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Academic Paper

Title: This is the Blooded Body of My Language: Grammar
Paper URL:
Author: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Indian Statistical Institute
Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis; History of Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Philosophy of Language; Sociolinguistics
Abstract: At the end of 19 C, there was an epidemic demand for autonomous grammar for newly born nation state: Bangla. Though there was a demand from the nationalist elite, there was also an anti-epistemic critical parody of this demand. In this first section of this paper on the Socio-history of Bangla grammar, this anti-epistemic concept of Anti-Grammar was described by showing instances from Bangla literature. The literary works of Sukumar Roy (the play “bhabuk SObha” and the narrative “HO jO bO rO lO”), Rabindranath Tagore( in the essay “ SoNgit o bhab” and in “SObdotOtto”), D. L. Roy ( The role of a relief character Katyayana in the play “cOdrogupto”) and Satinath Bhaduri ( in his short story “boYakOron”) were cited. Taking cue from these instances, this paper sets its goals. The rationale of this paper is to understand (a) the goal/ purpose of writing grammar and vyakarana in different spaces and times; (b) how the order of things /categoremes/ taxonomies of grammar/ vyakarana is controlled/approximated/ appropriated by the social/ institutional order of things. This paper describes the advent of sabdanusasana (“governance of word” as depicted by Patanjali, i.e., the question of governmentality is crucial here) in the Vedic era was motivated by the then caste-system as all the grammarians tried to protect an engineered language (Sanskrit) by deploying fragmented rules so that that protected language would not be contaminated by the language of lower caste. In the colonial period in Bengal, the concepts of grammar, Philology, and vyakarana were amalgamated in the textbooks of school grammars. At that time, grammar of one selected language was utilized to colonize the captive speakers of defeated languages (so called ‘dialects’). Author, at the same time, also describes the reception of Philology as a discipline (where arbitrary signs are endowed with evolutionary deterministic “law”) by the colonized. Thus, this paper tries to capture many imaginary moments of linguistic nation state and on the other hand, it shows the fragmentation/ disintegration of “my” (speaking subject’s my-ness rather than that of I-ness) gestalt perception of “language”. The formalist and statist deployment of grammatical tools dissect the body of “my language” and that is governmentality.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: 2005. “Sociology of Bangla Grammars”. A Seminar on Bangla Grammars. PascimBanga Bangla Academy, Govt. of West Bengal. 17-19 August, 2005. (INVITED)
Publication Info: “ eY je amar bhaSar rOktakto Sorir: bEkaron.” (This Is The Blooded Body Of My Language: Grammar ) Prasanga Bangla Byakaran 2 A Collection of Articles on Bengali Grammar. Bangla Academy, Govt. of West Bengal, Kolkata. (pp.112-146) ISBN: 81-7751-137-8

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