One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Dialogue On Hazaragi Language : An Opinion

                             Rob standing next to his mud-oven with an engraved Greek Letter pi 
Almost a decade ago, we had a discussion about Hazaragi culture, and one of the friends, who was about 25-30 years older than rest of us, told us about some characters that his mother used to engrave on the mud-cooking stoves, and that, those characters had resemblances to Chinese characters. He had asked his mother what those characters mean, and why she is engraving them? Her reply was that she had learnt this from her mother, and don't know the reason. It was a tradition that had survived by passing from one generation to next generation until mud-cooking stoves were replaced by oil and gas stoves. It was his opinion that those characters may had been some Buddhist or Shamanistic prayers or talisman that predated Islam and adoption of Persian language, and somehow managed to survive until his mother's generation. The characters may had been changed over time by copying and individuation processes, but they were there. Since that time, I have been looking for those mud-cooking stoves first hand, and the only place that I hoped to find them were in Hazarajat, but I have never gotten a chance to visit Hazarajat. May be some friends from Hazarajat could verify this and document those characters. Alternately, it is also possible that those characters were just some decorations and had nothing to do with history or ancient culture. Only documentation and research can bring them to the light (if they exist, because it is all based on narration of a single person). I put these two pictures as examples that even in our time, there are individuals (like above picture) who engrave things that interest them on things they build (like some sort of personal signature, tattoo or motto), or it could be just a traditional way of putting trademarks (below picture), still we can't rule out that those mud-cooking-stove engravings had some linkage with a historical practice or an ancient language (anything is possible) 

A traditional Example (Japanese): Setsu engraving in the mud-stove from setsu Farm 
The reason that I started this knol by mentioning a lost tradition of engraving characters on mud-cooking stoves is to point towards something, that in my opinion has to be included in the ongoing debate about Hazaragi language on social media. People who argue that Hazaragi is a language and those who argue that it is just a dialect of Farsi have some good points, and I definitely enjoyed reading them, but I think, what matters even more is to understand that language is something of a daily usage by people. Let's for sake of argument suppose that Hazaragi is a distinct language, how long will it survive? The reason that I am asking this question is that each year 25 languages are disappearing. Yes, currently, there are few million people, who speak in Hazaragi, but looking to rising rate of migrations and urge for adaption of global languages make the future of the language look very grim. Language is not a historical artifact or a historical building that could be preserved by putting them in books. It is a tool that people use on daily basis (I recommend to read this BBC article: Are dying languages worth saving?). The replacement of mud-stoves by oil, gas and electric stoves, the tradition of engraving mud-stoves with characters have died. It is a very natural process. When we were kids, we had tens of games that we were playing on the streets, but now computers games have replaced those games. You can document those games but you can't make children play those games instead of computer games. It is how cultures evolve. Technologies and globalization make us constantly learn new things and replace our traditional tools. Fearing technologies and globalization is not a solution but understanding how things work and adaption is the solution. If Hazaragi is a language and it has to survive, then it has to grow to remain a tool that people continue to use it on daily basis. Otherwise writing a few poems, a few stories or making a few dramas won't make it relevant for long as billions of more interesting, entertaining and useful contents in global languages are competing for times of the people.

Now let's suppose that Hazaragi is a dialect of Farsi and its usage by people expands, it won't take it long that it will become a distinct language. As I said before, the most important thing is that we have not to miss the point that language is a tool of daily usage. The only way that its usage can grow is that people have to feel the need to use it. Take the example of English for example. It has grown to become global language because the center for technologies, sciences, global trade and politics are in the English speaking areas. To make it more clear, although English has grown to become a global language, yet, the classy and artistic expressions are  borrowed from French, the expressions for law, wisdom and scientific terminologies are borrowed from Latin and Greek, a number of mathematical words from Arabic, words for natural well-being and fitness from Buddhist and Chinese traditions, philosophical words from German, Italian words for stage and performances, and so on. These words didn't enter into English because some academicians planned to do so. It happened because Greeks pioneered Philosophy and Sciences, Romans mastered laws, French have made fashion and sophistication their trademark, Chinese have masterfully balanced the mental and physical health in their cuisine, exercises and philosophies. Please don't take me wrong. I am not suggesting that Hazaragi will survive or become a distinct language only if we do what Greeks, Chinese and Romans did. Instead, I am stressing on the point that a language can't survive on its own. It needs distinct things to be expressed in it, in order for it to become distinct. If we keep developing indigenous traditions in arts, literature, food, sports and on that is distinct to us, we will need expressions for them as distinct, and that is how a language will be able to stay relevant for daily usage and can grow to become distinct.

One more point to support my argument. Hazaras were living in Hazarajat since their origin with total blackout of history, and there are only few things that made them come to light, The resistance of Hizb Wahdat, Buddhas of Bamiyan and nonviolent protests of and for Quetta. Similarly, just the existence of a language is not a guarantee of its survival in the future. It needs distinct things to make it distinct, and it needs important things to become important.

To further my point, take example of India and Pakistan. Pakistan is partitioned from India on the basis of two nations theory (Although Hindu and Muslims of subcontinent are racially same but culturally they are two different nations). After partition, the film industry was also divided. The Indian film industry made better films and despite of governmental bans on Indian movies, they were widely watched in Pakistan and now the Indian film industry have practically killed the nation theory. Pakistani youths listen, sing, dress, act and speak the language of Indian movies.

No comments:

Post a Comment