Orissa Became Odisha: What Else Could Have Happened When Stupids Rule the Roost?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Government of Orissa celebrated the assent of the President of India to the erroneous Orissa (Alteration of Name) Bill, 2010 that tampers with classicism of Oriya language by enforcing change of the State’s English spelling from Orissa to Odisha with effect from November 01, 2011. The Chief Minister declared November 05 a holiday to mark the success in the mischief and announced that signboards all over the State and official files shall be made to replace Orissa and Oriya with Odisha and Odia respectively by end of March, 2012. The Hindi words – Urisha and Uriya – must also be changed in use accordingly.

The Bill was erroneous inasmuch as it is surprisingly silent about so called wrong naming of the State in Bengali and other Indian languages. It is erroneous, further because, its nomenclature was misconceived. It was not meant for altering the name of Orissa and in fact it does not. Orissa as pronounced in Oriya is kept in tact and is to continue like that. So, there is a blatant mismatch between the nomenclature of the Bill and the purpose thereof. Over and above this mismatch, the aim of the Bill was detrimental to the classic character of Oriya language. Hence the Parliament of India should not have passed the misleading Bill and when despite our protests, the Bill was passed, the President should not have given assent to it sans required cogitation. The Parliament was certainly conspicuous by its absence of mind in considering the Bill and has made a blunder in passing it without going into the history of transliteration of these two most material words. But the President acted a mere rubber stamp of political power holders and approved it without application of mind to the issue raised by us.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is a congenital non-Oriya born to Biju Patnaik through a non-Oriya mother. He has neither any education in Oriya nor any commitment for this matchless language, which not only is recognized in Linguistic Survey of India (Vol.IV) as a language “of a rich vocabulary in which respect neither Bengali nor Hindi nor Telugu can vie with it”, but also is marked as the most distinguished language on archaic aspect of languages of India, specifically amongst the neighboring tongues when linguistic authorities like Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee of Bengal points out that, “Of these three languages – Oriya, Bengali and Assamese – Oriya has preserved a great many archaic features in both grammar and pronunciation and it may be said without travesty of linguistic truth that Oriya is the eldest of the three sisters, when we consider the archaic character of the language” (Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol.XXIII, at p.337). Neither Naveen Patnaik and his followers and fellow politicians in Orissa nor the members of Indian Parliament who passed the Bill know of this archaic distinction of Oriya language. But, they have given a death blow to this distinguished feature by making this misconceived Bill a Law of the land giving it effect through an amendment in the Constitution of India. This happens, when stupids rule the roost with determination to stay in power by any means and contrive schemes to divert public attention from blatant failure of their administration to misled satisfaction on fulfillment of misconceived pride that the schemers deliberately coin.

The moment it had come to our attention that the lingua non-Oriya fellows in power in Orissa were conspiring to kill the classical feature of Oriya language through this misconceived instrument, we had tried to place our views on records and had urged upon the CM that the English and Hindi spelling of the name of the State and its language should not be changed, as the same was nothing but recognition of Oriya’s classic distinction by non-Oriya Indians and English speaking foreigners.

People of this State had not coined the words Orissa or Oriya or Urisha or Uriya to pronounce and spell the name of their land or language. The non-Oriyas – Indian and foreigners – had to develop these spellings by using ‘R’ for approximately correct pronunciation of the concerned Oriya words.

