspondences took place around 1864. Hindustani was accepted as the common medium in military life for all India. However, the phrase used was Hindustani, or Urdu (camp) language. We saw earlier that a distinction between Hindustani and Urdu had been made in some of the correspondences. The recommendation given by Sir Trevelyan stoutly rejects the proposal that Hindi and Urdu are distinct languages. It made a concession to the southern India that "In reference to the South of India, the objections to Hindi have increased force, because the basis for such an innovation is entirely wanting there." However, this observation seemed to have been made on the assumption that the officials serving in south India might not be required to serve in north India: "The waste of time which would be caused by every officer having to learn a new language and character, would not be compensated by any advantage that might be gained in the few cases in which Madras officers might be employed in Northern India." The common medium would be taught using the Roman character.
Minute by the Hon'ble Sir C. E. Trevelyan, K.C.B., on the tests to be passed by Military Officers in the Native language.
Several important principles have been established by the valuable labours of this Committee.
1st-That the Hindustani, or Urdu, (camp) language shall be finally adopted as the common medium in military life for all India.
2nd - That there shall be only two standards, one in which all military officers will have to pass, and another higher one in which those will have to pass who aspire to special employment; and
3rd-These standards shall apply to every part of India.
But, even in reference to Northern India, a mistake has, in my opinion, been made in proposing to establish a distinction between Urdu and Hindi. There is one common language which is spoken in our camps and bazaars, and is understood, more or less, by everybody, high and low, in town and country. This popular dialect is as far removed from the high-flown Persian diction of the Bagh-o-Bahar, as it is from the pedantic Sanscritized idiom of the Prem Sagar, from which even the Persian and Arabic words in most ordinary daily use have been carefully eliminated. These books were written in languages manufactured by the Moonshees and Pundits of Fort William, according to certain ideal standards of former days. They are unintelligible to the body of the People; and, after passing the examination, a student is still unable to communicate freely with them. I have already recommended, in reference to the Civil Department, that class books should be selected or composed approximating, as nearly as possible, to that common Hindustani or Urdu language, which is understood and spoken in every part of India; and as I have no new reasons to give, I will merely annex a copy of my Minute on the subject.
In reference to the South of India, the objections to Hindi have increased force, because the basis for such an innovation is entirely wanting there. The languages spoken by the People are Tamil, Telegu, Canarese, Malayalim, which, although cognate among themselves, belong to an entirely different class from Hindi. Urdu has been extensively introduced through the Muhammadan soldiery of Hyderabad and Mysore, and latterly through our own military; but Hindi has no existence south of the Nerbudda. The objections of the Madras officers are, therefore, quite sound. The waste of time which would be caused by every officer having to learn a new language and character, would not be compensated by any advantage that might be gained in the few cases in which Madras officers might be employed in Northern India.
According to my view, therefore, although there would be two standards for all India, there should be only one language, and that language should be the one which is understood by our native soldiers in every part of India, and which is more generally intelligible to the rest of the population than any other. If we wish to encourage our officers to become good practical linguists, we ought to make it as easy as possible to them, and to give them the same facilities as we have at home in learning French, Italian, or any other language in which there are many dialects but only one standard. The roundabout, pedantic, elaborate manner in which the native languages are taught, even for the commonest colloquial purposes, is one of the remaining weak points of the old system, and after all, this circumlocutory process is not so effective as the direct and positive instruction given in every other similar case.
*** *** ***
Notes by the Benares and Mirzapore Missionaries, on the revision of the Hindustani class books.
Mr. M. A. Sherring
Messrs. Smyth, Leupolt and Fuchs.
Dated Nil, April and May 1864.
The accompanying papers have been sent by Sir C. Trevelyan to Mather, together with a letter which I send on to you, having erased Mather's letter to me, written upon it. Please read the papers, and return them, and Sir C. Trevelyan's letter to me, and kindly write your views upon the query at the close of the letter.
Note by Mr. Fuchs.
I am glad to see the language of the Urdu New Testament recognized in high quarters as the language of the people of the North-West Provinces, and am of opinion, that for the improvement of class books, its simple easy language should be as closely adhered to as the subject matter would allow; but I am afraid, that for many years yet to come, great difficulties will be met with in writing scientific works, on account of the deficiency or almost absence of a fixed and well understood terminology, for which either the Sanscrit or Arabic and Persian must be had recourse to. In the course of time all the terms will be fixed and clearly understood, and the present difficulty disappear.
*** *** ***
Note by Mr. M. A. Sherring.
I cannot agree with Mr. Smyth that the books he mentions would be suitable for the object intended, inasmuch as they are not on general subjects, but are theological books, full of theological terms, and destitute of a vast number of terms and phrases in common use.
For colloquial Hindi couched in good language, I would suggest Pandit Badri Lal's translation of Robinson Crusoe into Hindi. The style of this book is excellent.
I am unable to suggest a good Urdu book.
But would it not be better to regard the colloquial language of the people as a mixture of the Hindi and Urdu, as in fact it really is, and to substitute, except Honours, an examination in Hindi and Urdu, as found blended together in books now being issued from the press in more places than one, for an examination in these languages separately? All Baboo Shiva Prashad's own books are, I believe without exception, in this mixed dialect; and no one can say that they are not idiomatic. He is just bringing out a brief history of India in the same mixed language. The 'Mammalia' now being printed in the Mirzapore Press and translated under the Superintendence of Pandit Badri Lal before alluded to, who is one of the Hindi Pandits of the Benares College, is neither in Hindi nor Urdu, but is in this mixed dialect, the Hindi preponderating Pure Hindi I rarely or never hear, even in Benares. The educated Muhammadans affect a pure Urdu, and according to their learning or vanity, or both, introduce Persian and Arabic words into their conversation; but this is the language of only a fraction of the People. Missionaries speak and preach in the mixed dialect; and I believe all persons who hold much inter-course with the people are obliged to do the same. If this dialect were enforced among the officers of the Courts of Law, and the high Persianized mode of pleading and speaking and writing there, were utterly discountenanced, it would be greatly to the advantage of the natives generally.
*** *** ***
Note by R. C. Mather.
It stands to reason that in towns and cities where Hindoos and Muhammadans live together, hold civil appointments involving the exercise of authority one over the other; or pursue professions requiring habitual trust, or buy and sell to each other, or stand in the relation. of master and servants to each other, there must be a language common to both classes, or their transactions could not be carried out with any comfort or success. That language created by necessity is what was originally meant by the Urdu. The enquiry arises, what language it is, and how may it be known by those at a distance from the people themselves? It is not the Hindi or most of our School Books and modern publications. For all who have had much to do with Vernacular Schools, know that the Hindi of our School Manuals is not well understood, and requires to be explained by Urdu words. Even our Hindi Scriptures, although religious terms are more widely diffused, and the difficulty of their being generally comprehended is less, still carry this disadvantage with them, that much has to be explained in Urdu.
Still the common language referred to, is not Persianized Hindustani. Some high Persian words, but in a corrupt form, have become current amongst the Hindoos, and they are used by them even when words of the same meaning exist in their own language. Yet were any book written in Persianized Urdu, which would suit the taste of the Muhammadans to be addressed especially to the Hindoos, it would create little interest amongst them, just as any work, written in modern Hindi and intended for Muhammadans, would utterly fail of commanding their sympathies.
If these remarks be correct, it will appear that, although necessity united the two classes to that degree, that a common language was produced, yet since then the work of amalgamation has not progressed, but actually receded; so that at present, although Hindoos and Muhammadans in their daily inter-course still speak a common language, yet they rarely, if ever, write it. It was however at first not only a spoken, but a written language. The Baital Pachisi in prose is written in the language common to Hindoos and Muhammadans. The Qisssa Kamrup-Kala, of which an edition in Urdu-Roman has lately been published in Paris by Mons. Leabbe Bertrand, is in verse and written in the same language; and one has only to look up in Shakespeare's Dictionary the quotations made by him from the native poets Mir Soz and others, most of whom wee Muhammadans, to see how many Hindi terms and phrases they used which would be repudiated now. The fact is that almost from the beginning of our power in these provinces, through various causes, the amalgamating process has been checked, and the tendency to Persianize the language has been largely developed. The Bag-o-Bahar by Gilchrist's Mir Anuman was in reality a departure from the previously existing standard. Since then, the tendency to widen the gulf of separation created by separate languages has been more clearly displayed. During the existence of the Lucknow monarchy, a standard or Urdu was originated by the Munshees and Maulavies of that city and patronized by the king himself, so different from that of Mir Anuman's works, that the Munshees generally refused to admit it to be Urdu. The dethronement of the king, and the dispersion of the learned men who had been attracted to the Oude Capital, was a heavy blow and a sore discouragement to all who had taken part in this Persianizing scheme. The Discontinuance of Persian studies in all government Colleges was another and very damaging move I the same direction.
