Negotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi, and the Definition of Modern South Asia by Walter HakalaNegotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi, and the Definition of Modern South Asia by Walter Hakala

Negotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi, and the Definition of Modern South Asia

byWalter Hakala

Hardcover | August 30, 2016

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Prior to the nineteenth century, South Asian dictionaries, glossaries, and vocabularies reflected a hierarchical vision of nature and human society. By the turn of the twentieth century, the modern dictionary had democratized and politicized language. Compiled "scientifically" through "historical principles," the modern dictionary became a concrete symbol of a nation's arrival on the world stage.

Following this phenomenon from the late seventeenth century to the present, Negotiating Languages casts lexicographers as key figures in the political realignment of South Asia under British rule and in the years after independence. Their dictionaries document how a single, mutually intelligible language evolved into two competing registers-Urdu and Hindi-and became associated with contrasting religious and nationalist goals. Each chapter in this volume focuses on a key lexicographical work and its fateful political consequences. Recovering texts by overlooked and even denigrated authors, Negotiating Languages provides insight into the forces that turned intimate speech into a potent nationalist politics, intensifying the passions that partitioned the Indian subcontinent.

Walter Hakala is assistant professor of South Asian languages and literature at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. His work has been published in the Indian Economic and Social History Review, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, and Modern Asian Studies.
Title:Negotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi, and the Definition of Modern South AsiaFormat:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.1 inPublished:August 30, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231178301

ISBN - 13:9780231178303


Table of Contents

List of FiguresAcknowledgmentsNote on TransliterationChronology1. A Plot Discovered2. 1700: Between Microhistory and Macrostructures3. 1800: Through the Veil of Poetry4. 1900: Lexicography and the Self5. 1900: Grasping at StrawsConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

A brilliant contribution to the story of how Hindustani emerged as a standardized, comprehensive language, and in the end diverged into Urdu and Hindi as languages of cultural and national identity. With great originality, Hakala shows how dictionaries change over time in their sources, format, claims to authenticity, and the populations they at once reflect and create. We will never look at the Fallon, Platts, and Farhang that sit on our desks in the same way again.