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Academic Paper

Title: Towards a Praxis of Anti-Grammar
Paper URL:
Author: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Indian Statistical Institute
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition; Philosophy of Language; Psycholinguistics; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: ‘Instead of criticizing a school-textbook of grammar, better you write one yourself. Why don’t you?’ In my attempt (Bandyopadhyay, 1996) to analyze Bangla grammar written under the British Raj in connection with its different types of discursive formation in relation to non-discursive power practices and its pedagogical aspects, this question is often being raised. On the contrary, apart from my technical-cognitive interest in epistemology and methodology of linguistics, I have no practical interest in writing grammar for school-going children or adolescents either. I have tried to locate the problem of Grammar in the sphere of Bangla school-grammar written under the colonial era. I tried to show the appropriation of mother tongues through the tool ‘grammar’ by means of which the imposition of dominant standard language is possible. Grammar is a ‘tool’ used to manipulate ‘other’ languages for the sake of the Standard Language. In this paper, an attempt was made to show the art of resistance made by some of the Third World Countries on the basis of decolonization of education through deschooling by which the dominant institutionalized control over language could be combated. If there is no behavioral manipulation in the ideological state apparatuses, the question of deschooling never arises for the “betterment of interaction.” It was also attempted here to propose the activist method of overcoming the crippling of linguistic creativity, mainly in the realm of ‘education,’ specifically in the language education in a multilingual country like India following the ‘Des-chooling’ of Ivan lllich (1972) and the concept of (fourth) theatre as proposed by Paulo Freire. The Ekalavya-experiment on mother-tongue education, as it is practiced in Hosengabad, India was also cited here.As it is an activist method of overthrowing institutionalized oppres¬sion, it is a praxis, not a theory towards the construction of Anti-Grammar, which is a by-product of sub-altern non-collaborative attitude towards hegemonic role of standard language and its grammar by breaking their, as Frire mentioned, ‘culture of silence.’ All these alternatives developed by the people by maintaining their own language trigger the birth of Anti-grammar or GrammEr.’ This new grammEr of tolerant rationality (opposed to violent technical rationality) is in opposition with the model of prescriptive grammar and hence it is an Anti-grammar, which is within the body of speaking subjects. As Cricket-bowlers like Kapil Dev or Walsh do not need to know the rules of Aerodynamics to swing the ball, so also language-learners do not need to know the fragmented rules of grammar to distort the Gestalt effect of language as a whole. Anti-grammar is equivalent to grammEr. The purpose of choosing these misspellings is to attest the perception of students and to represent their consciousness, which is antithetical to the existing form of grammar-education. This ‘anti-grammar=grammEr’ comes out from the deschooling, third/fourth theatre etc.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Philosophy and Social Action, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 33-42, 1997 International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, Vol. XXV, No. 1, pp. 126-132, 1997

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