The evolution of media language over more than half-a-century was actually a bumpy ride, as it took different ‘avatars’ in the course of time.
Telugu newspapers launched in the early years of the century were aimed at kindling freedom spirit. But the ‘chaste’ language was then accused of heavily borrowing words and syntax from Sanskrit.
While it was ‘Krishna Patrika’ that started writing in the common man’s dialect in the 30s, veteran journalist Narla Venkateswara Rao brought in a sea change later, both in terms of language and content.
Andhra Prabha, Andhra Patrika and Andhra Jyoti contributed to vibrant news reading in the 60s and 70s. The emergence of ‘Eenadu’ in the 70s did make a difference in terms of presentation, extensive coverage and usage of local dialect in regional tabloids.
Though the passage of time minimised the influence of Sanskrit, it turned worse with the unrestrained entry of English words. Local dialects have a word for every aspect, but the media failed to recognise it and instead resorted to ‘Telugisation’ (adapting English words into Telugu) by calling a bus ‘Bassu’ and Rail as ‘Rylu’.
In the garb of simplification to reach out to the common man, the media dumped complex Telugu words for anglicised versions, which not only triggered dilution and debased the language, but also belittled the readers’ intellect.
“Neither the media did any research in identifying words spoken by masses, nor the Official Language Commission coined new equivalents, which left a gaping void,” opines writer and journalist R.M. Umamaheswara Rao. In fact, the advent of electronic media wreaked havoc on Telugu, both in terms of spoken language and presenter’s costumes, he observed in a conversation with The Hindu.
Even the government does not use a Telugu word for ‘engineer’, ‘bank’ and ‘road’ (‘Roaddu’ in APSRTC). In sharp contrast, the Tamil media has coined (and uses too) equivalents for newly-emerged concepts like mobile phone, compact disc, blog and tweet.
Meanwhile, the public are to blame for not using the coined equivalents. For example, ‘Telephonu’ is still preferred to ‘Dooravani’.
UNESCO tagging Telugu as a language facing extinction has apparently jolted the newspaper industry from its indifference to the damage done over the decades. The media, after having departed from the best route in the past, is now moving in the right direction by joining hands with the academia. The newly-coined ‘Guthedaru’ (contractor) and ‘Goda patrika’ (wall poster) are an indication to this fact!