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«THE HENRY SWEET SOCIETY BULLETIN Issue No. 46-47, November 2006 1 Contents 3 Editor’s Note (Nicola McLelland) 5 Guest Editorial: Colonialism and ...»

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Issue No. 46-47, November 2006

1 Contents

3 Editor’s Note (Nicola McLelland)

5 Guest Editorial: Colonialism and Linguistic Thought (Rachael Gilmour)


7 Special Section: Colonialism and Linguistic Thought

7 The bad habit: Hobson-Jobson: British Indian glossaries, and intimations of

mortality (Javed Majeed)

23 Law, economics and cultural hegemony: the triumph of English and the loss of

Irish in Ireland (Tony Crowley) 43 General Section 43 De l’importance de l’alphabet kabarde pour l’évolution de la phonologie (Elena Simonato) 51 Abstracts of Papers Presented at the 2006 Henry Sweet Society Colloquium


65 Comenius’ Novissima linguarum methodus, translated (Werner Hüllen)


67 Books & Pamphlets / Journals / Articles & Reviews (ed. David Cram)


70 The Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas – Minutes from the AGM, Cambridge, 2005 72 The Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas – Minutes from the AGM, Sheffield, 2006 74 Treasurer’s Report, 2005 77 2006 Henry Sweet Society Colloquium Sheffield – Conference Report (Graham Pointon) 79 News of Conferences and Calls for Papers 87 Call for Submissions: The Third Vivien Law Prize in the History of Linguistic Ideas 89 News of Members 95 Style Sheet for the Bulletin of the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas 99 Reminder – Subscription renewals for 2007


EDITOR’S NOTE T his Bulletin must begin with an apology for its delayed publication. As you will see, this issue is in part a themed one (see Rachael Gilmour’s guest editorial on Colonialism and Linguistic Thought below), and a decision was taken last year to produce a single double-issue, to allow more time for its preparation. Also early last year, our editor Dr Therese Lindström Tiedemann expressed her wish to hand on the Editorship. The Bulletin has been in the capable hands of Therese since the end of 2003, and in that time she has done much to streamline the submission and review of contributions and to professionalize the formatting according to a detailed style guide.

Over the same period, Therese has also managed to complete her PhD, marry, have a daughter, and begin her academic career first in Uppsala, then in Groningen, where she has seen her teaching commitments increase over the past year or so. We congratulate Therese warmly on combining so many activities successfully, but her gain is our loss, as her commitments no longer permit her to carry on the Editorship of the Bulletin.

The handover of the Editorship has taken some time to settle, with the result that this Bulletin (whose production down to the last few details is still entirely the hard work of Therese) is only reaching you now. The good news, however, is that we plan to publish the next Bulletin in May 2007 as usual, so that the next issue will be following hard on the heels of this one. As the incoming editor, I am extremely grateful to Therese for the excellent state in which she has left matters, thus making my job a great deal easier. (Incidentally, I will in turn be handing over the role of Treasurer and Membership Secretary in due course to Rachael Gilmour).

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the long gap between Bulletins this time, there is a good deal of information in the News and Announcements section. There are several Conference announcements to which your attention is drawn. On a sombre note, we reflect on the lives of two highly dedicated and prominent scholars in the field of history of linguistics: Klaus Dutz and Peter Schmitter, both of whom died in

2006. Both had a long association with the Society and will be greatly missed, both personally and professionally. Finally, please note the call for submissions for the Vivien Law prize, open to current doctoral students or those who have completed a doctorate in the past five years – we look forward to receiving your submissions!

Dr Nicola McLelland, Nottingham

–  –  –

I n this, a special section of the special November double issue of the Bulletin, it is my pleasure to introduce two substantial essays addressing the relationship between colonialism (in both cases British colonialism) and linguistic thought. The first, by Javed Majeed, addresses developments in Anglo-Indian glossaries in the last years of the British East India Company. The second, by Tony Crowley, explores the history of linguistic ideas in Ireland under British rule, and the legal, economic, and cultural factors underlying the shift from Gaelic to English. Their inclusion in the Bulletin appears particularly timely in light of the invitation made by Peter Burke in the Lesley Sieffert Lecture at the HSS Colloquium in September to consider the interdisciplinary possibilities of our field. As those who were present will remember, Peter’s lecture raised a great deal of interest and debate throughout the rest of the Colloquium, as to how to foster communication with (for example) historians, literary scholars, psychologists, anthropologists, or historians of science. In light of this discussion, the essays that follow represent, among other things, an insight into one particularly exciting and significant interdisciplinary intersection, between colonial studies and the history of linguistic thought.

Javed Majeed’s article, an examination of Hobson-Jobson alongside other Anglo-Indian glossaries of the early-19th century, shows how this text can be read as a particularly revealing mode of self-definition or ‘auto-ethnography’ on the part of employees of the East India Company in its dying days. In so doing, this essay also sheds light on a corpus of linguistic representation developing apart from, although connected to, nineteenth-century metropolitan shifts in the production of glossaries and dictionaries. This essay forms part of an ongoing wider project, funded by the British Academy, and will undoubtedly be of great interest to many Bulletin readers.

Among other things, the project examines the development of Anglo-Indian alongside Urdu glossaries in this period, and explores the ways in which both Indian and British glossary-writers deployed and wrangled with conventions of linguistic analysis coming from the European and Urdu traditions.

Tony Crowley’s contribution, meanwhile, turns to the protracted struggle over English versus Gaelic in colonial Ireland. His essay, offering a detailed and ambitious historical view of the question, illuminates the way in which language politics and ‘linguistic ideas’ intersected with each other, serving as objects of ideological and personal struggle between linguists, legislators, nationalists, and ordinary speakers of the languages in question. This essay builds on Tony’s long-standing research interest

in language and colonialism in Ireland, most recently represented in Wars of Words:

The Politics of Language in Ireland 1537-2004 (Oxford University Press, 2005).

