Thanks for your response. I'm quite interested in hearing about earlier
debates on this and related lists on the Indian languages question. Glad to
know about the renaming of your project!
Using the term 'Asian languages' will open up a whole new set of issues.
Why not then say 'European languages' instead of German, French, Italian
etc.? And is English a European language (now)? I still think in our
context that 'South Asian' would be both accurate and inclusive.
On 11 February 2013 14:27, Abhishek Suryawanshi <
> Interestingly - People are so sensitive over these words.
> I was casual while using those for 'Spoken Wikipedia for Indic Languages'
> and request for participation was sent to all mailing lists.
> There was debate about Indic vs Indian vs Dravidian on same Mailing list
> about usage.
> And strong resistance was shown by other mailing lists privately, and
> surprisingly on open mailing lists people were open to Use 'F' word and
> censored criticism - I was unaware of such strong issues. Its always good
> to respect sentiments over language grouping name.
> After many mails, As of now Project name is 'Spoken Wikipedia for Indian
> but it will be interesting to know Indic/Indian/Dravidian usage to cover
> broader languages.
> It might be useful to use Asian Languages term to cover major languages.
> Thanks for starting this conversation.
> Keep Exploring, Keep Inspiring! :)
> Best Regards,
> Abhishek Suryawanshi,
> On Behalf of Wikipedia Club Pune
> On Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 12:06 PM, Tejaswini Niranjana <t...@cscs.res.in>wrote:
>> Dear All,
>> Was the WMF brief for the India office limited to languages in India or
>> did it include South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal,
>> Bhutan, Maldives – and by some definitions Tibet and Afghanistan as well)?
>> According to what I could find online, the public announcement of WMF
>> specifies Hindi and 20 other Indian languages. As I’ve discussed with some
>> of you before, the term “Indic” could be problematic when used to refer to
>> contemporary languages, and I’m sure our South Asian neighbours will take
>> strong exception to their languages being given this description. The issue
>> isn't merely a philological one to do with the etymology of words, but has
>> extensive social and political ramifications, as we would all know from
>> different kinds of contexts.
>> If we’re presently intervening in generating content and increasing
>> editorship for languages used in India, we should perhaps be using the term
>> “Indian languages”. If we’re including languages that have a different
>> originating location geographically, like Nepali, we should say “South
>> Asian languages”. Of course there will be the problematic cases of Bangla,
>> Punjabi and Urdu which are spoken across borders. I heard from Wikipedia
>> users in Kolkata that the majority of Bangla wiki editors are from
>> Bangladesh. This was a casual remark and needs to be borne out by an actual
>> survey. It would be an interesting challenge to confront this problem
>> rather than avoid it.
>> Here’s a brief note on the Indic/Indian question:
>> *Indic:* a theoretical concept used to *refer to common characteristics*of
>> the languages falling in the family of languages native to India. Most
>> often the term 'Indic' means ''of Indian origin". This usage is in line
>> with the assumptions of classical philology that Indian languages and
>> customs share a common root and origin. Such assumptions have either been
>> * challenged for their overwhelming homogeneity* or have
>> become*theoretically less and less useful
>> * over the years in understanding the growth of Indian culture and
>> society. At any rate, Indic in contemporary theoretical usage refers to
>> ancient and medieval historical texts and languages of the Indian
>> subcontinent and has an archaic ring to it.
>> *Indian Languages:* a term referring to all the languages which are in
>> use in India. Unlike the previous term, it doesn’t contain any hidden
>> theoretical or ideological assumptions and may be used to refer neutrally
>> to languages which have been in India for a considerable amount of time.
>> This usage may be more appropriate to Wikipedia’s NPOV position.
>> Eg., While there can be debate about whether Urdu is an Indic language,
>> there can be no controversy in stating that Urdu is an Indian language.
>> While Nepali and Sinhalese are definitely Indic languages owing to their
>> linguistic genealogy, we may choose to, or not choose to, term them as
>> Indian languages based on the geographical and political context we’re
>> referring to. [Here, I would strongly recommend using the term South Asian
>> languages - this usage is common in defining a disciplinary domain as well,
>> such as South Asian Studies. Famous university departments such as the SALC
>> at the University of Chicago explicitly use the term South Asian Languages
>> (and Civilizations, but that is another story).] By the way, South Indian
>> languages are technically speaking not 'Indic' at all, since they belong to
>> the Dravidian language family. We can't also forget that it is three South
>> Indian languages - Kannada, Tamil, Telugu - that are regarded as classical
>> languages in India.
>> Although there’s no clarity on exact usage of the terms, there’s a
>> general consensus about using Indic to refer to ancient and medieval texts.
>> For example, see,
>> Sheldon Pollock, *The Language of the Gods in the World of Men:
>> Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India* (Berkeley: Univ of
>> California Press, 2006).
>> The other point I want to add is that the term 'Indic' comes out of the
>> colonial and Indological approaches to the subcontinent. Indology is a
>> variant of Orientalism and has been criticised as such by Edward Said, in
>> *Orientalism* (New York: Vintage, 1978); see Wikipedia entry:
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_%28book%29*. *There’s an
>> extensive critique of Indological translations in my book *Siting
>> Translation: History, Post-structuralism and the Colonial Context*(Berkeley:
>> Univ of California Press, 1992). For a recent discussion of
>> Indology, see also
>> It might be an interesting exercise to google ‘indic’ and then google
>> ‘indian’, and see how the searches throw up quite dramatically different
>> things, and then add the word ‘languages’ to each search to see what shows
>> I’m aware that the input format and text editor consoles use the term
>> “Indic”- so it is up to the team and the extended community to discuss this
>> and find an acceptable resolution.
>> Looking forward to the discussions on this topic.
>> Tejaswini Niranjana, PhD
>> Lead Researcher - Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications
>> Senior Fellow - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS)
>> Visiting Professor - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
>> Visiting Faculty - Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute
>> of Science (CCS-IISc)
>> t: 91-80-41202302
>> f: 91-80-26730722
>> Wikimediaindia-l mailing list
>> To unsubscribe from the list / change mailing preferences visit
Tejaswini Niranjana, PhD
Lead Researcher - Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications
Senior Fellow - Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS)
Visiting Professor - Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)
Visiting Faculty - Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute
of Science (CCS-IISc)
t: 91-80-26730476, 26730967, 26730268
Wikimediaindia-l mailing list
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