One Language, Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India

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Oxford University Press, 1999 - Hindi language - 232 pages
The Hindi movement in nineteenth century north India provides an excellent example of the relationships between language, religion and nationalism, and several scholars have dealt with various aspects of these relationships. This study differs form previous ones in examining not only thepolitical, but also the social and cultural aspects of the Hindi movement, particularly on the local and provincial levels. Moreover, it is based on extensive use of both Hindi and English sources, including a thorough research of official rcords such as education reports, publication statisticsand the like. Finally, it stresses the importance of voluntary language associations which both reflected and intensified the Hindi movement.After an introduction which provides the theoretical, historical, linguistic and social background, and a review of previous studies, the author traces certain aspects of the history of Hindi and Urdu literature from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century and the development andexpansion of the printing of books and periodicals in these languages. This is followed by an outline of the essential features of the government's language policy and its important though contradictary role in shaping the Hindi movement, and an analysis of both indigenous and governmentaleducational systems in terms of languages studied, the social background of the students, and the relationship of education to employment, especially government employment. One chapter is devoted to the history of the Hindi movement, from the initial controversies of the 1860s to the governmentdecision of 1900 favouring Hindi and the Nagari script. The organization of the study is both chronological and topical, each succeeding chapter beginning its narrative and analysis at a later date than the preceeding chapter and dealing with a different aspect of the subject.The principal thesis of this book is that the Hindi movement of the nineteenth century expressed a Hindu nationalism whose essence lay in the denial of existing assimilation to cultural traditions associated with Muslim rule and the affirmation of potential differentiation from these traditions.In other words, one can view the Hindi movement as part of a process of multi-symbol congruence in which Hindu supporters of Hindi strove to transform the existing equations on Urdu = Muslim + Hindu and Hindi = Hindu + Muslim into Urdu + Muslim and Hindi = Hindu. Competing and overlapping loyaltiesand traditions, the crystallization of cultural identities into communal ones - these are issues which are still with us today and which admit to no easy solution. this book goes a long way towards filling a gap in our understanding of the role that language has played on the history and politicsof modern India.

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The Development of Differentiation
Government Language Policy

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About the author (1999)

Christopher King, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, University of Windsor.

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