Understanding Language Diversity in India

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSVS1FC5023

Semester and Year Offered: 5th Semester (Monsoon Semester 2019)

Course Coordinator and Team: Akha Kaihrii Mao, Monishita H. Pande and Ipshita H. Sasmal

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Semester 4

Course Objectives/ Description: this course aims to sensitise students to linguistic diversity in India and understand how plurality can be strength.

Course Outcomes: This course will enable students to:

  • explain the concept related to what linguistic diversity means in our multilingual context.
  • list various diversities in the in the context of multilingual context.
  • apply basic concepts of sociolinguistics around social phenomenon.
  • analyse the politics of language and look at data samples of language varieties from local communities.
  • map sociolinguistic variables and apply the same while deciding the preferences and needs of customers.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

1. Languages in India: This module will introduce students to the multilingual and pluri-ethnic Indian context in which the learners operate in everyday life. They will be able to understand the complexity of language diversity and its effect on human interactions by engaging with questions around multilingualism, mother tongue and status of languages in society.

2.  Language and society

This module will introduce students to how language use is influenced by various social factors such as class, socio-economic status, educational background etc. The complex interactions between social variables and language will be the primary focus. The distinction between linguistic egalitarianism versus social perceptions and prestige attached to language use will be discussed within a sociolinguistic framework focusing on concepts such as dialect, variety, diglossia, standard vs nonstandard, oral vs written form etc.

3.  The Politics of language

This module will discuss the debates around language policy in India. The status of English, Hindi and regional languages will be discussed with an intention to sensitise students to the questions around ‘national’ vs ‘official’ language and issues such as attempts to homogenise language use in a diverse country like India. Some case studies will be included to discuss issues around this module.

Assessment Details with weights:

  1. Project work 40 % (Throughout the semester)
  2. Class test 30 % (Mid-semester)
  3. Presentation of 2 reflective essays along with submission 30% (15% each)

Reading List:

  1. Pattanayak, D.P. (1984). Multilingulism and language politcs in India. India International Centre Quarterly, 11,2, 125-131
  2. Meyerhoff, M. (2011). Introducing sociolinguistics. Second edition, Routledge: New York (chapters 2&3)
  3. Gavaskar, M. (2003). Politics of language. Economic and Political Weekly, 37,52, 5274-5275


  1. Blum, Susan. Making Sense of Language: Readings from Culture and Communication. Oxford: OUP, 2012.Print.
  2. Devy, G.N., Davis, G.V., Chakravarty, K.K. (2016). The language loss of the indigenous. Routledge Manohar
  3. Graddol, David (2006). English Next. London: British Council.
  4. Hudson, Richard. Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: CUP, 1996.Print.
  5. Hall, C.J., Smith, P.H., Wicaksono, R. (2017). Mapping applied linguistics: A guide for students and practitioners, Routledge: New York
  6. Romaine, S. (2001). Language in Society: An introduction to sociolinguistics. OUP
  7. Trudgill, P. (2000). Sociolinguistics: An introduction to language and society, Penguin Books
  8. Wardhaugh, Ronald. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. U.K.: Blackwell Publishers, 2006. Print.
  9. Yule, George. The Study of Language.4th ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2010. Print.