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‘Deccani Urdu’ has no literary sanction: BBC Correspondent

‘Deccani Urdu,’ which is a colloquial, corrupt and slang form of Urdu has no literary sanctions. For example, people use words like sankal for zanjeer, kunda for katora, baiko for aurat, kaiku for kyun, aldarian for daantna, palarian for rona, nhyali for bistar, etc.

S.Afshan Azhar|KMNN

Bangalore:Mr. Maqbool Ahmed Siraj is a familiar name among the editorial writers of South India. A native of Bangalore, Mr. Siraj earned his post graduate degree in Journalism from Madras University in 1978 and soon after joined the Indian Express daily as its correspondent; he remained with this publication for about six years. He had served several other media houses before joining BBC’s Urdu World Service as a correspondent for Karnataka region. He has been with the BBC for about 16 years now.

Mr. Siraj is also a recurrent journalist at Deccan Herald and The Hindu. He is on the editorial board of Islamic Voice English monthly magazine.

Apart from his impressive writing in Urdu and English languages, Mr. Siraj also knows Persian, Hindi, Kannada and Tamil. He spoke to Karnatakamuslims.com on a variety of issues ranging from literature and journalism to education and employment. Following edited excerpts are first part of his conversation.

KM: Tell us something about the language Urdu?

Mr.Siraj: In today’s world, it is very rare to see people with love for a language. They feel very great about their ability to speak English, but they are ignorant about the same language’s roots. Their conversation is mediocre, just sufficient to communicate with a doctor, confectioner or a baker. But if you ask them to speak on issues like Right to Education, Right to Information etc. they are a big zero. Linguistic training is not being imparted to the children at home. Nowadays, students opt for the market savvy courses like B.com, BCA, BSc, BBM etc. nobody joins M.A in Kannada or Urdu. Study of Journalism, C.A, Law are among rare choices. These are the subjects which are neglected by Muslims as these subjects require a high level of expertise in language to study. But our children today, want fast and quick money.

Coming back to Urdu language, to write excellent Urdu, one needs to know Persian which enriches Urdu. The present society is losing value of language and culture. Each one of us is in a race to beat the other. It is saddening to note that people belonging to Muslim society are cut off from their own language. Today’s generation has grown unaware of Urdu and lacks expertise in any language they adopt (such as English).

KM: Do you mean to say we should not use English as a medium for communication?

Mr.Siraj: We must first know the languages spoken around us, which can give us a job or employment and know the languages which have been handed down to us by tradition such as Kannada and Tamil. Muslims are learning English, Kannada and other vernacular languages, but they are unaware of their own linguistic traditions. Recently, I got a wedding invitation from a Muslim girl’s parents; her name was printed as Tanziya Begum on the invitation card. Irony is that Tanziya means ‘taunting’. This shows how her parents were unaware of the meaning of the name she had given to their own daughter. Her parents must have thought that a good sounding word like Tanziya must be good name for their loving daughter. Now she has got married with the same name.

KM: What is your opinion about Urdu language spoken today in most parts of Karnataka, including Bangalore?

Mr.Siraj: There are very few people in Karnataka who speak standard Urdu these days. Most of them speak ‘Deccani Urdu’ which is a colloquial, corrupt and slang form of Urdu and has no literary sanction. For example, people use words like sankal for zanjeer, kunda for katora, baiko for aurat, kaiku for kyun, aldarian for daantna, palarian for rona, nhyali for bistar, etc. When I was working as an educational advisor in an orphanage, to my amusement, I found over 300 Deccani words used by workers and followed by the students. I was forced to provide a converter from Deccani Urdu to standard Urdu, so that the basic literary language could be instilled at the initial stages of learning.

People responsible for educating children themselves are unaware of the usage of suffixes, prefixes and their Persian or Arabic origin, which enriches Urdu. The cultural degradation among Muslims is because of their growing unawareness of any language in a perfect sense. While teaching a language to the children, stress should be laid upon phonetics, reading, repetition and grammar.

Today, focus is given on style but not substance. There is more style in our lives than substance, which must change. Nowadays, we concentrate upon looking good, even though we are not good looking.