This excessive zeal in favour of the Persianizing process tended, naturally, to create a revulsion of feeling on the part of the Philo-Hindoos, and especially the Teachers of Sanscrit Colleges, and the result was an unmistakable determination to Sanscritize the Urdu. Hence within the last ten years, the cause of Hindi purism has gained many adherents.
On the other hand, the discouraging action of Government in respect to Persian studies has tended to unite the Muhammadans, and to some degree the Kayasthis as originally taught by Muhammadans, into a determination to do for themselves what the Government will not do for them. Hence the late proceedings in Ghazeepore originated by Kayasthis and Muhammadans to found a College for all languages, English with the rest, but Arabic and Persian necessarily. The curious circumstance is that the Sadr Amin Saiyad Ahmad, who called on me on his way to Allygurh, does not know a word of English himself, though professedly so zealous to have it taught.
Similar endeavours are being made here from various motives to get up a School or College for Persian and Arabic and English, but all originate with those who do not know English, but all originate with those who do not know English, which renders the movement rather suspicious. (And here I would say, by the way, that, if left to themselves, little harm would be done, but when a Judge-English and Christian-presides, and a Muhammadan acts as Chaplain, and prays a prayer in the presence of all and for all, the proceeding becomes very questionable if not dangerous).
To return to the subject under notice, it is, in the circumstances detailed, very desirable that Government should complete the work begun, by reviving Urdu as it was at first, a common language written as well as spoken. Were the Quissa Kamrup-o-Kala, which has been very incorrectly Romanized, reproduced in a correct form, good would result. The Baital Pachisi and Singhasan Baitisi might also be re-produced:
Pandit Badri Lal's translation of Robinson Crusoe is pure (thenth) Hindi. In a second edition he might Urduize it. I agree with Sherring that Munshi Shiva Prasad's Urdu is very much what we want; and as he is well educated and a very intelligent man, were the idea given him, and he approved it, he would be the man to edit or even originate (by translation) a series of Classics.
The general question as affecting the language of ordinary life seems to me easy of solution, but difficulties arise when we have to do with abstract ideas and generalizations of science. The modern Urdu, having been more cultivated, is more available and useful when writing on scientific subjects. But were a Terminology established, giving to each word or phrase both a Hindi and Urdu form, the difficulty would be overcome. Dr. Ballantyne essayed a Sanscrit Terminology, but his health failed before he had made much progress. Were this work kept steadily in view, something effective would be done. To produce the original Urdu, the Kayasthis are the persons most likely to be useful. Had Munshi Shiva Prasad been employed to translate the Penal Code instead of Abdul Latif, and had he been told that what the Government wishes is the language common to both Hindoos and Muhammadans, a usable translation would surely have been the light. Common Law Terms should at once be adopted, and the language of the Wakeels and Mukhtars be purified. Much of what is now current is not even grammatical; and from the retention of the Persianized law terms it has the appearance of such a horrible hash, that even the rural Hindi ganwari is to be preferred.
*** *** ***
Some Basic Principles Adopted
One of the correspondents state a basic principle: "There can be no doubt that when a technical or professional subject is under treatment, a special terminology must be employed, and that, that terminology must come mainly from Sanscrit, or some foreign language. But the question of technical terminology is distinct from that of the style of ordinary language, and it is easy to treat even an abstruse - subject with simplicity of grammatical construction, although the terms used, would certainly be ordinarily above the comprehension of the mass of the people. Indeed, it is a fact that the more difficult the subject, the greater the ease of the language which is written."
Another statement was made: "to provide a set of class books, not only free from the puerilities and indecencies which disfigure the existing set, but composed in an idiom representing as nearly as possible the languages actually spoken in our Civil and Military Stations and by the population at large in town and country "
Some of the other important statements that have a direct bearing on the principles of materials production and language teaching are as follows:
" the work should be entrusted to persons who were practically conversant with the language of every-day life"
"This of itself presents a state of society far different from what is usually now met with in India, hence the vocabulary used is also limited and particular. It would be simply impossible now to write an essay on the ordinary business of the court, the camp, the market, or the railway "
"They abound in the following peculiarities which are all borrowed from the Persian, and are not natural to Hindustani, (1) the free use of the Persian form of the genitive case, the words being transposed or constructed with the "izafat," (2) the use of Persian prepositions, (3) the too frequent introduction of dependent clauses in a sentence, and of phrases directly taken from Arabic or Persian languages."
"This is a far more important examination than that by the first standard. It will probably be submitted to by every one who may wish to acquire a practical acquaintance with India and its people in any official relation. The candidate is now required to read and write in two languages; to read MSS in two characters, and to converse freely on ordinary subjects with any educated or uneducated native of India who can speak Hindustani in short to be practically conversant not only with the language of the people of India, but with their habits, wishes, and feelings so far as may be possible. The changes, which we would propose in this examination, are considerable, some tending to simplify it, and others to render it more difficult."
"A junior civil or military servant must not for an instant suppose, that having scraped through a pass examination at college, he is fully qualified as regards scholastic knowledge of the native languages, for any duties that he may be called on to perform. The great exigencies of the public service requiring that young men should be placed at the disposal of the Government at the earliest possible opportunity, alone necessitates the pass standards being kept low; but every officer who desires to be an efficient servant of the State, must remember that in many respects he is amenable to the opinion of the native, rather than to the European public, and that however early he may be permitted to enter on his official career, it is nevertheless a portion of his duty to acquire such a knowledge of the language of the people he has to aid in governing, as will place him in their estimation in the position of an educated gentleman."
"Such a language cannot be created by an edict. But authors in Behar and in the North Western Provinces are even now grappling with the question, and Government, can, by readily encouragement of such authors, and more especially by the organization of its schools, so control the tendencies of current literature, and so help to fix the standard of educated speech, as to hasten this desirable consummation. In an illiterate age, and with no efforts of Government tending to promote the union, it took two centuries to weld the English and the French elements of the language into the national speech of England. It should not take so long now."
Minute by the Hon'ble the Sir C. E. TREVELYAN,
K.C. B., concurred in by the other Members of
the Governor General's Council.
In connection with the discussion on the tests to be passed by Civil and Military Officers in the native languages, I was authorized to submit to the Council a plan for effecting a revision of the Hindustani and Bengali Class Books.
As the object was to provide a set of class books, not only free from the puerilities and indecencies which disfigure the existing set, but composed in an idiom representing as nearly as possible the languages actually spoken in our Civil and Military Stations and by the population at large in town and country, it seemed advisable that the work should be entrusted to persons who were practically conversant with the language of every-day life in each of the two regions concerned; and with the sanction of the Governor General, I applied to Mr. McLeod, the Financial Commissioner in the Punjab, to assist me with his advice upon the subject, and, if the Government should approve, to undertake the Chairmanship of a Committee to be appointed for the revision of the Hindustani Class Books.
Mr. McLeod kindly consented, and the result is that we recommend the appointment of a Committee to assemble at Lahore in November; and to be composed as follows:
Mr. D. F. McLeod, C.B.C.S., Financial Commissioner, Punjab.
Rev. R.C. MATHER, M. A., London Missionary, Society, Mirzapore.
Capt. W.R.M. HOLROYD, Inspr., of Schools, Umballa.
H.E. PERKINS, Esq., C.S., Offg. Depy. Comsr., Sealkote.
BABOO SHIVA PRASHAD, Educational Dept.,
N.W.P., well known as the author of several successful popular books in Hindustani.
The only expense that will have to be incurred, as far as I am aware, is the traveling expenses of such of the Members of the Committee as are not already in the Punjab.
I recommend that the Committee should be instructed to make a preliminary, report upon the scheme of class books they would propose in the Hindustani language, and the arrangements they would suggest for the composition of such portions of them as may not already be available.
