Save the language, not the script

There’s something irritating about living in Bangalore, especially if you’ve learnt Kannada for the better part of grade school, which is this: every signboard in Bangalore has to also be in Kannada.

Of course, when I say ‘has’, I mean that these businesses would rather suffer this stupidity than risk being attacked by the Kannada brigade – that ragtag bunch of know-nothings that thinks that the language that is Kannada will wither away without these great motherfuckers to prop it up.

Here’s what I’m on about: a software solutions company that calls itself ‘Omega Data Management’ will be nudged, plodded, told, forced to put up a signboard in Kannada (One of the ways this is done is for the thugs running this circus to spray black paint on any property of the company that they can reach). Now, the request itself is not silly or impossible. Surely, Kannada is rich enough to have words for ‘data’ and ‘management’, and a board to that effect can be put up in front of the company. But no. That’s not what the Kannada-or-bust brigade wants. They want ‘data’ and ‘management’ to be written down in Kannada script. Kannada, like other Indian languages, doesn’t have a symbol for the nasal ‘A’.  The board in question will read ‘Myaa-nage-ment’, in Kannada script.

‘Discounts’, for example, is a simple, efficient word to put on a signboard. If somebody were to opine that a signboard could also contain the Kannada equivalent for ‘discounts’, one might even agree. What is done, however, is to write down the sound – ‘discounts’ – in Kannada script. If you know something of the Kannada script, you’ll know that that looks hideous.

What these morons want to do, then, is to save the script, not the language. I am told that this is mostly because nobody knows or understands Kannada words for ‘data’ or ‘management’ or ‘discount’. Which is precisely my point. The language is as rich and deserving of patronage as any other language – there have been seven Jnanapitha awards for literature for work in Kannada. The script is incidental, and is used by languages that aren’t Kannada.

You can’t save the language by making people use the script. All you would be doing by this is to enable some bums who are too lazy to learn to spell in English, and too stupid to learn their own language properly. That, and you’ll be making some empty political noise. Especially if you can show photographs of signboards in ‘Kannada’ to packs of the aforementioned stupid lazy bums, and claim that you’ve made an ‘impact’.

Stupid fucking gits. (I’m tempted to write that down in ‘Kannada’ as well.)

I’ve seen one exception, though. I had to go to KC General Hospital in Malleswaram to get cleared for a position at JNCASR (I haven’t been able to figure out why, though; all the doctor, the superintendent of the hospital, did was to ask me if I was healthy, sign the form, and get 150 bucks from me. How does that qualify me for employment?) Anyway, KC General Hospital has boards in Kannada that are actually boards in Kannada.

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