Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
After consistent stress in these pages of ORISSA MATTERS on necessity of preservation of classicism of Oriya language, a section of Oriya authors and scholars have started speaking for recognition of Oriya as a classical language.
The Government of India has recognized Telugu as a classical language in 2008. But Linguistic Survey of India has recognized Oriya as a richer language than Telugu. To quote it, “The Oriya language can boast of a rich vocabulary in which respect neither Bengali nor Hindi nor Telugu can vie with it. The richness of the vocabulary is the index by which the vastness of a vernacular can be gauged” (Vol.IV).
“Oriya has preserved a great many archaic features in both grammar and pronunciation” has said famous linguist Prof. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee in I.H.Q. Vol.XXIII, 1947.p.337.
Replacement of R by D has ruined this “archaic feature”.
As Chatterjee has noted, Oriya is an ancient language of India that has “preserved a great many archaic features” and, as Linguistic Survey of India has determined, it is so vast in vocabulary that Telugu cannot vie with it.
If Telugu became a classical language in 2008, why Oriya is left behind?
This is because, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, whose mother tongue is not Oriya and who has no knowledge about the “high antiquity” quality of Oriya language, which is the cardinal condition for recognition of a language as classical, had by then started playing the mischief against this quality of the language.
Instead of demanding for recognition of Oriya language as a classical language of India, Naveen had made his followers in the Assembly adopt a Resolution on 28th August, 2008 to change the name of Orissa to Odisha oblivious of how adversely that was to affect the “high antiquity” quality of Oriya language. So, instead of Oriya language, Telugu earned the status of classical language.
Naveen, who has killed the soul of Orissa by forcing its people into displacement to handover their lands and living environment to the non-Oriya – even foreign – industrial houses, was in dire need of something to show the people that he is not anti-Oriya. The alteration of Orissa’s name was contrived to help him in this regard. On this mischievous measure metamorphosing into a law with supportive constitutional amendment, Naveen was so relaxed that official holiday was declared to celebrate it as a victory and the entire administrative machinery was misused to project him as the greatest epitome of Oriya nationalism by squandering away, on the occasion, the State exchequer in propaganda and fireworks.
It is a shame that the supporters of the “alteration” who feel “proud” over the change of the English spelling of Orissa and Oriya to Odisha and Odia, in the name of Oriya nationalism, are not ashamed of the very fact that their mother tongue has lost its primacy as the official language in Orissa in the administration of Naveen Patnaik, even though the State’s Official Language Act 1954 that had made use of Oriya language compulsory in official works, is 15 years senior to Official Language Act framed by the Union Government for India and their motherland is also the first amongst all the States of India to have been formed as a province on the basis of its language.
However, it is to be noted that some of my friends are of the opinion that the letter constituting the crux of my discussion has no two situational shapes; but the two shapes are of two different letters acting as two different phonemes.
The greatest ever encyclopedic lexicon of Oriya language, ‘Purnnachandra Ordia Bhashakosha’, in distinguishing the two different situational uses of the concerned letter says, it is “the 13th consonant and the third letter of the “Ta’ series (cerebral), corresponding to the‘d’ sound. When it occurs at the beginning of Oria words it is pronounced as in day and when at the end or middle of a word, it is pronounced as rd in hird”. We find ‘rd’ evolving into ‘r’ in writings of the leaders of Utkal Sammilani to whom we owe resurrection of our motherland that was deliberately and diplomatically divided into four separate limbs by the British because of its fear for the “disposition” of the inhabitants of this brave land, which, its area authorities were sure, “will always present formidable obstacles to suppression either by military or police” (Report of W. Forrester to Robert Ker, Dt. 9.9.1918).
The Law to change Orissa to Odisha and Oriya to Odia is a legal mischief to do away with this distinction and hence is a bad law that no Oriya, who loves the richness of his ancient vocabulary and respects the “high antiquity” quality of his beloved mother tongue, can ever obey.
For us, it would continue to be a matter of pride to disobey the Law that replaces R with D in international spelling of the names of our motherland and language: Orissa and Oriya.