25 May 2009

Puthi literature

For a good introduction to Puthi literature ("Puthi Literature is a special genre of literature written in a mixed vocabulary drawn from Bangla, Arabic, Urdu, Persian and Hindi. It was current during the 18th and the 19th centuries and its composers as well as readers were Muslims."), visit Banglapedia.

Sometimes, one-third of an entire work in Bangla would consist of words taken from other languages. Apparently, at that time, readers understood the poems because the mixed language was their own, not that deliberately propagated by schools or state.

Today, in the Philippines, many schools are trying to propagate a language (either English or a vernacular language) that is not the language that ordinary Filipinos speak at home or in the workplace. Derisively labeled "Taglish," the language that almost everybody speaks is used by novelists that specialize in romance. These novelists sell books in the thousands of copies per week. In contrast, books written in English or in one of the vernaculars rarely sell more than a couple of hundred copies a month. Let us hope that the experience of the Puthi writers is not repeated in the Philippines.

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