After I have returned to Calcutta and conferred with the Lieutenant-Governor and others, I hope to be able to submit a plan for the revision of the Bengali Class Books.
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The Commissioner for revising Test Books.
The Government of India, Military Department No.1
Dated Lahore, the 28th December, 1864.
We beg leave to submit our report on the proceedings of the Commission appointed by His Excellency the Governor General of India in Council in the Military Department, by General Order No. 175, dated 10th September last, for the revision of books for the examination of military officers in the vernacular language of North-West India.
2. We met at Lahore on the 19th December, and have remained together during the course of our deliberations. We had the assistance of Syad Hadi Husain Khan. Extra Assistant Commissioner, and of Moonshis Pyare Lal and Hukm Chand of the Delhi College. We have carefully considered the subjects on which we were instructed by the above named resolution to submit our views as well as some cognate matters, in regard to which we were led by demi-official communications to think that an expression of our opinions would be acceptable. These will be reported on in a separate letter of this date.
3. The grounds on which this commission was constituted were (1) the unsuitability of the existing test books, and (2) the necessity for advice as to how their defects should be remedied, or more suitable books should be substituted.
4. The objections to the existing books are (1) their puerile or immoral tendency, (2) the pedantry of the style in which they are composed. It appears to be needless for us to dilate on the former of these objections, since it is universally admitted that the Prem Sagar, the Bagh-o-Bahar and the Baital Pachisi are wholly uninstructive, useless, and in many places highly immoral in their subjects; but as regards the style we wish to offer few brief remarks. In the first place the language of the Prem Sagar and Bagh-o-Bahar is not (to use the words of the Government resolution No. 734, dated 9th September) "such as is usually spoken in civil and military stations, and which is understood by the population at large, in town and country." The Bagh-o-Bahar is less open to this objection than the Prem Sagar, but in both there may be found unusual or high flown words used in places where simpler vacables would be equally appropriate and more generally understood. Both books would, in very many passages, be quite unintelligible to an uneducated native, and many words and phrases that have now become obsolete may be found in both.
5. The boast of the writer of the Prem Sagar was that every word of Arabic or Persian origin had been banished from his work. This drove him to the necessity of choosing in the first place, a mythological subject, abounding in Sanscrit terminology, and carefully removed from all traces of Mogul civilization. This of itself presents a state of society far different from what is usually now met with in India, hence the vocabulary used is also limited and particular. It would be simply impossible now to write an essay on the ordinary business of the court, the camp, the market, or the railway, which should be couched in language similar to that of the Prem Sagar.
6. Next; to consider in what manner the Hindustani books, now chiefly ready by natives, differ from the correct standard of a pure, simple, and classical style. They abound in the following peculiarities which are all borrowed from the Persian, and are not natural to Hindustani, (1) the free use of the Persian form of the genitive case, the words being transposed or constructed with the "izafat," (2) the use of Persian prepositions, (3) the too frequent introduction of dependent clauses in a sentence, and of phrases directly taken from Arabic or Persian languages. In a word our objections to the Prem Sagar chiefly on the ground of its vocabulary and subject matter; and to the generality of Hindustani books both on this ground, and also on the ground of their corrupt syntax. To us it seems to be a matter of very great importance to preserve in Hindustani the syntactic peculiarities of the Hindi language. However much the preponderance of Arabic and Persian vocable may vary in Hindustani, as spoken or written in different parts of India, the correct and idiomatic arrangement of those words in a sentence is the same everywhere, and hence it follows that any one thoroughly conversant with Hindi syntax, and knowing a fair number of words derived from various sources, will, for the most part, he easily understood by any educated or uneducated Hindustani speaking native of India.
7. If it be admitted that these observations are just, it follows that some other book or books must be substituted for those now in use. We proceed to state the result of our considerations on this matter by taking in order the different standards of examinations as at present prescribed.
8. As regards military officers, this standard of examination, will to a considerable extent, be a professional one; but it will be also needful for them, and still more so for the general student, that they should be taught to express themselves correctly on ordinary subjects, and, as was pointed out by the late Special Committee for fixing these standards, that they should have a good knowledge of the general structure of the language. For imparting these varieties of knowledge we think that a work, in two parts, should be prepared, one containing a well-selected set of dialogues on military subjects and also another set on ordinary matters. The other; consisting of a chapter of an easy work, entitled the Rusum-I-Hind, which will be presently described, and a series of translations in simple language of dispatches and general orders. In the preparation of the book of dialogues, we would avail ourselves, as far as possible, of the extant works issued by Gilchrist and others. This book would be the test book; while, to enable the student to acquire easily and quickly a general knowledge of the Hindustani language, it has occurred to us that a treatise should be composed, somewhat on the plan of Professor Ollendorff's well known works, but avoiding his principle of repetition, which has given rise to a well-founded objection of tediousness being raised against his books. Our reason for proposing entirely new works, as test books for this examination, is, that we have after most diligent search, failed to find any book which is written in entirely suitable language, and of unobjectionable matter. All these books can be compiled by a Sub-Committee under the instructions of this Commission, as will be presently explained. In other respects we would leave the standard for this examination as it is.
9. This is a far more important examination than that by the first standard. It will probably be submitted to by every one who may wish to acquire a practical acquaintance with India and its people in any official relation. The candidate is now required to read and write in two languages; to read MSS in two characters, and to converse freely on ordinary subjects with any educated or uneducated native of India who can speak Hindustani in short to be practically conversant not only with the language of the people of India, but with their habits, wishes, and feelings so far as may be possible. The changes, which we would propose in this examination, are considerable, some tending to simplify it, and others to render it more difficult. First, we would simplify it by not requiring the knowledge of Hindi as a separate language; by excusing the candidate from learning to compose in the style of the Prem Sagar; and by lessening the circle of his acquaintance with MSS. Secondly, we would make it more difficult by requiring him to be acquainted with a larger field of Hindustani literature, properly so called, and with a greater variety of style than can possibly be found in the two test books now used.
10. We have carefully considered the possibility of retaining the whole Bagh-o-Bahar as a text book, and have come to the conclusion to reject it for reasons which have been already detailed. A work seems to be called for, which shall shew the natives of India in their everyday life, introducing scenes of rural simplicity, and domestic occasions of joy or grief, with some interspersed proverbs, a few ballads trite sayings of common use, and conversations between people of different ages, sexes and positions in life; in fact a work, which, while giving the student a knowledge of words and phrases in most frequent use, shall avoid the forced and foolish descriptions of places, supernatural wonders, and other blemishes in the Bagh-o-Bahar. This work is now under preparation by one of the Members of this Commission, aided by native scholars of Delhi, and some specimen sheets of it in the Roman character accompany this report as Appendix A. We thoroughly approve its style, and trust that its completion and adoption may be sanctioned by the Government of India. It will be entitled "Rusum-I-Hind," or Manners and Customs of India. We consider that it is calculated to throw over the whole course of study a homeliness reality and interest which it has never yet possessed. It will contain so large a proportion of Hindi words in the conversations, ballads, and proverbs that will be introduced as to obviate in our judgment the necessity which has heretofore existed for the study of a purely Hindi book like the Prem Sagar.
11. But in order to give the variety of style, which is the next object that we have proposed, another volume will be required consisting of selections (probably annotated) from extant books of good repute, and interesting matter, which in style approach most nearly to the standard style which we suggest for adoption. It is to be regretted that we are not in a position to submit a complete list of the works from which we would propose to make extracts. But a list will be drawn out and submitted at an early date.
12. Again it is proposed to widen still further the field of view for the student by requiring his study of a volume of letters in the ordinary style of correspondence, written partly in the Persian and partly in the Devanagri characters. Such a book forms a part of every course of study in the native academies, and we think it to be very valuable adjunct to other studies. These letters will also of necessity tend to illustrate the national character and customs. We are of opinion that if a sufficient variety of hand-writings were introduced, and the book were lithographed, the candidate would, by the study of it, acquire a greater insight into the distinctive peculiarities of the written characters of the country than he can possibly obtain by the present haphazard mode of selecting MSS. Some of us also have personal experience of the fact that the present mode of examination on chance documents is practically inoperative. Either are such plainly written letters presented to the examinee that reading them is no merit, or else the examiners strain a point in the candidate's favour, and a very stumbling reader will obtain a mark of sufficient merit to pass him.
