English must be taught as a native language in India without inference from other languages, said Prof. Panchanan Mohanty of University of Hyderabad (UoH) in a national conference on Language, Literature and Society in the city.
“Just as we do not learn our mother tongues with the help of another language similarly, English should be taught without interference from other languages,” he said while delivering his keynote address in the conference held a Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) on February 17.
Though only about 4% of Indians speak English, it is the language that connects the entire nation. There are 22 scheduled languages that are spoken by 96.6% of people in the country, remarked Prof. Mohanty.
Reflecting on the contemporary status of English Prof. Mohanty emphasized the need to research Indian English and noted that English’s recognition as an Indian language would enable its teaching in schools not as a foreign language but as a native one.
“One of the primary reasons for poor acquisition of the English language was its being taught through other languages,” he expressed.
The language of France is French and that of Spain is Spanish. But in India it is not Indian, remarked Prof Panchanan Mohanty, Dean School of Humanities, University of Hyderabad while delivering his keynote address at the inaugural session of the fourth National Conference on Language, Literature and Society.
Former Vice Chancellor of Vikrama Simhapuri University Prof C R Visvesvara Rao inaugurated the conference, which was organized by the Department of English of MANUU.
Prof Rao reflected on the historical shifts in criticism on the relations between literature and society. Covering the length and breadth of critical thinking from Aristophanes to the New Historicists, he commented on how society which was once perceived merely as backdrop to literature progressed to being considered as a literary text.
Prof. Naseemuddin Farees, Dean, School of Languages, Linguistics and Indology at MANUU, commended the Department of English on organizing this conference and stated that it has made a valuable choice in terms of the theme of the conference by selecting language, literature and society.
Dr Shugufta Shaheen, Head of MANUU’s English Department, said that society is mirrored in literature as the primary function of literature is to inculcate humanistic values. The debate between aesthetic and pedantic functions of Literature has engaged scholars since classical times.
The issue continues to be relevant in the contemporary era. It is therefore, essential to engage in academic debates and discussions, especially when the vey legitimacy and utility of the Departments of Literature in academic institutions is being questioned, she expressed.
The conference will highlight, investigate, and critically examine myriad reflections and diverse viewpoints, Dr Shugufta Shaheen said while adding that in the process it will present a sociological and linguistic response towards literature and vice-versa.