Half way through the battle, Arjuna had doubts about the morality of
the war he was engaged in. Half way through the battle, when his chariot
wheels had been immobilized, Karna wondered where he went wrong.
Sitting under the tree where he would die a few moments later, half-way
through his life, Krishna began pondering over the meaning of all that he did
or said, or those that he didn’t.
These dilemmas and doubts are a part of our heritage of scholarship
and valor. The questions that Rama Kant Agnihotri raises here can be
possibly raised only after a lifetime of experience of working in different
fields of language sciences that he has been engaged in.
Some of the profound issues which Rama Kant has sensitized us about
in these lectures and which have set me into thinking more and more about
them, include the following:
In one of my earlier pieces while introducing Rajendra Singhs work,
I had said a speech community often gets the grammars it deserves. From
what I read in Rama Kant’s texts, many of these ideas seem to reverberate.
That author himself talks about the derivative nature of work Indian
researchers engage in merely replicating ideas of the western scholars
although Rama Kant is also aware of the importance of theoretical positions
that are valid universally or are, at least, typologically important. A lot of
what he did during his doctoral days had to do with finding out where the
meeting point was between two positions — one, which believed that no two
individuals speak alike and hence it is the linguistic diffusion that must
receive our attention and the other, which believed that irrespective of how
much we differed and the ways we might do so, we essentially speak the
A very important point which emerges from the authors observation of
his own recent collaborative studies, and one which we must not miss is that
in exploring relationship between Language and Society, use may be more
important than attitude social variable over social-psychological variable.
The concern for language ecology, or the human condition of deprivation
and suffering — much of man’s own making, have occupied important place
for him here. In the management of hunger, illiteracy and poverty does the
ruling elite use (or, misuse) language to maintain status quo, or can it be used
as an instrument of change? It is in this context that his discussion on the
theory of relativity should be understood. How free is the so-called free
variation in phonology and morphology has also occupied his time. How
our engagement with idealized structural systems has kept us away from the
specificities of power and language relations in society can be very well seen
in Rama Kants lectures.
I am confident that the Foundation Day Lectures 2001 published now
will fire a lot of heated debate among Asian and western linguists alike,
particularly among the members of the sociolinguistic community. We
publish it both virtually and actually for wider dissemination of this
important work. .
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