Evolving Ethnic Literature – by Meena Chopra

Language and culture are inter-woven in our normal lives, but the depth or the centre point, from where all the imagination and creativity originates in the form of art and literature, is obscured in the hidden layers of the unconscious self. It is from the deepest layer of the self where all the diversity of life springs. At the same time, it is the focal point, or an ultimate abode, for diverseness becoming oneness of being.

The essence of languages lies in their literary merits which in turn influences and impacts its literature and literary capabilities. One wonders that what these literary merits are and from where and how do they surface? Any literary work, poetry or prose, which represents the high quality of artistic merit will create a standard and an everlasting place for itself in enhancing the quality of that particular language.

Keeping all this in mind, is it not the responsibility of all the literary organizations, specifically ethnic organizations, to embrace global and technological changes so that they are well positioned and equipped to support the initiation and continuity of the artistic quality and its expression through language? Shouldn’t literary organizations help artists writing in languages of ethnic descent to influence, impact, and be showcased in the contemporary literary stream? This is the literature which is coming into being through the contribution of immigrant population of varied ethnic languages in Canada and many other countries.

Any good literature has new-ness in it. This new-ness comes with a changing thought process in a changing environment. the thought process and day-to-day interactions are directly linked with the usage of our language. Yet, the quality of language depends on the literary capabilities and its artistic merit.
Immigrant population has always been extremely sensitive to the changes which provide an opportunity to bring new-ness to the literary arts. It’s vital that the literary merit, which is dependent on artistic abilities ,is also kept alive while embracing the changes. This is imperative for the survival of the ethnic literature along with the language in which it is written.

It is natural for the literary artist to feel and cherish the intimacy with the lifestream and nature within the depth of the soul. Yet, in time, the very feel and touch of these creative moments get obscured and entrapped in the maze of life and its mundanity. They surface to the conscious levels of mind in the form of language arts or, for that matter, in any other art form. Questions arise about the relationship of self-expression with the language in this fast developing world of technological change and globalization. How are the human sensibilities and the creative process affected? What could be the primary medium of expression of artistic literary abilities? Is the form of language itself is going through an extreme radical change?

Changing Environment & Its Influences

In this fast pace of changing environment, will Hindi, Urdu and many other ethnic languages be able to remain in their original forms? And, if yes, then for how long? Is it not that Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and many other ethnic languages need to have a new direction? If a language must remain alive and progress, then is it not necessary that we embrace the inevitable changes individually and bring back the vibrancy in the language? Is it not the utter need of these changing times?

The changes are compelling us to find a focal point in all the kind of diversity which rises from caste, creed, cultures, traditions, and also with contemporary technological changes. The needs to be a common playground where there is an exchange and sharing of thoughts. In today’s environment it is necessary to join hands with the diversity around us to grow and co-exist. And this is challenging for us all. If observed carefully, this is the predicament of any ethnic language in the fast paced environment of today. And not just for ethnic languages, as even the English language is not spared. The impact is very apparent on the traditional form of English where idioms and their usage are being changed radically and continuously.

In the changing environment, our youth want an idiom that which can give an instant stimulation to their finer sensibilities. They want something which they can understand in a glance. That means powerful, pictorial images and visuals accompanied by sound effects and maybe a few words which give sensible and in-depth meaning to their enquiring minds. The times now are defined by multitasking and speed.

Therefore Hindi, Urdu or any other language that wants to progress will have to catch the speed of ‘SMS’ and break free from the archaic bondages. They will have to embrace new experiments with diversity. Further, there must be an understanding of the reactions of the subconscious nature of this diversity with the conscious nature mind. This may help give new direction to the expression of the subtle sensibilities in a newer medium and environment for the literary arts. And then, the language can have new meaning. It’s a big challenge for us, but, at the same time, it’s an opportunity for the literary arts to soar into new horizons.


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