Breaking colonial midcuffs

Has self and identity become subjected to a second, more pervasive form of colonisation: language?

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June 2018

Tattva Press

Jay Jina and Dr Prakash Shah

Colonisation did not end when the British flag came down and the Indian flag was raised. Its debilitating effects linger in the psyche, where self and identity become subjected to a second, more pervasive form of colonisation: language. Language is about transmitting knowledge and ideas across minds. The utterances that people make can create bizarre ideas that formulate feelings, thoughts, emotions and shape narrative. A chain of words, written or spoken, remains simply that - a chain - until they are understood. Just as Mandarin to a person with no knowledge of that language is just a string of sounds without meaning, in the same fashion, written or spoken utterances only become relevant and useful as a communication tool when understood by the reader or listener. Language is powerful. The language and words one uses go to shape thoughts, feelings and actions, which in turn form stories; and from stories, narratives and ideas that directly implant from one mind into another. This essay explores how narratives formed through language continue to have a long-lasting, detrimental effect of colonisation on the Hindu psyche.

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