Indian Languages question

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Indian Languages question

Tejaswini Niranjana
Dear All,

Was the WMF brief for the India office limited to languages in India or did it include South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives – and by some definitions Tibet and Afghanistan as well)? According to what I could find online, the public announcement of WMF specifies Hindi and 20 other Indian languages. As I’ve discussed with some of you before, the term “Indic” could be problematic when used to refer to contemporary languages, and I’m sure our South Asian neighbours will take strong exception to their languages being given this description. The issue isn't merely a philological one to do with the etymology of words, but has extensive social and political ramifications, as we would all know from different kinds of contexts.


If we’re presently intervening in generating content and increasing editorship for languages used in India, we should perhaps be using the term “Indian languages”. If we’re including languages that have a different originating location geographically, like Nepali, we should say “South Asian languages”. Of course there will be the problematic cases of Bangla, Punjabi and Urdu which are spoken across borders. I heard from Wikipedia users in Kolkata that the majority of Bangla wiki editors are from Bangladesh. This was a casual remark and needs to be borne out by an actual survey. It would be an interesting challenge to confront this problem rather than avoid it.

 

Here’s a brief note on the Indic/Indian question:

 

Indic: a theoretical concept used to refer to common characteristics of the languages falling in the family of languages native to India. Most often the term 'Indic' means ''of Indian origin". This usage is in line with the assumptions of classical philology that Indian languages and customs share a common root and origin. Such assumptions have either been challenged for their overwhelming homogeneity or have become theoretically less and less useful over the years in understanding the growth of Indian culture and society. At any rate, Indic in contemporary theoretical usage refers to ancient and medieval historical texts and languages of the Indian subcontinent and has an archaic ring to it. 

Indian Languages: a term referring to all the languages which are in use in India. Unlike the previous term, it doesn’t contain any hidden theoretical or ideological assumptions and may be used to refer neutrally to languages which have been in India for a considerable amount of time. This usage may be more appropriate to Wikipedia’s NPOV position.

Eg., While there can be debate about whether Urdu is an Indic language, there can be no controversy in stating that Urdu is an Indian language. While Nepali and Sinhalese are definitely Indic languages owing to their linguistic genealogy, we may choose to, or not choose to, term them as Indian languages based on the geographical and political context we’re referring to. [Here, I would strongly recommend using the term South Asian languages - this usage is common in defining a disciplinary domain as well, such as South Asian Studies. Famous university departments such as the SALC at the University of Chicago explicitly use the term South Asian Languages (and Civilizations, but that is another story).] By the way, South Indian languages are technically speaking not 'Indic' at all, since they belong to the Dravidian language family. We can't also forget that it is three South Indian languages - Kannada, Tamil, Telugu - that are regarded as classical languages in India.


Although there’s no clarity on exact usage of the terms, there’s a general consensus about using Indic to refer to ancient and medieval texts. For example, see,
Sheldon Pollock, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India (Berkeley: Univ of California Press, 2006).

The other point I want to add is that the term 'Indic' comes out of the colonial and Indological approaches to the subcontinent. Indology is a variant of Orientalism and has been criticised as such by Edward Said, in Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1978); see Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_%28book%29. There’s an extensive critique of Indological translations in my book Siting Translation: History, Post-structuralism and the Colonial Context (Berkeley: Univ of California Press, 1992). For a recent discussion of Indology, see also http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/88-beyond-indology.html.

It might be an interesting exercise to google ‘indic’ and then google ‘indian’, and see how the searches throw up quite dramatically different things, and then add the word ‘languages’ to each search to see what shows up.

I’m aware that the input format and text editor consoles use the term “Indic”- so it is up to the team and the extended community to discuss this and find an acceptable resolution.

Looking forward to the discussions on this topic.


Tejaswini

 



--
Tejaswini Niranjana, PhD
Lead Researcher - Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications (HEIRA)
Senior Fellow - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS)
Visiting Professor - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
Visiting Faculty - Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute
of Science (CCS-IISc)

t: 91-80-41202302
f: 91-80-26730722
http://heira.in
www.cscs.res.in

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Re: Indian Languages question

Niraj Suryawanshi
Dear Mam,

I understand & appreciate the depth of thought process and inputs put behind this question about use of words "Indian" or "Indic". I'm very much convinced since all the languages we are considering belong to different classes and categories, geographically and origin wise too, and needs to be labeled under a common name!

But if we consider the label Indian languages, which specifies the origin and use of the same in India, there are many languages which are predominantly used not only in India but also in the other surrounding counties eg. Bangla (Indic Language, Indo-Aryan) which is used in India, Bangladesh & Burma.
And many other Dravidian Languages which are thought to be specifically South Indian languages are used in neighboring eastern countries like Pakistan too.

This question will arise every time when we have to specify "Indian Language" or "Indic Languages" for any given reason.

