In the Mouth but not on the Map: Visions of Language and Their Enactment in the Hindi Belt
Type of Work
Journal of Pragmatics
While scholars working in colonial and post-colonial North India have devoted a great deal of attention to language variation, they have largely ignored the discursive use of names for language varieties. In this article, I investigate the ways that speakers enter into dialogic relationships with distinct voices, in the rubric of Bakhtin, depending upon which names for language varieties they mention. I reflect upon conversations between residents of Banaras, a city of approximately two million in North India, in which names for language varieties cluster into three sets. Each set of language names invokes particular language ideologies constructed in India's colonial and post-colonial past. The first two sets—one comprised by “Hindi” and “English” and the other comprised by names for more local varieties—intersect official notions about the proper fit between language and its context of use. The third set does not. In order to account for the third set, in which speakers forego official, authoritative descriptions of languages, I note that interactional phenomena, in addition to ideological dimensions of language, are crucial in understanding the ways that people differently reflect on language varieties in practice.
LaDousa, Chaise, "In the Mouth but not on the Map: Visions of Language and Their Enactment in the Hindi Belt" (2004). Hamilton Digital Commons.
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