Language, linguistics and Society
In Sindhi linguistics, there is dearth of research work. The work which is being projected and presented in the name of linguistics focuses on historical and social aspects of the language. Other disciplines of the linguistics are also important and need to be researched.
By Noor Ahmed Janjhi
Man with his power of knowledge…reason, study, experience, observance and love…. has made wonderful advancement and it is very worth to be appreciated. Still much more lies ahead. This is only a glimpse of human potential in shape of his achievements, inventions and discoveries. Many a structural formation, invention and discovery came to the fore that had been mind boggling. By focusing on these advancements, man is going to think beyond to be a man. However, he has to be a human yet. Somewhere he seems behind animals. As human intellectual growth is limited to few and far between so it takes time to reach to a wide circle of people. As a new concept makes its way to the masses, another new idea replaces it. Thus human intellectual development and its transformation take place and travels further. The travelling of minority of ideas advances towards majority of thinking. Man is consistent in his doings in future direction and his untiring attitude leads him further. It revolves around his aspiration and inspiration. As the aspiration shifts into greed and ambition it gathers negative potential. It distorts his real image and the things become worse. All of the intellectual achievement or development is shared mostly through a language. A language is a wonderful cognitive bestowal which enables human being to be distinct from the other animals. Allah has created human being and taught him how to express, speak or narrate.
There are many proposed definitions of language. Henry Sweet, an English phonetician and language scholar, said: “Language is the expression of ideas by means of speech-sounds combined into words. Words are combined into sentences, this combination answering to that of ideas into thoughts.” The American linguists Bernard Bloch and George L. Trager formulated this definition: “A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates.” Such definitions of language make a number of presuppositions and beg a number of questions. The language remains complicated yet. Some others tag a language as “the principal method of human communication, consisting of words used in a structured and conventional way and conveyed by speech, writing, or gesture.” Some call it “a system of communication used by a particular country or community.”
Language is a beautiful phenomenon of human life because it is means of the expression human self, human communication and the cultural identity. In this way language has three major roles. They are; to express inner self, to communicate with the people knowing the same language and to observe cultural identity through language. A language is a verbatim of human concepts and ideas. It becomes easy in documentation when it gets a writing system. The writing system attempts to transform the images of concepts and ideas in set symbols. The writing system has a long historical journey too. People preserve their languages in their thinking process and cultural mosaic. In this way they transfer their linguistic heritage through verbal heritage until the development of its script or writing system. All the languages are spoken items firstly and then they move ahead towards documentation in black and white after development of writing system. Some languages get official patronage and flourish than the other contemporary languages. It is another point that the language greased by the market suppresses other languages and its speakers pose as superior to others. Such influx of power inculcates feelings of inferiority and superiority among people. Resultantly people abandon their own languages. It concludes in the death of any language and strengthens deculturization process. Aware societies strive for their survival.
History of the grammar development is very much old in language process. People have tried to study the language, the rules of language, the derivative system of language, the progression, refinement, forgetting, and destruction of language. From the ancient grammar of Panini to the universal grammar of Noam Chomsky, there is vast history of language studies. The study has reached to the scientific study of language called linguistics. It is studied the sound system of the language, writing symbols for the sounds, grammatical structures and study of meaning system of words through the linguistics. The linguist, by using the scientific methods, try to teach the processes of phonemes, morphemes, words, sentences, structural dynamics and internal potential or meaning of words. All the process takes place in the complicated domain of life. None takes place beyond to reason in this process. Different concepts and ideas are passed through experimental process as the same may be tested. The whole process starts with the phoneme. “A phoneme is an indivisible unit of sound in a given language. It is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language.” The language is a systematic and dynamic combination of sounds. There is a great importance of linguistics in daily life. People observe their behaviour when they express or narrate anything. They joke and show inner feelings. They keep names according to their thinking process and social context. They express abuse and curse the people. Through all of the processes there emerge many a linguistic points. Besides, there is a great human history in the background of words and sayings formations. The history reveals the pearls of cultures, faiths and the history itself. Through that linguistic process, it is known that how a human being is a human being .How the language is used? How a language functions? How a language emerges, develops during the process and how it becomes obsolete. The linguistics is a diversified, interactive and dynamic study of language. Therefore there is wide range of issues and problems pertaining to the study of linguistics. Further it is divided into different branches as phonology, phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. Interdisciplinary of linguistic studies involve two or more academic disciplines which are considered distinct. The most common interdisciplinary branches of linguistics are: Historical Linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Psycholinguistics, Ethnolinguistics or Anthropological Linguistics, Computational Linguistics, and Neurolinguistics.
Applied linguistics has a great importance in linguistics. According to Corder, “Applied Linguistics is the utilization of the knowledge about the nature of language achieved by linguistic research for the improvement of the efficiency of some practical task in which language is a central component.” According to Schmitt & Celce-Murcia, “Applied Linguistics is using what we know about (a) language, (b) how it is learned, and (c) how it is used, in order to achieve some purpose or solve some problem in the real world”.
In Sindhi linguistics, there is dearth of research work. The work which is being projected and presented in the name of linguistics focuses on historical and social aspects of the language. Other disciplines of the linguistics are also important and need to be researched. There should be study of fundamentals of the linguistics in the universities and there should be development of the text books in Sindhi for linguistics. These definitions should be purely from the sound system and culture of Sindhi language rather than blind following of the matter written in English. It would enable students, researchers, scholars and common men to use pertinent, exact and better language. The language is training as well because it is a complicated process to be performed by a set frame of organ performance. All the business of language is incomplete without training. To know the linguistics is very necessary for the training of language. If one will not understand the phonetic system, one may feel difficulty in teaching the language as well as the change and distortion in the language. This is the age of media and social media is surpassing the traditional media. There is a viewing process along with the reading and hearing process. There happen many changes and distortions in the language. The study of linguistics is necessary for its understanding. The study of linguistics should be important part of the language planning as there may be arranged properly for the study of linguistics at school, college and university level. Besides it, there is necessary to train the mothers as the infant learns early phonemes from the mother. If there will be no capacity of a primary school teacher and the mother in this regard, then there will be no expert of computer or a linguist able to save the language from its distortion. The language survives and sustains because of its speakers rather than the experts in computer and linguistics only.
About the Author
Noor Ahmed Janjhi is a senior educationist based in Desert District Tharparkar of Sindh province. He is author of several books in Sindhi and English on folk literature including two poetry books.