Andhra Pradesh

Don’t borrow words, let’s make our own: AP government

Languages often repurpose old words, or recombine them to make new ones; sometimes they just borrow them from other languages. Language scholars see this as the natural evolution of living languages. But sometimes, these borrowings are looked at with concern.

After the bifurcation Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Chandrababu Naidu’s government has laid stress on the promotion of the Telugu language and culture. On a recommendation by the Telugu Language Development Committee (TLDC), it proposes to set up a Publication and Translation wing tasked with coining new words to replace loanwords from English.

“There is a severe dearth of Telugu words,” says Vizai Bhaskar, Director of the Department of Language and Culture, and a member and secretary of the TLDC. “The language is also susceptible to invasion by other languages in the regions bordering the state.”

The committee does not propose to create equivalents for words like cycle, pen, pencil, road and cinema; these are already so deeply entrenched in Telugu that it will be hard to replace them. Instead, it will target newer concepts for which Telugu does not have words.

“For instance, the English word ‘digitisation’ has no Telugu word,” Mr. Bhaskar says. “The word originates from ‘digit’ which is ‘anke’ in Telugu, so we could think of introducing a new word based on anke.” He names currency, graphics, electronics and pharmacy as other words that need Telugu alternatives, as well as technical administrative terms like passbook.

Some scholars are dubious.

C. Mrunalini, who recently retired from Telugu University, agrees that Telugu needs new terms. But she feels that the government should first use words already translated by the Telugu Academy and by earlier Official Language commissions. “The whole exercise should be two-fold: collecting words already in use by common man and by earlier scholars, and creating new words where no equivalents are available. This creation of new words should be done by an expert committee where not just Telugu pundits but domain experts are members.” And the words they create should, she says, be vetted by ordinary citizens, not just language experts.

Former Vice-Chancellor of Telugu University, Avula Manjulatha, who has done her share of creating new words in her three-decade-long association with the Telugu Academy, warns that if a small group coins new words for the entire Telugu population, it is bound to attract criticism. “The move may even cause harm to the language.” Daily-use Telugu, she says, uses around 2% English words; most loanwords are actually borrowed from other languages. “There is nothing wrong in use of such terminology in education, science and social science sectors. Borrowing words from other languages will only enrich our culture. Easy flow of new words into the public domain is important. People should not be reluctant to embrace them.”

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 12:08:35 PM |

Next Story