Communication has always been the key to understanding a person’s state of mind and also a medium of expression for human beings at large. In a diverse country like India, there is a lot more richness and diversity in the number of languages and dialects spoken. Understanding all of them together becomes a challenge and is no less than a task for a person. Avik Gangopadhyay has attempted to present his study and hard work of 27 years in his book, “Glimpses of Indian Languages.” Since language is an essential part of any civilization’s cultural system, its study from the beginning to the present stages becomes vital. Hence, reading something which gives a fair idea about it would not only add to a reader’s knowledge of language but also culture and how it has developed with time.
The cover of the book is a sight of the changing times of the country and how language as a system of communication has evolved with time. It features the names of various languages that are spoken in different parts on the mainland of India. The blurb gives precise details that the purpose of the book is to provide a glimpse as “they are developing or vigorous, educational or threatened, language for wider communication, shifting or moribund, nearly extinct, dormant or extinct languages apart from the regular provincial and national languages.” It clears that the book is going to share overall details of languages instead of focusing on any one in particular. The title being written in the Devanagari script gives it the Indian touch, and the readers feel closer to the book by heart. It gives the book a touch of Indianness.
Gagopadhyay divides “Glimpses of Indian Languages” into 17 chapters. He begins by taking a plunge into the ancient times when language development was in its infancy stage. He begins by explaining the time when languages were broadly divided under umbrella terms like Ancient Indian Languages, North Indian Languages, Central, West etc. This forms the subject content of the first chapter. The second chapter is also about the division of languages on the basis of the author’s research and understanding of ancient times. But herein, he takes a different approach to explain and demarcate them into different categories. In the later parts of “Glimpses,” the author talks about various facts about Indian languages and shares minute details about scripts, the formation of languages through those scripts, and also the development of dialects.
Later on, he takes the rearders into the contemporary scenario of languages and their situation in the modern-day. He also talks about further developing languages and also about the languages that are threatened. The author mentions about the languages that are on the verge of extinction and those which are in the moribund state. In addition to this, the author in “Glimpses of Indian Languages” shares a lot of statistical data which is proof of the authenticity of his research and also presents his ideas in diagrammatic form. The usage of this technique gives the readers a better understanding of the facts mentioned by the author. He also provides a list of the sources he has consulted before mentioning anything in the book. This implies that the book is not only well researched but also revised from time to time.
The author’s hard work of 27 years shows both experience and an in-depth understanding of the diversity of India and giving an individual place to the languages while providing their glimpses. The author uses a refined and simple language for the readers to understand, and by the time they are through with the text, they have a good understanding of the various language systems of India. This book is recommended to all readers who have less knowledge about the different languages spoken all over the country. It is also suggested to those readers who have some idea about the languages as they are spoken. Since knowledge is endless, they may find some information to update themselves. “Glimpses of Indian Languages” is a suggested reading for all those who are into the study of language. The book does not remain limited to providing academic knowledge only. It instead, touches upon the historical aspects of language development and provides an overall knowledge to the readers.
India is one land where it is easy to guess that both civilizations and languages have gone through the test of time. Due to being ruled by kings of different races, the diversity in infrastructure is visible on looking at the monuments of the country. So is the effect on language too. It could not have remained untouched anyhow. That is what has added to the diversity and richness of Indian culture. Therefore, “Glimpses of Indian Languages” is recommended to every reader, old or young so that they all can read and enrich themselves.