Letter to the “Hindu”
National Languages as Media of Instruction

In the course of a recent lecture at Triplicane, Mr. J.c. Rollo of the Pachaiyappa’s College has supported the use of English as the only right medium of instruction to Indian boys and girls. But he economizes, rightly, that the consensus of Indian opinion is against his vie. He thus summarizes the arguments on our side. “It is urged that a student will save much time by being instructed in the vernacular (sic), that text-books in the vernacular (sic) will be within easy reach of all classes of people, that an Indian possessed of literary genius will be able to commit the fruits of his genius in his won vernacular(sic).” This summary is far from being exhaustive.

Our main argument is that one’s mother-tongue is the only natural and human medium for imparting instruction. If anyone should doubt this, let him go and make enquires of educationalist in Japan, Scandinavia, England, Italy, Mexico or any other land where human beings are human beings. Speaking of the Tamil country, especially,. The blunder of using a foreign medium becomes shocking because the Tamil language happens to be far superior to English for accurate and scientific expression – a fact which naturally enough, Mrs. Rollo seems to be quite ignorant of. “It cannot be denied”, he says, naively, “that there is no vernacular (sic) in Southern India fitted for the teaching of science or the technicalities of history”. But the self-complacency betrayed by this statement of Mr. Rollo is quit pardonable in him, considering the present stat of things educational in British India.

“Insufficiency of scientific terms” is the next charge leveled against our languages. But the “Nagari Pracharini Sabha”, is publishing a very useful dictionary of scientific terms in easy Sanskrit which can be introduced wholesale into every Indian language, thus securing the unity of scientific phraseology for India, even as Europe has borrowed wholesale from Latin and Greek for a similar end.

Within a few years, the novelty of such terms will disappear and they will look quite natural in Tamil or Gujarati books, even as all those big classical terms appear very natural nowadays in English or French scientific text-books. Of course, we have no objection to teaching English as secondary language in our schools and colleges. I think that any rational Englishman ought to be satisfied with this concession.

C. Subramania Bharati

The Hindu
18.10.1916


Website Designed by Bharathi Sangam, Thanjavur