The study of literature is also the study of language. It is through such processes that the potential of a language is best realised. A language’s lexicon doesn’t give the actual picture of its power of representation; its use does. I don’t think that the mere lack of a huge volume of vocabulary renders a language weak.
If the horizon of knowledge reaches out far, then a writer writing in a language without an extensive lexical base can also create great literature without drawing on the entire fund of vocabulary available in the dictionary, since the skilled use of phrases and idioms and the language’s inherent possibilities will provide the writer the scope to do so.
The character of a language itself carries the potential for innovation. Rhetoricians have explored different aspects of this phenomenon; they have dealt with it by making use of illustrations from creative literature. When a writer is in search of new forms of representation in his language, similar exercises in other tongues may give some examples, but when it comes to actual use, it is not possible to do so outside the language’s character.
The innovative use of language grants it a new dimension, enhancing its potential. New thoughts, new worldviews will always seek avenues for expression, and the writer will be amazed by the remarkable plasticity and elasticity evident in the language. It is because of these twin characteristics that the writer’s creative exercises enhance a language’s expressive possibility.
Literature and philosophy serve as laboratories for such development. The language is strengthened by these exercises. I think every creative writer has a responsibility towards his own language. I feel more strongly about this whenever I see some writers getting readily inclined towards an acquired language instead of the mother tongue. I am not arguing against literary practice in a language other than one’s own.
I am only saying that the pursuit of another language at the expense of one’s own tongue, especially its neglect and derision, could disengage the writer from his own tradition, his own roots.
Each writer has responsibility towards his mother tongue because it is his practice that opens up the hidden treasure of his language. In search of expressive possibility, he has to mine deep into the language that is comfortably available to him. Of course, sometimes he may have to add to the vocabulary by borrowing from another familiar language but that should easily cohabit with the language of his practice.
What sort of commitment should a writer have for the society and his contemporary time? Writers can’t be detached from their surroundings and be lost in a realm of imagination without feet on the ground. The world around him is changing fast, newer social concerns are appearing, social complexities are throwing up newer challenges and therefor the writers cannot remain unconcerned about the contemporary reality.
The writers have their freedom of thought and cannot avoid ideology in the contemporary world. Each creative writer will interpret his experience as he feels. Each writer’s world-view may significantly differ. But he should find his literary truth by responding to his environment distilled from the experienced world. And by whatever manner he expresses himself, he should not abandon human concerns in reckless pursuit of an idol dangerous for the humanity and for the future generations.
Our writers have to be conscious of the complexities of the contemporary world to interpret their present reality for the awareness of their people. This can best be done in a language they share with the people of their community and not in a language which most people of the community do not follow.
For the lack of such a manifest mission, I can see that many of our talented writers move over to a writing career in English. Many of these writers have made marks nationally and some even internationally. But I feel that today’s writers need to have a kind of patriotic attachment to their mother tongue even while they need an avenue for recognition in a larger world.
I cannot advise anybody in this respect except that I appeal to the young contemporary writers having marked command in English to go bilingual, even if they take English as their first choice of communication. It is my feeling that the language of a community gets refined and strengthened in the process of modernization if its literature constantly improves in expressive value, becomes capable of presenting complex sensibility of the contemporary life situations.
They may be committed to some ideology but must keep in mind the concerns of human rights as well as global and local environments, values that benefit the society, humanism against sectarianism. Their expressions have to be logical even if they invent their own metaphorical expressions. They may free their language to become dynamic beyond grammar but without sacrificing its essential rules of syntax.
Newer styles, newer literary ideas posit newer challenges to each literature and such challenges test the strength and resilience of the language in which it is practiced. Literature everywhere is dynamically evolving, and therefore, its language has also to evolve by expanding its expressive horizon.
This is a task the writers of each vernacular language have to undertake. In this context, the writers have two-fold missions—to get recognition from the discerning reading public and constantly improve the dimensional horizon of the language they use. They may have to look for subtlety of expression in colloquialism and make deft use of evocative idioms of local speakers to enrich creativity.
When a language is standardized, it is for standard expressions. Creative writers have to look beyond it and seek enrichment of his language in earthy as well as tangy colloquial expressions of the people speaking in dialects and sociolects.
In our language, sanskritization is practiced as a way of improving creative vocabulary and, of course, this improves the tonal quality and gives a learned feeling. On the other hand, colloquial idioms have immense sensuous quality if one knows how to use it innovatively.