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3 reasons why the purity of a dialect is a dying myth

It is said that the dialect of a language changes every few kilometres. And yet, there exist people who believe that the dialect they speak is the purest.

Common sense might make you question this concocted reality. How can any one dialect be purer than the other if there is a new one every few kilometres and especially when those who speak the ‘purest’ dialect rarely even form the majority?

For what it is worth, entire language academies were formed to institutionalise linguistic purism that, simply put, is the practice of recognising one variety of a language as being purer or of intrinsically higher quality than other varieties.

Be that as it may, things are changing to the great chagrin of the purists. Stay with me as I give you 3 reasons why the purity of a dialect is a dying myth.

  1. The growing power of consumerism

In the era of consumerism, buyer is king. Companies bend over backwards to mollycoddle buyers because, finally, a rupee in the bank is worth more than using words ‘correctly’. And there is no better way to appeal to buyers than speak their language, umm, or should I say their dialect?

Little surprise then that one of India’s largest travel portals reportedly turned to taxi drivers and not Grammar Nazis when localising a part of their website into consumer-friendly Hindi. Needless to say that the more practical बुक करें was picked over the utopian आरक्षण करें.

  1. Migration of the rural and semi-urban populace

As things stand in a lot of countries, including our own, industrial development happens mostly in a limited number of cities. It is therefore not uncommon to find people from tier two and tier three cities flock to metros or larger tier one cities.

What also migrates to these cities along with immigrants is the dialect of the language that these immigrants speak. This easily alters what once used to be the ‘purest’ form of the language. While there will be many instances of this happening in every language, I can easily think of how ‘pure’ Puneri Marathi has changed.

As Pune became home to hundreds and thousands of students and working professionals, the Hindi word सही became a legit Marathi word, while a certain dialect of Marathi chipped in with the word सोबत in place of the more Puneri बरोबर. No offense meant, none taken, but then, pure is suddenly not so pure any more J

  1. The emergence of several other polarising factors

Language once polarised states, even nations. However, now that it seems to be done and dusted for the time being, newer factors are emerging that polarise people.

Religion, political leanings, food choices and even sexual preferences are factors that polarise people enough to not make them care much about the purity of a dialect as an important factor.

The way ahead…

Languages will continue to evolve as non-conventional dialects influence and change the dominant or established ones. Markets will take a more and more pragmatic view of dialects, giving it no more importance than that of a means towards an end.

Write to us at projects@bitsindia.co.in or call us on 83800 31438 to know more about the right dialect to reach out to your desired market segment.

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Sandeep Nulkar Founder, Chairman & Managing Director, BITS Private Limited Sandeep Nulkar heads one of India’s largest translation and localisation companies. He is a linguist by passion, businessman by choice and author by circumstances. Over the past decade, he has been working closely with the corporate world and with students and the academia to bring credibility and recognition to the Indian translator within and outside India.