Many people have the conception that the language of a tribe is a dialect. In Hindi it is called boli. Many persons call or used to call dialects bhákhá (not as Yajurvedic pronunciation) out of contempt. Kabir has said: Saḿskrta kúpodaka bhákhá bahatá niir – in other words, the Sanskrit language is like stagnant well water and the people’s language is like the flowing water of a river, that is, full of vitality. This people’s language proceeds forward and moves on while the so-called refined languages, bound by the fetters of rules and regulations, dos and don’ts, modestly and tremblingly move ahead at a snail’s pace. A few hundred years ago the Yajurvedic style of pronunciation was still in vogue in the Aryan languages of north India. Śa used to be pronounced like kha. Even today the word kśama is pronounced khamá in Panjabi.
The point is, wherein lies the essential difference between a language and a dialect? Every dialect comes within the periphery of one language or another. Actually a language is the conglomerate of a certain number of dialects. The substance of the matter is that under no circumstances do we have the right to turn up our nose at a dialect, considering it to be unrefined or deprived of a glorious lineage. Even if its lineage has no glory or has disappeared, from the existential point of view it is worthy enough. Often we can become acquainted with the nature of the movement of more than one language through the study of a particular dialect. Take, for example, the “Kacchii” language. Gujarati comes from Málavii Prákrta and Sindhii comes from Pahlavii Prákrta. This Kacchii language or dialect is a sweet blending of the Gujarati and Sindhii languages. We can easily understand or become familiar with the natural differences between Gujarati and Sindhii through the study of Kacchii. Similarly, when we travel from Kishanganj to Purnea we come across an area whose language is called Shiripuriyá (Shriipuriyá). It has arisen as a mixture of Bengali and Angika. In the area lying between Bokaro and Hazaribagh we find Khot́t́á Bengali which is a mixture of Bengali and Magahii. If one goes from Haludpukur towards Báripadá the linguistic river basin that one comes across on both banks is known as Kerá Bengali. In this Kerá Bengali we find a peculiar union between northern Oriya and Rarhi Bengali. In Bengali we say ámi jete párba ná [I will not be able to go]; in Kerá Bengali one says mui jáitye párim nái. If you travel still further east it becomes ámi jete párbuni. This spoken language continues up to Uluberia. This is called a “dialect”. In Oriya, if the first person singular is páribi then the plural form is páribu, however in Kerá Bengali there is no difference between the singular and the plural.
Most languages have more than one dialect. Bengali has twelve different dialects:
1) Central Rarh Bengali: Dumka of Santal Paragańá, Jamtara, Deoghar, Birbhum District with the exception of Nalhati and Murari, from Durgapur to Asansol in Burdwan District, Bankura District with the exception of Indash Thana, northeast Singhbhum District, Dhanbad and certain areas of Giridi and Ranchi Districts, and Midnapore District with the exception of the Contai region.
2) Contai dialect: From the mouth of the Rasulpur River to the mouth of the Suvarnarekha River.
3) Calcutta Bengali: Calcutta, 24 Paraganas, Hooghly, and Howrah District with the exception of Uluberia subdivision.
4) Nadia Bengali: Nadia District, Burdwan’s Kalna subdivision, Birpur, Naihati and the southern portion of east Murshidabad.
5) Shershahbadia or Maldaiya or Jaungiipurii Bengali: Most parts of Murshidabad District, the Pakuŕ and Rajmahal subdivisions of Santal Pargana, Maldah District, Barsoi, the Ajmangar area and a some eastern areas of Katihar District, west Dinajpur’s Dalkola, and Rajshahi District’s Nawabganj subdivision. This dialect has a very beautiful pronunciation and a unique intonation or manner of speaking.
6) Barendrii Bengali: Rajshahi District with the exception of Nawabganj subdivision, the western portion of Pabna District, the southern portion of Dinajpur District, the northern part of Kusthia District, and the southern part of Baguŕa District.
7) Rangpuri Bengali: Rangpur District, Dinajpur District, West Dinajpur District, Coochbihar District, Jalpaiguri District, the plains of Darjeeling District, a few parts of Purnea District, certain portions of Baguŕa District, Assam’s Goalpara, and Nepal’s Jhanpa District.
8) Sylhet Bengali: Sylhet, Kachar, Karimganj, Kumilla District and the plains of the Khasia-Jayantia Hills.
9) Dacca or Vikrampurii Bengali: Dacca District, Faridpur District and Pabna District’s eastern areas.
