The leaders of India would do well to attempt to make everyone fluent in English.
The educated people of India are fluent in English and the benefits are clear including providing internet advice when I call the manufacturer on the phone.
On my last visit to Korea I saw how their emphasis on making English the second language is paying off. Often when I was the only American visitor at a house I would hear children reciting "ABC's" or counting in English. India should stop supporting or promoting the native languages and really push English. The only objection might be that it is a vestige of "colonialism". But who cares if it can make the country more prosperous. And with a billion people speaking English, Indians could become the standard setters for proper usage not some guys in Oxford.
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The leaders of India would do well to attempt to make everyone fluent in English. The educated people of India ... And with a billion people speaking English, Indians could become the standard setters for proper usage not some guys in Oxford.

Shabash Huzoor!

John Dean
Oxford
The leaders of India would do well to attempt to make everyone fluent in English. The educated people of India ... languages?! India already is a multilingual nation, so promoting English more heavily would just add another language to pupils' curricula.

It's not like Hindi and all the other hundreds of languages spoken across the subcontinent would interfere with people's using E.

Luca
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Why stop supporting native languages?! India already is a multilingual nation, so promoting English more heavily would just add another language to pupils' curricula. It's not like Hindi and all the other hundreds of languages spoken across the subcontinent would interfere with people's using E.

It is often the case that two Indians' only common language is English, so it is natural that English should become the language of business and government.

I fail to understand the motive for preserving languages just for the sake of preserving them. Even languages that have great literatures: how many people read Homer in the original these days, and how greatly impoverished are the lives of those who don't?

John Varela
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Why stop supporting native languages?! India already is a multilingual ... spoken across the subcontinent would interfere with people's using E.

It is often the case that two Indians' only common language is English, so it is natural that English should become the language of business and government. I fail to understand the motive for preserving languages just for the sake of preserving them.

I think it's usually more a matter of, not actively trying to stamp them out, discourage them, mock the users, punish them, and sometimes kill them off. People will always raise their children in their own language, if given any choice at all. By this natural mechanism, languages persist.
Even languages that have great literatures: how many people read Homer in the original these days, and how greatly impoverished are the lives of those who don't?

I don't understand. You and I and our neighbors might not know how to read ancient Greek, but (a) that doesn't mean I hope that no one on the planet knows how to read ancient Greek; on the contrary, I hope someone does, if for no other reason that to continue to improve the translations of Homer available, and (b) how does someone being able to read ancient Greek relate to "preserving languages," by which I assume you mean, not as a dead language only to be puzzled over on paper, but as part of a living, breathing, community culture?

Anyway, we're all on one of the winning teams here, so that shapes our viewpoint. If our countries were invaded by, say, the Chinese, who took measures to make sure our children wouldn't learn English anymore, I think one or two of us might have something to say about the value of preserving languages.
If I remember correctly, you have Louisiana connections, as I do. Do you have any first-hand knowledge of how French was stamped out there in the 20th century? My impression is that this clash of cultures was quite hard on my father's generation. (Later, I was read, people tried to revive the Cajun French, making it fashionable again, but the chain was broken.)

Best Donna Richoux
I fail to understand the motive for preserving languages just for the sake of preserving them. Even languages that have great literatures: how many people read Homer in the original these days, and how greatly impoverished are the lives of those who don't?

Much of the great Irish poetry is available, I'm told, only in the original Irish. I think that alone is enough reason to continue to teach it, at least at the university level. Can Homer be translated so as to preserve the precise tone Homer intended? Can anyone be? I am very glad I speak English and don't have to read Shakespeare in, say, French, lovely as that language is.

Charles Riggs
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It is often the case that two Indians' only common language is English, so it is natural that English should become the language of business and government.

Yes, English or Hindi. And human beings are perfectly capable of using two or more languages, depending on the situation and purpose. In fact the majority of the world's population grows up in a multilingual environment. You may be in the minority, then.
I fail to understand the motive for preserving languages just for the sake of preserving them. Even languages that have great literatures: how many people read Homer in the original these days, and how greatly impoverished are the lives of those who don't?

Ancient Greek has in part survived in Modern Greek, even if pronunciation has changed and new words have been added. I don't suppose you are one of those who have read Homer in the original. - Otherwise you'd know the difference it makes.
To answer your question, I fail to understand why one should want to actively discourage people from speaking the language of their community. After all, a language always carries its own meaning and philosophy. Punjabi poetry can't just be replaced by an English translation. And the English vocabulary, however rich it may be, cannot convey the humour of a joke or pun in Tamil.
Some of the languages are going to die out anyway, but it would be wrong to want to speed that process up for the ridiculous idea that an English-speaking-only India would then gain economic power. What they need is more education for everyone, not a monolingual masterplan.

Luca
Can Homer be translated so as to preserve the precise tone Homer intended?

I'd say no, but I suspect that that includes translations into Modern Greek. I'd guess that it's been centuries, perhaps millenia, since anybody who hasn't made a specific study of that era of the language, has been able to appreciate it in anything approximating the way the original audiences did.

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It is often the case that two Indians' only common ... for preserving languages just for the sake of preserving them.

I think it's usually more a matter of, not actively trying to stamp them out, discourage them, mock the users, ... always raise their children in their own language, if given any choice at all. By this natural mechanism, languages persist.

Not always. It's common experience in the US that the first generation born here speaks the parents' language only poorly and the next generation speaks it not at all. Do any of the native-English-speaking Americans here feel impoverished because their families lost the ancestral German, Italian, or whatever?
Even languages that have great literatures: how many people read ... how greatly impoverished are the lives of those who don't?

I don't understand. You and I and our neighbors might not know how to read ancient Greek, but (a) that ... as a dead language only to be puzzled over on paper, but as part of a living, breathing, community culture?

Your response is tangential to the point I was (apparently poorly) attempting to make. What I had in mind was the recurring articles in US newspapers about some ancient who is the last living speaker of some AmerIndian language. The article is always sympathetic, and indeed one can feel for the person who sees her (it's always a woman) language dying with her. But in a larger view, there is little lost. Her descendents don't seem to care, or they would have learned the language.
Anyway, we're all on one of the winning teams here, so that shapes our viewpoint. If our countries were invaded ... English anymore, I think one or two of us might have something to say about the value of preserving languages.

Suppression of a language, which is tantamount to suppressing a culture, will of course be resisted. But when a stronger culture overwhelms a weaker the people will often willingly change languages. Think of the spread of Arabic, or the replacement of Greek with Turkish in Anatolia. If a local language disappears, the victim of a stronger culture, so be it.
If I remember correctly, you have Louisiana connections, as I do. Do you have any first-hand knowledge of how French ... (Later, I was read, people tried to revive the Cajun French, making it fashionable again, but the chain was broken.)

Would your father's generation be the same as my generation? I don't think Cajun French is dead. I'll be in New Orleans in a couple of weeks for Mardi Gras, and I'll ask. I have a suspicion that my cousin, who is himself 1/4 Cajun, won't know.

John Varela
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