A few months back, I used to visit puṇē quite often. One Sunday morning on my way to the University, I noticed the writing on the wall. “मुलगा-मुलगी एक समान.” Boys and girls are equal… ছেলে-মেয়ে এক সমান। लड़का-लड़की एक समान। Right… Such a simple, powerful message. Curb inequality amongst genders at the core. Treat children equally, make them grow up as equals… But then, the automatic translations in my head to my mother tongue (bāŋlā), and the most often used language in India (hiṃdi) got me thinking along another line… What if I could translate this powerful message to all Indian languages and spread it amongst the masses? Because this message really needs to be spread. The people living in every nook and corner of the country needs to know, that the girl-child is equal to the boy-child. Treat all children equally in every way… Could that be done? The immensity of the work involved in translating even one line into more than a thousand Indian languages struck me point-blank. Impossible, I thought. I saved a three line message in my phone and let the idea go.
It was the following Sunday when exactly the same thing happened. I was passing exactly the same place around the same time, and the thought came to my fresh morning mind again. What can be done? Can I not start this somehow? Then another thought occurred to me: If this could really be done, that could spread another message — that of the equality of the languages! We often treat one language as more important than others, even over our mother tongues. A collection of the translation of this simple one-line message to many Indian languages, written in their indigenous scripts, could serve as a powerful reminder that our country is blessed by numerous languages written in beautiful scripts. Diversity is a strength that we often forget to acknowledge in this vast nation.
I was excited. I had to get this done. So I contacted as many people in my contact lists who spoke different languages, and asked for their help in translating this message to their tongue, and send it over to me. I was fairly successful in getting 19 languages, and then I was stuck. Then I became shameless and started contacting random people on the web (Quora) that spoke different tongues, or could give me more information about the languages spoken in certain states. Reading up about these made me learn a lot about the intricacies of many Indian languages and their scripts. How they have evolved, how they are related to various phases of history, how ethnic and religious factors played a part in the evolution, how they stand today, etc. That’s the story over a cup of coffee, cannot elaborate about all the things I learnt, in one post. (Actually, it will require many cups of coffee!)
After a lot of effort from my side and numerous people on the internet, I had successfully translated the message to 39 Indian languages in native scripts, including the official languages of all the states. Here is a heart-warming thanks to you if you have helped me in this and are reading this now. You know who you are!
I am still missing two official languages from two Union Territories (lakṣdvīp and damaṇ), but this is something I just could not help. If you know anyone who speaks bʰīli or māhl, please let me know in the Comments section below, or via the contact form.
My idea was to have this written on a wall. Paint a wall with the same message in at least these languages. I contacted several NGOs in Mumbai who have done similar projects (for example painting the famous slums in the north of the city), contacted several websites famous for their social-awareness posts and campaigns. I am sad to say that after months of efforts, nothing has happened. I have been mostly met with silence.
After giving up on the idea for a while, I have come back to it. I have decided to publish it here. So that at least some people get to see it. If you like it, you can spread the idea by spreading this post. I don’t make money out of this website, it’s completely free.
May be, someday, we will have a wall with these messages written on it.
So, without further ado, here goes!
I will not name the languages. Have fun in identifying your mother tongue in this list!
मुलगा-मुलगी एक समान.
ছেলে-মেয়ে এক সমান।
लड़का-लड़की एक समान।
சிறுவர்களும் சிறுமியர்களும் சமமானவர்கள்.
છોકરો-છોકરી એક સમાન.
ପୁଅ ଆଉ ଝିଅ ମାନେ ସମାନ୍ ଅଟନ୍ତି।
ಹುಡುಗರು ಹಾಗು ಹುಡುಗಿಯರು ಸಮಾನರು.
لڑکے اور لڑکیاں برابر ہیں.
छोरा-छोरी समान ह।
ആൺകുട്ടികളും പെൺകുട്ടികളും തുല്യരാണ്.
লৰা-ছোৱালী এক সমান।
అబ్బాయిలు మరియు అమ్మాయిలు సమానులు.
चेल चेली बराबर भ्या।
नौना अर नौनी बराबर छन।
ਮੁੰਡੇ ਕੁੜੀ ਹਿਕ ਸਮਾਨ।
चेल्लो आणि चेल्ली एक समान।
கண்டு குணவேயு, எண்ணு குணவேயு சரிசம.
চাওলা বাই বারুই জত বাকসা।
ಕಿನನ್ಗ ಪಿನ್ಯ ಮೂಡಿಯ ಸಮ.