10) Jessore Bengali: Jessore District, Khulna District and Faridpur’s Gopalganj subdivision.
11) Barisal or Candradviipii Bengali: Barisal District, Khulna District’s Bagerhat subdivision, Faridpur District’s Madaripur subdivision and Patuakhali District.
12) Chittagong Bengali: All of Chittagong District except for the southern areas and some parts of Noakhali District.
As I said before, most languages have dialects. It must be borne in mind that not all the languages of particular tribes or communities are dialects; some of them are separate languages also. It is perfectly acceptable to entitle the language of five hundred people as a full-fledged language. By the same token the language of a million or more people may be considered a dialect.
Now the question arises – what is the fundamental difference between a language and a dialect? Roughly speaking there are eight conditions that must be fulfilled in order to be considered a language, much like an eight-legged cot. These eight are: 1) own vocabulary, 2) pronouns, 3) verb-endings, 4) case-endings, 5) oral or written literature, 6) style of intonation, 7) psycho-acoustic and inferential acoustic notes, and 8) syntax.
Vocabulary: The meaning of vocabulary [shabda sambhára] is “a collection of words”. Every language has to have its own vocabulary. Now, how do words come into existence? In the beginning, unrefined verbs were fashioned from qualitative sounds. Nouns, adjectives and the different verbal expressions – prefixes and suffixes – were created from verbs after the refinement of those first verb forms. Pronouns and indeclinables were not created from verbs. They were produced from psycho-acoustic notes. In English, indeclinables are commonly called prepositions and conjunctions. Apart from this, the word “do” in English is often used in place of a specific verb. For example: “As I see, so I do”. Instead of using the verb “see” a second time, “do” performs its function. The old English grammarians used to consider this “do” to be a “pro-verb” but nowadays it is no longer considered as such. Anyhow, both pronouns and indeclinables come from acoustic notes. Ámi [I], tumi [you (familiar)] and ápani [you (respectful)] come from áhme, tuhme and appana. There is a Buddhist lyric written about twelve hundred years ago in which we find these lines:
Áhme ńa jánahun acinta joi
Jáma marańa bhava kaisana hoi
[When there is no existence of bhava the idea of birth and death is confusing. We do not understand that entity which is beyond the concept of duality.]
Vocabulary is created from psycho-acoustic notes and inferential acoustic notes. For example, the vibration created when a person’s eyes come in contact with something white is similar to words such as dhapdhap [white, bright]. From this comes the expression dhavdhave sádá [bright white]. Kán kat́kat́ karche [The ear is throbbing – literally “doing kat́kat́”]. Now is the ear here actually doing kat́ kat́ kat́ kat́? No, rather the vibration in the nerves is similar to the sound kat́ kat́; from this evolved the word kat́kat́. Thus we see that in the beginning there is a sound denoting a certain quality and from that the word is created.
The size or measurement of a vocabulary does not remain static. As a result of mutual interchange and mixing between people, words from the vocabulary of one region enter the vocabulary of another. Many Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, English, Portuguese and French words have entered Bengali in this way. It is futile to try to keep these words out, nor is there anything to be gained by it.
The meaning of the English word “head” is máthá. One whose head is confused or has had their head turned is often called be-hed. The be of behed is a Farsi prefix and hed is an English word. Similar is the case with the word jimkháná. The word jim comes from the English word “game” and the Farsi suffix kháná has been added to it. In this way the word gemkháná became jemkháná and in subsequent times it was transformed into jimkháná. In Arabic the pronunciation of ga and ja can be substituted for each other. For example, gawáhir → jawáhir.
A word that is very well known to us is átá [custard-apple]. Many people believe that átá may be a Bengali word but actually it is not. The Portuguese first planted the átá tree when they came to Bandel about four hundred and fifty years ago. Átá is a Portuguese word.
The Bengali word acára [pickle] comes from the Portuguese word acár. In Sanskrit there is a word ácára that means “behaviour”. The Portuguese brought their fruit acár to this country and it became ácár in Bengali – for example, mango acára, tamarind ácár, and so on.
In this way a vocabulary grows through the give and take of words between languages. Having one’s own vocabulary is one special characteristic of a language. In a dialect the vocabulary is very small and in some very poor dialects it practically does not exist at all.
