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Academic Paper

Title: Cybermultilingualism
Paper URL:
Author: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Indian Statistical Institute
Linguistic Field: Discipline of Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Philosophy of Language; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: This paper provides a snapshot of Indian plurilingual milieu in the context of present hyper-real cyber-spatial speed communication. The point is that without understanding the Indian plurality of communication, it is very difficult to execute language-planning policy following the monolingual path under the supervision of derived nation statist imagiNATION. It is a long time since we are told that the diversity of languages is a great insoluble problem for India’s progress until we are ready to adopt monistic solution. One solution is proposed by the technical intelligentsia to solve the possible problem of supposed language barriers. According to them, the complexities of Indian plurilingualism can be solved by the wo/man-speaking machine interface or by creating a cyberspace without considering the large-scale grass root spontaneous linguistic convergence. This new space is a simulated space, a hyper-realty, where wo/man-machine interface is supposed to solve the heterogeneous human communication. For this purpose (of cyber-communication), Linguistics emerges as a post-industrial scientific epistemology by subscribing itself for the cause of cyber-communication, in which the myth of Babel is supposed to be turned over by the omniscient “local “ (or “global”) area network. The meaning of words in computerized lexicon has become algorithmic, fixed, binary, and componential. /L/The primitive anthropomorphic role-reversal of subject-object turns us towards a hyper-reality of cyberspace, where one can simulate machine to pretend like a wo\\man, and on the other hand, being simulacrum of machine, human beings within the manipulative, behavioral world, have become non-interactive simulated existence or non-being. The very nature of “Turing Test” once proved such metamorphosis of woman and machine. This cyberspace leads us to, what Foucault (1978/88) called as "power over life” via panoptical control over the docile human body by considering it as a machine that gives birth to the anatomo-politics of the body. It is a type of disciplinary technology appropriates the human body by deploying mechanical algorithms in computers. These algorithms are supposed to be explored from the human cognitive (specifically language) domain ignoring the mismatch between human computation and machine computation. Thus, the procedures of power here violently get a chance to know and penetrate the body via computational technology. The procedures of power also penetrate the human species by deploying the universal mechanics (what Foucault called as ‘bio-politics’) and intervene into the species body with regulatory controls. The new language planning enterprise in the cyberspace determines and regulates the linguistic behavior of mass by employing speaking machines. Through this intervention in the inner domain of “natural” plurilingualism, the anatomo-bio-politics of Computational Linguistics, that subscribes the notion of parallel brain, succeeds to enter into the linguistic creativity, a genetic endowment of human body, by imposing the fragmented algocentric principles by the way of internalization. Computational Linguistics, therefore, emerges as a disciplinary technology that encourages the linguistic regulatory practices by implementing one single condensed and telescoped, fixed and appropriated variety. Poster (1904:146-69), following Foucault, showed the triumph of such regulatory practice that deploys panoptical computational control in certain territories.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Vol. XXVI, No. 2, pp. 117-130, 2000

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