13. In our judgment the style in which the translations from English into Hindustani should be written should be that of the narrative portions of the Rusum-I-Hind, that IS TO SY SIMPLIFIED FROM THAT OF the Bagh-o-Bahar. This modification will be mainly in the banishment of words and phrases taken from Arabic and Persian, not in common use.
14. We have also given our attention to the subject of the examination for high proficiency in Urdu and Hindi, and have come to the conclusion that the books now used for these examinations in the College of Fort William are inferior to those which might be selected, partly on account of their subject matter, and also as presenting a comparatively narrow field of style. We would propose to substitute for the Ikhwanussafa, a volume of letters of a nature similar to that proposed for the second standard, but approximating more nearly to the style adopted by learned native gentlemen in their correspondence, and thus containing a greater number of Arabic and Persian words, idioms, and phrases. We shall also hereafter submit lists of works from which we would propose to make copious extracts that a volume or two of good selections may be thus formed to supersede the existing test books, both in Urdu and Hindi.
15. We think that all the books used in the first two standards should be printed in the Roman, as well as in the Persian character and that an acquaintance with the Roman character on Sir W. Jones' system and power to read fluently in it should be required of every candidate for the first standard, while for the second standard candidates should also be able to write it from dictation. We also conceive that, with the exception of the Urdu letters proposed for the second standard, all these works should be printed in the Devanagri character also. We would not extend the Roman character to the examinations for high proficiency in either Urdu or Hindi.
16. We observe that in the Government Order No. 734, the Persian character is everywhere named, while in nearly all the books now used as test books and in all the examination papers sent from the College of Fort William, the Arabic type is alone used. This type is foreign to Hindustani, it is never used amongst the natives, and even well educated men find trouble in reading it. The reasons for its adoption heretofore have been connected with the great typographical facilities which it presents, while it has been found very expensive and comparatively unsuccessful to print the Persian letters from types. We have carefully weighed this advantage, which is no doubt a very cogent argument in favour of the Arabic type, and another, is the fact that Grammars and Dictionaries exist only in that type; but we think that both these advantages are counterbalanced by the consideration that the Arabic type is not the one natural to Hindustani scholars, is very distasteful to the native community, and is very much further removed than the Persian from the written hand of the country. As it is very properly required of candidates for the second standard that they should be able to read MSS., the examination is not at all simplified by excusing them from learning to read plainly-lithographed or printed "Nastaliq" character. Moreover, we understand that successful efforts have been lately made to print Persian from types. If this be the case, the main argument against it is for ever removed; and even if it be not so, we think that good lithography cold be made to supply the place of types. Specimens of good printed Persian will be submitted hereafter.
17. It is proper that we should indicate, in conclusion, the manner in which propose to arrange for the preparation of the new works which we have suggested. The city of Delhi is the most convenient place to us for obtaining good native assistants for the preparation of Hindustani books. Two of our members, Lieutenant Holroyd and Mr. Perkins will probably reside there during the cold season, and occupy themselves as a Sub-Committee of this Commission in this work. Lieutenant Holroyd has undertaken the authorship of the Rusum-I-Hind, and the books of dispatches and dialogues, as also the introductory work on the plan of Professor Ollendorff. Mr. Perkins (with some assistance from Baboo Shiva Prasad) will prepare the high proficiency examination in Urdu. These gentlemen will mutually confer with each other, and pass in review each other's work. Arrangements will be also made for placing at their disposal two highly-educated and skilful natives of Delhi as assistants. In like manner the Reverend Dr. Mather, and Baboo Shiva Prasad will form a Sub-Committee at Benares, the seat of Hindoo learning, where the aid of excellent Pundits can be procured, for the preparation of the Hindi letters proposed for the second standard, and of selections for the high proficiency examination in Hindi. It is proposed finally, that the Members of the Commission, or as many of them as can possibly attend, should meet at Delhi in about three months' time to review and finally.. (coordinate) .. the work of each Sub-Committee. It may be necessary that Baboo Shiva Prasad should, in the interim, pay a short visit of a few days to Delhi, and we hope that the Government of the North-Western Provinces may be moved to allow him to do so. He will continue to be responsible for the due conduct of his own official duties during his absence.
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The Commission for revising Military Test Books.
The Secretary to the Government of India,
Dated Lahore, the 28th December 1864.
It has been noticed in our report of this date, that with reference to demi-official communications received by us, we have had under review several subjects, which not specified in the Government Resolution appointing the Commission; but which it appears nevertheless desirable that we should consider.
Details of subjects
2. These subjects are the following:
1. How to establish a good standard for pure, simple, and idiomatic Hindustani in our Government Orders, Schools, and Courts of Law.
2. How to extend a knowledge of the Roman character, and of the English numerals to all Government servants, and to the mass of the People.
3. How far it would be expedient to extend to barristers, members of the Educational Department, and junior civil servants, the prizes now offer3d to military officers, and inducements to study the languages of India.
We proceed to discuss these matters separately.
It has been ascertained by inquiry from learned natives, that Hindustani is still considered to be in a very unfixed condition. There may have been a good standard at the time when Mr. John Gilchrist published his volumes, but that has been to a great extent lost by the modern school of Persian loving Moulvies and pedants, and now the book most admired by this school, is a mixture of Arabic and Persian terms in Persianized syntax, and as utterly unlike the natural language spoken or written by ordinary natives, as can well be imagined. We think that it is of the last importance, to endeavour to attain to a style which shall be acknowledged by scholars as chaste and simple. We append a memorandum (Appendix A) by the native member of this Commission, on the History of Hindustani, which he believes to exhibit the stages of the change that has taken place in the language. We believe that any books which may receive the sanction of Government as its model for style, its test of knowledge, will be universally looked up to; and consider that the same should be adopted as the model on which all public documents should be cast.
4. We cannot but deplore the viciousness of the style which regulates the language of our Courts of Law. The object of the change from Persian to Hindustani was, that justice might become more accessible. This humane and liberal purpose has been almost entirely defeated by the style of the language which has crept in. The deposition of a peasant when it is read over to him, is little better understood by him if it were in Greek, and the very decree which conveys to him his rights, must be interpreted to him sentence by sentence by some one whom he must pay for the duty. This crying evil should be at once remedied. It is not our desire that the language of our Courts of Law should degenerate into slang, or vary with the local peculiarities of each district of Her Majesty's wide dominions. But we do think it to be a duty and an attainable object, to introduce into our Courts of Justice, a language which shall be understood by ordinarily intelligent persons of all ranks. We hold that this language should be understood by ordinarily intelligent persons of all ranks. We hold that this language should be used wherever a Government impress is on the work in hand, that it should be taught in our schools, adopted by our native officials of every grade, it and in every official proceeding or order, and that it should be the medium through which public proclamations, orders, and the acts of the Supreme or Local Councils, are presented to the People.
5. As an instance of our meaning, we append to this letter (Appendix B), a translation in the style which we propose, of Lord Elgin's address to the Hill Chiefs, published as notification No. 302, dated Simla, 30th May 1863. A comparison of this, with the translation published in the Allahabad Gazette of July 7th, 1863 will shew the difference. This order was selected at random. It was the first which came to view in turning over the opening leaves of a file of old gazettes. It is a fair specimen of its class, and would certainly require a great deal of explanation before it could be made intelligible, even to the native gentlemen for whom it was designed, much more to a shop-keeper, and this although it is signed as the work of a Hindoo scholar of great repute and learning.
6. We think that the books which may now be prescribed by Government, as the test for examinations of military officers by the second standard, should be ordered to be the standard of Hindustani for use in the Court, the Gazette, and the school exercise. The principal native officials, heads of the Educational Department, Government translators, and heads of vernacular law officers, viz. Sarishtadars, should be required to see that this style and none other be adopted. There can be no doubt that when a technical or professional subject is under treatment, a special terminology must be employed, and that, that terminology must come mainly from Sanscrit, or some foreign language. But the question of technical terminology is distinct from that of the style of ordinary language, and it is easy to treat even an abstruse - subject with simplicity of grammatical construction, although the terms used, would certainly be ordinarily above the comprehension of the mass of the people. Indeed, it is a fact that the more difficult the subject, the greater the ease of the language which is written. There are extant many works on Muhammadan polemics, which are very nearly in the style which we wish to see, because their authors desired that they should be generally understood. It is the romance and the official proceeding which is thrown into the corrupt style we condemn. As heretofore, the Government as represented by its subordinates, has been the chief offender, so now we take it that it should be the principal reformer.
