12 April, 2021

A Question Of Antiquity

Tamil and Kannada linguists array themselves on opposite sides to lay claim to a classical status. Is the battle pointless, given that both languages are derived?

A Question Of Antiquity
When the UPA government released its Common Minimum Programme, it included a line that appeared to be the only apolitical insertion in a document loaded with politics. It was to accord classical language status to Tamil. But the initial assumption of the issue's apoliticalness is being proved totally incorrect as it is gradually stirring passions in Karnataka.

Kannada intellectuals and language activists now want to know why Kannada should be denied classical status when it has "all the qualifications, and more". In the past few decades, the Cauvery water-sharing issue has made of the two linguistic communities warring Dravidian factions, the stridency of their respective linguistic identities rooted in a violent, chauvinistic history.

The two key issues that determine whether a language is classical or not are its antiquity and the body of literature that supports and brings respectability to the age of that language. And this is precisely why Kannada, along with Tamil and Sanskrit, "technically" qualifies to be a classical language, according to renowned Kannada...

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