Post Mortem

Language, culture and Naga integration: A possible solution

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/5/2020 12:29:52 PM IST

 Perhaps human being could be defined as a language using animal. Other animals including insects do communicate to each other but they cannot be said to use language. It is use of language which distinguishes human being from other animals. Therefore, there can be occasion where human being can be irrational but it is difficult to imagine who does not use language. Even deaf and dumb make of some kind of language. If we go back in time while human beings were living in forest and did not have civilization, may be at that point of time it was difficult to distinguish human being from other animals. Therefore it can be said that human being including other animals do communicate with one another, but it is the use of language that distinguishes human being from other animals. A person may be rational or irrational but we cannot think of a human person who does not use any language at all. Thus it can be said that human being is a language using animal. In other words human being could be defined as a language using animal. In due course of time people using the same language began to live together. In this manner different linguistic groups came into existence. Perhaps, it will be impossible to imagine a possible situation where all people in the world equally use one language. Such a situation is neither possible nor desirable.

   It is a fact that people began to speak language first. Written language or script came into existence after many centuries. In this manner human being, language and culture become integrated. Human migration is a fact of life, people keep moving from one place to another. But perhaps it is unimaginable to think of a time where all people of the world having one language and one culture. In other words, the linguistic and cultural pluralism is a fact of life. Therefore, any attempt to have linguistic or cultural monism is not going to succeed. At the same time linguistic and cultural pluralism has created insoluble problem. In India for example, when the Government of India takes a decision on 3 languages formula, Tamil people do not want Hindi to be imposed on them as the third language. They characterize it as Hindi chauvinism. It is not the case that Tamil people do not study Hindi or they have hatred toward Hindi. But they do not want to be imposed. Their argument is that India is a multi-linguistic and multi-cultural state. The present India is in the making of a new nation-state. In the contemporary period nobody can afford to ignore mother tongue and English language for whatever reason. Today English is the most important international language. It is better for Indian scholars to many European languages including their mother tongue.
  Mother tongue cannot be ignored. Therefore, the New Education Policy talks of the importance of teaching children in mother tongue from nursery up to class 5. If this policy is implemented then it is going to create insoluble problems. In India there are many languages without scripts. We should develop scripts for tribal languages which do not have scripts. We are not able to create scripts for the tribal of North-East not to speak of developing their languages. Language plays pivotal role in developing societies. In this sense it can be said that language, culture and physical integration go together that is one cannot go without the other. Seeing in this light it can be said that animal can never have a state for the simple reason that they do not have a language. This does not mean animals do not have communicative system. In other words, animals do communicate among themselves. When a dog barks at something in a particular place, other dogs also join the chorus. Honey bees have a very good system of communication among themselves. Male bees remain in charge of honey comb. Female bees go for collection of honey from flowers. When one or a group of bees see a group of flowers they come and dance near the flowers then other females also follow them to collect honey from the clusters of flowers. This is very strange but there is inter- community communication. It is language which can bring people together that is why some scholars treat language as the soul of culture. In this sense language is the cementing link. It is difficult to say at what point of time human being started using language. But at the same time it is a fact that spoken language originated first. However, it is many years or even many centuries together had taken to commit it to writing. This is how some languages are spoken but scripts have not been invented. Many tribal languages have not yet developed their own scripts. Some linguistic groups are using Devanagiri scripts. Some are using graeco-Roman scripts for their languages. I wish to point out in this connection that languages in due course of time give birth to culture. Language is really the soul of culture. 
(To be concluded)
Dr. X. P. Mao, Professor of Philosophy, NEHU Shillong

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