Colloquial hampers in learning Classical Language

By Sonam Paljor Leh, Jul 25, 2014
Leh :
Bhoti language was formed in 7th century in Tibet by Thunmisambhota. Throughout Tibet it is known as Tibetan language. The term Bhoti is given by Himalayan scholars and it has been spoken by people of Himalayan region from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. From many years we are seeking recognition from the Government to include this language in the 8th Schedule. Bhoti language originated from Sanskrit language. Sanskrit language was one of the most crucial languages of ancient India. Lord Buddha preached his sermon mostly in Sanskrit language.

Nalanda University was one of the biggest universities in ancient India and many Indian scholars graduated from this university.  Five major and minor educations were taught in the University. The medium of instruction was Sanskrit language. Buddhist texts were also written in Sanskrit but later many of them got translated into Tibetan. So, in India’s point of view it is a very important language. Tibetan or Bhoti language was derived from Sanskrit language. There are fourteen vowels and thirty six consonants in Sanskrit language.

Only four vowels and twenty four consonants were taken from Sanskrit language including ‘Aa’ which is a vowel in Sanskrit but put it in consonant in Bhoti. In addition six more letters of consonants in Tibetan was found from Tibet itself and finally there are thirty consonants and four vowels. After inventing the alphabets of Bhoti language Thunmisambhota wrote eight main Tibetan grammar books but due to constant changes in the Tibetan society six of them were lost forever. The remaining two are Sumchupa and Takjuk.  Likewise we have another grammar books such as Dakyik which is very important for correct spell writing.  Those grammar books have great significance in translating or writing classical Tibetan from seven century to the present. Therefore, we have to learn those grammar books for the preservation of our great culture and language.

But today some scholars in Ladakh are opposing to learn classical Tibetan rather than learning colloquial Ladakhi first. For instance recently we find Shes-tring, (letter to a friend by Nagarjuna) been translated from classical Tibetan to colloquial Ladakhi. If we want to translate Buddhist philosophy from classical Tibetan to colloquial Ladakhi we face many problems.  First problem is that there is no systematic grammar rule in colloquial Ladakh’s language and sure it hampers to understand the entire Buddhist Philosophy books and Texts which were written in systematic grammar. We can’t translate whole Buddhist texts (including Kangyur and Tangyur) into colloquial Ladakh. Isn’t it? I think it would take many generations in accomplishing this daunting task. Secondly, Ladakh have five regions such as Sham, Stot, Jung, Nubra and Zanskar where colloquials are slightly different from each other. So, it is difficult to understand each other perfectly.  Finally, other part of the Himalayan region also does not understand it clearly. Therefore, it is better to write in classical Tibetan (Bhoti) rather than colloquial Ladakhi. Some modern languages such as English depend entirely on change in society, so they are called update language. But Bhoti is not something like that. It is related with our religious texts and I think it is one of the richest languages in the world today. It is being spoken in entire Himalayan region such as, Tibet, Bhutan, India and Nepal. But it has different title, for example in Tibet it is known as Tibetan, in Bhutan it is known as Zongkha and India it is known as Bhoti etc. Bhoti has rich synonyms in noun, verb, adjective etc.

Being a teacher of this language since 2006 I didn’t find any difficulty for the student to make it understand. But the problem is that syllabus of the government school is not suitable for understanding the classical. I suggest, we should change the syllabus of the government school slightly. We have to add more grammatical books in syllabus. I’m sure it will be more effective and more beneficial in understanding the classical language to the student. Moreover I also have some experiences in teaching Shes-tring to our student and also there is no difficulty in understanding the classical for the students. I enjoy teaching very much especially Bhoti language and Buddhist Philosophy to our student. It gives me immense pleasure and a sort of satisfaction all the time. As we knew that Ladakh was an independent state in ancient time and we have rich culture and rich philosophy which is very important for all humanity ground. It is sure that to understand the rich culture and Philosophy we must acquired adequate knowledge of classical Bhoti language. Therefore, we have to learn classical Bhoti not the colloquial because colloquial doesn’t help us to understand our culture and Philosophy.

The writer, Sonam Paljor is a Bhoti language Teacher since 2006 in Govt. Hr. Sec. School Tangtse.