While these two contributions, in their very different emphases, give a great sense of the diversity of work being done in the field, there are also important synergies between them; not least in the attention they pay to anxieties about acculturation and assimilation on the part of British colonizers, played out – as Crowley in particular emphasizes – most significantly in the field of language. More generally, both essays

–  –  –

serve as timely reminders of the impact of ‘linguistic ideas’ far beyond the academy, as well as of the need to situate debates about language within their historical, cultural, and political contexts.

Rachael Gilmour, London r.h.gilmour@qmul.ac.uk

Contact details:

–  –  –

1. Introduction1 T his essay examines the Anglo-Indian glossary, Hobson-Jobson (1886), in relation to other important glossaries compiled by British officials and scholars in nineteenth-century India, namely T.T. Roberts’ An Indian Glossary (1800), Charles Wilkins’ Glossary to the Fifth Report from the Select Committee appointed to enquire into the present State of the Affairs of the East India Company (1813), and H.H.

Wilson’s A Glossary of Judicial and Revenue Terms (1855). On the basis of the differences between these glossaries and Hobson-Jobson, I argue that latter needs to be seen as an ‘autoethnographic’ text that expressed the defining anxieties of the British in India in general, and of a specific group of British officials in particular.

2. “The bad habit” The four glossaries mentioned above share a common concern to explicate terms and phrases from Indian languages that had passed into the English language as used by the British in India. As such, these glossaries need to be distinguished from the development by the British during the 1770s to 1820s of a scholarly and pedagogical apparatus for learning Indian languages themselves. In the project to make the acquisition of a working knowledge of Indian languages possible for British officials, Indian languages were re-presented in European terms as dictionaries, translations, and manuals (Cohn, 1985: 282-99). In addition, the East India Company established institutions such as Fort William College in Calcutta in 1800, partly to formalise the teaching of these languages to British officials (Kopf, 1969: Chs. 5-6). My concern here, however, is not with this apparatus for learning Indian languages but with the glossaries of what might be called British-Indian English as it was used in India. These glossaries were necessitated by the processes of dialogue and exchange between English and Indian languages from the late eighteenth century onwards. By the time Roberts’ An Indian Glossary appeared in 1800, this variant of English had become so

well-established in India that he complained:

When I perused a newspaper, that source of necessary information, wherein are frequently inserted very interesting accounts of various occurrences, which men I am grateful to the British Academy for appointing me to a two-year Research Leave fellowship which made the research for this paper possible.

JAVED MAJEED ISSUE NO. 46-47 search for with avidity; or when I looked into works of the authors, who treated of the manners, customs, trade, culture, & c. of the people [of India], amongst whom it was my present lot to reside, my not understanding a number of the particular terms which were made use of, left me, when I had finished, as much uninformed as before I began” (Roberts, 1800: preface, no pagination).

In part, this linguistic situation arose because the East India Company sought to legitimise itself through indigenous idioms in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and, as an Indian power, it built upon the administrative and revenue systems of its Mughal predecessors. This included a reliance on the administrative terms and language of the Mughal empire, which was Persian (Bayly, 1988:14-16, 45Cohn, 1985: 287). Persian continued to be used as the language of the courts in British territories in India until 1837, when English replaced it. Once English stabilised as the language of administration by the late 1830s, Persian terms were less evident in the East India Company Regulations, although they and terms from other Indian languages continued to have a presence (Majeed, 1992: 18-25). This is testified to by Wilson’s Glossary of 1855, which refers to how the documents of the East India Company “from the earliest to the most recent dates, [have] been thickly studded with terms adopted from the vernacular languages of the country, and commonly inserted without any explanation of their purport” (Wilson, 1855: i).

Partly because of this lack of any gloss as to the meaning of distinctive terms in Company documents, both Wilson and Wilkins point to necessary gaps in their knowledge. The latter acknowledges that “Many words in this Glossary could not be traced to their origin; and a few occur in the Report and Appendix, which will not be found in the Glossary, because, neither their etymology, nor their technical application, could be satisfactorily explained” (Wilkins, 1813: iv). Hence the note of uncertainty in even those entries that represent key administrative or legal terms, such as “Amanut Dufter” (ibid.: 6). Wilson admits that not only might it be “difficult or impossible to discover exact equivalents for the native words in English”, but the vagaries of the transliteration of Indian words into “an English dress” make it “always difficult, sometimes impossible, to identify them” (Wilson, 1855: ii, v-vi). These difficulties, however, are again suggestive of how well entrenched British Indian English had become; it is as if those who used it amongst themselves had a kind of ‘native’ competence in it, which obviated both the need to explain the terms which they habitually used with each other, and any desire to understand the roots of the words they were in the habit of employing on a daily basis. A sense of the density of this language and its self-referring character is conveyed by the glossaries, which are not always successful in translating terms into standard English. For example, Wilkins’ explication for the term “Mocuddimy” [i.e, moqaddamī], reads: “What relates to a Mocuddim. The russoom or share of each Ryot’s produce received by the Moccudim, an article of the neakdarry: also the nancar or allowance to village collectors or Mocuddims of such villages as pay rents immediately to the khalsa, being an article of the muscorat” (Wilkins, 1813: 29; for other examples of this kind, see the

entries “Mofussil”, “Muscoorat”, “Muscoory”, and “Nuzzeranah Moccurrery”, ibid.:

29, 32-34).


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