Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vemana on Language

Here is an interesting Padyam of Vemana!

కుండ కుంభమన్న, కొండ పర్వతమన్న
నుప్పు లవణమన్న నొకటిగాదె
భాషలిట్లు వేరు, పరతత్త్వమొక్కటె
విశ్వదాభిరామ వినుర వేమ

కుండ కుంభమన్న = You call a pot with its name in sanskrit
కొండ పర్వతమన్న = Call a hill in Sanskrit
నుప్పు లవణమన్నను = do the same with the salt
ఒకటి గాదె = Is it not the same?
భాషలిట్లు వేరు, = Languages are thus different
పరతత్త్వమొక్కటె = the philosophy is after all the same.

Kunda and Kumbham are the words for a pot in Telugu and Sanskrit respectively.
Konda and parvatam, Uppu and lavanam are also similar examples.
The poet brings to the notice of people the expression made in flowery language.

Telugu, like any language, has a culture of borrowing words from the other languages, more so from Sanskrit. The obsession of Sanskrit has gone too far and there are people even now, who think that using simple words is poor linguistic skills. This practice was and is there in Brahmins to a higher degree. There are even stories in circulation about this matter. Vemana perhaps intended to heckle at the class that thinks using Sanskrit words is fashionable.

Just because you call the common salt with its name in Sanskrit, it does not turn more tasty or classy. It is not the language that matters but the purpose of communication.

It looks someone well versed in Sanskrit was walking towards his village after a long stint at the Gurukulam perhaps. He saw the village washer man at the pond. He was washing the clothes. This man wanted to say hello to him. In chaste language according to his own judgement he called out “Oh! Rajaka! How are you?” The poor villager did not understand the word. He replied “Swamy! Why such big words for poor people like us? You are perhaps the Rajaka!”

Simple language makes things easier to understand. But, the media and the people have picked up a language that is so unintelligible that people started talking like that!

Telugu is changing at such a pace that I may not understand it in the near future!
Vemana talked about the trend long back. The problem remains even now! The Telugu that Vemana used is not there now. The Telugu that is there now would be gone soon.

I understand that change is inevitable! But change for what? Is it because of our inadequacy or to give comfort to any part of the populace? This question is worth a discussion in wider circles!

Let us enjoy words of wisdom!

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