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Defining the Indefinable: Delimiting Hindi


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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The genesis of this volume lies ultimately in the longstanding academic cooperation on contemporary South Asian languages, particularly Hindi/Urdu, between the Südasien-Seminar of the Orientalisches Institut of the Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Instytut Orientalistyczny of the Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie (JU). The cooperation includes delving into the issue of what “Hindi” does and does not encompass.

Building on ideas thus developed, the matter of delimiting “Hindi” was taken up in a workshop in Halle (Germany) on the premises of the MLU, but in the context of the official university partnership between the MLU and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (JNU). The workshop, on Where Linguistics and Politics Meet: Defining Hindi, was held on November 21–22, 2008; it was organised by Rahul Peter Das and Anvita Abbi, and funded by the MLU and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The participants were Anvita Abbi (JNU), Rahul Peter Das and Felix Otter (both MLU), Heinz Werner Wessler (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn), Christina Oesterheld and Hans Harder (both Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg), Surendra K. Gambhir (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia) and Anil Biltoo (University of London).

Though, unfortunately, the attendance of JU participants from Cracow (Poland) could not be realised at the time, it was decided subsequently that the workshop would be followed up cooperatively, not only, but particularly through the publication of a volume on the subject, to be prepared at the JU. The papers presented at the Halle workshop...

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