During ancient times, languages without script were not deemed secondary, as is being done now, according to G.N. Devy, Professor at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DAIICT) in Gujarat.
Inaugurating a two-day national seminar on 'Indian literary historiography and counter currents in post-coloniality', here on Tuesday, he said the shift from agrarian to industrial culture and the onset of colonialism had eroded the value accorded to oral culture. The seminar was organised by the postgraduate department of English at St.Thomas College, Kozhencherry.
“Most languages, including English, do not have a proper script of their own. English has adopted the Roman script. Sanskrit has three scripts. Writing became sacred only with the arrival of the British in India. Poets and playwrights committed themselves to writing only with the invention of paper and printing,” he added.
Mr. Devy said that only four per cent of the Indian languages were represented in Parliament. “The silencing of languages in this fashion deletes not just memories but also our varied cultural past. But, there is a bit of solace in the fact that all these oral languages have dispersed into other languages, traces of which should be seriously studied and the root languages ought to be revived.”
Alexander K.Samuel, college Principal, presided over the inaugural function and T.Nessie Joseph, head of English department welcomed the gathering. Katja Mueller, Research Associate at Leipzig Cultural Museum in Germany, delivered the keynote address. Asha Susan Jacob, convener and Mini Krishnan, Editor (Translation) of Oxford University Press, Chennai, spoke. Susie Tharu, Professor at English and Foreign Languages University in Hyderabad will address the seminar on Wednesday.