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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 11, 2012

Language plurality of South Asia: A search for alternate models in knowledge construction

Lachman M. Khubchandani,


Under the influence of the purists' tradition in philology and in pedagogy, agencies concerned with social planning analyze linguistic heterogeneity as a serious problem of human adjustment. Viewing language in monolithic terms, there has been a traditional bias that language diversity is a problem. Constituting the mother tongue as a cult and marker of identity, many linguists and language agencies since the European Renaissance have joined nationalists (taking language as a defining characteristic of ‘nation-state’) in isolating bilinguals as being ‘rootless’ and of ‘dubious loyalty’ to the nation. In recent years, however, there has been more lip service paid to language pluralism. The characteristic of maintaining of two (or more) mother tongues is a notable feature of plurilingual India. Contemporary disciplines do not take cognizance of multiple languages existing side by side, and a speech community continues to be identified according to homogeneous constructs, in terms of formal structures and monistic values, attitudes and usage. The local and the global, the particular and the universal should be viewed, as two sides of the same coin rather than competing with each other. In the light of this, we look for new paradigms in applied linguistics so as to effectively arrest the trends of large scale commodification and homogenization pertaining to language development and make transparent the qualities of communication for an integral and sustainable development of social diversity.

Centre for Communication Studies, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi, India

Published Online: 2012-10-11
Published in Print: 2012-10-10

©[2012] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston