I don't know the actual history of the term 'Indic'. However, I know pieces of
it and why it's a bad idea to use the term.
1. The languages spoken in India are from very diverse language families with
very different origins. The biggest group as of now is the Indo-Aryan subfamily
of Indo-European. Dravidian languages are the next most spoken family of
languages. Other languages belong to Austro-asiatic and Tibeto-Burman families.
Some languages are language isolates.
2. The reasons why the term Indic would have been applied are the following (I
a) due to a number of cognates that exist due to centuries of substratum and ad
stratum influence or false cognates that exist in any two languages, people
mistakenly think of them as one family.
b) there's a prevalent mistaken belief about Sanskrit as a mother language of
all languages (in India and elsewhere!). Saying Bengali came from Sanskrit is
like saying chicken came out of crocodiles. Saying Konkani came out of Sanskrit
is like saying whales evolved from sharks.
c) there's one genuine reason, which is that, aside from the evolution of the
languages themselves, scripts evolved in a more convergent fashion (not 100%).
3. Why is it not good to refer to all languages spoken in India as Indic
a) The term Indic specifically referred to a certain sub family of languages.
b) People then tend lump together tools. The biggest casualty so far is the way
unicode inherited inscript and messed up Tamil and Malayalam scripts for once.
4) Wherever possible, the accurate and unambiguous phrase "languages spoken in
India" shall be used.
"That language is an instrument of human reason, and not merely a medium for
the expression of thought, is a truth generally admitted."
- George Boole, quoted in Iverson's Turing Award Lecture
> From: Vishnu t <visdav...@gmail.com>
>To: Wikimedia India Community list <email@example.com>
>Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 2:14 PM
>Subject: Re: [Wikimediaindia-l] additions - Indian Languages question
>Dear Tejaswini and Friends,
>It is an interesting and pertinent issue. I do completely concur with
>Tejaswini on the problem of 'using philological classifications and
>terminology'. However, it will be interesting to track the history of how we
>have ended up with the term 'Indic', in the computing context. Do friends on
>the list know of any history of computing terms and how 'Indic' has come to be
>Would be useful if any body can shed light on this and let us also put this up
>The Wiktionary entry for 'Indic' is here https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Indic
>Look forward to more conversations on this.
>On 14 February 2013 09:34, Tejaswini Niranjana <t...@cscs.res.in> wrote:
>Correction: by Dravidian language in Pakistan I suppose you meant Brahui,
>which has a couple of million speakers. Doesn't appear to be much writing in
>the language though. We will have to find out more.
>>And one more comment on your suggestion about using 'Indic-Dravidian': do
>>remember that we have several languages in the north-east which are part of
>>neither of these groupings, since they are from the Tibeto-Burman family of
>>languages! This is what I meant by the problem of using philological
>>classifications and terminology.
>>On 13 February 2013 18:38, Tejaswini Niranjana <t...@cscs.res.in> wrote:
>>>Thanks for engaging with this difficult question. I think we may have to
>>>look at sizeable populations speaking a certain language while deciding how
>>>to classify where it is spoken. I was surprised to see your remark that
>>>Dravidian languages are spoken in Pakistan. I was not aware of this fact,
>>>and would like to know if it is the odd speaker who happens to live or work
>>>there, or there are good-sized populations speaking Kannada or Telugu for
>>>As for your suggestion about a combination name like Indic-Dravidian, that
>>>still falls into the philological problems that using 'Indic' alone does,and
>>>doesn't necessarily make the term more inclusive.
>>>So I think we will have to keep discussing this issue for some more time!
>>>On 11 February 2013 13:59, Niraj Suryawanshi <niraj.suryawan...@gmail.com>
>>>>I understand & appreciate the depth of thought process and inputs put behind
>>>>this question about use of words "*Indian*" or "*Indic*". I'm very much
>>>>convinced since all the languages we are considering belong to different
>>>>classes and categories, geographically and origin wise too, and needs to be
>>>>labeled under a common name!
>>>>But if we consider the label Indian languages, which specifies the origin
>>>>and use of the same in India, there are many languages which are
>>>>predominantly used not only in India but also in the other surrounding
>>>>counties eg. Bangla (Indic Language, Indo-Aryan) which is used in India,
>>>>Bangladesh & Burma.
>>>>And many other Dravidian Languages which are thought to be specifically
>>>>South Indian languages are used in neighboring eastern countries like
>>>>This question will arise every time when we have to specify "Indian
>>>>Language" or "Indic Languages" for any given reason.
>>>>How about the combination of names of both different language families so
>>>>that the language set wont be distributed with respect to the current
>>>>territorial boundaries but with regards to their origin and a proper
>>>>classification depending upon the origin/birth. viz "*Indic - Dravidian
>>>>This was my personal view over the query, you can always correct me if I'm
>>>>Regards & Thanks,
>>>>on behalf of Wikipedia Club Pune
>>>>+91 814 992 0120 | niraj.suryawan...@gmail.com
>>>>View this message in context:
>>>>Sent from the WikiMedia India mailing list archive at Nabble.com.
>>>>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
>>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
>>To unsubscribe from the list / change mailing preferences visit
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