The peculiarity of Oriya language lies in different appearances of the same alphabet to serve the purpose of two patterns of pronunciation. This was posing a problem for the non-Oriyas, particularly the British occupants of the land. To remove this difficulty, a British officer – Mr. T. J. Maltby of the Madras Civil Service – had authored a ‘Handbook’ in 1874 “mainly for the non-Oriya officers serving in the Oriya speaking districts of the Madras Presidency”. Orissa Government adopted the book – A Practical Handbook of the Oriya Language – in 1945, by courtesy of Miss Lilian Cranworth Maltby, daughter of the author. In this book, Maltby has most ably and faithfully located the pronunciational differences of similar Oriya letters to the extent of even a single letter and has laid down rules for transliteration thereof to Roman equivalents. In the process, he has marked the two patterns of pronunciation of the single Oriya letter represented by Roman D. When the first pronunciation of D is “dental” or “soft” like ‘D’ as in ‘Did’, the second pronunciation of the same D is “cerebral” or “hard” as in the word “Dol”, he has noted. The second pattern of pronunciation of this particular letter was being stressed by the children of the soil by adding distinction to the same alphabet with a dot underneath. M altby, who mandated that “Oriya words in the Roman character are to be pronounced as in German or Italian rather than as in English, and care must be taken that every letter be distinctly sounded” ruled that the relevant alphabet represented by Roman D with a dot underneath justifying its “cerebral” or “hard” pronunciation must stand converted into ‘R’ in transliteration and therefore, in transliteration, Odissa with a dot underneath ‘d’ had become Orissa and Odiya had become Oriya. Attempts were made in 1930s in the all-time authoritative lexicon of Oriya language – Purnachandra Bhashakosha – to present a new transliteration form by prefixing ‘R’ to ‘D’ in representing the dot underneath in matter of cerebral or hard pronunciation thereof and thus Ordisa was posted as transliterated name of the State and Ordia of the language. But, as this was practically problematic, the Bhashakosha’s prefixing of ‘R’ to ‘D’ was discarded by the founding fathers of this State and Mr. Madhusudan Das et al had accepted the rule of transliteration framed by Mr. Miltby and thus Orissa and Oriya had become the transliterated forms of the names of its land and language. Therefore these two words are symbolic of the classical status of Oriya language. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who celebrated the stupidity of tampering with the classical components of Oriya language in this matter does not know of this.

Oriya language is not only matchlessly superb as pointed out in Linguistic Survey of India and Indian Historical Quarterly as mentioned supra, but also is the language that has given birth in India to the concept of linguistic states.

But, Naveen Patnaik, after taking over the Office in the name of Orissa’s regional interest, has shown constant disrespect to this splendid language and has continuously contravened the Orissa Official Language Act 1954, which stipulates that Oriya is “to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the State of Orissa”. In his regime, administration runs not in Oriya language, but in English. And, in his regime, massive majority of projects have gone to non-Oriyas, all major allocation of land have gone to non-Oriyas and priority of administration has been steered into serving the interest of non-Oriyas to the utter disadvantage of indigenous people of Orissa. This man now celebrates the death blow on the classical features of Oriya language and asserts to impose/enforce replacement of Orissa and Oriya by Odisha and Odia by March 2012 in the name of Oriya pride!

What a great farce! What else could have happened when stupids rule the roost?

27 comments » Write a comment

  1. Like most intellectuals of British era and later, Suniti Kumar Chatterjee read only what was fed by the British and never saw even his own language Bangla. People never realize that all the scripts of India have same structure, caled Devanagari as there are 33 consonants symbols of 33 devas and 49 letters symols of 49 Maruts. It has 3 variations-(1) Siddha order-Ksha, Tra, Jna are added for Kshetrajna (Atma-see chapter 13 of Gita). (2) Brahmi followed in Kannada, Telugu- adding 15 Ayogavaha= unclassified, (3) Tamil as shorthand by Karttikeya-4 symbols in each consonant group merged as 1. In particular, he never understood that in Bangla script, number 9 has same shape as ‘Lr’- which is 9th vowel-and that shape is in Hindi, Oriya too. He indulged only in politics of making Jaydev of Bengal or Bangla being elder sister. Sarasvati-Kanthabharana tells that in 78 AD, official work started in 18 local languages in India. But much prior to that, all dramas of Sudraka and Kalidasa indicate varieties of local dialects. In regional feelngs, the linguists also forget that Oriya is the closest language to original vedic and laukika sanskrit and at least 30 vaidika words are used only in Oriya.
    Coming to Orissa, political boundaries have been changing. As a geographical entity it had been called Tri-Kalinga by Somavamshi kings-indicating 3 parts with 3 local headquarters-(1) Kosala at Mura whose rulers were called Maurya later on. Mura has now submerged in Hirakud reservoir and shifted to Burla. (2) Utkala at Vijaya-kataka, now called Cuttack. As region exporting rice, it has been called Dhanya-kataka in Bauddha texts and by Fahien. Remnants ot that name are Salipur, Chauliaganja, Dhanmandal. (3) Kalinga with capital at Konkana.similar to Konkan on west coast. It became Kongada and with bagla pronunciation kangoda. Kalinga had 2 parts-north was Oriya speaking with Lingraj. South was Telugu part with 3 centres of Shiva, called Tri-linga (Telangana).
    North cost had shallow sea where wooden ships were used, so it was called Udra, like Udupi on west coast.As ruler of shipping region, its kings were called Kadamba-again like west coast. Its people were called ‘Audriya’. Since rice was exported from this region, it was called Oryza (audrya) in Greek, which has become Rice in English. Audriya has become Oriya which varying spellings in English which should not be our concern. Persian, Arabic or Chinese spelings can be of many varieties.
    The Tantra of Orissa area was called Uddisha-tantra. Uddish is king of birds called Garuda. It removes poisons and weapon injuries-which was used by Sushena in Rama-Ravana war. There is a book Uddisha Tantra by Ravana. Treatment of injuries still survives in Orissa in Kalupada tradition.

