Thursday, May 12, 2005

Language Politics

During the run upto kottu Sinhala font ,I posted a link to an article in "Lakbima" in one of the comments.Lohan has commented on the whole issue in his blog.The article says that since the language of Sinhala news has been degraded ,the minister of cultural affairs is planning on controlling the language used by media,starting with a booklet on how to spell.

I haven't listened to Sinhala TV/Radio programs that much in last couple of years.I can guess what is going on since I have seen what happened after loosening the media control in early 90's.I think the langauge used for Sports ,talk shows or comedy is not appropriate for news.I also belive it's an internal editorial decision of the TV/Radio station.It's upto the Viewers/Listeners to vote using remote control or the small knobs in their TV/Radio sets.

Debates about the langauge changes due to Electronic media is not unique to Sri Lanka.Shepard Smith who has an hour long news show (runup to O'Reilly show at 8 PM EST)on FOX News uses a different kind of language.You can check the transcript of a documentary here or just google.

What's important of this whole issue is that the attitude in Sri Lanka about government control.The Language ,Religion or what date of the month you can get wasted should be controlled by the government!Seriously folks, this is a government who could not protect it's head of state(1 prime minister and 1 president killed.One president lost an eye),Couldn't balance a budget(last balanced budget is 1954 or something) and still couldn't build a highway connecting the capital and airport after 30 years of trying (just 20 miles!Started 1975 or something).What makes you think that the government is capable of forcing you to use correct "Na" or "La" in words?

same thing(sort of ) in Sinhala can be found here.


thimal said...

there will be a lot of noise and fanfare, it will introduce some additional burdens on people or make some people feel ostracized or quite uncomfortable. Most of the things that set out to "protect" our culture seem to end up having that effect, intentionally or not :) I don't know how much influence those authorities have, of course.

I think "protecting" the language is a valid point, but Sinhala is still taught in primary schools, so it's not like it's in danger of dying out. The French go to extraordinary lengths to do the same thing, mind you... and the Spanish actually have a "language authority" to prevent new words from creeping in :)

As one last point, are you sure people vote with our remote controls or TV knobs ? Because if they did, the amount of intrusive and downright stupid advertising on TV would have been toned down a long time ago. I think we're pretty much a captive audience where TV is concerned.

LG said...

Some thoughts:
Well, at a certain point people become helpless. Simply because the TV/Radio which is the only window opened to the world for most sri lankans, keeps on pouring same stupid shit. There's nowhere to go. If you switch to another channel there is a big pssibility to find worse things than the previous.
That doesn't give the liscence to the government to control the thing. We have no reason to beleive that any ruling party will go at it purely with the intention of protecting language or media. The concepts "Guiding media" and "protecting language" are also very subjective. Who's going to judge this? [As Chandare beautifully puts in his Sinhala post] Is it going to be Prof. J.B? Mr. Arisen or Amaris Ayya? If some channel was found guilty of violating "language standards" or damaging "cultural values" What is going to be the punishment?

Ruling party + minister will have their political agendas. People who are highly Influential at cultural ministry, always represent the ruling party. Most of them are supporters of the election campaign. At a crucial time a punishment might reach closer to the cancelling the liscence. That's my prediction.
If the government wants to prove that they are willing to "correct" the wrongdoings, they can start from home. Lift the standard of SLRC and SLBC. Train their people to fight efficiently and to make their mark in the field. Only thing they did was reintroducing the saree instead of miniskirts for the newsreaders. But the political upperhand is still there.

If this is implemented it will take an extremely anti-democratic shape under the prevailing conditions of the country

Chandare said...

The Ratings for a program is sort of voting with remote.Show two movies in two channles in Sri Lanka one with Shah Ruk Khan and the other with Tom Cruise and see who is the bigger celebrity.(how about Vijaya Kumatunga in another channel ,too)

Intrusive and stupid advertising is having a negative effects ,true.That's why Tivo and other method of getting around advertising are becoming popular.30 second statndard advertising spot is not effective anymore.advertiser are looking for new ways.
When it comes to Sri Lankan media it is not a really free market.May it's sort of Oligarchy.I'm not sure how ratings could change content in our media but i beleive viewers/listerners should act as ultimate decision makers.

Chandare said...

Like Lohan says, Since government owns some channels,lead by example!that's a good start if they want to preserve culture and language

thimal said...

Chandare, I've wanted to build a Tivo for SL for as long as I can remember, but I don't watch any TV at all when I'm back home, so I never really bothered. We're a fair bit away from that sort of thing. Tivo and SkyTV+ hit the UK only about 2-3 years ago, if that.. You forget the reception issues or the simple "I can't tune my TV" problems that force people into one or two channels at most in SL.

Viewers _should_ have more power. But they don't. Part of this is the lack of alternatives. Despite bitching about 15 minutes of teledrama vs 20 minutes of advertising, the Rupavahini 2030 Sunday slot is still probably watched by more in SL than any other.

Lohan and you are both right about the "protection" of language being used for other things. But that sort of shit is popular with the politicians. It's a rallying call of some sort, after all.. and in some cases, probably helps to justify that politician's existence :p Don't expect it to stop any time soon.

And LOL, the only thing that showing two competing shows would prove is who actually has the most influence in a one TV household :)