I wrote the following as a 'comment' in a Churumuri discussion on the Classical Language fracas between Tamil and Kannada.
1. What has Tamil achieved by this classical language tag? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. We have always had “Long live classical Tamil” kind of boards in TN. Getting the union government to ‘recognize’ this, was just a massaging of the egos and cheap politics.
2. That criterion for classical languages was originally drawn by Prof. George Hart who occupies the Tamil chair at UC Berkeley. He would obviously have his biases. That list should not be taken seriously.
3. As for as I know Kannada today is in a better shape than Tamil. Our versions of Ananthamurthies and Girish Karnads, have no voice whatsoever. The number of Gnanpith awards and Sahaitya Akademi fellowships lay witness to the better shape of Kannada literature.
4. We Tamils have always claimed credit for the collective heritage of all south indian langauges. Even Tamils know that claims like oldest Tamil book discovered being 2500 years old are false! Kannadiga’s should only be amused and not feel insecure about our theatrics!
5. Its funny that Kannadiga’s are being urged to feel insecure for not being insecure already! Tamils espouse their language more out of insecurity than any notions of superiority.
6. People often confuse Tamil’s fight with itself for survival as supremacy! Everyone in TN has heard of the phrase ‘Mella Tamil ini saagum’ (Tamil will slowly die). Kannada may not be having such problems. So just ignore us.
Some examples of this Tamil fight for survival.
a. 300 BC - Brahmi script brought by Jains to south India is adopted by Tamil. It could either mean that Tamils had no script prior to that or the existing script lost space to Brahmi.
b. 300 BC - 700 AD - Mainly Jain/Buddhist/Ajivika literature is available from this period. What happened to the Hindu (rather native-Tamil) literature? Were they lost or simply did not exist?
c. 1200~ - 1800 AD - Grantha script and Sanskrit words overwhelm Tamil. Thats essentially Sankritization. Later, few people including Christian missionaries from Europe helped to rediscover Tamil.
d. 1800~ - 1950 - Sanskrit words again assault Tamil since printing press was in the hands of Brahmins. Another movement was launched among others by Periyar to recover ground. Roughly in the same period Carnatic Music bypasses Tamil because Nayaks were ruling TN and also because Tamil being quite rigid in the kind of sounds it can make, was not suitable for Carnatic Music.
e. 1950 - 1970 - Having just fought Sanskrit, Tamils panicked and fought Hindi tooth and nail.
f. Today we are fighting against English because most Tamils find their own language to be too difficult to communicate effectively. Even I cannot speak few sentences in a row without using English words.
So much for Tamil supremacy! Kannadiga’s should be happy that you guys are not as insecure as we are!