Philology: Origin and Applications
1.30 In ancient Greece great philosophers, apart from science and literature, also studied several aspects of the language. Herodotus (5thCentury BCE) has described the story of an ancient Egypt King, who allowed two kids to roam freely in a garden to study how they learnt the language. The first word these kids learnt was related to the food.
Greek philosopher Plato (427-327 BCE) studied the relationship between the objects and their names. Consequently, two schools of thoughts were formed: Analogists believed that the language is natural and words are related to the nature of the objects in question. And ananalogists asserted that the structure of the language is inconsistent. Studies by analogists led to the development of etymology or the study of origin of words. Yet the analogists were unable to explain the logic behind origin of many of the words. For example ‘lithos’ came from ‘lian theein’ which means ‘to run too much’ .Even though it is true that rocks get eroded away, the basic character of rocks such as hardness and stability are not reflected in the root meaning.
1.31 Subsequently, Latin became the main language of the Roman Empire. In the later centuries, regional European languages like Italian, .French, German and Spanish developed. English language also developed as a consequence of contact with German. Even though the study of grammar was in vogue at that time, the philology came into being after the study of Sanskrit by westerners. At that time, languages were considered widely as the creation of God. Even the Bible conveyed that opinion. In India, people believed that Sanskrit was created by God. Sanskrit was considered a divine language and it was kept out of reach of the shudras and women. Bhatta Kalanka (17th Century AD) declared that Sanskrit was divine. He tried to explain the differences among Sanskrit, Prakrit and Dravidian languages as variations in the quality of water in different terrains in spite of being derived from the same rain.
India was steeped in religious bigotry in the early historical days preventing growth of true scientific temper, but Panini’s (ca.520 BC) classic work on Sanskrit grammar was exceptionally meritorious that kindled the growth of systematic grammars in the European languages.
1.32 William Joans (1746-1794) was the first to envisage that Sanskrit, Latin and Greek were evolved from a single language of early historical period. Joans served as an advocate in the British India for eleven years. During the fag end of his lifetime he studied Sanskrit that led to the exposition of common heritage of the Indo-European languages. For example note for the English words mother, two, three and he is: the Sanskrit equivalents words are: matru, dwa, thraya and asthi. Because of such similarities, Sanskrit was considered a part of the family of Indo-European languages.
1.33 With exposition of knowledge, the myth of divine creation of languages was eventually obliterated. Esperance observed that “the very imperfections and changeability of language speak against the divine origin. Language as gradually developed must be the work of man himself and therein as difference from the immutable cries and songs of lower animals”.
1.34 During 1866, in Paris La Societe de Linguistique and proposition of four theories on the origin of languages.
(a) Bow-vow theory: According to this theory, some of the words like that of bird names are derived from the way they make sound. Thus, the bird that cries kaw- kaw became ‘kaka’ in Sanskrit. That crows (rough imitative sound) became ‘crow’ in English. Or that cries karr- karr became ‘karke’ and further > ‘kakke’ in Tulu and so on. Similarly, the Sanskrit bird name kuyil or kokila (=koel) were derived. The word ‘ghanta’(=bell) was derived from the sound (ghan- ghan) it makes.
(b) Pooh-pooh theory: Exclamations uttered by people out of pain, anguish, surprise etc or as a simple expression of greeting people. This includes words like Oh, Ah, Wah, Hey, Sh, Hai, Hello etc.
(c) Ding-dong theory: Every material has its own inherent sound and the language or words were expressed in response to these sounds. This theory was favoured by Max Mueller.
(d) Yo-hoho theory: This includes the sounds people make while carrying out labour intensive jobs, such as pulling weights.
In spite of the impressive list above, these theories have not contributed significantly to the study of languages.
1.35 Esperance stressed the importance of sound in language as follows: “We may perhaps draw conclusion that primitive languages in general was rich in all kinds of different sounds-tone plays an important part in many primitive languages-we must imagine primitive language consisting of different sounds and sung rather than spoken”.
1.36 Following the study of Sanskrit grammar compiled by Panini, western scholars realized its virtues. In the words of Leonard Bloomfield, it is a great development of human intellect. The fine details structure of the language and rules of grammar expounded in Panini’s grammar are unparallel in the history and it in turn laid foundation for the growth and development of modern philology and linguistics.
In the opinion of Max Mueller, a comparative philologist without the knowledge of Sanskrit is like an astronomer without the knowledge of mathematics. Yet, the Sanskrit was considered a dead language at that time. For example Ellis expressed that: “Almost in our own days came the discovery of Sanskrit and philology proper began but alas at the wrong end. For the pure science of language, to begin with Sanskrit was as much beginning at the wrong end, as it would have been to commence Zoology with paleontology- the relations of life with the bones of the dead.”
Thus the philologists paid their attention to the study of living languages such as the Dravidian. Rt Rev. Dr.R.Caldwell (1956) conducted an extensive study of the grammar of South Indian Dravidian languages. Dr. Kittel compiled an excellent dictionary of Kannada. Rev.J. Brigel compiled the first published grammar of Tulu language. Kittel and Brigel conducted and published their studies from Mangalore, the heart of Tulunad. Philology was not a subject at that time in Indian Universities. Yet these works have remained prized early references for any study of Kannada and Tulu languages.
