Monthly Archives: June 2012

Sukumar Ray’s ‘Torture of Language’: An Attempted Reading

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

July 28, 2002

2002.”Sukumar Roy-er bhaSar ottacar: ekTi paThoproyaS” Ababhas. II:2.(pp.25-35) Jul-Sept. Kolkata. 

Abstract:      
This paper is a meta-commentary on a pioneering paper “bhaSar ottacar” (“Torture of Language”, first published in probaSi, joysTho, 1322 Bangabda [May 1915 A.D.]) by Sukumar Ray. The author of this paper interpreted the discourse of Ray in the light of contemporary or “modern” linguistic theories. Thus, this paper is also a formal elaboration of Ray’s hypotheses on the problems of language. 

When I first went through the reprint Ray’s paper, I was flabbergasted as I found that Ray commented on some fundamental linguistic issues, which were almost unknown at that time, i.e., in 1915, in that short paper written in Bangla. 

Ray started his discourse with “familiarity principle” that disrupts the understanding of “too familiar phenomenon” (it is to be noted that Chomsky, 1972: 24 initiated his discourse on language and mind with this principle). The issues, inaugurated by Ray, include: (a) arbitrariness of signs (in Ray’s phrases: “relations of artificial illogical sounds”) and different types of signs (symbol, icon and index were exemplified by Ray) ; (b) cultural relativity [as proposed later by Sapir-Whorf in 1929] ; (c) The relationship between thought and language and the domination of language over the thought due to the burden of ideology; (d) the existence of signifier without “real” signified and condensation of thought; (e) ideological problems of interpretive translation and changes in meaning (Ray exemplified it with two almost different Bangla translations of Vedic hymns); (f) Problems of polysemy, metaphor and metonym; (g) neutralization of meaning; (h) problems of metalinguistic functions. 

However, the main emphasis of Ray was on the controlling power of linguistic order of things over the thought process or cognition and the hermeneutic gap between perception and understanding. As we are living within the prison-house of language and our thought processes are regulated/telescoped/condensed/appropriated/approximated by the linguistic order of things, Ray justifiably called this as “torture of language”.

 

Note: Downloadable document is in Bengali.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 6

Keywords: Sapir-Whorf, language-thinking, discourse Analysis

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“Soul’d in and out: Representation of Body, No-Body in the ‘Hindu’ Philosophy.”

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

March 6, 2002

From the Margins, Vol. II, No. 1, pp. 182-202, 2002 

Abstract:      
This paper deals with the semantics and aporia of prakriti (matter/female) and purusa (consciousness/male) by analyzing the discourse on Samkhya darsana. The goal of the the paper is to understand the uncontradictory contradictions and decidable undecidable facts of Samkhya darsana’s concept of corporeal in the public sphere discourse as well as intellectual commentaries. Deconstructive grammatological (non-)methodologies are deployed along with Indian & Greek methods of establishing dialogue without manipulation.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 12

Keywords: grammatology, anyonyopratibimba, prakriti-purusa, aporia

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Archaeology of Bangla Grammar (Ph.D. Synopsis)

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

April 17, 1998

1998. ‘Archaeology of Bangla Grammar (Ph.D.Synopsis)’ Udayan-I (pp.1-2) Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies.Central University of Hyderabad. Bangla Version: 1996. baNla bEkarOner protnotOtto. Mityra Roy, Arpita ed. Pratiphalan.. No. 3. March’96. Kolkata (pp.1-6) 

Abstract:      
This dissertation is on the ‘origin’ and ‘development’ or constitution of an object called ‘Bangla Grammar’, though all the epistemes within the single quote were questioned in this narrative, i.e., two signifies (they are ultimately signifiers) involved in this project (‘Bangla’ and ‘Grammar’) were also scrutinized. The problematic questions, which were 
involved here: 

A. What is this metaphysical totality called ‘Bangla’? What were its changing (diachronic) geo-political boundaries? Who, based on certain allegedly defined homogenous modular form, are imagined within ‘our’ nation, and who are the ‘outsider’? This question triggers the inclusion-exclusion factor of the imagined nation. 

