Course

By Word of Mouth: The Languages of India

India is like an “ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously,” writes Jawaharlal Nehru in The Discovery of India. The story of India is a fantastical fable scripted in babel of tongues, protean in its very nature and form, malleable to the currents of history, and inassimilable into any one single idea of truth. In this course, we will travel across India by word of mouth so to speak, sifting through the layers of history with its diverse languages as our tour guides. Languages shape the contours of thought, defining the ethos of a particular culture, and ultimately offering a kaleidoscopic view of a nation that remains inarticulable in any one language. The idea of India is a dialectical nightmare, especially when language is employed as a divisive force. However, it is also through language that we will seek to gain a passage to India in spite of encountering such aporias. This course intends to offer an overview of the linguistic diversity of India, with language serving as the confluence point of social, political, religious, economic and cultural changes.

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India is like an “ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously,” writes Jawaharlal Nehru in The Discovery of India. The story of India is a fantastical fable scripted in babel of tongues, protean in its very nature and form, malleable to the currents of history, and inassimilable into any one single idea of truth. In this course, we will travel across India by word of mouth so to speak, sifting through the layers of history with its diverse languages as our tour guides. Languages shape the contours of thought, defining the ethos of a particular culture, and ultimately offering a kaleidoscopic view of a nation that remains inarticulable in any one language. The idea of India is a dialectical nightmare, especially when language is employed as a divisive force. However, it is also through language that we will seek to gain a passage to India in spite of encountering such aporias. This course intends to offer an overview of the linguistic diversity of India, with language serving as the confluence point of social, political, religious, economic and cultural changes.