Now a language’s vocabulary provides a mirror that reflects just how far any particular community has progressed in this world in terms of human culture and human civilization. There are some communities whose language contains only about eight hundred and fifty words while the language of highly developed apes contains around seven hundred and fifty words. Hence there is very little difference between the vocabulary of the least advanced human communities and the most highly advanced ape communities. Even bird languages have their own vocabulary. If birds are eating rice and by chance a person happens by then one bird will start calling out ka, ka which means “flee, flee” and they all fly away. Birds and animals have vocabulary but not verbs.
Bengali has approximately 125,000 words. From the standpoint of vocabulary this is a matter of pride, however, Sanskrit, Latin, English, French and German have much larger vocabularies. Hence there is a need to further enrich the Bengali vocabulary. For that new words will have to be created. In one Prabhat Samgiita song the word právrt́ has been used to mean “heavy rains”. The word právrt́ is originally a Vedic word that is no longer in use. Not only does the language become sweeter by using this word but the vocabulary is also increased. This vocabulary is one of the prerequisites for being considered a language.
Another thing to be considered in the case of vocabulary is the use of nominal verbs. Although these nominal verbs are verb forms they are created by making a word causative (according to the Sanskrit rule, nominal verbal roots follow the átmanepadii conjugation). For example, se gayáy neŕáte giyechila [He went to Gaya for a shave]. Here neŕá hate is understood, thus neŕáte is a nominal verb. The village people of Burdwan say se kablácche ná, that is, se kabul karche ná [he doesn’t admit]. Here kablácche is a nominal verb. An example from Sanskrit is sah rámáyate (átmanepadii), that is, “he is repeating ‘Rám, Rám’.” Here rámáyate is a nominal verb. Niraste pádape deshe erańd́o’pi drumáyate. It means: Even the castor oil plant becomes a great tree where there are no other big plants. The meaning of drumáyate is druma druma iti karoti. Here drumáyate is a nominal verb.
The use of nominal verbs is not very common in Bengali, however one Bengali writer who did use nominal verbs extensively was Michael Madhusudan Dutta. Pravesh karilá → praveshilá; árambha karilá → árambhilá. Michael used these and other verbals quite often in his poetic compositions. Nominal verbs are also used in Hindi. For example, the Hindi equivalent of the Bengali ámáke khub dhikkár diyechila [He scolded me roundly] is mujhe dhikráyá.
Anyhow, the use of nominal verbs enriches a language’s vocabulary. In India there are many languages which are called dialects but which, when considered from the point of view of vocabulary, certainly deserve more respect.
Pronouns: All languages have their own pronouns. Pronouns, such as the Bengali pronouns ámi, tumi and ápani, are created from psycho-acoustic notes. English has the pronouns “thou”, “you”, and so forth, while in Bengali the pronouns o, uni, ini are used when the person is present and se, tini, jini when the person is not present. Formerly “thou” was used in English when the person was present and “you” when the person was not present. In Rarhi Bengali se and tini are not currently used. In Rarhi Bengali one says: u ki ballek, u kutháke jábek, and so on. No language can be considered a separate language if it does not have its own pronouns. The language-ness of the language would cease to exist. Hence pronouns are very important from the standpoint of linguistic recognition.
All the languages which were recognized by the Indian constitution have their own pronouns and many of the languages which were not accepted also have their own pronouns, for example, Angika, Maethilii, Magahii, Bhojpuri, Chattishgarii, etc. Although these languages are not recognized in India by the constitution, they deserve recognition and should be recognized. From the standpoint of linguistics they should be accepted as languages.
Bengali is an independent language. It has had its own pronouns for the past twelve hundred years. There is an early Buddhist lyric:
Appańe raci raci bhavanirváńá
Michá loye vandháboye apańá
[Usually people under the influence of avidyá (ignorance) confuse bhava and nirváńa but in reality the idea of dualism is misleading.]
Appane raci raci means “composing one’s self”. The Sanskrit third person singular bhaván became appan in old Bengali – in modern Bengali ápana → ápni. The Sanskrit second person singular tvam became tuhme and the Sanskrit first person singular aham became áhme from which comes the modern Bengali ámi – aham → ahammi → áhmi → áhme → ámi. Aham, bhaván and tvam have all developed from psycho-acoustic notes. There is a thirteen hundred year old Bengali verse:
Etakála hánu acchila samohe
Eve mai vujhilon guru sambohe
[Till now I was caught in the spell of moha or blind attachment but by the grace of guru I have come to realize the truth.]