7. To this end we think it very important that Government should, at once issue a short manua1 of 15 Manual of instruction in style, or 20 pages, containing models of the style which we have been advocating. It should contain reports, petitions, depositions, notifications of Government, translations of short acts of the legislature, or portions of acts, and official proceedings in imaginary cases of a judicial nature. Such a manual is now under- preparation, and may be printed with advantage in the Persian, Devnagri, and Roman characters.
8. All Government officials employed in posts that involve writing, should be required to pass an examination in the manual within six months of its promulgation, and every candidate for such offices should prove his acquaintance, with it before admission to employment.
9. The next subject before us is the general introduction of the Roman character. It is not expedient, and it would probably be impossible to cause the English alphabet to supersede vernacular characters; but we are of opinion that the advantages of the Roman character are so many and great, that a vast boon would be conferred upon the country at large, if Government were to shew its willingness to encourage a knowledge of it. We observe that in the Madras Presidency, a successful attempt has been made to introduce English numerals into Village and Talook accounts; we find that in the Punjab, it is very common for petitions to be presented to civil officers in the Roman character, particularly in cases, where the petitioner is desirous of approaching the officer, without the intervention of native ministerial officers. The experience of many years has proved that the Roman character, can convey the sounds of the Indian vernaculars with the most faithful exactness; it is unrivalled for cheapness of printing, neatness of appearance, and accuracy in delineating words, which in the Persian character at least are 1iable to be often misread, and as the leanings of the people in many parts seem to be towards it, and there are languages in the wilder parts of India, which from having no written character of their own, may at lest adopt it as well as any other, there would seem to be no objection to permit, though we would not enjoin, its use in any official documents.
10. To this end a manual will be required, adapted for instructing natives in the system introduced by Sir W. Jones, with some slight modifications, which have been recently introduced by the principal modern Romanizers. We believe the system adopted by the British and Foreign Bible Society to be the best, but before pronouncing a decided opinion, we should be glad to be favoured with an expression of the views of the Government of India, after communicating with the Asiatic Society. We forward as Appendix C. of this letter, a manual of instruction which was prepared in 1861, by Baboo Shiva Prasad for a similar purpose. That is in the Devanagri character, while the book which we propose would be in the Persian character, but something of that nature is needed, and we wish to know whether the system of transliteration adopted in this treatise or the slightly different one for which we have above indicated a preference, meets with the approval of government. Some authorities are for making the system a purely phonetic one, while others would distinguish between the nearly similar letters which occur in the Persian and Devanagri alphabets by a variety of diacritical marks. Before proceeding further in this matter, we await instructions. The manual should also contain lessons in English numerals, with a view to the adoption of our next proposal. It should be taught for the present in all schools above the grade of village schools, an indeed one member of this Commission who has charge of a large and most important circle of education in the North-Western Provinces, is prepared to introduce it experimentally into every school under his Superintendence, if Government should so desire. He has already introduced it with great success into some normal schools. We believe that these measures would very quickly spread abroad a very general acquaintance with the character.
11. The next proposal which we beg leave to make is this, that the mode of writing figures called "Raqm" should be as soon as possible discontinued in all public offices. It is one of the most inconvenient methods of writing figures that was ever invented. It has all the disadvantages of the Roman system of numbering by letters of the alphabet, and has this additional defect, that it depends entirely on the form given to the termination of the symbol, whether it represents rupees, seers, or bighas, and a very slight turn of the pen at the end of a numerical sign will entirely alter the whole meaning of a sentence. It is not possible to make calculation in this character. Every arithmetical operation is worked out by the system called "Hindisa," or Arabic numerals, which are very similar in form and nearly identical in system, with those used by the Hindoos and by all Western nations. The Hindisa, however, offers singular facilities for being tampered with, and we therefore recommend that Government should use every effort to introduce the English numerals alone into all vernacular accounts.
12. We have been desired to state our views on a proposal to extend to barristers, and we would add to members of the Educational Deptt., and to junior civil servants, the privilege of submitting to the examination for prizes for high proficiency and degrees of honor, as explained in Rules XII, XIII, XIV, of Government Resolution 734, dated 9th September. Although the principle of admitting gentlemen not in the service of Government, to pecuniary rewards for a knowledge of Indian languages is a novel one, still we think that it is of such great importance that these languages should be known to those who are to practise in our Courts of Justice, that we recommend that the proposal be adopted as regards English gentlemen practicing at the Indian bar.
13. As regards the examinations for civil servants, we consider that it would be highly beneficial to the public service, if the liberal rules for military officers were extended to civilians. It can be no object to Government to encourage the slow standard of scholarship, which the pass examinations for civilians in the College of Fort William now require. On this subject, we beg leave to quote the words of the Secretary to the Board of Examiners, as given in the introduction to his book "A Guide to the Examination in the College of Fort William": He says:
"A junior civil or military servant must not for an instant suppose, that having scraped through a pass examination at college, he is fully qualified as regards scholastic knowledge of the native languages, for any duties that he may be called on to perform. The great exigencies of the public service requiring that young men should be placed at the disposal of the Government at the earliest possible opportunity, alone necessitates the pass standards being kept low; but every officer who desires to be an efficient servant of the State, must remember that in many respects he is amenable to the opinion of the native, rather than to the European public, and that however early he may be permitted to enter on his official career, it is nevertheless a portion of his duty to acquire such a knowledge of the language of the people he has to aid in governing, as will place him in their estimation in the position of an educated gentleman."
We fully agree in the views herein expressed, and think that while on the one hand, it is detrimental to the young officer to be kept so long in Calcutta, as he is by the present rules while studying for honors, it is no less injurious to the state to be deprived of his services during the same period. Moreover, some of us have in our own experience, known of a case where residence in Calcutta was so distasteful to a young civilian, that after passing the compulsory examinations, and also attaining to some honorable distinctions, he voluntarily gave up the idea of any further study even for the prizes, which were open to him, in order to enter on active life, whereas, if rules similar to those now published for military officers had been in force, he would have prosecuted his studies after joining his station, to a much higher and more useful degree of knowledge. An additional argument for the extension which we advocate, is to be found in the fact, that owing to a young civilian's inexperience I his work, it is commonly impossible to find for him at first, sufficient official duty to employ him for more than a small part of his time. He has consequently much leisure, which would probably in many cases be usefully employed in study of the languages, if these prizes were open to him. We recommend then, that as soon as a junior civil servant shall have passed the tests prescribed for qualification for the public service, he be required to join his station, and that he should be afterwards allowed to present himself for examinations for certificates of high proficiency, and for degrees of honor, under the same rules and with a prospect of the same rewards, as are now available for officers in the Army.
14. It is also of such great importance, that English officers of the Department of Public Instruction, should have a thorough and scientific knowledge of oriental languages and literature, that we cannot but think that Government would be a gainer, were the same privileges extended to them also. It needs no argument to prove the value of this sort of knowledge in this department. If it be thought worth while to hold out such inducements to military officers, it seems to follow that the same inducements might well be offered to educational officers also.
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E.C. Bayley, Esquire
Secretary to the government of India
Captain W.N. Lees, L.L.D.
Secretary to the Board of Examiners.
Dated Fort William, the 16th March 1866.
I am directed to forward to you the accompanying copy of a Despatch from the Secretary of State, and of its enclosures on the subject of the preparation of a selection of Urzees and other Vernacular documents as filed in the Courts of Justice in the several Divisions of the Bengal Presidency, for the purpose of familiarizing candidates for the Civil Service, previous to their appointment, with the style of these documents; and to request that you will be good enough to undertake the duty in communication with the Governments of Bengal, the North-Western provinces, and the Punjab, who have been addressed upon this subject.
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His Excellency the Right Hon'ble
The Governor-General of India in Council
London, 25th January 1866.
