As a side note, it will probably help if I create a category/tag for all these lectures.
Grierson’s gramophone recordings of Indian languages & dialects by Professor Javed Majeed
(1.) John Abraham Grierson 1851-1941 : 20 volumes of Indian linguistics survey written between 1903-1928 (Prof Majeed has read them all). Provide lexical and grammatical information for 268 Indian language. Key reference works.
– Language activists in South Asia continue to use Grierson to endorse their demands. As an example activists in Pakistan Punjab use Grierson to justify the view that Seraiki is a separate language to Punjabi, not a dialect, justifying a separate state.
– Grierson shaped the boundaries and personas of regional languages.
– One of the important aspects of the Survey were the Gramophone recordings; initially started before WW1. Oriental Institute, precursor to SOAS, was being floated in London as an educational institute so Grierson wanted to press ahead with the Grammarphone Survey.
– Grierson constantly pointed to the weaknesses of the Linguistic Survey; his gripe that the written word could not represent the cadence or the “swing sentence” or “delicate shades of pronunciation.”
-Grierson points out to the “European inability to hear certain sounds”; colonial ears were deaf to certain sound patterns in Indian languages (retroflexes).
– there were issues of transcribing “tonal languages” especially the Tibeto-Burman languages. He had to interfere in local govt in Assam to get recordings.
– Motivated by inter-European rivalries in linguistics. Grierson was aware of the prisoner recordings by the Germans of Indian POW. In fact the Punjabi recordings were used in 1920 to teach Punjabi in the Oriental College of Lahore. Germany had a colonial institute at Hamburgs; Brits were motivated to catch up with the French, Italian and Germans in the field of colonial linguistics.
– Grierson described British civil service (ICS) candidates pronunciation of Hindustani abominable. Gramophones would allow them to have better pronunciation.
– Grierson’s fear that Brits would be caricatured by Indians for mispronouncing Indian language; would reduce their prestige.
– British officials were wont to “shove every Persian word into their Hindustani.” A fear of British being figures of fun for the Indians. There was a famous Indian Cartoon character who was noted for his “Indian English” and Grierson had a similar fear that would emerge for the “colonial administrator and Hindi.”
(2.) “Estranging effects of mispronunciation.” The white face of the strange and the “native’s slow mind” (Grierson) means that when White civil servants are speaking to peasants in Hindustani or in their own local language; the peasant replied “sorry sorry I don’t speak English.”
I found the original passage (what is shown on screen is marked by my black lines).
– the Gramophone recording are about naturalising British rule and making them sound right phonetically.
Academic contentions – Colonial state had to exert control over the status of writing. Colonial had to also control inflection in the colonial auditory order.
– G foregrounds his authority in being an acute listener. Apparently he can listens to sounds that even Indian listeners cannot pick up.
– they no longer had to depend on Munshis and Pandits as language teachers. Post 1870 they wanted to move away from that.
– small industry in general changed India’s “soundscape.” The linguistic survey uproots Indian voices in their natural environment and then relocated them in a European setting.
– in order to produce the recordings the colonial administrators “dumbed down” Indian auditory environment. He gives an example of musical recordings left unfinished to provide a touch of “authenticity.”
– Written word took precedent over the recording despite G’s efforts otherwise. Lots of discussions about a distinction between the new recordings and old recording.
Q&A / Urdu has “uncertain citizenship”; Grierson has a shaky grasp of Kashmiri.
Questions of authenticity / Grierson finds Tulsidas to be the true soul of India (Ramichantras is absorbed into the marrow of the Indian peasant) unlike English educated Indians. Aryan vs Semitic.
– Discovery of Mohenjardo a “threat”‘to the centrality of Vedic.
– G trained as a Sanskritologist huge emotional investment in Sanskrit as “Queen” of Indo-European philology. This may have blinded philologists from Sanskrit’s borrowing from Dravidian.