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Defining the Indefinable: Delimiting Hindi

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Edited By Agnieszka Kucziewicz-Fras

The nine extensive essays of this volume are by specialists on South Asia whose research focus includes the extremely complicated problematics of the linguistic situation there. It is devoted to the broadly understood problem of defining Hindi as well as indicating the different ranges of its use. The authors of the included texts come from Europe, the USA and India, and grapple with questions such as what Hindi is, how it functions in the social, political and cultural dimensions of present-day India, and how it is being used by authorities and various influential actors at different levels of Indian reality. The volume should be important and useful for all those who are interested in Hindi, its official and non-official status, and in Indian linguistic policy and politics generally.
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Hindi Revisited: Language and Language Policies in India in Perspective Heinz Werner Wessler

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Hindi Revisited: Language and Language Policies in India in Perspective

Heinz Werner Wessler

The discovery of Sanskrit and its literature in the form of the ‘Brahmanic’ Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions, as well as the ‘secular’ literature of art and sciences, had been the starting point for Indology as an academic subject. It also proved to be a point of departure for the learning of Asian languages in general, at least at German universities. Philology took the lead in the academic discourse on the East. The most important point of departure can be located in the publication of Friedrich von Schlegel’s book Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (“On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians”), published in Heidelberg in 1808. Friedrich von Schlegel’s brother August Wilhelm von Schlegel was later appointed the first holder of a chair in Germany, and the second in Europe after Antoine-Léonard de Chézy in Paris in 1814, for what was to become academic “Indology” just after and in the very year of the founding of the University of Bonn (1818).

Contrary to the romantic appreciation of India’s literary past hinted at in the title of Schlegel’s book was the famous Minute on Education of Thomas Babington Macaulay, dated February 2, 1835.1 Genre and purpose of the Minute were of course completely different from the academic book that Schlegel had submitted to his readership. The Minute, composed on behalf of the council of the Honourable East...

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