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Indo-Aryan Linguistics

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Item Code: NAV965
Author: Omkar N. Koul
Publisher: Central Institute Of Indian Languages, Mysore
Language: English
Edition: 2011
ISBN: 9788173431036
Pages: 302
Other Details 9.00 X 7.00 inch
Weight 610 gm
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Book Description

"India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics, mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy.

Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all. Nothing should more deeply shame the modern student than the recency and inadequacy of his acquaintance with India... This is the India that patient scholarship is now opening up like a new intellectual continent to that Western mind which only yesterday thought civilization an exclusive Western thing.

CIIL was set up over four decades back to ensure the growth and development of Indian languages for a harmonious multilingual India. This means understanding India's multilayered linguistic diversity and safeguarding it through conscious endeavour. Description, Documentation and Development go hand in hand and CIIL has to undertake these activities for all Indian languages regardless of their size or status. Descriptions involve production of phonetic readers, grammars and dictionaries when each language is treated in its own terms, but in contexts where languages come in contact with other languages, it becomes equally necessary to describe one language in relation to another and compare and contrast their forms and meanings to describe their interaction and realization of diverse varieties. Documentation also moves beyond structured vocabulary lists in to documenting diversifying domains of actual language use. This involves creation of authentic records of speech through scientific apparatuses. And development involves preparing the language for new functions and preparing human resources that understand issues involved in teaching a language, about a language or through a language.

Linguistic studies gain ground when interdisciplinary issues are researched and the constant evolution of language forms, variations, modifications, additions and reductions are noticed in language use in society. The study of various language families and their convergence and divergence are themes that have attracted the attention of many a linguist and the complexity of issues has made linguists remark that India is truly ‘a sociolinguistic giant' and also a single Linguistic area where coexistence of centuries has been embodied in linguistic codes with a unifying layer developing. Since the exchange is a dynamic process it makes sense to keep track of languages from time to time and study the impact of social change on language forms, on one hand, and also study the role that different languages may have played in shaping the society. The four major language families are thus an object of continuous inquiry and study. The present volume takes stock of the Indo-Aryan languages, whose connections with the largest family in the world of Indo-European languages is bound to interest many.

As per census of India, 2001, Indo-Aryan languages constitute 76.86% of India's population, with 21(out of 122) languages and 106 mother tongues (out of 234- those spoken by at least 10,000 persons). Hindi language is shown to be an umbrella of 49 mother tongues with over 400 million speakers! 15 of the 22 languages listed under the 8" schedule of the Constitution of India belong to the Indo-Aryan group. Devanagari script is used for Sanskrit, Marathi, Dogri, Konkani, Maithili and Hindi. Sindhi is written in both Devanagari and Perso-Arabic scripts and Kashmiri and Urdu only in Perso-Arabic script. All others have their own scripts, which too, like devanagari, are derivates of the old Brahmi script. Many of these languages are also reported as second languages or third languages, with Hindi-which is the official language of the Indian Union-being reported by over 200 million as second or third language. Many of the lingua franc an are Indo-Aryan and function as pidgins and creoles with Nagamese in Nagaland and Bazaar Hindi being the better known names and have received attention of some linguists; all this points to layers of diversity in actual language use and what we continue to call as one language with many forms. The present volume looks at 10 languages and from various points of view but it also looks at the family as a whole with shared properties and individual differences. The scholarly discussion on Sinhalese and Divehi reminds us that political boundaries don't coincide with linguistic boundaries, and that the Indo-Aryan languages are the dominant official languages in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives and Sri Lanka as well. This is where the value of linguistic work can lend a cohesive touch to South Asia and become a source of mutual understanding.

I am happy to note that Professor Omkar N. Koul has taken special pains to invite several scholars of great eminence to contribute their papers to this collection. This has made the volume a genuine addition to the rich tradition as many of the articles are of theoretical value as well. | hope this will inspire all others whose languages have not found place to work out their contributions for another volume to follow. Knowing Dr Koul, he will be looking forward to bring out a companion volume in this regard with some of the minor languages or other mother tongues as the object of focus. The manuscript has been ready for some time and it is my hope its publication will be a source of relief and joy.


Indo-Aryan languages are characterised for their unique linguistic characteristics which distinguish them from other groups of languages. At the same time there are quite a few interesting linguistic characteristics which distinguish them from each other. Some of these unique features are shared by more than one language within the group. The current volume includes invited papers on different aspects of Indo- Aryan languages and linguistics. The papers cover quite a few languages such as Bangla, Dakhini, Dhivehi, Hindi, Kashmiri, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sinhala, Urdu etc. The themes cover wide range of topics related to phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, typology, and discourse. The papers unfold interesting common characteristics as well as distinct features of these languages.

Topics related to South Asia as a linguistic area have attracted attention of several scholars. Gair (1- 28) discusses some linguistic features of Sinhala and Dhivehi, not shared by mainland Indo-Aryan languages, but are characteristic of the general South-South-Asian area.

