This year my daughter’s school started teaching Sanskrit to her class. We were happy that she had a chance to pick up this beautiful language at such a young age. We told her that it is very expressive, has excellent grammar, has a well defined structure, and has loads of historic and religious literature published in it. It even has a built-in scheme for pronunciation, word formation and grammar. No wonder so many languages are derived from it.
After a couple of classes, our daughter came back to us with the question – why did we not use Sanskrit in our everyday life?! Here is what I came up with during our discussion:
- Being a very systematic and structured language, it required formal training to use Sanskrit
- As a side effect Sanskrit was perceived to more difficult to pick up as compared to other dialects and vernacular languages.
- The institutions failed to reach out to the community and make it easier for them to adopt it.
- As the masses started adopting other languages, their momentum was a lot more than what Sanskrit got from the institutions.
- While a lot of literature in Sanskrit flourished, the ones that reached masses used the languages that they understood.
- As a result, Sanskrit started getting irrelevant to the everyday tasks, and got more difficult to get things done.
- Today there are many institutions which teach and promote Sanskrit. But they seem to be in a different world, not in sync with our everyday life.
Sanskrit is still quite powerful as compared to other languages. It is still more expressive, more systematic and can be made more suitable to what we do today. But that will require combined effort from institutions and people alike.
Very soon I realized that I could have the same discussion with my programmer fellows, just by replacing Sanskrit with Lisp in it. Like Sanskrit, Lisp is very powerful, very expressive, very systematic, but lacks adoption from the masses. I instinctively felt like starting a project using Lisp, but instead I opened up my
vim and wrote this post! This felt a lot easier!