B. Are the ‘insiders’ of this nation homogenous complex? The mediators (in this case, Language Managers, Language Judges and Language Police of colonized civil society) of the civil society were trying to homogenize them by standardizing, appropriating, codifying, grammaticalizing one selected variety (religious or linguistic) for the sake of one metaphysical umbrella called ‘Bangla’. Here comes the question of standardization and grammaticalization of chosen module. Inside ‘others’ (the constructs like ‘dialects’, ‘folk-language’) were to be considered under such standard grammatical module. 

C. Is such standard grammatical/sastrika module a classic language? Searching (constructed) classical heritage entails enumerated and fantastic deterministic history and a retrospective tribute to the predecessors, by whom the private property of the selected module was to be transmitted to the inheritors, the present inhabitants of the nation. 

The whole project of projecting A, B, C needs institutional managerial system within the civil society – where a group of, language – judges (grammarians),language – managers (language policy makers) and language polices (teachers of Ideological State Apparatuses) were operating to control and appropriate a chosen “good” language. They were engaged in building an ‘Autonomous History’ or an ‘Autonomous Grammar’ simultaneously as there was a growing need for national identity (the imagination of which was a colonial derivative) among the elite in the context of 19 C Industrial Capitalism. The whole hi(story) of such institutionalization of language-selection and grammaticalization of the selected variety was narrated in the dissertation in the context of colonial period of Bangla. 

This thesis argues that the discursive formation of Bangla grammars, the categoremes of grammar, order of things – all of them reflect the colonial statist constitution as well as domestic order of things in a form of hierarchical taxonomy. In the hybrid space of a colony, the categories of grammar were epistemologically amalgamated – some categoremes were borrowed from donor Sahibs’ domain and some were from Classical Sanskrit Grammar, which was also donating in the formation of Linguistics. Thus, epistemological amalgamation was a certain kind of reciprocal role-reversal of donor-receptor. Lastly, a question was raised on the utility of grammar in the pedagogical purpose. If we can create infinite set of sentences out of finite sets of words, why should we endorse something, which is nothing but meta-symbolic order (grammar) over the symbolic order of language? The concept of Anti-grammar (=GrammEr) was proposed with a goal to achieve ideology of deschooling. Anti-grammar is a biologically constituted 
algorithm/scheme for language. However, this biological competence was also questioned

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 9

Keywords: epistemological amalgamation, triglossia, pracalit, anti-grammar/grammEr, crippled creativity, allocurriculame

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প্রান্ত থেকে বলা Voices from Margins

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

October 15, 1999

Churamani Hati, ed., LokosNskritir Digdiganta, Kolkata: Granthabikas, (pp.108-35) 
1999, Pranto Theke Bola, Dasgupta, Arun, Goutam Bhadra, Alak Ghosh ed. Aitihasik. VIII 1-2 (pp.31-62), Kolkata 

Abstract:      
The author of this Bangla paper had showed here the nature of linguistic imperialism as evident in the terms like “dialect”, “folk-language” or “standard language”. He had also showed the illegitimacy of Folklore and Anthropology as these subjects reflect colonial disciplinary technology as they surrogate whiteMAN’s History and Sociology. By analyzing the dichotomies like Folksong/Classical song, Folk drama/theatre, Folk Art/Art, the author had also illustrated the fuzziness of such boundaries (folk/non-folk) that reveal the nature of subsumption through subjectification as well as subjection. 

Note: This paper is an amalgamated Bangla version of following English papers available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2017735, http://ssrn.com/abstract=2022896, http://ssrn.com/abstract=2018055, http://ssrn.com/abstract=2017319.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

Keywords: folk, tribe, aboriginals vs. homo sapiens

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Some Primary Observations on /-Ta/ without N

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

January 9, 1989

Indian Journal of Linguistics, Vol. 16, pp. 66-67, 1989 

Abstract:      
Primarily, author had faced a problem with the bound morheme – Ta (classifier) in the Bangla sentences like: 1. korchiSTa ki? do-pr.cont-(-Hon)-classifier what? 2. korchoTa ki? do-pr.cont-(-Hon) classifier what? 3. korchenTa ki? do-pr.cont-( Hon) classifier what? 4. Hocche Ta Ki? happen-pr.cont-classifier what?