1.40 Language of the People
Language is pronunciation according to Whitney. In any language the important aspect is its sound. The sound pronounced travels to listeners ear, becomes audible so that it is understood by him. When the language is in written form, the reader grasps the pronunciation by himself and understands the meaning. Thus the pros and cons of the language lie in its pronunciation. According to A. Mario, “Language is an expression of human activity and as human activity is forever changing, language changes with it.” Thus languages grow along with people and according to their activities and preferences. The prosperity or destitution of the society influences the language also. Thus languages grow naturally along with the society and wipe out if the society is obliterated. Pali was a prominent spoken language that subsequently was adapted to written form in the ancient India especially when Buddhism took birth and flourished. With the decline of Buddhism in India, the Pali language was disused and presently even to study the structure of that language one has to travel to neighbouring countries like Srilanka, Myanmar, Indonesia or other countries to borrow Pali texts that traveled abroad along with Buddhist missionaries.
1.41 The language is a part of our behaviour. For example Tulu people have their own characteristic looks, body shapes, mannerisms, dress codes, costumes and general life styles. Tulu language has molded itself over the years in tune with the evolution of cultural characteristics of the Tulu people.
1.42 The main motive of the language is to convey the intended feeling of the person expressing. In turn the reader or the listener should be able to understand the expression using the same language. The precision of expression counts in this transaction. The language can be made to convey the precise meanings by imparting proper training to the people.
1.43 For a newborn child mere crying out is the initial language. Mother tries to understand that the crying child is hungry and makes necessary arrangements to feed it. The child stops crying after it is fed. Subsequently the child learns to yell “amma” by imitating other people in the surrounding environment. This kind of learning by imitation is common to human beings as well as to monkeys. Yet learning a language properly requires detailed training. By the fourth year, the child gets adequate training in pronouncing and understanding the essential words in use in his mother tongue.
Learning a language other than the mother tongue is usually perceived as a difficult task than learning the mother tongue. However, Whitney opined that: “in all other respects, the learning of a second language is precisely the same process as the learning of ones own mother tongue”. To master any language individual initiative, sustained interest and dedication are essential. In this way, Tulu speakers can learn Kannada, Hindi, Sanskrit, English etc with adequate training. Educational institutions with trained teachers are equipped to impart systematic training to the students of the languages.
1.44 A new language can be born only out of necessity and involvement of the community of people. Further, the degree of refinement a language can attain depends on the earnestness of the people who can ably communicate in that language.
1.45 Creating a new language from the scratches is a daunting task and may entail unwarranted hardships on the people involved. Some brave people have tried such experiments in the past by introducing newer styles and usages in the existing languages. Such artificial languages have died out in infancy for want of people who can effectively communicate in them.
1.46 Growth and popularity of a language like Tulu is governed by internal and external factors. Internal factors include simplification of words as seen in Tulu dialectic usage. In spoken Tulu, Narayana has become ‘NaaNi, Nanne, Naane’ etc. Lakshminarayana has come to be called as ‘EcchaNNe’ etc.
The word ‘mudel’ in Tulu stands for the basal or root portion of the plants However, the word acquired the meaning of ‘the initiation’ or ‘beginning’ in general usage. Similarly, some of the words like ‘mast’ (=plenty), borrowed from Urdu language, during the reign of Hyderali and Tipu Sultan are commonly used in Tulu. Simplicity of such words have appealed to people and made them use frequently in their routine life.
1.47 External factors for growth of the language like Tulu are (a) geographical, (b) administrative and (c) political.
Geographic boundaries can often delimit the growth and spread of a language. The ‘Kavi raja marga’, the tenth century AD text, describes Kannada as bound between the Rivers Kaveri and Godavari. Similarly Tulunad has been considered between the rivers flowing near Kallianpur in the north and Kasargod in the south, based on the current spread of the Tulu language.
1.48 Administrative reasons include historical factors. Tulunad was ruled by Alupa kings (or chieftains) approximately from the beginning of the Christian era for nearly 1200 years based on two city state capitals designated ‘Mangalur and Barkur rajyas’ (=kingdoms). Mostly these chieftains were subordinates of Kannada kings, and have not shown evident interest in developing the Tulu language. Inscriptions were also written in Old Kannada which was popular administrative language at that time.
Apparently, Tulu was being written in Tulu script by the Vedic-educated Tulu Brahmins on palmyra leaves during the latter part of the Alupa rule. This is evident by the now established fact subsequently Tiruvanthapura (formerly known as Travancore state) King introduced and developed the Malayalam script based on the then existing Tulu script that was being used fro writing by the Tulu scholars visiting Kerala for agama studies.(Tr.)
With the ascent of Kingdom of Vijayanagara at Hampi, in thirteenth century AD, these Mangalur and Barkur Rajyas became its coastal provinces. Kannada was the dominant administrative language during Vijayanagar period. Vijayanagar King Krishnadevaraya was said to be from Tulu family (Tuluva dynasty). But apparently he gave no support from the growth and development of Tulu language. Kannada continued to dominate during subsequent transfer of power of coastal regions to Keladi Kings.
Subsequent period of domination of Hyderali and Tipu Sultan of Srirangapatna over Tulunad introduced many Urdu words into Tulu language.
1.48 Political factors refer to confusions perpetrated during the post-independence reorganization of Indian States in the year 1956. Kasargod, a region dominated by Tulu and Kannada speakers, was broken from Tulunad and amalgamated with Kerala. The famous Tulu proponent of Yakshagana during 18th century AD, Parthisubba, the poet and composer, was hailing from the Kasargod area.
Words of Whitney appear significant as far as the growth and sustenance of Tulu language and culture in the present political setup: “A stone has lain motionless for ages on the verge of a precipice, and may lie there for ages longer, all the cosmic forces of gravity will not stir it. But a chance thrust from some passing animal jostles it from its equillibrium and it goes crushing down. Just so, in language the great and wonderful power of human soul would never move in this particular direction, but for the added push given by the desire of communication, when this leads the way all the rest follows.”
(To be continued.)