How about the combination of names of both different language families so that the language set wont be distributed with respect to the current territorial boundaries but with regards to their origin and a proper classification depending upon the origin/birth. viz "Indic - Dravidian Languages"

This was my personal view over the query, you can always correct me if I'm misleading.
Regards & Thanks,

Niraj N. Suryawanshi
Pune Institute of Computer Technology | Wikipedia Club Pune
+91 814 992 0120 | niraj.suryawanshi@gmail.com
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Re: Indian Languages question

Abhishek Suryawanshi
In reply to this post by Tejaswini Niranjana

Interestingly - People are so sensitive over these words.

I was casual while using those for 'Spoken Wikipedia for Indic Languages' and request for participation was sent to all mailing lists.
There was debate about Indic vs Indian vs Dravidian on same Mailing list about usage.

And strong resistance was shown by other mailing lists privately, and surprisingly on open mailing lists people were open to Use 'F' word and censored criticism - I was unaware of such strong issues. Its always good to respect sentiments over language grouping name.

After many mails, As of now Project name is 'Spoken Wikipedia for Indian Languages' but it will be interesting to know Indic/Indian/Dravidian usage to cover broader languages.

It might be useful to use Asian Languages term to cover major languages.

Thanks for starting this conversation.


Keep Exploring, Keep Inspiring! :)




Best Regards,

Abhishek Suryawanshi,
On Behalf of Wikipedia Club Pune



On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM, Tejaswini Niranjana <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear All,

Was the WMF brief for the India office limited to languages in India or did it include South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives – and by some definitions Tibet and Afghanistan as well)? According to what I could find online, the public announcement of WMF specifies Hindi and 20 other Indian languages. As I’ve discussed with some of you before, the term “Indic” could be problematic when used to refer to contemporary languages, and I’m sure our South Asian neighbours will take strong exception to their languages being given this description. The issue isn't merely a philological one to do with the etymology of words, but has extensive social and political ramifications, as we would all know from different kinds of contexts.


If we’re presently intervening in generating content and increasing editorship for languages used in India, we should perhaps be using the term “Indian languages”. If we’re including languages that have a different originating location geographically, like Nepali, we should say “South Asian languages”. Of course there will be the problematic cases of Bangla, Punjabi and Urdu which are spoken across borders. I heard from Wikipedia users in Kolkata that the majority of Bangla wiki editors are from Bangladesh. This was a casual remark and needs to be borne out by an actual survey. It would be an interesting challenge to confront this problem rather than avoid it.

 

Here’s a brief note on the Indic/Indian question:

 

Indic: a theoretical concept used to refer to common characteristics of the languages falling in the family of languages native to India. Most often the term 'Indic' means ''of Indian origin". This usage is in line with the assumptions of classical philology that Indian languages and customs share a common root and origin. Such assumptions have either been challenged for their overwhelming homogeneity or have become theoretically less and less useful over the years in understanding the growth of Indian culture and society. At any rate, Indic in contemporary theoretical usage refers to ancient and medieval historical texts and languages of the Indian subcontinent and has an archaic ring to it. 

Indian Languages: a term referring to all the languages which are in use in India. Unlike the previous term, it doesn’t contain any hidden theoretical or ideological assumptions and may be used to refer neutrally to languages which have been in India for a considerable amount of time. This usage may be more appropriate to Wikipedia’s NPOV position.

Eg., While there can be debate about whether Urdu is an Indic language, there can be no controversy in stating that Urdu is an Indian language. While Nepali and Sinhalese are definitely Indic languages owing to their linguistic genealogy, we may choose to, or not choose to, term them as Indian languages based on the geographical and political context we’re referring to. [Here, I would strongly recommend using the term South Asian languages - this usage is common in defining a disciplinary domain as well, such as South Asian Studies. Famous university departments such as the SALC at the University of Chicago explicitly use the term South Asian Languages (and Civilizations, but that is another story).] By the way, South Indian languages are technically speaking not 'Indic' at all, since they belong to the Dravidian language family. We can't also forget that it is three South Indian languages - Kannada, Tamil, Telugu - that are regarded as classical languages in India.


Although there’s no clarity on exact usage of the terms, there’s a general consensus about using Indic to refer to ancient and medieval texts. For example, see,
Sheldon Pollock, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India (Berkeley: Univ of California Press, 2006).

The other point I want to add is that the term 'Indic' comes out of the colonial and Indological approaches to the subcontinent. Indology is a variant of Orientalism and has been criticised as such by Edward Said, in Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1978); see Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_%28book%29. There’s an extensive critique of Indological translations in my book Siting Translation: History, Post-structuralism and the Colonial Context (Berkeley: Univ of California Press, 1992). For a recent discussion of Indology, see also http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/88-beyond-indology.html.