    • Respected Arun Kumar Upadhyay,
      Sir, After all such evidences why the word Kosala is considered as untouchable and nowhere found in Orissa history (example-Govt site of Orissa)?
      In books of ‘History of Orissa’ the picture of present day West Orissa(Kosalanchal) comes after independence and a little of Surendra Sai only, before it, while the Kosala Kings of Soma Dynasty are the makers of Orissa. The word Orissa/Odisha (not equivalent to Udra) was first ever used, for the land, at present we know as Orissa and thus the people of western Orissa came to be identified as Oriya in stead of their Kosali identity(to which they now badly want to revive due to the unjust attitude of the Coastal People towards Kosala and Kosali people).

  2. Subhas babu,
    You must have to believe me (upon GOD) I am writing this comment
    straight after I read through the TITLE of the article which speaks the whole story and had a complete belly full of laughter before writing these few words with utmost satisfaction that at least one has expressed the silent voice of Orissa.

    By the way I do not think any further writing will convey more sense than what has been already expressed in this article. The title has really spoken everything that was to be told of the subject.
    Dr. Asoka Misra

  3. Dear Subasbhai,
    For the last three years at least, they have met in thirty fora three hundred times to demand the classicality of Odia language and get the approval of the Government of India and monetary grant in the sequel. Odisha Sahitya Academy is there, Odia Bhasa Pratisthana is there, Utkal University of Culture is there among many other fora ‘dedicated’ to the cause of Odia literature and culture; but none of them have produced so far at least a 500 page write-up establishing that Odia language has an antiquity for over 1500 years.
    Moreover, they have not been able to produce softwares for learning Odia language for children and for those who want to learn the language. Whenever you ask somebody of these orgs, you have the response, “It is on the anvil.”
    Ganesh Prasad Das
    Professor of Philosophy, U.U. (Retd.),

  4. Pingback: In these pages, the English spelling of the name of our motherland and mother tongue will remain Orissa and Oriya as before, instead of changing into Odisha and Odia. « Orissa Matters

  5. Pingback: Silent Spectators of Killing of Oriya Classicism are Eager to Campaign for Its Classical Status: Good News to Enjoy; But Not Without Reservations « Orissa Matters

  6. Odia and Odisha is the way this state is referred to for centuries even though it was spelled oriya/orissa in English. So govt. just corrected English spellings to reflect this. I think it is right…

    And I respect for your will to classicalize odia which it deserves.

    • Dear Satyanarayan babu,
      Thanks for the time given to the article and thanks for the comment.
      We call in our mother tongue our language, race and land as Odia and Odisha and we have no phonetical mismatch in that when the same is reduced to writing in our own language and alphabets. But when the same is reduce to writing, the English letter ‘d’ never matches with our typical pronunciation and makes a mockery of our language. Therefore, the English linguists had developed the use of ‘rd’ for the 2nd or subsequent use of ‘d’ in a word in our language with utmost respect to our archaic uniqueness, which our forefather had also approved and further developed to use on only one letter ‘r’ to retain the phonetic magnificence of our mother tongue. The idiots manning the present government and a pack of sycophants in our world of letters who always try to ingratiate themselves to whosoever in power, have tampered with the wisdom of our forefathers. We oppose this mischief played upon our mother tongue and hold the government action a blatantly wrong action and the concerned law a bad law. We have posted our views often in these pages which you may please peruse through links given in my reply to esteemed Sandip Kumar Dasverma in this chain of comments as well as in the note in our home page.
      Thanks again.

