….boggles the imagination. This article says there are 780 languages in India. Isn’t it our duty to protect each of these languages and it’s speakers, rather than merely “imposing” mainstream ones on non speakers?
The Guardian is a lovely newspaper indeed. Amongst other things, cricket match reports, rendered redundant in these days of instant multimedia communication, is still beautifully done, retaining the freshness and spontaneity, that seem to be missing in these days of cliched filled reporting.
Anyway, there is a lovely article about why the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein loved cricket so much.
For me, though, the more likely draw for Wittgenstein was the game’s language. His whole life was spent attempting to deconstruct the lines of code underpinning evolution’s most fabulous app – verbal communication. And cricket, with its dense and extraordinary quilt of gorgeous words and phrases, must have utterly captivated him.
The complexity of cricket necessitates an equally complex language merely to describe the basics of the game. There’s quite a lot of vocab for a player to learn just to know where to stand on the field. Imagine a circle of radius three metres around a batsman. Any fielder brave enough to stand on that circle can be described as any of (the titular) silly point, silly mid-off, silly mid-on, short leg, backward short leg, leg slip, slip or gully, depending on which point of the compass they are standing on in relation to the batsman.
English translation by Fox Strangeways from Wikipedia:
Is this sweet babe
The bright crescent’s moon, or the charming flower of the lotus ?
The honey in a flower, or the lustre of the full moon ?
A pure coral gem, or the pleasant chatter of parrots ?
A dancing peacock, or a sweet singing bird ?
A bouncing young deer, or a bright shining swan ?
A treasure from God, or the pet parrot in the hands of Isvari ?
The tender leaf of the kalpa tree, or the fruit of my tree of fortune ?
A golden casket to enclose the jewel of my love ?
Nectar in my sight, or a light to dispel darkness ?
The seed of my climbing fame, or a never-fading bright pearl ?
The brilliance of the sun to dispel all the gloom of misery ?
The Vedas in a casket, or the melodious vina ?
The lovely blossom put forth by the stout branch of my tree of enjoyment?
A cluster of pichaka buds, or sugar-candy sweet on the tongue ?
The fragrance of musk, the beat of all good ?
A breeze laden with the scent of flowers, or the essence of purest gold ?
A bowl of fresh milk, or of sweet smelling rose-water ?
The field of all virtue, or an abode of all duty ?
A cup of thirst-quenching cold water, or a sheltering shade ?
A never-failing mallika flower, or my own stored up wealth ?
The auspicious object of my gaze, or my most precious jewel ?
A stream of virtuous beauty, or an image of the youthful Krishna ?
The bright forehead mark of the goddess Lakshmi ?
Is it, in this beautiful form, an Avatar of Krishna Himself ?
Or, by the mercy of Padmanabha, is it the source of my future happiness ?
Vaasanthi has beautiful tribute to Jayakanthan here:
Soon he was to overpower the literary scene of Tamil Nadu literally like a storm with short stories that revealed a deep and sensitive understanding of the downtrodden. For the first time here was a writer who did not just
portray their misery but found in the lives of rickshaw pullers, prostitutes, rowdies, pickpockets and cigarette-butt scavengers, a flaming passion, a liveliness, and truth. The compassion that entwined their characters and attitudes was so moving in his narration that the result was an elevating experience for the reader. He wrote about the slumdweller in earthy prose with firsthand knowledge of one who had lived among them in his early years of struggle when he worked as a compositor in a printing press. Suddenly it was a celebration of life, be it in dirt, squalor or a prostitute’s bed.
was also introduced to the works of the great Tamil poet Subramanya Bharati. Bharati has been Jayakanthan’s biggest inspiration to this day. There is no speech of his that is not interspersed with quotes from Bharati’s poetry. The passion with which the writer recites the quotes never fails to moisten the eyes of the listeners.
On the Diary of a madman:
Here we find expressed the essential absurdity and tragedy of life, where dream and reality merge so that we have no means of distinguishing what is true from the illusory, what has value from what is worthless;
On the Overcoat:
The use of language alone (as opposed to any conscious effort on the author’s part to impose his vision or message) to create what is literally another world, where logic does not apply, where values become transmuted and the world is turned upside down, is quite extraordinary.
Gogol did not so much work from the imagination…as by using apparently irrelevent, trivial details to astonishing effect…..
Gogol’s characters do not have psychological depth and are developed in the main purely by external physical descriptions.
On Gogol’s portrayal of women:
It is interesting to note that Gogol generally portrays women either as delicate, ethereal, impossibly unattainable beauties, or as viragos or witches, in league with the devil and ready to lure man to destruction.
Gian-Carlo Rota is a writer of such crystal clear and beautiful prose, conveying the essence in an unconvoluted and direct manner. If your interests lie in the intersection of mathematics, science and technology and well written prose, I warmly recommend the book.
Say not of me that weakly I declined
The labours of my sires, and fled the sea,
The towers we founded and the lamps we lit,
To play at home with paper like a child.
But rather say: In the afternoon of time
A strenuous family dusted from its hands
The sand of granite, and beholding far
Along the sounding coast its pyramids
And tall memorials catch the dying sun,
Smiled well content, and to this childish task
Around the fire addressed its evening hours.
—-Robert Louis Stevenson
The linguistic diversity of South Asia is staggering. An old 1927 census done by the British listed about 179 languages and 441 dialects or so with 60 languages having more than hundred thousand speakers.
There is even mention of an Indian language called Paisaci, i.e spoken by Pisacas (ghouls, ghosts etc)
This lovely online dictionary collection, is a moving tribute to the rich diversity and plurality of people of the South Asian region.