“SHOULD SOUTH INDIANS LEARN HINDI? WHY OR WHY NOT?”
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The complicated linguistic situation in India, which is a consequence of the great number of languages in the country and their different status, is regulated by the Constitution of India of 1950. It declares Hindi and English to be the official languages of the Republic of India. Besides these two, it mentions another 122 languages (22 scheduled and 100 non-scheduled ones). The language policy of the Union is further particularized by other laws and regulations, which are issued by the Department of Official Language, and the president’s acceptances of language acts and recommendations. Regulations sporadically spark discussions on language. People usually hear from politicians, members of relevant commissions, and journalists, but the views of ordinary speakers of Indian languages are far less known. They are the subject of my analysis of the Internet discussion which appeared on Quora Digest in 2014 ̶ 2017 in response to the actions of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee, who, in 2014 and 2017 respectively, advocated a wider use of Hindi. The participants in the discussion respond to the question: “Should South Indians learn Hindi? Why or why not?”, which eventually sparked questions about whether they really want to consider themselves as Indians and why South Indians do not learn Hindi if they can learn English. Its analysis is summarized in the following sections: I. Hindi as the official/national language of the Republic of India; II. Reasons to learn/not learn Hindi, the quality of Hindi instruction; III. Attitudes towards native Hindi speakers; IV. Attitudes towards English; V. Attitudes towards the need for one common language for the whole Union.
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