Telugu literature will flourish in separate states డిసెంబర్ 23, 2013Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in Andhra, Culture, heritage, Hyderabad, Identity, Kakatiya, Rayalaseema, Telangana, Telugu, Telugu (తెలుగు), Warangal.
Tags: dialect, literature, Tikkana
Separate states good for Telugu
Deccan Chronicle, Amar Tejaswi, 22 December 2013
Hyderabad: Literature is an important tool to craft the identity of a populace. Each state in India and regions within have their own distinct identity. The same holds true for Andhra Pradesh. With three definitive regions and 23 districts, the undivided state is a garden of literary flowers.
But once imaginary borders divide the current state into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, what does fate hold for Telugu literature? Writers reckon the separation will herald better times for Telugu literature and put focus on the unique literature and unsung writers of Telangana.
It has been said that the literature and history of Telangana has been suppressed under the cloak of a united Telugu state for long and has often been dismissed as slang.
Freedom struggles of farmers and common men from the region often don’t find a mention in the regular curriculum. From the Telangana writers’ perspective, their literature was never treated at par with the mainstream Telugu literature. “Telangana has recorded several struggles that are recognised, but they never found their place in the chapters of history. Andhra’s history became the whole undivided state’s history,” award winning writer Prof. Nandini Sidda Reddy explains.
He adds that the genesis of the Telangana struggle for statehood partly lies in literary waters. He says, “Important literary works from Telangana were forgotten. The problem was suppression; there was a lack of equality. Language and literature were cited as reasons to unite Telangana and Andhra when the state was formed, but the equality never existed.”
Forms of Telugu chosen for education and official purposes are drawn from general coastal Andhra dialect. Differences between the dialects spoken in Andhra and Telangana mainly stem from the expression of language, the diction and verbs.
Telangana verbs — the oldest
Verbs are different in all the three regions of Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana. Experts suggest that the verb forms used in Telangana are the most archaic and original and those in Andhra region are the most recent.
Prof. E. Siva Reddy, vice-chancellor, Potti Sriramulu Telugu University, elaborates, “Verb forms are different in each region. For instance, people in Telangana use Cheshindu to mean ‘did,’ people in Andhra use Chesadu, and those in Rayalaseema use Chesinadu. All are correct and the verbs have evolved over the years, but Telangana’s are the oldest.”
Prof. Reddy further explains, “Even some words used in Telangana have their origin in the Vedas. For instance, the word Bhadram is used for “well being” in Telangana, while in Andhra, it is Kshemam. While the former has its roots in the Vedas, the latter was coined recently.”
Even revered Telugu writers like Tikkana Somayaji, Prof. Reddy says, have borrowed words regularly used in Telangana diction for their works despite hailing from the Andhra region.
“Tikkana Somayaji hailed from Nellore, but he would travel to Warangal under the Kakatiya dynasty. In his most important work, the translation of the epic Mahabharata into Telugu language, he used many words that were part of the Telangana dialect. He found these words very beautiful and he would even use them in his speech,” Prof. Reddy said.
Literature will flourish
Now, with the division of the state imminent, writers and poets say, whatever the political implications, literature will only flourish. Well known poet Desapati Srinivas says there is no animosity between writers of the two regions and bifurcation will lead to increased exchange of ideas between literary groups of the two sides while creating a new-found identity for Telangana literature.
“Even in Andhra, serious writers are not against the idea of bifurcation. Exchange of ideas between them will only increase and not decrease.” He further states that writers of Telangana will now be able to get the much needed support from the government which wasn’t the case earlier.
“There is an increased interest in literature and culture and there is also a need to bring back the forgotten literature of the region. There was a gap between writers from Telan-gana and the Andhra governments, which I think will change now.
After the state formation, writers will have a link with the new government,” Srinivas says. Writers assert that irrespective of the region, literature needs to be respected and that will happen when a region gets an identity.
Nandini Sidda Reddy says, “Many important but forgotten works of Telangana will again come into the limelight again. All three regions of the state have their own distinct literary identities but till now only one was recognised. Real Telangana words will again come into usage and the rich history of Telangana will once again be recognised. It doesn’t mean that literature of Andhra will be forgotten or lessened in stature. All will now be equals.”
Former Cabinet minister and AP Official Language Commission chairman Mandali Buddha Prasad also says that the bifurcation can’t be detrimental to Telugu literature and will only help the cause. “I don’t foresee any problems for literature. Irrespective of the region, literary works will bring laurels to the Telugu community. Though C. Narayan Reddy was born in Telangana, his work brought recognition for the whole Telugu community,” he said.
Standardisation of language, a challenge
But this will also lead to a problem in determining the official language and the identity of Telugu language as such. With different dialects in each region, which one shall be recognised as Telugu?
Writers have been lamenting the fact the dialect and diction employed in Andhra region was recognised as true Telugu, but with enough leverage for Telangana writers after bifurcation, which will be the Telugu language?
Experts suggest that the oral forms of the language will still have wide differences from region to region. Oral forms of the language differ not only between the three regions but also in districts. Words used in Karimnagar district are different from those employed in Nalgonda district. The diction of Srikakulam district is vastly different from that of the Godavari districts or further down the state.
“Words, diction change just across a small rivulet. My in-laws who live across the river separating our villages in Mahbubnagar speak a vastly different Telugu. The same is true for all languages. Oral forms will always differ,” Prof. Reddy says.
However, he also adds that vernacular newspapers and news channels have played a great role in changing the way people speak.
“Newspapers have had such a huge impact on the way people speak. Now even in Telangana, people use the same diction that they read in newspapers. And newspapers predominantly use the Andhra region dialect,” he says.
However, cutting across regional lines, writers and experts stress on the need for standardisation of the Telugu language. Writers would want to be read by a wide gamut of people and can’t restrict themselves to one language or dialect. So they would have to evolve.
Well known writer Mudiganti Sujatha Reddy says there is a need for standardisation of the language. “Verbs are different in different districts. There is regional dialect, caste-based dialect and so forth. So there is a definite need for standardisation of the Telugu language at least in written forms. In oral forms, there are differences in way people express and that is hard to change but in written form, definitely, there is a need for standardisation,” Sujatha Reddy says.
Writers across all regions are also adjusting to a common standard language for wider appeal. A writer or poet wouldn’t want his audience to be only from Telangana or Andhra. He or she would want a pan Telugu readership.
“Earlier, there were some five or six Telangana writers writing in pure Telangana dialect, but that has come down to two or three now. Slowly, writers from Telangana are changing their writing styles to suit both sides. But dialects will not change completely. It is complicated but there will be more exchange and Andhra will use some of our diction and we will use theirs,” Sidda Reddy says.
However, it is being predicted that the dialect of Andhra will be recognised and used commonly by everyone. Writers say it is not bad as long as it is not forced. Desapati Srinivas says, “We can’t say it is bad but it will happen nevertheless. It is part of evolution as long as it is not forced.
There is a huge difference between forcing a dialect on someone and its independent evolution.” The Potti Sriramulu Telugu University is already working internally on standardising language. Vice-Chancellor Prof. Siva Reddy says, “We must have a standard language for both states although 100 per cent standardisation can never be achieved. It will happen over the years; novelists will want to write for both regions and not just one. But we are having internal discussions at the Telugu University about standardisations.”
He, however, adds, “There is the issue of official language as well but I think official language is only limited to government offices and not beyond that.”