I forward for your information a copy of a memorandum by Mr. E.B. Cowell, lately Principal of the Sanscrit College, Calcutta, and now one of the Examiners for the Indian Civil Service under her majesty's Civil Service Commission, on the subject of providing a collection of Urzees in the different vernaculars of India, for the purpose of familiarizing candidates, previous to their appointment to the Indian Civil Service, with the style of such documents.
2. I am of opinion that the plan suggested by Mr. Cowell is likely to prove very useful; and I have to request that your Government will cause a Selection of Urzees and other documents filed in the Courts of Justice to be prepared in the Vernacular Languages current in the several Divisions of the Bengal Presidency in which candidates are examined in this country, and will have the same lithographed, and copies forwarded to this office.
3. The Volumes should be accompanied, as suggested by Mr. Cowell, with an English Translation and it might be expedient that, in each Volume, a small number of the Urzees should be fac-similes of the originals.
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Memorandum by Mr. Cowell on a Selection of Urzees, dated 9th November, 1865.
The vernacular languages of India can never be studied for their literature, for they have none worth reading; they are useful simply as a means of communicating with the people. Our chief object in these examinations must be the practical one how best to fit the candidates for being efficient officers in their country districts. The language, whatever it be, must, of course, be first learned grammatically and this can only be done by studying the best books which are written in it, but after a time there comes a point where the scholar's and the practical man's knowledge diverge. All these languages have high written style, and also one less grammatical and more colloquial; the former used by the learned natives in written composition, the latter by all in daily life. The high dialect cannot be ignored, some knowledge of it is indispensable, for the colloquial is based on it and high phrases borrowed from it are elsewhere current, but it is of no practical use to study this artificial dialect beyond a certain point.
An officer of government in India finds two main uses of the Vernacular; viz., talking with the people, and reading the written documents presented to him. With regard to the Bombay languages, it appears that the main test of the examinations in Bombay has always related to the candidates proficiency in these two points, and to certain extent it was attempted in the examinations of Madras. But in England we can only expect a very limited proficiency in either. The accurate pronunciation of these oriental languages can never be learned except from a native; and the power to converse comes slowly to most men, as the ear is gradually accustomed to the sounds which everybody is using around; and in the same way the power to read the written character (unless it be very clear and easy) is only given by a great familiarity with the language. The difficulty in reading these current hands arises mainly from the long flourishes, the omission of diacritical dots, etc., and the irregular forms and contractions, which disguise the words even to a practiced eye, unless they can be guessed from the context. If the student has mastered the language, it will be an easy matter for him to master the ordinary handwriting, but not otherwise.
But it seems to me highly desirable, and at the same time perfectly practicable, to accustom the candidate, while in England, to the style of the urzees and other court documents which he will have so much to do with in India, and this very familiarity with their ordinary style and phrases will in itself be a great step towards his reading these documents for himself thereafter in the current hand as they are actually written.
I would recommend that a Volume should be compiled in India by some officer of Government, selected in each Presidency consisting of about one hundred urzees and other similar documents, in each of the seven vernacular languages in which the candidates are respectively examined. This volume should be studied in the fourth half-year, and form one of the text books for the last examination. It should be lithographed in a plain handwriting, corresponding to our copper-plate writing in English, for I do not think that it would be wise, especially at present, to embarrass the student with difficulties in the handwriting. The style of these papers will be in itself difficult to him, coming as he will to them from the classical style of the printed books. I also think that it would be well to accompany each selection with an English translation, to be printed in a separate volume, as the student might thus exercise himself in re-translation, as well as acquire practice in reading the originals by himself.
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Extract from the proceedings of the Government of India in the Home Department (Punjab), No. 134, under date Fort William, the 15th January 1873.
RESOLUTION: The great importance to the administration of a knowledge on the part of Public officers of the languages spoken by the people with whom they have to deal has lately been prominently brought to the notice of the Government of India.
2. There is reason to fear that, especially in the wilder districts peopled by aboriginal tribes, sufficient attention has not been paid to the subject, although it is admitted that constant and easy intercourse between Government officials and the people is essentially necessary to the good government of half-civilized races. An instance has been brought to the notice of the Government of India in which, out of a body of fourteen officers employed in the administration of an outlying district, one only was acquainted with the vernacular, although some of the officers had been employed in the district for considerable periods ranging as high as 16 years, while the character of the district and the condition of the aboriginal tribes inhabiting it were so peculiar as to demand that it should be exempted from the judicial procedure in force elsewhere and subjected to special regulations. From another province a representation has been received, which shows that difficulty is experienced in providing for the administration of hill tracts by officers acquainted with the language of the aborigines.
3. The Government of India now desires that the attention of the Local Governments and Administrations may be directed to this important subject, and that each Government will report how the case stands in the territories under its administration, and by what measures it would propose to further the desired object.
4. The local languages for the acquisition of which inducements have been held out by the Government are:
I. Languages spoken locally within British territory.
II. Languages of bordering frontier tribes.
The rewards which have at times been sanctioned for proficiency in such languages are as follows:
In the Lower Provinces of Bengal.
To any Officer passing in Sonthali, Rupees 1,000.
To any officer in the Assam Commission for passing an examination in Cossyah, Mikir, Naga, Garo, Abor, Bootea, Kamptee Mishmee, Munipooree, Kookee, Cachari or Mugh, Rupees 500.
In the Madras Presidency, to Covenanted Officers serving in the Ganjam and Vizagapatam Districts for passing in Ooriya, rupees 1,000.
These rewards have, however, failed in inducing any considerable number of officers to study the languages.
5. With regard to each local language which is spoken in British territory over so limited an area that it has not been brought within the scheme of compulsory Examinations the Government of India desires to have before it reports from all the Local Governments embodying the following particulars:
I. The approximate area over which each language is spoken, and the approximate number of the population of whom it is the vernacular;
II. By what officers, and in what language the local administration is carried on in the tract in which the language prevails;
III. Whether it can be said generally that, in addition to their own vernacular, the people in question also use and are familiar with any other language, especially that in which the administration is carried on, and with which the Government officers with whom they are brought in contact are conversant;
IV. Whether any difficulty has been experienced in the administration in consequence of a paucity of officers who know the language of the people, and if so, in what districts;
V. The measures which the Government would propose to adopt;
VI. As the proficiency of the officers must necessarily be tested by examinations, an opinion should be expressed as to the degree and nature of qualification to be required and of the examinations by which they should be tested.
6. In addition to the offer of money-rewards in one payment, suggestions have at different times been made that as an inducement to officers to qualify for service in the tracts in which special languages are spoken (which are often, from their circumstances, unpopular) a local allowance should be given, in addition to the ordinary pay of his grade, to an officer who has passed the requisite examinations in the language, for a certain number of years or during the time which he may serve in such a tract. Suggestions have also been made that some of the languages now referred to might be brought into the scheme of compulsory departmental examinations by including them among the languages in which an officer may elect to pass. It has also been suggested that the object might be attained by absolutely debarring an officer whose services are required in one of these special tracts from ordinary promotion until he shall have qualified in the special language.
7. It will be understood that the Government of India does not wish by the proposed measures to foster and encourage mere provincial dialectic variations of recognized languages spoken by people who belong to one race. The object is only to recognize and encourage officers to give their attention to languages of which the individuality is distinct, and which are peculiar to particular races and tribes.
8. In addition to the above information and opinions as to languages spoken by races in British territory, the Government of India wished that the Local Governments and administrations will similarly consider and make recommendations with regard to those languages which it is desirable that officers employed on the frontier should acquire for the purpose of communicating with the tribes with whom they are brought in contact.
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The phenomenon of Urdu as a linguistic process is not new to India. Code mixing has been going on for centuries. Through this process new languages had emerged from the old ones. There are also instances of failed attempts at code mixing not emerging as independent languages. Sometimes, code mixing is frowned upon, but always resorted to. However, in the case of Urdu, unfortunately, attitudes and loyalties to religion and language got mixed and this made the situation more complex and volatile.