Montaut (29-46) deals with the status of in transitivity in the global economy of the language in Indo-Aryan with special reference to Hindi-Urdu. Providing convincing evidence she concludes that the basic pattern for simple sentences is not the transitive one but the intransitive one.

Verbeke (47-64) presents a chronological account of various changes in the history of Indo-Aryan languages, which led to the transition from accusative to generative types. She also presents an overview of the older opinions on this transition.

Some languages have variable adverbs and even postpositions which show agreement with either the subject or the direct object of their clauses. In the same languages quantitative adjectives sometimes fail to agree with the nouns they modify. With Kashmiri as model, Hook and Koul (65-86) identify these two phenomena and explore them in western and northern Indo-Aryan languages.

The languages of the Indo-Aryan family feature a wide variety of idioms based on the verb kha- 'eat'. Syllepsis is a rhetorical figure in which one word (often a verb) its understood one way in relation to one word that it governs (usually a noun) and another way in relation to another. Hook and Pardesi (87-93) examine how the former is put into play as the latter.

Fatihi (94-102) analyses Urdu, Hindi and Bangla expressive, specifically to the extent to which they exhibit iconicity. He provides a method for measuring the iconicity of words relying on a new formal definition of iconicity.

Dasgupta (103-112) discusses the Positive Polarity Copula in modern Bangla, and indicates its similarity with Odia and (possibly) Asmiya which may lead to the reconstruction of common origin of this feature in Eastern Indic. He proposes a theory neutral syntactic characterization of the relation between this copula and the Mood system on the one hand and the handling of emphatic and modal particles on the other.

Bhattacharjee (113-122) presents the word-analysis of Bengali compound constructions. With a few examples of complex words in Bengali, he argues that the strong claim about unconditional seamlessness of words should be called into question. Hindi-Urdu dislocated structures have been usually accorded a_ non- movement/construal analysis. Pritha Chandra (123-134) argues that left dislocated Structures in the language show reconstruction and binding effects, island-sensitivity etc., thus providing ample evidence for postulating a movement/derivational account for such constructions.

Hindi and other Indo-Aryan languages have a variety of multi-verb sequences variously referred to as the compound verb, serial verb, complex predicate etc. Raina (135-152) analyses the co-eventual verb in Hindi, highlighting some of the event semantic properties that distinguish it from the compound verb and individuate this class of multi-verb sequences.

Hindi has been classified as a ‘verb-framed language’ as opposed to ‘satellite- framed’ English. Khokhlova (153-162) revises the position of Hindi in Talmy’s typological dichotomy providing data from different sources.

Transitive verbs in some select Indo-Aryan languages, such as Hindi-Urdu, Kashmiri and Marathi exhibit a split ergativity in their aspectual system. Providing evidence based on case and agreement of the intransitive subject from Kashmiri and Marathi, Wali and Koul (163-180) argue that the nominative and the absolutive case relations are structurally distinct and are governed by two distinct agreements, and show that not all intransitive subjects can be categorized under the nominative rubric.

The notion of transitivity continues to occupy a central place in the description of a language. Drawing insights from a large number of studies, Pardesi (181-200) offers a comprehensive descriptive account of the transitivity spectrum in Marathi.

Mohanty (201-212) argues that though Oriya has been widely claimed to be an Indo-Aryan language, it shows a number of Dravidian and Munda characteristics at all levels, viz. phonology, morphology, syntax, vocabulary, due to its close contact and convergence with the latter languages since time immemorial.

Patnaik (213-218) studies a brata kathaa in Oriya written by Sarala Das in the fifteenth century as a narrative of power, and attempts to situate this short work in the process of standardization of Oriya and the prose discourse in it.

Dakkhini and Urdu have sprouted from the same source and have become two distinct varieties. Mustafa (219-226) discusses and analyses the differences at the morphological and syntactic levels.

Though Indo-Aryan languages are spoken across South Asia along side scores of languages of other major language families, they do share some phonological characteristics which make them different from languages of other language families. Bhat (227-234) presents an overview of the distribution of speech sounds in Indo-Aryan languages.

Three papers in this volume present a critical overview of linguistic research in some selected languages: Bangla, Punjabi and Kashmiri. In the paper related to Bangla, Dash (235-264) provides glimpses of the current research activities; provides cues in the direction of future activities; and creates an interest among the readers for exploring certain areas further.

Joga Singh (265-278) discusses recent research work in Punjabi and indicates a lack of rigorous analysis of Punjabi in terms of recent linguistic theories in most works. The areas of language policy/planning and text analysis have attracted more attention of the scholars than other areas such as syntax.

Koul (279-286) presents a critical overview of linguistic research work related to Kashmiri mostly written in English. In recent years, attention is paid to the description of peculiar linguistic characteristics of the language. There are only limited works written in Kashmiri.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Director of the CIIL and his colleagues for asking me to edit this volume. I would like to thank all the contributors for accepting my request and contributing their papers for the volume. I sincerely hope teachers, students and researchers of linguistics especially South Asian Linguistics will find this volume useful.

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