Sunday, 6 October 2013

Language Deprivation and the Socially Disadvantaged in Bihar

Language is a social institution. If you control it, you can transact business with the world on your terms. Terms, of course, must be favourable to your self; they must help you to enhance the quality of your life and realize the finer possibilities. They can win you also a share in the power structure of the society, and give you an easy access to knowledge, and authority based on knowledge. 

But if you don't control it, you are disadvantaged and suffer from language deprivation. Perhaps you use a language which does not reach beyond your region; you cannot transact business with the world through it; you are bottled up in this particular region. There is no way for you to break into the power centres of your society. You may find your path to knowledge and authority barred, barred because you don't speak the right kind of language. The limit of your language is the limit of your world.

The socially disadvantaged suffer from this kind of deprivation in Bihar. They haven't had the facilities for learning English or even Hindi. They speak their regional language: Maithili, Magahi or Bhojpuri. They use what a well known British sociologist, Basil Bernstein, calls as 'restricted speech code'. Their speech code is different from and inferior to the 'elaborated speech code' used by the socially advataged. And if proper care is not taken now, the deprivation is likely to grow and intensify. Unequal income, unequal status in society, unequal opportunities for material and cognitive well-being and unequal language. It is quite a pile, which oppresses the disadvantaged in Bihar.

( This blog is a modified version of the preface of my book, Language deprivation and the socially disadvantaged in bihar. Based on the data collected from field work, the book describes the extent and intensity of language deprivation among the socially disadvantaged in Bihar. It was published by Janaki Prakashan, Ashok Rajpath, Patna in 1992.) 

No comments:

Post a Comment