Mai means ámi (singular); the plural form is áhme (ámrá). The old Bengali hánu comes from the Sanskrit aham. For example, aham mánuśaḿ khádiśyámi → ahammi mánuśaḿ kháiśyámi → hammi mánuśaḿ kháiámi → hánu mánu khánu.
The stories that are written nowadays about demons are written in modern Bengali but the demons are made to speak old Bengali. At any rate, Bengali has been using its own pronouns for the past twelve or thirteen hundred years.
At one time Bengali, Assamese, Maethilii, Oriya and so on were one language. They became separate languages about eight hundred and fifty years ago. Similarly, Telegu and Kannad were once the same language and so were Tamil and Malayalam. Subsequently Kannad pronunciation became similar to that of Tamil while Telegu did not undergo any change, thus the two languages separated. They are still written in the same script.
Tamil has very few Sanskrit words but Malayalam has incorporated many Sanskrit words and this is the reason it separated from Tamil. In Malayalam words of Sanskrit origin and words of Tamil origin are used side by side. The old Tamil word for “coconut” is teuṋgás from which we get the modern Tamil word teuṋgá. There are three words for coconut in Sanskrit – nárikela, nálikera and kera. In the spoken language of Calcutta we say narkol, for example, nárkol tel [coconut oil], nárkol náŕu [a coconut sweet], nárkol dáuṋgá [a high land where coconuts grow in abundance]. How does it sound if someone says nárkel? As if the gentleman perhaps comes from some small subdivision. If we add the verbal root la and the suffix d́a in Sanskrit to the word kera it forms the word kerala.(1) The meaning of the word kerala is “the land where coconuts grow in abundance”. In Malayalam the words teungá and nálikera are used side by side.
The native Bengali word gatara signifies “physical strength”. Educated urban dwellers say sháriirik sámarthya [physical strength] and the common people of the villages say gatara. Many people think that the word gatara comes from the Sanskrit word gátra [body] but this is incorrect. Gátra in Sanskrit → gátta in Prákrta → gáa in old Bengali → gá in modern Bengali. According to the rules of linguistic transformation, the word gá in Bengali comes from the Sanskrit word gátra, not the word gatara. Gatara is a native Bengali word.
Verb-endings: Verb-endings are one of the eight prerequisites for being a language. In Sanskrit lat’, lot’, laun, vidhiliun, lrt́, etc. are examples of different verb-endings. However, Sanskrit does not have a present continuous tense while most of the Indian languages do. The Hindi equivalent for “is doing” is kar rahá hae and the equivalent of “does” is kartá hae. However in Sanskrit karoti or kurute are used to signify both “is doing” and “does”. Some pandits are partial to using kurvannasti to indicate the continuous tense of the verb. In the material world what is uninterrupted or continuous is called “contiguous” and in the world of ideas the word “continuity” is used. For example, “Calcutta has territorial contiguity with Diamond Harbour”. “Continuity” indicates an abstract idea. For example, after one person gives a speech, another person is giving a speech. Here the word kurvannasti can be used to indicate “is giving”. For “is swimming across” we can use either tarati or tarannasti, however in this case the fundamental mental idea is not properly expressed. Thus in Bengali separate verb forms – kare, karche, kare caleche, etc. – are used. Hence in this respect Bengali is more expressive than Sanskrit. Bengali has its own speciality when it comes to linguistic continuity or material contiguity. In all the Indian languages that have developed from Prákrta we find greater or lesser use of a kind of sonorous word form to indicate the indicative, continuous tense. This is worth noting. For example, kariteche, kartá hae, karaita achi, kareiche, karuchi, kardii hae, and so on. The fundamental unity of these languages is expressed through these verb-endings. They also demonstrate that these languages come from the same source. From the verb-endings one can determine which language has developed from which Prákrta. This can be shown through examples of verb-endings. For example:
English: The economic prosperity of a country depends on its political independence.
Bengali: Kona desher arthanaetik unnati sei desher rájanaetik svádhiinatár upar nirbharshiil.
Hindi: Kisii deshkii arthanaetik unnati us deshkii rájanaetik svádhiinatá par nirbhar kartii hae.
Maethilii: Desh ka arthanaetik unnati okar rájanaetik svádhinatá par nirbhar karait achi.
Bhojpuri: Desh ka arthanaetik unnati okar rájanaetik svádhiinatá par nirbhar karelá.
Angika: Deshra (desh-ra-a) arthanaetik unnati okar rájanaetik svádhiinatá par nirbhar karaeche.
Magahii: Deshke arthanaetik unnati okare rájanaetik svádhiinatá par nirbhar karait he,
Marwarii: Deshrii arthanaetik unnati uskii (urii) rájanaetik svádhiinatá par nirbhar kareche.
Panjabi: Deshdii arthanaetik unnati usdii rájanaetik svádhiinatá pe nirbhar kardii hae.
We can see that all these Indian languages have more or less the same mode of expression. Urdu, however, expresses itself differently because it has a different vocabulary. Hence Urdu is not similar to other Indian languages in its expression or verb-endings. The aforementioned sentence in Urdu becomes:
Mulkkii ektasádii tarakkii uskii siiásii ázádii par makub hae.
A living language has to have its own characteristic verb-endings while dialects contain variations of these verb-endings. In a dialect you will not encounter clear-cut verb-endings. Rather you find verb forms that change according to the locality. In the different dialects of Bengali you come across different verb-endings such as yáivám, yámu, yáma, yábu, etc. For example:
Ámi lákho janár paráń dimure… – Barisal
Ámi báncibám mariyá… – Mymensing
Ámi káivám ná vái támuk káivám ná… – Mymensing
Thátu viśyuit áiváin… – Mymensing
Mui karbu ni… – Midnapore
All of these are local variations. None of them gives us a clear-cut picture.
One can deduce which Prákrta a language comes from by looking at the condition of its verb-endings. After the demise of the Vedic language in India seven different Prákrta languages came into existence. They were: Mágadhii, Shaorasenii, Paeshácii, Páshcáttya, Pahlavii or Saendhavii, Málavii and Maháráśt́rii.
1) Mágadhii Prákrta had two daughters – Eastern Demi-Mágadhii and Western Demi-Mágadhii. Eastern Demi-Mágadhii in turn had six daughters – Maethilii, Angika, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya and Koshalii. Western Demi-Mágadhii had four daughters – Magahii, Bhojpuri, Nagpuri and Chatrisgari.
2) Shaorasenii Prákrta – The area lying between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers used to be called Brahmávartta. Brahmávartta was its Sanskrit name. Its Farsi name was Do-áb. Another name for it was the Shúrasena Kingdom. Kaḿsa used to rule this part of India. Its capital was at Mathura. The old capital of the Shúrasena Kingdom used to be Vrśńipur which today is Vit́hur, near Kanpur. Vrśńipura → Viśt́iura → Viit́iura → Vit́t́hura → Vit́hur. The name Shaorasenii comes from Shúrasena. The languages that originated from Shaorasenii Prákrta are Avadhii, Bághelii, Bundelii, Vrajabhákhá and Hariyánavii.
In Mágadhii Prákrta, sha is pronounced but there is no separate pronunciation for sa and śa. Sa and śa are used for spelling purposes but they are both pronounced sha. For example, the word mási is spelt with sa but it is pronounced with palatal sha. Only Shaorasenii uses the pronunciation sa (das, tiis, so já, suno) but interestingly enough the name itself is spelt with sha.
3) Paeshácii Prákrta – D́ogrii, Panjabi and Páháŕii Panjabi (this language is commonly known as Páháŕii in Himachal Pradesh).
4) Páshcáttya Prákrta – Kashmiri, Pashto, Tazaki, Uzbeki, etc.
5) Pahlavii Prákrta or Saendhavii Prákrta – Sindhii and Múltánii (this comes from a mixture of Sindhii and Panjabi).
6) Málavii Prákrta – Málavii, Gujarati, Kacchii, Marwari, Mevárii and Haŕaotii.
7) Maháŕśtrii Prákrta – Marathi and Konkańii.
All of these languages have characteristic verb-endings and all of them have assimilated the Sanskrit vocabulary with ease. Ninety-three percent of the Bengali words we use have originated from Sanskrit. They are either Sanskrit borrowings, not distorted Sanskrit borrowings, or Sanskrit derivations, not half-Sanskrit derivations. The remainder are either native Bengali words or foreign words.
Oriya also contains about ninety percent Sanskrit words. Among the south Indian languages, Malayalam has about seventy-five percent Sanskrit words. Among non-Indian languages, the languages of Sumatra, Java, Bali and Thailand have an abundance of Sanskrit words.
