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Language Predicament, Decay and Death


Braj B. Kachru

JAMMU KASHMIR AND LADAKH: LINGUISTIC PREDICAMENT
Edited by P.N. Pushp and K. Warikoo
Har-Anand Publications, Delhi, 2005, pp. 224, price not stated.

VOLUME XXIX NUMBER 2 February 2005

This invaluable research resource focuses on topics that have generally escaped the serious attention of scholars who are concerned with the language situation of the troubled state of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. This lack of awareness is especially true of research and constructs available in the English language. This collection of eleven papers insightfully covers a variety of such neglected topics, remedies the situation to some extent, and provocatively opens fresh, challenging research areas. There is a long and rich tradition—albeit with some gaps—of linguistic research on Kashmir, its history, its grammar, and its lexical stock, and the controversies about its origin and convergence with other Indian languages. This body of literature dates back to the much-studied earlier work of Sanskrit and Kashmiri scholars and even of India’s colonial administrators, whose earlier contributions have been significant and well–recognized, as briefly outlined by Toshakhani (pp. 30—79).   The subtitle of the book, “Linguistic Predicament,” succinctly captures the nature of the thorny issues related to language and religion, political and ideological complexities, attitudes about the local languages that have evolved over a long¾and mixed¾history, and the multiple identities that have evolved as results of the impacts of Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, and much later, English. A variety of these attitudes are, of course, due to the “minority” status of the languages of the state, a condition that these languages share with all the minority language users in the subcontinent and across the globe. In the implementation of the complex language policies of the state and central governments, minority languages such as Kashmir have turned into ever-haunting albatrosses for their users and the language policy makers.   The editors bring two distinct but complementary academic perspectives to this carefully edited and informative volume. The late P. N. Pushp was a distinguished educator and Sanskritist who had impressive linguistic competence in Kashmiri, Pali, Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu and Hindi, and had acquired first-hand knowledge of the complexities of India’s language problems as a member of India’s Official Languages Commission (1955¾56) and as General Secretary of the All-India Oriental Conference (1961¾69). K. Warikoo is an area specialist with extensive research expertise in Central Asia and Kashmir. He is the editor of Himalayan and Central Asian Studies (Journal of Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundation), New Delhi.   The contributors address a variety of provocative ideological and linguistic issues that are generally put aside in the ...


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