      • Oh. Thanks for explaining again. Request you to put this phonetic distinction involving ‘d’and ‘r’, which is already present in this post, on top part of the article, otherwise people like me who don’t read full big posts might mistake the entire post.

  7. So we should change our pronunciation as the foreigners pronounce?If not then what wrong to correct the mispronunciation.I am sorry to tell some time we try to show our knowledge.Why we bother how Britishers call us,we have got them out and now time to correct our names.You may accept or not but 99.999999…%Odia has approved it even before the Bill was passed.Bande Utkal Janani

  8. file:///F:/orissa%20or%20odisha.htm

    My piece published at that time in Tathya.in

    Few takers for Bhatruhari’s ‘Odissa’

    It seems that there are few takers to buy the idea of rechristening ‘Odisha’ as ‘Odissa’.

    Most of the linguists and phonetic experts agree on the revision of spelling ‘Orissa’ as ‘Odisha’ unlike ‘Odissa’ as suggested by BJD MP Bhartruhari Mahatab.

    “English has only 26 alphabets to express in place of 52 of Oriya.

    In Oriya pronunciation, we only use ‘dantya sa’ (dental one) and not other two ‘sa’s- ‘murdhanya sa’ or ‘talavya sa’.

    It will be very difficult to transliterate one language with another strictly on the basis of pronunciation. In terms of spelling there is no confusion on ‘talavya sa’ for ‘odisha’ as ‘sh’ connotes ‘talavya sa’.

    To express proper pronunciation we use various diacritical marks for three ‘sa’, such as placing stroke or point on the upper or lower part of the ‘s’.

    But in computer key board we can not place so many characters or alphabets for practical purpose” , said noted linguist and phonetic expert Dr. Dhaneswar Mohapatra.

    Another noted linguist Dr. Prafulla Tripathy says, for computer application a ‘Unicode’ has already been developed in English by an international consortium.

    So there should be no debate on spelling of Orissa as ‘Odisha’ in Roman letters.

    As the Orissa (Alteration of Name) Bill, 2010 awaits approval by Parliament in this monsoon session, a debate has evolved over its spelling.

    Noted language expert Debabrata Mishra, who earned his specialization from Central Institute of English and Foreign Language in Hyderabad pitches in for simple ‘sa’ instead of ‘sha’ as ‘Odisa’.

    “Unlike in Bengali where “talavya sa” is the norm, Oriyas use the “dantya sa” in spoken language and going by that, it’s Odisa, not Odisha”, says Mishra.

    Phonetic expert Kalyani Samantray of Utkal University shares the same argument and suggests for only ‘sa’ which would be nearer in pronunciation.

    “One language will never match with that of another which is why it is futile to compare them”, she says.

    Litterateur Natabar Satpathy asserts that history of Oriya language demands that “sha” be replaced either by “ssa” or “sa.”

    “Given the heavy influence of Prakruta on Oriya, “sa” (dantya sa) was more prevalent in Orissa than “talavya sa.”

    Why commit a fresh mistake while correcting a historical mistake?” he asks.

    But Dr. Dhaneshwar Mahapatra concludes “if this argument goes on then there wil be again a deabate for pronuction regarding‘d’ in Orissa.

    Some may pronounce ‘d’ as ‘the’ or ‘d’ as they like.

    We have to again use the diacritics like placing a point under the alphabet‘d or r’ to make proper pronunciation.

    Argument would be unending, writes Laxminarayan Kanungo.

    So it is better not to change the recommendation of spelling ‘Orissa’ as ‘Odisha’ as passed by Orissa Legislative Assembly”, feel many.

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