‘Kashmir has been an important centre for Sanskrit scholarship’

Iqbal Kirmani
SRINAGAR: A book release function was Monday held here to make public the landmark survey of the compilation titled ‘The languages of Jammu and Kashmir’ conducted by People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI).
The PLSI is the culmination of India-wide survey of languages which has been documented by linguists, social activists and members of speech communities. The survey was conducted by Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Vadodara, and carried out by renowned linguist Dr. ON Koul.
The survey was undertaken during 2010-2013. The first copy of book was presented to Governor N.N. Vohra at Raj Bhawan.
Koul while speaking over the function said that Kashmir has remained an important centre for Sanskrit scholarship in creative expression and literary discourse for centuries. A large number of Sanskrit scholars were born in Kashmir and have made a significant contribution to Sanskrit studies, he said.
“The survey focuses on the languages of indigenous people, minority communities with an effort to bring them to the centre of contemporary language debates in a globalised world,” Koul said.
Chief Editor of the survey, Omkar N Devy, while speaking over the function said the “irony is that we accepted that any language which is not printed is not accepted as language, rather it is considered as a dialect.”
The survey discussed the languages of J&K including Kashmiri, Dogri, Balti, Bhadarwahi, Brokskat Burushaski, Gojri, Kishtawari, Kohistani, Ladakhi, Pashto, Poguli, Punchi, Sheikh Gal, Shina, and Siraji. Sanskrit, Persian, Hindi and Urdu, which have a prominent place in the state are also discussed in the volume.
Hindi and Urdu are two major languages which have attained major roles in the state. Hindi being the official language of the India has an important position in education and administrations as far as central government offices located in the state are concerned. “Urdu, a non native language, is the official language of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. There are different proficiency levels of the use of Hindi and Urdu languages in the state. In order to understand the reasons and account for deviations, we have added a write up on the contrastive study of Kashmiri and Hindi-Urdu languages. The deviations are due to the phonological and structural differences of the two languages, Kashmiri and Hindi–Urdu,” editor of the compilation said.
Out of twenty one articles in the volume ten of them are written by the scholars from the state.
Speaking on the sidelines of the function, Koul told Kashmir Reader that English is not a danger to other languages, “but when one used the other language than his native, then it becomes the killer language.”
“The effect of any language on another language cannot be judged immediately. It takes generation to see the impact or change the language has undergone. May be after some 25-30 years we might be able to see the change in Kashmiri,” Koul said.
Asked if Kashmiri language is under threat of extinction, Koul said, “I do not think so, as it is being taught in the schools. Only concern is that the young generation prefers Urdu or English in their daily usage. That needs to be checked out.”