Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

CiteScore 2018: 1.10

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 1.062
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.933

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 2018, Issue 253


The language medium “divide”: Ideologies of Hindi-English use at four all-girls’ “public schools” in North India

Meghan M. Chidsey
  • Corresponding author
  • International & Transcultural Studies, Anthropology & Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-08-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0022


When the first, all-girls’ Indian Public Schools opened their doors they were not the progenitors of women’s education nor the first English-medium schools in the princely states. These schools fulfilled a different need – educating the daughters of India’s aristocracy. While in the schools’ initial years, students could pursue either Hindi- or English-medium streams, they quickly became (inter)nationally renowned for their prowess in the English language. In the decades surrounding Indian independence, they served as localized symbols of “quality” education, women’s emancipation, and Indian modernity. Though many of these perceived advantages still hold true, contemporary practices pertaining to participation in entrance examinations, higher education, and peer group sociality are challenging their meanings and uses. Not only are female students (re)creating ideologies that link English, Hindi, and/or other vernaculars to certain class- and gender-based notions of being “cool”, “modern”, or “rustic”, to “belonging”, “showing off”, or “proving it”, but institutional competition from private (largely Hindi-medium) tutoring centers are further complicating the primacy of English-medium education. As such, this article interrogates the various ways stakeholders of four, historic, all-girls’ Indian Public Schools interact with, police, place value upon, and find meaning through language.

Keywords: India; language ideology; elite schooling; post-colonialism; gender


  • [no author]. 1980 [1944]. Flowers of memory: Dedication book to Miss Lilian Godfreda Dannithorne Lutter. Jaipur: Jaipur Printers.Google Scholar

  • Bhabha, Homi. 1994. The location of culture. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Bourdieu, Pierre. 1986. The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education, 241–258. New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar

  • Esche, Edith. 2009. English and empowerment: Potential, issues, way forward. In Nasreen Hussain, Azra Ahmed & Mohammad Zafar (eds.), English and empowerment in the developing world, 2–26. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.Google Scholar

  • Khan, Shamus Rahman. 2011. Privilege: The making of an adolescent elite at St Paul’s School. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • LaDousa, Chaise. 2014. Hindi is our ground, English is our sky: Education, language, and social class in contemporary India. New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar

  • Macaulay, T. B. 1965 [1835]. Minute on education. In H. Sharp (ed.), Selections from educational records, part I (1781–1839), 107–117. Delhi: National Archives of India.Google Scholar

  • Maira, Sunaina. 2002. Desis in the house: Indian American youth culture in NYC. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar

  • Sen, Amartya. 1999. Development as freedom. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Shankar, Shalini. 2008. Desi land: Teen culture, class, and success in Silicon Valley. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar

  • Srivastava, Sanjay. 1998. Constructing post-colonial India: National character and the Doon School. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Swaan, Abram De. 2001. Words of the world: The global language system. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-08-18

Published in Print: 2018-08-28

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2018, Issue 253, Pages 27–53, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0022.

Export Citation

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Iffat Jahan and M. Obaidul Hamid
Journal of Sociolinguistics, 2019, Volume 23, Number 4, Page 386

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in