The Bengali word kúyo [well] comes from the Sanskrit word kúpa. Indrakúpa → indraua → indárá → indárá [large masonry well]. The Panjabi word khui comes from the Sanskrit word khudikam; khui means “well” in Panjabi. The Panjabi word khánŕa comes from the Sanskrit word rasakhańd́a. Sugar is called khánŕa in Panjabi. Nowadays the first person verb-endings of all these languages follow the ti, tas, anti endings. For example: karoti → karai → kare.
Five thousand years ago we had ahaḿ grhaḿ gacchámi [I am going home]; in Prákrta it became ahammi garaham jacchámi; in old Bengali it became ámhe ghara e jáccheḿ; and in modern Bengali it is ámi ghare jácchi. This rule of transformation is similar to the rules of transformation which govern the scale in classical music. There is little scope for deviation. For this reason it is possible for erudite people to predict at this time what form a language will take after the next ten thousand years. The Kheyal style was evolved in the Mughal court to give some temporary relief from the rigidity of the scale usage in classical music. Although there is an opportunity for vocal play in Kheyal, in the end one has to return to the set scale usage. In Bengali it is said that the measure of the tied cow is the grass [bándhá garur mápá ghás] – it is the same in the case of the transformations that languages undergo.
In the Vedas there was a clearly discernible difference between the átmanepadii and parasmaepadii verb forms. In Laokika Sanskrit this difference diminished. In Prákrta the difference all but disappeared, and in the common languages of today there is no difference whatsoever. In Prákrta the átmanedpadii verb-endings e, vahe and mahe disappeared and became the parasmaepadii case-endings mi, vas, and mas. For example, the Sanskrit vidyate (átmanepadii) became vijjati (parasmaepadii) in Mágadhi Prákrta – na vijjati so jagatiikya desho. A few Sanskrit parasmaepadii verbal roots change into átmanepadii if they are preceded by a prefix, for example, jayati, jayatah, jayanti. If the prefix vi is added then they become the átmanepadii vijayate, vijayete, vijayante.
Prákrta was the language of the common people. The scholars of those days used to neglect this language and compose their literature in Sanskrit. For this reason this highly refined language was called “Sanskrit” which implies that it was not the people’s language; it was written by refining the people’s language.(2) However in Sanskrit drama there was the custom of having uneducated characters speak in Prákrta. Whereas an educated character would say ahaḿ they would have ahammi be spoken by the uneducated characters. Where an educated character would say vakra or vakrima, the uneducated characters would say vanka, vaḿká, vánká or vankima. When Krśńa would speak with Duryodhana he would use Sanskrit but when he spoke with the Pandavas he would speak in Shaorasenii Prákrta because he had a close relationship with the five Pandavas. The people of east Bengal say basun or boso [sit] when addressing an unknown person but they say baen or bao to someone they know, and so on.
Another name for Mágadhii Prákrta is Páli. The word páli comes from the word pallii. Pallii is not a Sanskrit word; it has been borrowed from Tamil. Many people are of the opinion that the word páli comes from the word pát́aliputra in the sense of Páli referring to the language of Pát́aliputra but this is incorrect. When pát́ali is transformed it becomes pád́ali → páŕali – not páli. Another error of this kind concerns Rájagira. In some people’s opinion the word rájagira comes from the word rájagrha but it does not. Rájagira comes from rájagiri (Royal Mountain). The city gets its name from its large size hills. Had it come from rájagrha then in accordance with the natural law of transformation it would have become rájagrha → rájagarha → rájaghara → rájaghar; it would not have become Rájagira. In the same way we get mudgagiri → mungagiri → mungir → munger.
Case Endings: Another condition for being a language is case-endings. Every language has its own case endings. In this respect most of the Aryan languages of India follow more or less the same rules. From Assamese to Pashto, from Oriya to Estonian, Romansch and Kazaki – all these languages are descendants of Sanskrit. All of them follow the same rules in regard to verb-endings. Among them only Bhojpuri uses different endings for svabhávártha and karańártha.(3) For example, Rám ka bhái paŕelá, that is, Ram’s brother studies, however he may now be doing something else. And Rám ka bhái paŕatá means that Ram’s brother is reading right now. Many people do not like to consider Bhojpuri a separate language but rather a dialect, however we can see that from a linguistic perspective Bhojpuri is a full-fledged language, not a dialect.
When direction is to be indicated in Rarhi Bengali and in Oriya then ke or ku is added to the end of the word. For example, gharke jába [I will go [to] home] in Rarhi and gharku jibi in Oriya. To say báŕii áche [he is in his house] one says gharare achanti in Oriya – existence is indicated in Oriya by re. In the Árámbág Bhádugán [a school of songs] we find: Sát bhádute jalke gela, ámár bhádu kunt́i go.
