Linguistic panel nod for classical status to Odia - The New Indian Express

Linguistic panel nod for classical status to Odia

Published: 24th July 2013 08:35 AM

Last Updated: 24th July 2013 10:47 AM

Odia will soon get status of a classical language. For, the Committee of Linguistic Experts, appointed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, on Tuesday recommended classical status to Odia. The Culture Ministry will soon place the committee’s recommendation before the Union Cabinet for final approval.

Once approved, Odia will join the exclusive club of Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Sanskrit and Tamil which have already been accorded classical status.

At a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday, the Odisha Government placed the 500-page report in support of its demand for classical status to Odia language before the Linguistic Committee. The report was earlier prepared by an 11-member panel constituted by the State Government comprising eminent litterateurs, linguists and historians. The expert panel, headed by noted litterateur and founder director of Central Institute of Indian Languages Debi Prasanna Pattanayak, was formed on January 16 this year.

While the meeting was attended by Chairperson of Centre for Linguistics of Jawaharlal Nehru University Anvita Abbi, eminent linguists like K V Subba Rao and Uday Narayan Singh and head of the Department of Modern Indian Languages and Literary Studies of Delhi University Prakash Patnaik, Debi Prasanna Pattanayak was as a special invitee. Both Prakash and Pattanayak gave presentations on documentary and pictorial evidences supporting the demand for classical status to Odia.

“The Linguistic Committee members congratulated us for our report stating that this was by far the best documented, well argued and organised report submitted by any State Government for classical tag to their languages,” said Pattanayak.

To get classical status, a language must fulfil four criteria laid down by the Government. Among them are the language must have a recorded history of 1,500 - 2,000 years and its literary tradition must be original and not borrowed from any speaking community.

“We told the Committee that the earliest reference to Odia is found in Natya Sashtra of Bharat Muni of 4th century BC. The ancient scripts that resemble with Odia have been discovered from rock inscriptions of King Kharavela and King Ashoka.

It proves Odia language is traced back to an era between 1,000 and 1,500 years. Besides, Odia has an unbroken literary continuity and is the only language in the country which contains 49 letters,” he said.

Pattanayak is hopeful that the recommendation would get Cabinet approval soon.

“The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, V Narayanaswamy, during a book release event on Monday, told us that if approved by the Linguistic Committee, he would place the recommendation before the Cabinet at the earliest,” he said.

Securing classical language status for Odia has been high on the agenda of successive governments and socio-cultural organisations in Odisha. In fact, the State has been making the demand ever since Tamil was recognised as a classical language in 2004.

Apart from the symbolic value attached to it, securing classical language tag will ensure opportunities for scholars to undertake widespread research on the origin and history of Odia language with an effort to fill in gaps and missing links.

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