ꯅꯨꯄꯥ ꯒꯥ ꯅꯨꯄꯤꯒꯥ ꯆꯞ ꯃꯅꯩ꯫
Ki khynnah shynrang bad kynthei ki ialong mar ryngkat.
Me•asa aro Me•chik pilakan apsan.
Waroh ki chynrang wa ki kynthai toh u im salansar ha chnong ha thaw.
केटा-केटी एक समान।
کۆرِ تِھ لڑکِٕ چھِ پرؠتھ رنگِ ھِوؠ.
Khip-miya jang masengik poushi.
लइका-लईकी एक बराबर।
Koué éddíkoji odokkéddíngko ko:néngésin.
ڇوڪرن ۽ ڇوڪرين جي برابر آهن.
Mipa naupang leh hmeichhe naupang hi an intluk a ni.
Chhogra aru chhogri ghan sop eke ase.
ಆಣುಲು ಪೊಣ್ಣುಲು ವಂಜೀ ಸಮಾನ.
Tebur ao tetsur na kesa.
हौवा हिनजाव समान।
Nyem nyega mwlw nge akin ayin den.
ᱵᱟᱵᱩ ᱟᱨ ᱢᱳᱭ ᱫᱚ ᱥᱚᱢᱟᱱ ᱜᱮᱭᱟᱠᱚ ᱾
লড়কা-লড়কী সমান ছঈ।
Disclaimers and Requests:
- I have tried to do this to the best of my abilities. Any mistakes are unintentional, and if you contact me with the corrected version, I will be most happy to correct it.
- There is no preference given in ordering the languages, they appear in the order in which I got the final versions of the translations. The whole point is to not distinguish between the beauty of different languages.
- Sometimes there are multiple similar statements that can be made in the same language (different dialects) that mean the same thing. In these cases, I have gone with what the majority speaking the tongue have told me. Please do not hold me in a negative light if you do not like the representation of your language in the above list.
- Some scripts may appear different than what was intended because of incompatibilities between digital representations of various software used in writing or representing here. Such misrepresentations are unintentional, and any help in identifying them, but most importantly in correcting them, is most welcome via the contact form.
2 thoughts on “Equality”
When I look at these sentences, I can not help but think the following: Each of the languages have a different word for male and female versions of human beings. Most commonly the difference is represented by making the same root end with an ‘aa’ or ‘ee’. When the message is written out in several languages, for sure, the variety of languages is celebrated. But on deeper introspection, the languages have themselves differentiated the girl from the boy. (There!) The message itself is diluted or even jeopardised when you use the nouns ‘girl’ and ‘boy’. (There again!) For example, if ‘छोरा’ and ‘छोरी’ did not exist and only gender-neutral words existed, how would people have expressed, ‘You are छोरी, you cook food; you are छोरा, you can come home late.”?
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Good point! Whereas both French and German (the only two European, non-English languages that I have any idea about) have genderised pronouns for inanimate objects, English does not genderise non-living objects. Here is why I love বাংলা (Bāŋlā) so much! It not only does not genderise inanimate objects (like English), unlike English it has gender-neutral pronouns as well!(*) For example, “he/she” is same: সে (sē). Hence, just on reading or hearing a sentence it is impossible to decipher the gender of the person who is being talked about (the subject). This is the reason why we বাঙালি (Bāŋāli) -s have a problem adjusting to Hindī which is otherwise very similar to বাংলা: it not only assigns genders to pronouns, but also to inanimate objects, and that too based on the *object* in the sentence and not the *subject*! Erm, what!?! The concepts take some time to sink in.
This is the same reason I had trouble learning French, and now I am dreading to start learning German. However, the interesting point here is this: even in বাংলা we have different words for boys and girls, men and women. Since বাংলা is such a unique language with *almost* no genders except here, I would say it is a good example of trying to understand why the difference in terminologies exist in the first place. And I feel that the reason lies in the physical difference of the two genders in the majority of the people, leading to practical differences of a lot of terms used commonly. It is not inherent sexism, but even this language *needs* to have the terminological difference to make conversations about appearance, dresses, ethnic wear, etc. easier. Hence, it is important to highlight the equality explicitly even for বাংলা, and definitely for other inherently sexist languages. 🙂
(*) There is a stereotypical joke about it: Why doesn’t বাংলা differentiate between genders? Because বাঙালি (Bāŋāli) -s are lazy.