An impressionistic history of the
South Asian Subcontinent
VED from VICTORIA INSTITUTIONS
It is foretold! The torrential flow of inexorable destiny!
Vol 1 - An ephemeral glance at feudal languages!
53. Minute verbal sounds which can create social cataclysm
Social security and right to social protection was only for the castes commencing from Nairs and upwards. On the very top of the social hierarchy were the Brahmins, who could be compared to the modern day IAS officials. On the bottom of these protected layers was the Nairs, who can be compared to the modern-day police constables.
When the English rule spread throughout the Malabar region, these ruling groups and system, became redundant, useless and an unnecessary item. This became more apparent when the English East India Company set up a police department, and judiciary, and came up with written codes of law and judicial procedures.
There was terrific change in the social system, when it became known that even the lower castes had all rights to run a trade or business. However, the English officials were not capable of understanding that these kinds of changes would not be in tune with verbal codes in the native languages. For, the verbal codes had direction and codes of loyalty and respect, which were in sync with the age-old social order. And within no time, it was apparent that the verbal codes were creating social issues of an unknown type in the newly emerging social order.
Even a simple sentence in the native feudal language, which would mean in English: ‘Where are you going?’, was enough to create a social disaster.
This simple question asked by a lower caste man to a higher caste man has these problems: When he asks from his lowly levels, with due ‘respects’ encoded, it is one thing. However, when the same lower caste man stands of a higher social pedestal and asks the same question to a higher caste man, actually social explosive would be packed in the words. The words for YOU would change from Ingal ഇങ്ങൾ (higher most You) to Inhi ഇഞ്ഞി (lower most you).
This is a very minute verbal sound difference. However, this minute verbal change has the power to create a social earthquake. In the earlier days, the English officials had no information about this, I think. At the same time, it is seen that in later days, they had some information that there was some kind of satanic error in the native languages of the location.
One can understand the terrible issues which would follow if a Coolie man were to come and address a police constable with a Nee നീ / Inhi ഇഞ്ഞി (lowermost you), in the present days. No coolie man, commercial vehicle driver or any other similar persons would dare to do such a thing. Until and unless, some other alternative social protection or security system for them is in place.
Whatever has been mentioned here as illustrations are plausible items. In the writings and correspondences of the English officials of those times, there is mention of these kinds of erroneous social happenings. However no clear-cut delineation of what the actual irksome verbal codes in Malabari words was, which created the havoc, is given.
However, when I, who can understand both Malabari as well as Malayalam, read these writings, I can very easily see through the events. And I am able to very clearly see the verbal errors which could have created the problem.
In the catastrophic social change that was happening, the lower caste man would have no qualms in addressing a higher caste child with an Inhi ഇഞ്ഞി/ Nee നീ (lowermost You), and Eda എടാ or Edi എടി (degrading words) or Enthane എന്താനെ or Enthale എന്താളെ (Degrading: What is it?). And to refer to them as Avan അവൻ / Oan ഓൻ (lowermost he/him) or Aval അവൾ / Oal ഓള് (lowermost she/her). Words like Oruthan ഒരുത്തൻ / Oruthi ഒരുത്തി (degrading words for One man / One woman) could also be in their verbal ammunition.
Even in these present days, if it comes to the notice of the government officials that a common citizen of this nation is using any of these words about them, it would be quite dangerous for him/her.
This is what happened in those days also.
When a lower caste man was reported to have used such words about a higher caste individual (adult or child), the Village headman (Adhikari) would come with a group of henchmen. They would catch the rogue / rascal lower-caste man. He would be taken into a hut and tied up there. He would be given a sound thrashing that might even break a few of his bones. And he would remain thus for a few days, in the hut, tied up.
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