Colonial rule did not impact Indian languages, says Devy

November 08, 2017 12:00 am | Updated 04:02 am IST - MANIPAL

at length on how languages have suffered and even become extinct over the years in some countries

Chairman of PLSI Ganesh N. Devy addressing a gathering in Manipal.

Chairman of PLSI Ganesh N. Devy addressing a gathering in Manipal.

The Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) Resource and Training Centre of CLIL@India Project, led by Manipal University, was inaugurated here on Monday.

A statement issued here on Tuesday said that the initiative, aimed at developing an alternate bilingual model for primary and secondary schools in the region, was inaugurated by renowned linguist, activist, and chairman of the People’s Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) Ganesh N. Devy in the presence of Senior Advisor, Italian Ministry of Education, Gisella Langé, and Cultural and Press Attaché at the Embassy of Spain in India, Ignacio Vitórica Hamilton.

In his address, Mr. Devy spoke at length on how languages have suffered and even become extinct over the years in some countries. “But, India is a rare example of a country that did not lose its linguistic diversity despite the colonial experience,” he said. “In an age where 35% of the world’s eight billion people are migrants of some sort, the individual question of language identity becomes as important as the collective question of national identity,” he added.

Mr. Devy made a strong case for using translation as a practice to bridge the gap between “the language of knowledge” and the “languages of everyday lived realities.” Recounting her experience as a doctor, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Manipal University Dr. Poornima Baliga reiterated the need for multilingualism as a way to connect with people, and extended the university’s support to the CLIL@India project that will open similar research and training centres this week in Pune, Chandigarh, and Puducherry, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

Principal coordinator of the project Neeta Inamdar said, “All the centres will make a concerted effort to build school students proficient in two languages, with emphasis on the mother tongue. The effort is to make multilingualism in India more meaningful by enhancing the proficiency of the languages thus acquired.”

Ms. Gisella Langé drew on similarities between the Indian and the European Union’s experience in terms of managing the tension between different languages.

She expressed optimism for the CLIL methodology to resolve some of the most recalcitrant problems of managing the language question in education. Her sentiments were echoed by Mr. Ignacio Vitórica Hamilton.

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