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Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

দেবপ্রসাদ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়

 Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata*


Robert Ryman installing the Philadelphia Prototype

Robert Ryman installing the Philadelphia Prototype


Painting: Robert Rauschenberg

Painting: Robert Rauschenberg

If Linguistics is stipulated, for the time being, as an epistemological
discipline for the deployment of algocentric (a discourse that is motivated
by metamathematical formalism or computational algorithmic simulation and
which ignores the non-algorithmic constitutive “rules”) meta-symbolic order
on the symbolic order, one may find a marginal other in Linguistics—an
order of non-signs. For these non-signs, let me introduce a term:
“silenceme”, which is at a time a non-sign and a sign and does not have a
fixed componential meaning and thus violates the law of excluded middle.

A blank parchment with the supposed seal of Caesar, when “read” by Antony,
swayed the commoners (Julius Caesar, 3.2). In Tagore’s play, Post-office, a
conspirator, out of fun, sent a blank letter to an “illiterate”(?) boy, who
was expecting king’s letter, when he was waiting for death. However,
another character altogether differently interpreted that blank letter.
This blankness of the white letter, then, was not interpreted as a
poisonous fun, but as a “real” remedy for that boy.

When you were asking me, “What’re you doing?” I said, “Nothing.” This
single word, ”nothing” , a supposed minimal “free” (Where lies the
essential freedom of word? ) form, is not free at all—“nothing” ’s freedom
was pervaded by “other” non-signs, nothingness, the unspoken or something
unspeakable, the non-discursive sonority or unintended sounds (as in John
Cage’s musical compositions or in Rauschenberg and Robert Ryman’s
Minimalist paintings with almost white surfaces.)

There may be a strategic taxonomy of silenceme: cognitive silenceme,
transcendental silenceme (as in case of seeking absolute silence and that
is impossible!); Pathological silenceme (as in case of Foreclosure or
Psychosis, the symbolic order is totally or partially rejected [instead of
being repressed]; one’s Language Acquisition Device is not working due to
the outside threat and violence); Creative silenceme ( as practiced by some
Buddhists by non-internalizing the outside threat and violence.); Silenceme
of conspiracy (the phrase “conspiracy of silence” was often used by Marx
and Engels) etc. Thus, spoke Sartre: being silent does not entail that I
am refusing to speak but it is a mode of keeping on speaking (What is

What will we, the linguist community, do with such so-called ambiguous
category? In Linguistics, what will be our agenda now? May we take
Wittgenstein or John Cage seriously? Alternatively, we may ignore the
silent marginal “other” space in Linguistics: the silenceme!


Colophon: Stefano Pocci, Diaforia; John Cage Site on Silence, Virginia University;

Neologisms: Silenceme, Silence Studies, Algocentric Discourse.




  1. মহা/ পাতি ভরত আখ্যান The Meta/Petite Narrative of Bharat.” Prasanta Chattopadhyay ed. Kalodhvani. 13:1, October’05.  Download (.pdf)
  2. “’যেদিন নিঃশব্দ শব্দেরে খাবে‘ : নৈঃশব্দের ভাষাতত্ত্ব ” [‘When Silence Would Swallow Non-Silence’: Linguistics of Silence] Ebang Mushayera. XI:4(226-47).R.N. 53193/94.Download (.pdf)
  1. “Centre for Studies in Silence. (একটি [-] লৌকিক বেত্তান্ত)” Samanta, Subal ed. EbangMushayera. XII: 4. (pp.142-150) R.N. 53193/94. Download(.pdf)
  2. Silenceme and absential quantifier” Virginia University.
  3. Silenceme: the silent other in Linguistics” LINGUIST List 17.2149. Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University.
  4. সার্তএর চুপসাধনা” [Silenceme in Sartre].” [Silenceme in Sartre].” Ed. Atanushasan Mukhopadhyay Dashadishi. Kolkata. II:2. (pp.52-3) Decl. No. 52/04. Download(.pdf)
  5. জেগে বা ঘুমিয়ে— ‘ভারতীয়দর্শনে” (Hanging between Sleeping and Waking — ‘Indian’ Philosophy).”(Hanging between Sleeping and Waking — ‘Indian’ Philosophy). Tepantar .Vol. V (pp.141-66) Kolkata: Sanhati. Download (.pdf)
  6. নীরবতার নাভাষাতত্ত্ব: লালনে Non-Linguistics of Silenceme: Lalon” ShaktinathJha ed. Ocinpakhi. LalonsaMrokgrontho. Vol.XX. Nadia, West Bengal LalonMelaSamiti. (pp. 16-24). Revised version: 2012. einisOrgopOtro. I:1 (pp. 9-16) Download(.pdf)
  7. The Psychology of Silence: The Story of Bharat.” Diaforia, No. 5, July 2011. Italy. Download(.pdf)
  8. An Interview on “Psychology of Silence” (English & Italian Versions) Diaforia, No. 5, July 2011. Italy. Download(.pdf)
  9. ECP is Dead, Long Live ECP” M. S. Thirumalai ed. Language in India. 12:4. (pp. 79-86). ISSN 1930-2940. Download(.pdf)
  10. PRAGMATICS OF SILENCEME Paper presented at the “International Seminar on Pragmatics of Cross Communication In Multilingual Setting”. Department of Linguistics, Aligarh Muslim University. 14-16 September, 2013. Download (.pptx)
  11. In Search of Linguistics of Silence : Caryapada চর্যাচর্চায় নীরবতার ভাষাতত্ত্ব সন্ধান : উপক্রমনিকা. Pranab K. Chakroborty ed. Interaction VIII. (pp.23-31) Nabadwip, West Bengal. India. ISSN 2277-4335. Download (.pdf)
  12. Review Of the Book: “Sounds Of Silence”. Jutta M. Hartmann, Veronika Hegedus, Henk Van Reimsdijk, eds., Elsevier Science, 2007. Indian Linguistics. Vol. 74, Nos. 1-2. (pp. 121-26) ISSN 0378-0759. Download(.pdf)
  13. “The Movement Within: A Secret Guide To Esoteric Kayaasadhanaa: Caryaapada”.”Journal of Bengali Studies, Vol.3 No.1. (pp. 113-27) ISSN# 2277-9426.  Download (.pdf)



এবং নীরবতা [“Keep Mum: On International Mother Language Day”]




Paintings: Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Ryman’s Minimalist paintings

About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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  1. Pingback: WOR(L)D SPACES | debaprasad

  2. ferenc says:

    Linguistics is nothing but metaphysics. When words or cluster of words do not have a reference they refer to “vacuum”, nothingness or abstraction. Conversely, when nothing is used in a verbal context, it refers to anything, that is the indefinite, the ultimate subjective interpretation

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