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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on June 18, 2012 No Comment

The article, Hindi, Hinglish: Head to Head” by Ananya Vajpeyi (Assistant Professor of History, UMass Boston), published by the World Policy Journal, jumped out at me from among the sundry language policy related news items in a listserv email I received. While the attempt to parse out delicate and complicated issues related […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on April 18, 2012 No Comment
The Toongate Controversy

The news of the arrest of Ambikesh Mohapatra, professor of physical chemistry and kinetics at Jadavpur University (West Bengal, India) spread like wildfire across the nation over the last week. People rallied together, on the streets and on social networking sites, to protest what has been popularly called a “fascist” […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on April 5, 2012 4 Comments
A weighty issue: The Hindustan Times edition

Should Kareena Kapoor lose weight?” screamed a headline on my Hindustan Times app. For those of you unfamiliar with Bollywood cinema, Ms. Kareena Kapoor is a top actress, and hails from one of the most famous and powerful film khandaans (families). I’m not a fan of hers: but I had to read the article. […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on March 18, 2012 2 Comments

While I am generally averse to reading articles that begin by telling us about how we are all living in “an increasingly globalized world,” I thought this article I caught in the Sunday New York Times might be of interest to members of the FIT community:

…there is ample evidence that in a bilingual’s brain […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on January 26, 2012 No Comment
An accent on English

My father recently recounted an anecdote from his post-graduate years at the University of Moscow in the mid-1960s. He and his friend-we’ll call him Dr. Ramanna-were chatting amongst themselves on a cold, wintry day, surrounded by a slew of Russian colleagues. One Russian gentleman seated nearby inquired: What languages were […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on January 25, 2012 No Comment
“Chai Tea” and other oddities

“What is Chai Tea?” I wondered, flabbergasted: “It makes no sense! Chai=tea. Tea tea? And it’s supposed to be Indian?”

Now, I take pride in knowing my teas: I come from a land where tea is the preferred beverage, ubiquitous in the national beverage-scape. Tea was incorporated into my breakfast routine […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on December 16, 2011 1 Comment
English Vinglish

In a recent post, I wrote about a circular from the Department of Official Language, part of the Indian Home Ministry, encouraging the use of popular English words in place of difficult Hindi terms in official Hindi communications. The Wall Street Journal‘s India blog carries the same news posted a few hours ago, […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on October 13, 2011 No Comment
A Case for Hinglish

A new circular from the Department of Official Language, part of the Indian Home Ministry, encourages the use of popular English words in place of difficult Hindi terms in official Hindi communications. The circular states that Hindi words such as “misil” (for “file”), “pratyabhuti” (for “guarantee”), “kunjipatal” (for “keyboard”), and “sanganak” (for “computer”) […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on September 12, 2011 No Comment
A history not my own

It was a glorious Fall in the late ’80s, in a land filled with trees colored in autumnal brushstrokes. I remember with great vividness my first moments in an American classroom.  I was seated in the last row, in a corner, comfortingly next to the door (should I be overpowered by the need to escape). […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on June 9, 2011 1 Comment
“Excuse me, are you English-medium?”

The late afternoons-when my husband and I play badminton in a park in a Delhi suburb-are a 100-and-something degree Fahrenheit here, extremely hot and dry. All day, we wait anxiously for the mercury to dip just a little so we can go out and play. The park is fun not just because it’s a lush […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on April 26, 2011 1 Comment

During data collection earlier this year for my dissertation, exploring language and literacy socialization among a group of young boys at an orphanage in the suburbs of New Delhi, India, I headed over to National Council Of Educational Research And Training, or, as it is widely known, the N.C.E.R.T. I grew up […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on April 22, 2011 No Comment
Politics of Being Counted: Indian Census 2011

The doorbell-which makes the sound of chirpy, chirruping birds-shrieked for my attention on a late Monday morning a few months ago. I was living in a suburb of New Delhi, India, collecting data for my dissertation. As I went to unlock the grill door, I saw a lady dressed in a dark salwar kameez […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on April 11, 2011 1 Comment

Education First, “The World Leader in International Education” (as it calls itself) released what it called “the world’s first index to compare the English-language ability of adults in different countries,” which caused a flurry of excitement in the international news media. You can download the full report here. The report, compiled based […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on March 2, 2011 4 Comments
Reducing the “Indian” in the New York Times

Mr. Manu Joseph pens another Letter from India for the New York Times, this time on the “Uncompromising Practicality [that] Could Be India’s Downfall.” I covered his previous letter here, noting the gaping flaws in his argument about the spread of English in India. This time, he serves up […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on February 27, 2011 No Comment
Amar Chitra Katha & The Politics of Race?

The “father of Indian comics,” Anant Pai, creator of the fabled Amar Chitra Katha (अमर चित्र कथा) comic books that generations of Indian children were reared on, passed away last Thursday. In my dusty library in India, I had stacks and stacks of ACK comics. In fact, some of my most memorable childhood moments […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on February 20, 2011 13 Comments
“[Is] English [Really] Spoken Here[?]” NYT Fail

Mr. Manu Joseph, writing “India Faces a Linguistic Truth: English Spoken Here” in a “Letter From India” in the New York Times, makes some incredible claims about the status of English in India, with random bits of “evidence” that wouldn’t pass muster with, I’d wager, most Indians familiar with its linguistic […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on February 6, 2011 No Comment
Times of India: Just Kidding?

This was the “SMS Joke of the Day” in the Times Of India yesterday:

“Charlie Sheen is really coming to Lilo’s [Lindsay Lohan’s] defense. In fact, he’s set up a website asking the media to leave her alone. The site is doing good, it’s almost received as many hits […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on January 30, 2011 No Comment
“I am from Delhi only.”

Recently, exchanging pleasantries with a doctor in a suburb of Delhi, I responded, upon being asked where I was from, “I am from Delhi only” (feeling no little pride at my flawless command of Indian English). She shook her head and said, “No, your accent? You are not from here…” I sheepishly sputtered, “I live […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on December 6, 2010 No Comment
Finally: Tintin Speaks Hindi!

As Hergé‘s iconic Tintin series turns 80, having been translated into 58 languages and sold 230 million copies across the globe, it will be available for the first time in the world’s fourth largest language, Hindi. In India, the series has been available only in English and Bengali till […]

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Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on November 2, 2010 6 Comments
“Think Outside the Nidifice”: Endangered Words & How to Save Them

Ever been inconsolably distraught that no single word in English describes the condition of “being without eyebrows”? Say, when you were preparing to make an argument about whether your dog has them (i.e., eyebrows) or not, for a major televised debate? How happy would you have been to learn that there actually exists such […]

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