The British officials were always perplexed by the ongoing processes of code mixing in India. They knew that such a situation might have prevailed even in their own country and in English. But by the time they were settled in India code mixing was not prominent in English. Their language had somewhat assimilated the borrowed words and phrases from French and other languages, and had established the conventions for the process. They were not expecting that they would contribute to an admixture of English and the Indian languages. Some of the officials were really at loss to understand the English written by the natives and the British officials who had been living in India for a number of years. The recent arrivals had great difficulty in learning this lingo of the mixture of Indian languages and English. At one time the Secretary to the Board of Administration in the Punjab was forced to write a letter on the 11th April, 1849 to all commissioners under the Board of Administration that they "will point to all the officers under you how greatly public business may be facilitated by the habitual use of English, instead of Vernacular and often Provincial, terms in their correspondence. The Board are aware that many native terms are untranslatable, but in that case they should be explained in a marginal note. At present, cases referred for Government decision are often unintelligible for want of a glossary."
Grierson's 1901 census report on the mothertongues spoken in India also cited a situation in which how the natives mixed the English words and phrases in their own language: "English is being introduced into Indian languages inthe same way. Once in Monghyr I overheard one Bengali say to another 'e: de:se:r climate constitutione:r janya ati healthy.' A native horse-doctor once said to me about a dog licking his wound, 'Kutta:-ka: saliva bahut antiseptic hai,' and Mr. Grahame Bayley has heaard one Panja:bi dentist say to another 'continually excavate na karo:.'"
A.P. Howell, Esquire.,
Officiating Secretary to the Government of India, Home Department
The Secretary to Government
Dated Fort William, the 17th November 1875.
I am directed to forward the accompanying papers, including a minute by Mr. A.W. Croft, inspector of Schools in Bengal, on the adoption of Hindi as the court language of Behar.
2. The Government of India re not aware how far Mr. Croft's remarks are applicable to the circumstances of the Punjab, but desire to express general concurrence in the view that it is an object to diminish the antagonism between Hindi and Urdu, and that it is inexpedient to foster in Government or aided schools under the name of Hindi an artificial, Sanskritized language, which is in most cases as far removed from the common rustic vernacular as it is from the ordinary language of the towns. The Government of India are further of opinion that the Educational Departments can give efficient help in this matter in connection with preparation of text books.
3. I am to request that the final orders which His Honor the Lieutenant-Governor may pass on this question maybe communicated to the Government of India.
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From S.C. Bayley, Esquire.,
Commissioner of the Patna Division.
The Secretary to Government, Bengal,
Dated Bankipur, the 20th May 1875.
In returning herewith the Nagri pamphlet received with your memorandum No: 101 T, of the 25th ultimo, I have the honor to submit as follows.
2. The pamphlet purports to be a petition from some of the residents of Patna and Bhagalpur, addressed to the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, showing the superiority of the Nagri character to the Persian, and of the Hindi language to the Hindustani, and praying, that the orders of the late Lieutenant-Governor, directing the introduction of the Nagri character into the courts and Government Offices in Behar, may be carried out and maintained in force.
3. The following considerations are urged in support of the above petition and prayer:
1st. The anti-Nagri party calls Hindi a rude language, having neither a literature nor grammar. This cannot be true, as Hindi is a branch of the Sanskrit, which is, according to the principal English and German scholars, such as Professor Max Muller, Haug, Goldstucker, Wilson, Colebrooke, and C., the best language in the world all the other languages, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Persian, being derived from it. How can then, such a language be unfit for the transaction of court business?
2nd. It is objected to Nagri that it cannot be written quickly. This is merely a question of practice.
3rd. Nagri can be mastered in three or four months, while Hindustani cannot be learnt so easily. Even the best Persian scholars cannot read an official paper without one or two years' practice in reading Persian manuscripts.
4th. Nagri is better adapted for transliteration than Persian, e.g. "Revenue Board," "First Arts Course," &, C.
5th. The Persian characters can be altered with much greater facility than Nagri and hence it affords greater temptation to fraudulent tampering with documents.
6th. Nagri is used in the transaction of all kinds of business in Nepal, Nagpur, and Commissioner's Office at Almoraa, fact which proves that there is no defect in it.
7th. True, the Nagri takes a little more space in writing than Hindustani, but this defect cannot weight against the many considerations in favour of the use of Nagri, which is the vernacular of Behar throughout the Province.
4. I fully agree in the petitioners' view that Nagri can be and should be gradually introduced into the courts and offices of Behar. On this subject I submitted a report to Government in October 1873, from which it will be seen that Nagri has been pretty extensively introduced into the districts of this division, and that all processes, notifications, proclamations, & C., and all police reports, diaries, and registers are written in that character. The court amlah also were made to pass examinations in the Nagri character and language, and they are now conducting their duties with tolerable facility in it. The change, however, is steadily opposed by this class of people, who as Kyests or Mussalmans, have almost a monopoly of the court language, and consequently of the court places.
5. This opposition is not without its effects on their superiors at the head offices, who unconsciously imbibe their prejudices, and it requires persevering and steady pressure from above to get the reform carried out. There is to my mind no more reason for having one other than Hindi, than there is in Bengal for having one other than Bengali. The introduction of Bengali as the court language in Bengal was, I have been told strongly opposed at the time. Now no one ventures to suggest that it was not an improvement.
6. The law papers of the present day written in so-called Hindustani differ very little from those of the time when Persian was the avowed language of the courts. Inflexions and auxiliary verbs are Hindustani, but the body of the document consists still of the largest Arabic words that eh mookhtear who compiles it can retain, and it is absolutely unintelligible to any but the specially educated classes. Hindi is the language of the People - the language in which accounts, zemindari business, private business, and, as a rule, private communications by letter are conducted; and why the courts should continue to use an absolutely artificial language, which has, to counterbalance all its disadvantages, only the one advantage of being more rapidly written, and amore easily miswritten and misread, I cannot understand.
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C.E. Buckland, Esquire.,
Officiating Junior Secretary to the Government of Bengal
The Commissioner of the Patna Division
Dated on board Yacht Rhotas the 9th July, 1875
With reference to your letter No. 182J, dated 20th May last, reporting on a Nagri pamphlet entitled "Why should Nagri be introduced in the Courts and other Offices of Behar," I am directed to forward, for your information, a copy of a Note by Mr. A.W. Croft, Inspector of Schools, on "Hindi as the Court Language of Behar," and to state that the Lieutenant Governor concurs generally in the views therein expressed.
2. His Honor has no desire to pass any orders that may countenance the idea that Hindi and Urdu are two distinct languages; but he recognizes the tendency of some writers of the former to reject every word which is not Sanskrit in origin, while some writers of Urdu confine themselves strictly to words of Persian origin. He would wish to encourage the growth of a full, harmonious language uniting these two elements, now separate and discordant; and for this purpose he would require that all candidates for employment above the lowest should be equally familiar with both the Nagri and Persian characters.
3. The Lieutenant-Governor is of opinion that the orders of Government, terminating with Mr. Dampier's letter No. 1210, dated 2nd April 1874, should be steadily carried out. Those orders enjoined that all processes, notifications, and proclamations should be made in Hindi; that official records should be kept in Hindi; that petitions should be received in either Hindi or Hindustani; and that a knowledge of the Hindi character should be insisted on in the case of police officers and amlahs. The late Lieutenant Governor was strongly opposed to making Hindi the exclusive court language at present, and to this policy Sir Richard Temple desires to adhere. It is apparent that there is some amount of passive obstructiveness to be overcome, although progress is being made in the introduction of the reform instituted by Government. His Honor trusts to you persevere steadily in the policy already indicated.
4. For these reasons the Lieutenant-Governor is unable to accede to the request preferred by the subscribers to the pamphlet above mentioned, and I am to ask you to communicate to the petitioners this decision.
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Note by A.W. Croft, Esquire, Inspector of Schools, on "Hindi as the Court Language of Behar," dated the 16th June 1875.
THE petition mixes up two things - the character and the language - which should be kept distinct. To call Hindi and Urdu two languages is to perpetuate a vicious error, originally due to the antagonism of Pandits and Maulavis. They have the same accidence and syntax, and the same stock of words for most simple objects and conceptions; they only diverge when it is necessary to express the language f compliment of science, or of complex ideas in general. This is not to have two languages, but to have a language capable of being enriched from two different sources; and I conceive that it is the object of Government to destroy or to diminish this antagonism.
