Use of language in its present context

17 December 2013 07:29 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Often we hear that the youth is not interested in cultured language. Of course those who read and write in English language are bounded by traditional middle class norms and still there are norms to follow. But when it comes to Sinhala it is different. I was told that in the use of Tamil there are some strict codes and there is a common social pressure to use cultured language. However in the case of Sinhala, many learned women and men criticise the way language is used, in not so much in the print media, but certainly in electronic media. Some say that bad language has become the style of modernity. However Socialist leaders always believed that abusive language and swearing are a legacy of slavery, humiliation, and disrespect for human dignity. It shows the lack of respect for not only others but also ones own.   Linguists and experts in folklore, agree that old languages carry loose, sticky, and low terms of abuse than other languages of recent origin. Socialists and liberal thinkers stress that abusing, yelling and humiliation are products of violent and cruel class conflicts. In Europe in general, swearing in the lower depths was the result of despair, embitterment and, above all, of slavery without hope, without escape. The swearing of the upper classes, on the other hand, the swearing that came out of the throats of the gentry, the authorities, was the outcome of class rule, slave owners pride, and unshakable power.

"Linguists and experts in folklore, agree that old languages carry loose, sticky, and low terms of abuse than other languages of recent origin. Socialists and liberal thinkers stress that abusing, yelling and humiliation are products of violent and cruel class conflicts"

On the other hand the proverbs contain the wisdom of the masses that were eager to spend a peaceful life. One can say that peasants were slavish and justified the oppression by such wisdom. But unlike in Europe we in the Indian sub-continent did not go through periods of such oppressions. Marx accepted that societies in the Indian sub continent were clusters of organic Asiatic societies hardly disturbed by the war of kings and princes. However Trotsky said that Russian proverbs show besides the ignorant and the superstitious mind of the masses, their slavishness. Referring to the Old Russian proverb “Abuse does not stick to the collar,” he said it not only that slavery is accepted as a fact, but submits to the humiliation of it. In general European socialist critiques have said that two streams of  abuse are that of the masters, the officials, the police, replete and fatty, and the other, the hungry, desperate, tormented swearing of the masses have coloured the whole of  life with despicable patterns of abusive terms before the advent of a democratic revolution. After the victory of parliamentary democracy, this legacy rapidly evaporated not only within bourgeoisie but also among the organised working class.

"However in the case of Sinhala, many learned women and men criticise the way language is used, in not so much in the print media, but certainly in electronic media. Some say that bad language has become the style of modernity"

Even the democratic revolution was in the first place an awakening of human personality particularly within the urban masses. Even in Europe, though they were supposed to possess no personality, the villages were at least partially ancestral societies where they lived among kith and kin. Family ties were strong. It was the cruelty and the sanguinary relentlessness of its methods that allowed the bourgeoisie revolution to break these village bonds. Inspite of such setbacks, with the proletarian urban settlements we see above all, the awakening of humanity, its onward march, and marked with a growing respect for the personal dignity of every individual with an ever-increasing concern for those who are weak. In this respect trade unions and social movements played an important role. Western democratic  revolution does not deserve its name if, with all the means at its disposal, it did not help the woman twofold and threefold enslaved as she has been in the past to get out on the road of individual and social progress. Democratic revolution did take care of the children of the future people for whose benefit, the democracy has been established. It created day by day, if only by little bits, a new life based on mutual consideration, on self-respect, on equality of women, looked upon as fellow-workers. Even within this limited democracy we cannot tolerate an atmosphere poisoned with the roaring, rolling, ringing, and resound swearing of masters and slaves, that swearing which spares no one and stops at nothing? The struggle against  bad language is a condition of intellectual culture, just as the fight against filth and decease such as dengue is a condition of physical culture. To do away radically with abusive speech is not an easy thing, considering that unrestrained speech has psychological roots and is an outcome of uncultured surroundings inspite of great teachings of Buddha.

"To do away radically with abusive speech is not an easy thing, considering that unrestrained speech has psychological roots and is an outcome of uncultured surroundings inspite of great teachings of Buddha"



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