It might be an interesting exercise to google ‘indic’ and then google ‘indian’, and see how the searches throw up quite dramatically different things, and then add the word ‘languages’ to each search to see what shows up.

I’m aware that the input format and text editor consoles use the term “Indic”- so it is up to the team and the extended community to discuss this and find an acceptable resolution.

Looking forward to the discussions on this topic.


Tejaswini

 



--
Tejaswini Niranjana, PhD
Lead Researcher - Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications (HEIRA)
Senior Fellow - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS)
Visiting Professor - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
Visiting Faculty - Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute
of Science (CCS-IISc)

t: 91-80-41202302
f: 91-80-26730722
http://heira.in
www.cscs.res.in

_______________________________________________
Wikimediaindia-l mailing list
[hidden email]
To unsubscribe from the list / change mailing preferences visit https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediaindia-l



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Re: Indian Languages question

Tejaswini Niranjana
Hello Abhishek,
Thanks for your response. I'm quite interested in hearing about earlier debates on this and related lists on the Indian languages question. Glad to know about the renaming of your project!

Using the term 'Asian languages' will open up a whole new set of issues. Why not then say 'European languages' instead of German, French, Italian etc.? And is English a European language (now)? I still think in our context that 'South Asian' would be both accurate and inclusive.

Tejaswini

On 11 February 2013 14:27, Abhishek Suryawanshi <[hidden email]> wrote:

Interestingly - People are so sensitive over these words.

I was casual while using those for 'Spoken Wikipedia for Indic Languages' and request for participation was sent to all mailing lists.
There was debate about Indic vs Indian vs Dravidian on same Mailing list about usage.

And strong resistance was shown by other mailing lists privately, and surprisingly on open mailing lists people were open to Use 'F' word and censored criticism - I was unaware of such strong issues. Its always good to respect sentiments over language grouping name.

After many mails, As of now Project name is 'Spoken Wikipedia for Indian Languages' but it will be interesting to know Indic/Indian/Dravidian usage to cover broader languages.

It might be useful to use Asian Languages term to cover major languages.

Thanks for starting this conversation.


Keep Exploring, Keep Inspiring! :)




Best Regards,

Abhishek Suryawanshi,
On Behalf of Wikipedia Club Pune



On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM, Tejaswini Niranjana <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear All,

Was the WMF brief for the India office limited to languages in India or did it include South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives – and by some definitions Tibet and Afghanistan as well)? According to what I could find online, the public announcement of WMF specifies Hindi and 20 other Indian languages. As I’ve discussed with some of you before, the term “Indic” could be problematic when used to refer to contemporary languages, and I’m sure our South Asian neighbours will take strong exception to their languages being given this description. The issue isn't merely a philological one to do with the etymology of words, but has extensive social and political ramifications, as we would all know from different kinds of contexts.


If we’re presently intervening in generating content and increasing editorship for languages used in India, we should perhaps be using the term “Indian languages”. If we’re including languages that have a different originating location geographically, like Nepali, we should say “South Asian languages”. Of course there will be the problematic cases of Bangla, Punjabi and Urdu which are spoken across borders. I heard from Wikipedia users in Kolkata that the majority of Bangla wiki editors are from Bangladesh. This was a casual remark and needs to be borne out by an actual survey. It would be an interesting challenge to confront this problem rather than avoid it.

 

Here’s a brief note on the Indic/Indian question:

 

Indic: a theoretical concept used to refer to common characteristics of the languages falling in the family of languages native to India. Most often the term 'Indic' means ''of Indian origin". This usage is in line with the assumptions of classical philology that Indian languages and customs share a common root and origin. Such assumptions have either been challenged for their overwhelming homogeneity or have become theoretically less and less useful over the years in understanding the growth of Indian culture and society. At any rate, Indic in contemporary theoretical usage refers to ancient and medieval historical texts and languages of the Indian subcontinent and has an archaic ring to it. 

Indian Languages: a term referring to all the languages which are in use in India. Unlike the previous term, it doesn’t contain any hidden theoretical or ideological assumptions and may be used to refer neutrally to languages which have been in India for a considerable amount of time. This usage may be more appropriate to Wikipedia’s NPOV position.

Eg., While there can be debate about whether Urdu is an Indic language, there can be no controversy in stating that Urdu is an Indian language. While Nepali and Sinhalese are definitely Indic languages owing to their linguistic genealogy, we may choose to, or not choose to, term them as Indian languages based on the geographical and political context we’re referring to. [Here, I would strongly recommend using the term South Asian languages - this usage is common in defining a disciplinary domain as well, such as South Asian Studies. Famous university departments such as the SALC at the University of Chicago explicitly use the term South Asian Languages (and Civilizations, but that is another story).] By the way, South Indian languages are technically speaking not 'Indic' at all, since they belong to the Dravidian language family. We can't also forget that it is three South Indian languages - Kannada, Tamil, Telugu - that are regarded as classical languages in India.