It can do so in two ways, - its ordinary civil administration, and by means of its educational machinery. In the first place, it can, I believe do much more than it has yet done in discountenancing the Persian-Urdu of the public offices and courts - a language unintelligible to any native of this country who has not received a special education. I do not refer to technical terms of law or of civil business; these are in possession; they are as convenient as any, and they could not, in fact, be replaced by others. They are parts of the Hindi language, just as the legal terms of French origin are parts of the English language. I refer to the jargon in which the body of court documents is couched - a language altogether Persian, except for Hindustani inflexions, and not always with that exception; a language known only to the initiated, who cling to it as the source of their livelihood. Government has repeatedly fulminated against this court language, and I am told much has been done towards simplifying it. But the effort requires constant vigilance, the amlah have every interest in quietly opposing the change, and there still remain in constant use numbers of words and phrases that have not the smallest justification. This is to perpetuate the delusion of two languages; and still more, it is to give the largest section of the people a substantial grievance, by excluding them from the most lucrative forms of civil employ. So long as a document read out in court is not intelligible to any person, Hindu or Mohammedan, of fair education, much remains to be done. As it is, our middle schools are deserted, because the education they give is valueless as an avenue to civil employment. I cannot but believe that the constant and clear expression of the will of Government, the steady discouragement by all officers of exaggeration in language, and the occasional rejection of a petition on this ground, would gradually, if not speedily - in the next generation of amlah, if not in this - produce marked results.
The Education Department can, in a different fashion, give efficient help towards the same end, namely, the unification of Hindi and Urdu. The books used in the schools of Behar ought to be books of such a style that they might be written indifferently, and with equal propriety, in either character. No one will say, for example, that a sentence like "Suraj nikalta hai" is distinctively Hindi or distinctively Urdu; and it is the business of the Education Department to extend the bounds of this common language. The test of a good school book for Behar, is that it can be printed without violence in either character. Individual authors, on the other hand (with a few noticeable exceptions), generally strive to intensify the difference by rejecting every word which is not either Sanskrit in origin, or for it is not to be supposed that pedantry is confined to writers of Urdu. On the contrary, the pedantry that I have chiefly to complain of in may own work is that of writers of Hindi. The purism of men who carry their repugnance to Urdu so far as to say, not admi but manush, not sirf but kebal, not chiz but vestu, not magar but parantu, is a thing not to be tolerated in a region where some kind of compromise is a necessity. In looking about for books for the Behar schools, I have had to reject numbers for this very fault; one in particular, an elementary book of Natural History, which I sorely needed, but whose pages bristled with Sanskrit expressions for the commonest conceptions, e.g., Utpatti, bishay, manushoa, brittanta, parantu, bahuddha, nirog, karan; all occurring on a page taken at random.
This sort of pedantry reaches its culminating point in the very pamphlet sent for report transcribes the opening sentence;
"Siddha Sriman maharaja dhiraj Bharatvarshiya purvadesh adhikari yashasvi tejasvi sriyukta Laftanent Gavarnar maha prapike nikat ham sab Patna nagur kepraphan nivasi, jamidar, sahukar, ade prjayonka tan manasekoti koti dhanyabaid pahunche. Apaise baddhiman prajopakari, desh hitakari raj niyamak ki reaisha sada sarvada sarva shatiman jagadishvar karta rahe."
This, coming in a prayer for the restoration of the language of the people, represents, I suppose, that language. It represents, I have no doubt, the language of the people, represents, I suppose, that language. It represents, I have no doubt, the language which its author would rejoice to introduce into the courts in place of Urdu. Nothing could be more intolerant or more ludicrous. It is like a man, in his zeal for pure English, rejecting the impenetrability of matter," and substituting the "unthorough foresomeness of stuff."
I repeat my opinion that it is desirable for Government to guard most carefully against passing any orders which countenance the idea that Hindi and Urdu are two distinct languages, and more particularly, having this object in view, to guard against encouraging eccentricities of style, whether having a Persian bias such as I have described above. I regard it as well worth the attention of Government to try, by every means at its command (the educational means being not the least efficacious), to untie these two elements, now separate and discordant, into one full and harmonious language. If civil officers will repress Persian exaggerations the Education Department can wage vigorous war against Sanskrit aggressions. The result will be a joint language abounding in synonyms of different origin, in this respect resembling English and the wealthier group of living languages. The varieties of such a language will differ no more than the style of Rasselas differs from that of the Lord's Prayer. It is equally English whether you speak of "an unlikely thing to happen" or "an improbably event to occur," and it is only usage that determines which is the best style.
Such a language cannot be created by an edict. But authors in Behar and in the North Western Provinces are even now grappling with the question, and Government, can, by readily encouragement of such authors, and more especially by the organization of its schools, so control the tendencies of current literature, and so help to fix the standard of educated speech, as to hasten this desirable consummation. In an illiterate age, and with no efforts of Government tending to promote the union, it took two centuries to weld the English and the French elements of the language into the national speech of England. It should not take so long now.
Only on condition that efforts are made so to settle the language question do I see any chance of satisfactorily meeting the second difficulty, that of character. Government has already done much. All processes and notifications - all documents, in fact, destined for service outside cities - are in Nagri, and all petitions may be presented in that character. If, further, the order of the Magistrate were always transliterated, when required, from Urdu into Nagri, probably every need of suitors would be satisfied. But it is not the needs of suitors that have prompted the present petition. It is the need of that large body of Hindus whose education does not fit them for the public service; and they are too numerous for their claims to be lightly set aside.
I should think it a very hazardous experiment definitely to substitute Hindi for Urdu as the language of the courts. The temporary block to public business would be a small matter compared with the political danger involved in the disaffection of a class of men about whom the complaint already is that their means of living are too scanty. The Muhammadans in fact would be ousted from public employ. But the same principle of fairness to them suggests a course which might possibly be pursued in the interests of the large body of Hindus. Mr. Bayley says that all the Persian-writing amlahs have been required to pass an examination in Hindi; is it too much to require that Brahman and other Nagri-writing candidates for employment should pass an examination in Urdu? It is, no doubt, too much as matters stand; for we see that, with the exception of the facile Kayasth, no Hindi will now submit to learn a new character in which to write his own language - a very different and much more simple matter.
If all candidates for employment above the lowest were required to be equally familiar with two characters (and to such an end ought our school education to be directed), and it consequently both were used indiscriminately in official writing, it might not happen that one would drive out the other. Nagri undoubtedly takes more time and more room, but the same objection might be urged against English; and if for other reasons it is convenient to write it, it will be written. It might be conjectured, indeed, that the force of numbers would gradually make itself felt, and that Nagri would prevail; but even if not, is there any serious objection to the use in courts of two characters side by side? They exist in fact already for Kaithi accounts are filed with Urdu plaints and have to be interpreted by irresponsible experts. But whatever the objection, it could not weight against the advantages on the other side; for it is evident that the friction produced by the contract of two characters would rub down the harsh points peculiar to each, whether Persian or Sanskrit. By the ordinary reaction of character upon language, the conflict of Nagri with Urdu would go far to produce the kind of compromise that we desire. A document that has to be written indiscriminately in one of two characters will not often bear marks of special alliance with either.
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T.H. Thornton, Esquire.,
Secretary to Government, Punjab
The Officiating Secretary to the Government of India
Dated Lahore, 30th November 1875.
I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter No: 2-207 of 17th instant, and accompaniments, on the subject of diminishing the antagonism between Hindi and Urdu.
2. In reply, I am directed by the Honorable the Lieutenant Governor to state that the question discussed therein may be said not to exist in the Punjab. In the Punjab it has long been decided that the recognized language of the courts and of education is to be Urdu of a simple, character, neither highly Sanskritized, nor greatly intermixed with Arabic. There are still a few Hindi primary schools in the Delhi Division, but they are rapidly dying out, and almost the only advocates of Hindi remaining are a few Bengali clerks.
3. Under these circumstances, the Lieutenant Governor considers that no action is called for in reference to your letter so far as this Province is concerned, and he would deprecate the question being raised, as any initiation of the subject will only give rise to profitless discussion by a clique of purists.
4. I append copy, not printed, of correspondence which took place in 1863 on the subject of the language to be used in court proceedings which may be of interest.
The court vernacular should be fixed, as proposed by the Judicial Commissioner, according to the language in ordinary use as distinctly marked in various portions of the province. For the Hissar division, notwithstanding that Punjabi is in ordinary use in Sirsa and the confines of the Patiala state in Sirsa, and Hissar, the Urdu should be the court vernacular.
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