(To be continued in part-II)


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7 Responses

  1. I ve read all interview of Mr.Maqbool Ahmed Siraj who is well known journalist of our community and he write in both languages and I m full satisfied that” Deccani Urdu” is not standard but keep him in the mind that Language is attached to culture and society and language affect from other culture and tongue and language so that Deccani Urdu accept its regional culture and tongue and language and it is its beautiful power and force what it adopts beautiful aspects of other culture,tongue and language and this is beauty of urdu and its flexibity.
    Deccani Urdu’ is regarded as a language and litrature in history of urdu and language expert appricaited its historical improvement and movement lelvels and this is my personal experience Deccani Urdu is rapidly turning as a tongue in standard in karnataka state but whole corners of souther parts of india and now a days non urdu speaker also is adopt his melodi and tongue in their talks and discussions as a tongue and this is pewer ,force and sprite of urdu what is occuping on regional langauge and tongue with peace and diffrent spoken people of language is closed to it and not in india but people of indo pak subcontinet in different countries and states are making it source of habitual action among them as I observed it in gulf states among the people of different community and states and coutries they speak in urdu and leave own language but saudi and sudanee also are speaking urdu without learning and this is beauty and love of urdu
    Finally I accep that Deccani Urdu is not standard but it is literary regarded in history of urdu and what is spoken all over Deccan as spoken but its readers is no more and south indian who is very extirmist as a language now a days they are adopting urdu as tongue and talks as uncounciousnessa and speaking and I m full agree that arabic and persina words mostly use in but you it is using other regional words in and if you will you papers of urdu and it is fact and true .
    Wassalam

    Faiayz Ahamd .
    Riyadh,K.S.A

  2. languages are not made from “standard” dictionaries but dictionaries are made from languages,
    the very reason for growth of english language is yearly addition of commonly used words

    we cannot wear sherwanis all the time,we need different clothes at different occasions and at different places.

    no word is corrupt or collocial.
    we need to increase our field of vision and take oppurtunities to increase the scope of urdu

    in fact one theory says that urdu itself was born in deccan.

  3. I’m happy to read this informative interview

  4. With due respect to Mr. Siraj’s opinion, a language may have many dialects, and Deccani Urdu is an authentic dialect of main Urdu. I don’t agree with him in calling it a corrupt form. It’s nourished by the fragrances of Persian, Turk, Marathi & other regional languages. (adding ‘aan’ to make a plurals, like ‘kitabaan’ by ‘kitaab’, or ‘shahraan’ by ‘shahr’ is derived from Persian practice)
    We can’t adopt Rekhta, the most beautiful form of Urdu, in normal conversation, as it has it’s own dialect.
    Even the English language has many dialects & accents worldwide; then what will we consider them, as most of them can’t be compared with Queen English?

  5. I am surprised to read thes statement “Deccani Urdu’ which is a colloquial, corrupt and slang form of Urdu and has no literary sanction”.
    I am sure Janab Siraj is aware of the history of evolution of Urdu language and contribution of Deccan in the literary development of Urdu Language.

    For your information, first Saheb-e-Deewan Shaer was a deccani and first masnavi in urdu was in deccani and many such contributions in literary developemnt of Urdu is from Deccani.

    So Calling deccani a corrupt slang of standard urdu (not sure from where this term came?) is total Ignorance and corruption of facts.

    In any language there are multiple names/words used for same meaning, same is with urdu. Hope you will change your opinion.

  6. Deccan Urdu is being spoken from centuries, this language has a sweet accent of its own, some special words being spoken as substitute, so what if one use Uldareen instead of dantna. Every language has its own value, as such should it continue as it is as spoken since ceturies.

  7. Dear Mr. Siraj……. kindly convey the people, who is the sanctioning authority. Let the people know whether the authority is not a product of Dakhani? Simultaneously, people, in general, do not wait for any sanction to converse in their language, dialect or a variant. Most of the Islamic literature of the Deccan area, during the 18th, 19th centuries and in the beginning of the 20th century, is in the poetic form and in Dakhani.

    But you poured some light on few aspects of principles of language, which is appreciated.

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