Anglicisation of Punjabi
Rubinder Gill

the course of development, a language grows with addition and incorporation of new words into its vocabulary. Old and redundant words are slowly phased out as new ones are adopted and adapted to give voice to new concepts and experiences, which were hitherto not needed.

Campus Note



Anglicisation of Punjabi
Rubinder Gill

During the course of development, a language grows with addition and incorporation of new words into its vocabulary. Old and redundant words are slowly phased out as new ones are adopted and adapted to give voice to new concepts and experiences, which were hitherto not needed. For a language to flourish, a healthy database of words is an utmost necessity. In the race for ‘survival of the fittest’, languages which keep pace with times develop while others find themselves on the wrong side of evolution.

The world over, languages today are dying out quicker than at any other time in history. With the death of a language, a whole history, culture, society and wealth of experience is cast into oblivion. This is the price we are paying for going ‘global’ in the name of ‘globalisation’.

Punjabi is struggling to survive as it tries to keep pace with technological developments. Debates have raged over ‘Sanskritisation’ and ‘Persianisation’ of Punjabi. To add twist to the tale is the declaration of a list of 311 words chosen by the Department of Development of Punjabi Language, Punjabi University, for adoption into Punjabi for spoken and literary usage. ‘Anglicisation’ of Punjabi could be the new debate to hit the language.

Punjabi University claims to have been the first to take initiative to strengthen the language. “The list has been finalised after deliberations by scholars from fields of linguistics, lexicography, literature and folk language. At the first stage, those words have been adapted which are frequently used in spoken language for which no equivalents are available so far in standard Punjabi dictionaries,” according to Dr B. S. Sandhu, Director, Public Relations.

He further adds: “The words now declared as adapted by Punjabi University are already in common usage of Punjabi speaking people from all walks of life but could not have the formal status of being Punjabi words. This declaration implies that now onwards these words can be officially used as words of Punjabi language in all forms of usage.”

Contrary to the claims of the university, many words featured in the list have more than an equivalent in Punjabi. How can a university be the sole guiding and controlling authority to decide that words like ‘airport’ and ‘urban’ have been incorporated into Punjabi?

Amalgamation of new words into a language is a slow process that can take decades. Absorption and adaptation of words can’t be forced. Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira, Punjabi linguistics expert in the Department of Correspondence Courses, Punjabi University, is forthright about the whole process. “The list has been made by linguistically ignorant people. Their vision is limited and they have not taken into account the frequency of a word’s usage and by which group. This is a meaningless exercise.”

According to Dr Khaira: “A language is like a living process. Adaptation and absorption of a word can take up to 25 years. Words compete with each other. The one which is the phonetically closest is likely to make the cut. It is also a social process. Many words fall by the wayside while others become part of a language. Most words are adapted. We did not have a word for ‘station’. In rural areas, it slowly adapted itself to ‘tation’ and is now frequently used.

“Language is structured. You can’t tamper with its mechanism and grammar. There is a system of words and their formations. New words are coined joining two or more words. They can only be formed if they have the same root. So, can’t force a word into a language. ‘Gobhi’ and ‘balti’ are foreign words but are now a part of the language. It is not necessary for a language to have an equivalent for every word of another language. In English we have ‘explain’ and ‘describe’, which have two distinct meanings, but in Punjabi we use ‘vayakhya’, which is an adequate equivalent for both of them.”

Punjabi is grappling with technological advancements and some technical terms have to be incorporated, but imagination can be exercised to coin new terms. Dr Khaira has many new words to his credit. He along with his son Jaiteg Singh coined ‘Parnali tantar’, the equivalent of ‘operating system’ in English.

Punjabi, like any other language, can’t stay static. It needs to grow by taking new words from other languages but not at the cost of tampering with its soul. Not knowing Punjabi is no excuse for putting English words in it and then passing it off as an intellectual and academic exercise in the interest of the language. Nothing else can damage Punjabi more.


Campus Note

GND University, Amritsar

PG courses in air travel services

Guru Nanak Dev University is contemplating to start new post-graduate courses in Air Travel Services from the next academic session. A proposal regarding this has been sent to the Airport Authority of India through the authorities of International Rajasansi Airport here. The step assumes significance, as Amritsar has become a major destination for a number of national and international flights. While Chandigarh and Ludhiana airports are under consideration for declaring to be international, Pathankot airport is likely to be started soon.

Dr S. P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GNDU, who has been authorised by the Academic Council of the university to take decisions in this regard, said such courses were the need of the hour to cope with global challenges and meet the increasing demand of this region. Earlier, students had to move towards Delhi and other cities for such courses. Dr Singh said as the sky was opening, job avenues had increased in the area. He said the courses would include air ticketing, tour and travel, catering, airhostess and a little of technical know-how, besides other non-technical part. Airport authorities at Flying Club, Amritsar, are being roped in to impart training to the students. Affiliated colleges too have these courses.

— Contributed by Pawan Kumar




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Fellowship for Women Scientists
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