Although there’s no clarity on exact usage of the terms, there’s a general consensus about using Indic to refer to ancient and medieval texts. For example, see,
Sheldon Pollock, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India (Berkeley: Univ of California Press, 2006).

The other point I want to add is that the term 'Indic' comes out of the colonial and Indological approaches to the subcontinent. Indology is a variant of Orientalism and has been criticised as such by Edward Said, in Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1978); see Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_%28book%29. There’s an extensive critique of Indological translations in my book Siting Translation: History, Post-structuralism and the Colonial Context (Berkeley: Univ of California Press, 1992). For a recent discussion of Indology, see also http://www.himalmag.com/component/content/article/88-beyond-indology.html.

It might be an interesting exercise to google ‘indic’ and then google ‘indian’, and see how the searches throw up quite dramatically different things, and then add the word ‘languages’ to each search to see what shows up.

I’m aware that the input format and text editor consoles use the term “Indic”- so it is up to the team and the extended community to discuss this and find an acceptable resolution.

Looking forward to the discussions on this topic.


Tejaswini

 



--
Tejaswini Niranjana, PhD
Lead Researcher - Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications (HEIRA)
Senior Fellow - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS)
Visiting Professor - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
Visiting Faculty - Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute
of Science (CCS-IISc)

t: 91-80-41202302
f: 91-80-26730722
http://heira.in
www.cscs.res.in

_______________________________________________
Wikimediaindia-l mailing list
[hidden email]
To unsubscribe from the list / change mailing preferences visit https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimediaindia-l





--
Tejaswini Niranjana, PhD
Lead Researcher - Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications (HEIRA)
Senior Fellow - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS)
Visiting Professor - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
Visiting Faculty - Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute
of Science (CCS-IISc)

t: 91-80-26730476, 26730967, 26730268
f: 91-80-26730722
http://heira.in
www.cscs.res.in

_______________________________________________
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Re: Indian Languages question

Tejaswini Niranjana
In reply to this post by Niraj Suryawanshi
Hi Niraj,
Thanks for engaging with this difficult question. I think we may have to look at sizeable populations speaking a certain language while deciding how to classify where it is spoken. I was surprised to see your remark that Dravidian languages are spoken in Pakistan. I was not aware of this fact, and would like to know if it is the odd speaker who happens to live or work there, or there are good-sized populations speaking Kannada or Telugu for example.

As for your suggestion about a combination name like Indic-Dravidian, that still falls into the philological problems that using 'Indic' alone does,and doesn't necessarily make the term more inclusive.

So I think we will have to keep discussing this issue for some more time!

Tejaswini

On 11 February 2013 13:59, Niraj Suryawanshi <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear Mam,

I understand & appreciate the depth of thought process and inputs put behind
this question about use of words "*Indian*" or "*Indic*". I'm very much
convinced since all the languages we are considering belong to different
classes and categories, geographically and origin wise too, and needs to be
labeled under a common name!

But if we consider the label Indian languages, which specifies the origin
and use of the same in India, there are many languages which are
predominantly used not only in India but also in the other surrounding
counties eg. Bangla (Indic Language, Indo-Aryan) which is used in India,
Bangladesh & Burma.
And many other Dravidian Languages which are thought to be specifically
South Indian languages are used in neighboring eastern countries like
Pakistan too.

This question will arise every time when we have to specify "Indian
Language" or "Indic Languages" for any given reason.

How about the combination of names of both different language families so
that the language set wont be distributed with respect to the current
territorial boundaries but with regards to their origin and a proper
classification depending upon the origin/birth. viz "*Indic - Dravidian
Languages*"

This was my personal view over the query, you can always correct me if I'm
misleading.



-----
Regards & Thanks,

Niraj Suryawanshi
on behalf of Wikipedia Club Pune
<a href="tel:%2B91%20814%20992%200120" value="+918149920120">+91 814 992 0120 | [hidden email]
--
View this message in context: http://wikimedia.7.n6.nabble.com/Indian-Languages-question-tp4996015p4996021.html
Sent from the WikiMedia India mailing list archive at Nabble.com.

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--
Tejaswini Niranjana, PhD
Lead Researcher - Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications (HEIRA)
Senior Fellow - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS)
Visiting Professor - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
Visiting Faculty - Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute
of Science (CCS-IISc)

t: 91-80-26730476, 26730967, 26730268
f: 91-80-26730722
http://heira.in
www.cscs.res.in

_______________________________________________
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Re: Indian Languages question

astroindia
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In India there are so many languages. Even after a little distance language also change in India.
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Are you looking for Free horoscopes for today
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Re: Indian Languages question

JogiAsad
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What is progress in Sindhi language..