With English verb-endings we find that intransitive verbs undergo more change than transitive verbs. As regards mood, there is less change in the infinitive mood. Two other moods along with the subjunctive undergo somewhat more change. There are also changes in the auxiliary verbs.
The Scottish and English languages are very closely linked. In Scottish, however, the pronunciation of “r” and “l” is indistinct. For example, the Scottish people pronounce the English “gold” a bit like “gode”. The correct English pronunciation of the word “Edinburgh” is ed́inbárg while the Scottish pronunciation is ed́invará. The people of England have accepted the ed́invará pronunciation. Apart from these small differences the Scottish and English languages are practically the same. From the standpoint of pronunciation the Cornish language of England is somewhat similar to French. Had Cornish the nasalness of French it might have raised doubts over whose dialect it was.
Although both Wales’ Welsh and Ireland’s Irish languages were born from the Brighton language, they are both separate languages. Irish has both its own vocabulary and its own style of pronunciation. But since it is less influenced by Norman, it also shows less influence of Latin.
Some people mistakenly consider Cockney English to be a special dialect. Actually Cockney is a distorted pronunciation of English prevalent among London’s less educated people. In Bengal, for example, the spoken form of utsarga is ucchugyu and the spoken form of mahotsav is mocchav.
French is a composite of seventeen dialects. The spoken French that I heard being used in Geneva contained a good number of German words that I noticed were not being used in Paris.
I have been discussing a few things that concern linguistics. It should be borne in mind that don’ts are inextricably tied up with dos. If we take away “is” then “is not” cannot survive; if we take away “is not” then “is” does not have a leg to stand on. This is equally applicable in all cases so we will have to keep this in mind when it comes to linguistics. Whether or not I remember the original rule, the more I remember the exceptions (apaváda in Hindi) the better it will be. In English, for example, if a single vowel precedes a single consonant then the consonant becomes doubled if a suffix is added. Thus “fit” but “fitting”, “fitted,” and so on. Then there are exceptions as well. For example, “benefit”. In this case if a suffix is added after the “t” then the final “t” is not doubled.
Generally the letter “g” is pronounced like “j” when it is followed by “e”, “i” or “y”. Elsewhere it is a hard “g” sound. Similarly “c” is pronounced like “s” when it is followed by “e”, “i” or “y” and elsewhere like “k”. The word “jail” has two accepted spellings in English – “jail” and “gaol”. In the latter, however, the “g” is not followed by “e”, “i” or “y” but by “a”. Nevertheless it is pronounced like a “j”. This is also an exception.
Under normal conditions the English word “full” is spelled with two “l’s”, but if it forms the second half of a compound word then it has one “l”, that is, “ful”, for example, “beautiful”, “handful”, etc. In such a case this occurs because the relative importance of its pronunciation is lessened. Thus this will have to be accepted as a rule rather than an exception.
Many people mistakenly say that the English language does not have any rules and regulations. Such a conception is altogether false. There is a clear and elegant reply as to why “but” and “put” are pronounced differently. The word “but” is of Anglo-Saxon origin, thus the “u” is pronounced like ay, for example, “unfair”, “under”, etc. The word “put” is of Norman origin. Here the pronunciation of “u” is more like ayu, for example, “universal”, “unique”, “pecuniary”, and so forth.
Generally, things which do not grow in a certain country, or which are not available there, do not have names in the language of that country. Cherries do not grow in Bengal, thus there is no word for “cherry” in Bengali. Some things did not originally have a name but were given a name later on, for example, balgá hariń [reindeer], ut́pákhii [ostrich], etc. Some people, in order to show up the weakness of English, point out that it does not have a word for pat́ol. This is incorrect. Although pat́ol does not grow in England, it does have an English name – “wax gourd” or “squat gourd”.
31 July 1983, Calcutta
(1) Kerala is the name of the state in southern India where Malayalam is spoken. –Trans.
(2) Sanskrit literally means “refined”. –Trans.
(3) This difference refers to whether the verb is used for action [karańártha] or to denote the nature of the subject [svabhávártha]. For example, “he reads a book” is karańártha and “he reads in class five” (here the verb is used to indicate that he is a student) is svabhávártha. –Trans.
Shrii Shrii A'nandamu'rti