BOOK REVIEW | GLIMPSES OF INDIAN LANGUAGES |AVIK GANGOPADHYAYSeptember 28, 2020
“People need a book before them to write books too”.
Language is the system of communication in speech and writing that is used by people of a particular country. In other words, it is the system of sounds and writing that human beings use to express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings. India being a diverse country where language & dialect changes every few kilometres, it is but obvious to feel inquisitive and curious about so many languages within a country, their origin and their life span. According to the author, the intention behind this book is to provide a bird’s eye view on the brief history and characteristics of Indian languages, existing languages, their categories, reference to vigorous and developing languages, endangered and extinct languages, and the nature of ongoing studies in time present, with dependable statistical support, available in India and abroad.
The author, Avik Gangopadhyay says his approach is to offer an authentic handy database and not to be encyclopedic. “People need a book before them to write books too”- with this thought in mind, he undertook this ardent journey to provide a glimpse of Indian languages. He has been working on languages for the past 27 years and has received success and accolades for his bilingual editions. He further, presses the need of linguistic studies towards a comparative study of various languages. This book contains 17 broad chapters and is 252 pages long. It has in-depth research supported by pictures, statistics, and illustrations. He begins with the linguistic outline of Indian Languages. The ancient Indian languages were employed since the time of Vedas. He talks about the language used in the Vedas, for verbal communication and how Sanskrit gradually became the language of learning of the Brahmin Caste and of its religion while Prakrit became the language of the masses.
He goes further to explain, North Indian languages, Central Indian languages, West Indian languages, East Indian languages, etc. For example, he explains that language and speech diversity is more complex and meticulous in North India. Its languages are absolutely clustered under the family of Indo-Aryan languages. It is also known as the Hindi Heartland which means the Hindi language is spoken natively or as a primary language. Then there are regional variants of Hindi. The religious, geographical, lineage, dialect variations are also studied. There is mention of the Pali Language. The most important middle Indian Literary languages, the language in which the oldest preserved collection of sacred writings of Buddhism is written. A section discusses Prakrit languages, North-East Indian languages, and modern Indian languages.
Further on, the book gives a brief about the linguistic history of India. It includes the Indo-Aryan languages, the categorization of Indo-Aryan languages, subgroups of Indo-Aryan languages, Vedic Sanskrit language, classical Sanskrit language, Prakrit Language, Pali language, Middle Indic language, Modern Indo-Aryan languages, and Dravidian languages. It also discusses the origin of Dravidian languages. Further, the next chapter discusses various facts of Indian languages and the ancient Indian scripts like Indus Script, Brahmi Script, Kharosthi Script, Gupta Script, Sarada Script, Nagari Script, Devanagari Script, Kalinga Script, Grantha Script, Vatteluttu Script, Kadamba Script, Tamil Script. The discussion further leads to scripts and languages accorded to classical India. The Indus script, Brahmi script, Kharosthi script, Gupta script, Kalinga script, Vatteluttu script, Kadamba script, Kannada script, Telgu script, Grantha script, Tigalari script, Malayalam script, Tamil script, Sinhala script, Dhives Akuru, Sarada script, Landa script, Gurmukhi script, Khojki script, Khudabadi script, Takri script, Nagari script, Nandinagari script, Eastern Nagari script, Odia script, Devanagari script, Modi script, Gujarati script, Santali script, Sankhalipi, Urdu script, expansion of Brahmic script are all discussed here. The author has left no nook & corner to cause a gap or a deficit of any kind.
Now language and dialects change from location to location and from speaker to speaker. Further classifications like National and Provincial languages, educational languages and languages for wider communication, developing languages, vigorous languages, threatened languages, dispersed and shifting languages, moribund languages and dormant languages, nearly extinct and extinct languages, are explained in detail. The book ends with an overview of linguistic pluralism in India, general indicators of Indian languages and scripts, and a sneak into language and culture.
As is mentioned in the beginning, “People need a book before them to write books too”. This book with its in-depth analysis forms a basis, a benchmark for any further study, or research on the subject. An indispensable read for books written, pertaining to the subject.