In all these cases bound morpheme Ta is lonely as it is not a part of the preceding verbs which have already got inflections and thus are closed though orthographically Ta is written with those verb. In all these cases wh-object is missing as the speaker of these sentences does not have the cognition of that wh-object or otherwise s/he is cognizing the absence. The second possibility is that s/he may have the pragmatic competence of cognizing that wh-object but s/he is pretending to be an ignorant, i.e. s/he has a cognition of absence of absence which is otherwise a presence. At that time, the author structurally interpreted this phenomenon from the perspective of Empty Category Principle.

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 2

Keywords: Empty Category Principle

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‘Language’

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

August 11, 2007

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE OF LANGUAGE, Polimetrica Onlus, ed., Milan, Italy, 2007 

Abstract:      
It is dialogic representation on the epistemological status of ‘Language’ (L) rather than that of a direct definition of L per se. In this exposition, a Proposer(P), a strict structuralist is introducing definitions of L and the Opponent (O), a post-structuralist, is nullifying or refuting those truth-claims regarding L as thing-in-itself. Firstly, P introduced the etymological meaning of language and that was refuted by O by the way of his understanding the nature of Externalized Language (EL) and Internalized Language (IL). Secondly, O introduced an interface between psyche and society with the human corporeal to understand different shades of human linguistic creativity. Ultimately, after refuting different definitions of language, O introduced his/her own views on language. For O, language is that, which is perceived as ‘language’ by the speaking/hearing subject at the moment of speaking. O also introduced here the concept of ‘silenceme’ within the ambit of something called language.

Keywords: philology, bioligistics, silenceme

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‘Linguistic Cybercolonization’

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

March 2, 2006

GLOBALIZATION, LANGUAGE, CULTURE AND MEDIA, pp.146-187, B.N. Patnaik, S.I. Hasnain, eds., Simla Institute of Advanced Studies, 2006 

Abstract:      
This paper dealt mainly with the condition of language, both internalized and externalized, at the age of globalization as well as Electronic capitalism by reiterating earlier stands taken by Bandyopadhyay(1999a, 1999b, 2000). It starts with a Marxian metaphor of inversion (in case of commodity fitishism) that lead us to the understanding of the nature of inversion of language and creative speaking subject as well. Different spaces of communication (in the Indian context) was introduced in Sec-3 with a view to understand the cyber-spatial hyper-reality vis a vis other spaces of communication (Indian grass-root plurilingualism, administrative use of language and Business language). Sec-3 had different subsections that briefly deal with (a) “inner domain” of Indian plurilingualism (3.1); (b) language of Indian administration (3.2) and (c) Language of National and Multinational business sectors (3.3 and 3.4). In 3.4.2, the Social Scientific and Environmental scientific problems of Computational Linguistics (CL) was discussed as CL is now creating a cyber-zone of communication with a view to create speaking machine and computer is the repertoire of large language-data. Sec-3.4.3 was on the encroachment/cohabitation of centre’s language in the so-called “local” language and 3.4.4 will conclusively summarize the theme of the Sec-3, i.e. use of Externalized language in the “Glocalized” (=global local) society keeping in mind the “Indian” context. Sec-4 shifted to the problem of Internalized Language. Here the hypothesis of crippled creativity was introduced by attesting the locus (i.e. the cyberspace) of “ideal” speaking subject. According to this hypothesis, linguistic creativity is crippled by the outside sociality and the creative speaking subject is ceased to be existed in the world of behavioral manipulation. Lastly, in Sec-5, the “Art of resistance” was discussed. In this last section, the Marxian metaphor of inversion in the context of market economy was inverted again with the logic of double negation to achieve the scope for emancipatory dialogue without manipulation. However this Habermasian agenda of achieving communicative competence was again questioned by the author as a transcendental locus for dialogue would not to be found in the planet earth.

Keywords: Glocal, Electronic Capitalism, Crippled Creativity, Cyber-colonization, Psi-properties

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