21st Century-Language Evolution

Written by: Jagruti Mohanty

Linguists truly say that a language is open-ended. It originates, it mingles, it develops, it flourishes, it also perishes. No language on the earth is homogeneous if we look at its evolutionary history. Odia, a scheduled language of India and the official language of Odisha, belongs to Indo-Aryan language family, has evolved heterogeneously. The huge Odia lexicon proves that it has much stuff from Sanskrit and some from Perso-Arabic, English and Austroasiatic and Dravidian languages. Odia as a language got its first official patronage on 1st April 1936 when Odisha state was formed based on the linguistic division. So the 20th century brought many heights for the development of Odia as a language. And the 21st century brought the foremost remarkable status for Odia-Odia became a classical language along with the change of Orissa to Odisha and Oriya to Odia. Further, Odisha Official Language Act, 1954 is reintroduced and implemented by the government of Odisha for using Odia as the official language for all the purposes.

The Odia lexicon is becoming larger day by day and two factors are mainly responsible for this, one is world-wide technological development and another one is exposure to the other linguistic worlds. Go anywhere in Odisha, from urban to rural areas, from remote to the remotest area, you will find people using mobile, watching YouTube, talking to their friends-chatting with them, so on and so forth. What can be the most linguistic contribution from this act? Odia is being enriched by new words like ମୋବାଇଲ,ମେସେଜ, କଲିଂ etc. If we look at these words, these are the transliterated forms of the English words, but these words have become nativized in such a way that people use these words as Odia words. Surprisingly, some of these words have got a place in Odia dictionaries and standard written media like text-books.

Audio-visual media have influenced the Odia lexicon in the 21st century in such a way that the ways the contents have been presented to the Odia speakers have delimited the language use and the mental lexicon of the Odia speakers. An advertisement in Odia with transliterated English terms has contributed much to the linguistic usage.

Odia TV serials and Odia films have been using “much-Odia content” as it targets all age-groups and all-class people and people from urban as well as village. In the 21st century, it is not only English that has enriched the Odia lexicon but also Hindi which has also contributed much to the development of Odia linguistic corpus.

We could see another development for the words referred to the physically unfit people. The person with disability has received new words in Odia in the 21st century. The word ଦିବ୍ୟାଙ୍ଗ is used for referring to the persons with disability.

In the 21st century, two linguistic features are visible if we analyze the evolution of Odia language. One is the use of Sanskritized terms and another one is the use of Hindi and foreign words in transliterated or nativized forms. As already mentioned above, much of Odia is from Sanskrit, so still its influence is noteworthy.Hindi words are also being received well in Odia, though the use of Hindi words in standard medium will take some time. Among foreign languages, it is English which has been providing much linguistic stuff to Odia. It is not only the Odia lexicon that is developing gradually in the 21st century, but also Odia sentence structure has been influenced by other languages, particularly English. Odia language does not have its own punctuation system, it follows English punctuation system.

In the 21st century, there have been attempts to revise the use of Odia letters and words or to simplify the Odia orthography. As for examples, use of ର୍ଣ, instead of ର୍ଣ୍ଣ; use of ମାଂକଡ଼, instead of ମାଙ୍କଡ଼ so on and so forth.

Technologically, Odia has been facilitated with many language typing tools and softwares in the 21st century. Some of them are Shree-lipi, Akruti, Aprantodia. There has been development of Odia fonts, as for examples:Odia fonts, Indica fonts, Akruti fonts,Shreelipi fonts,Aprant fonts etc. With the advancement of technology, Odia has also got its text-inputting tools, from Google, Microsoft and many others. Shreelipi and Akruti also have Odia text-inputting tools.There are online text-inputting tools also available for Odia:Google Input Tools Online, Bhashaindia,Odia Web Keypad, Web Dhwani-Odia.

Many international companies like Google, Samsung, Xiaomi, Facebook and others have been translating their contents into Odia and making the global local. The first two decades have witnessed the rapid development of Odia language in all spheres and we hope the next three decades will strengthen and stabilize these developments. 

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