Skip to main content

Role of media in progression of linguistic change hasn't yet been fully understood

AMU main gate
By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*
The Linguistics Department of AMU (Aligarh Muslim University) is holding a three-day international seminar on mediatization and culturalization of language from January 5 to January 7, 2017. Eminent scholars from round the globe will present their papers.
They will discuss the possibilities for future betterment and a much more cohesive and people-friendly blueprint. There will also be a question, answer session.
According to Prof Ali R Fatihi, renowned linguist, “Despite a reasonable volume of relevant scholarship in sociolinguistics and neighbouring fields,the role of media in progressions of linguistic change is not yet fully studied and understood. The effect of Media on linguistic change remains unpacked.”
Truth is that Panini, the 4th century Indian Sanskrit grammarian and linguist who formulated rules of morphological analysis that were more advanced than any western linguist until the 20th century, are still considered as the driving forces in the political economy of language, media concepts, cultural values and specific language codes and ideologies.
It is true that there has been a longstanding tradition of applied linguistic and discourse analytical research on the structure, social meaning, epistemology, and functions of language, however, not much has been researched on the language of media.
Opines Prof MJ Warsi who has taught in Michigan as well as other universities in the USA, in linguistics, researchers from various subfields have approached the issue in quite different ways; however, dialogue across these subfields and their respective views has been limited and inadequate.
The variationist sociolinguistics position that the media play no role in systemic language change is unacceptable and deplorable. Sociolinguists working in the variationist paradigm on varieties of English in America and the UK have argued against a direct role for the broadcast media in systemic aspects of language change in direction of the standard, given the continued and documented diversity of non-standard dialects, particularly at the levels of phonology and morpho-syntax (e.g. Milroy and Milroy 1985; Chambers 1998; Labov 2001).
Hence, the proposed National Seminar aims to introduce the notions of sociolinguistic change and mediatization in order to create a more inclusive theoretical space than the one offered by the notions of ‘the media’ and ‘language change’.
Adds Fatihi that by introducing these concepts and exploring their relationship, the proposed Seminar broadens the theoretical and empirical scope of studying language-media relations in sociolinguistics.
The Seminar extends the conceptualization of language-media relations in sociolinguistics beyond the notions of ‘influence’ and ‘effect’. Relations of language and media in communicative practice are highly complex, and the influence of television on spoken language change is only part of a larger picture.
According to Thomas Wier, Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the Free University of Tbilisi, media language mediates social life through institutionally constrained language use and visual design. It is true as in print, broadcast or digital form, media spread culturally authoritative representations of social life, from traditional domains such as politics and business to more recent ones such as health and lifestyle.
Conversely, work on language in the media investigates how language issues such as language standards, language ideologies, and language change are represented and thematized in media.
Feels Warsi that Noam Chomski revolutionized the philosophy of language as well as the formal methods used to describe linguistic structures. Most schools of linguistic thought either directly incorporate his views on the generative nature of syntactic structure, or stand in reaction to it.
Indeed, rather than offering value-free representations of the world, media language invariably reflects particular worldviews, interests, and ideas about society, including ideas about language, understanding whose values, beliefs and worldviews are foregrounded and what counts as legitimate language use remain central concerns in media linguistics.
Media language has often been perceived as ‘artificial’ or thoroughly standardized and often planted as well, and therefore fully distinct from what is thought of as the genuine empirical object of sociolinguistics, i.e. conversational language in the community.
There are problems with these dichotomies, as evidence across disciplines suggests that relations between media and community language are increasingly blurred.
Media language becomes more conversational and vernacular, and media fragments are recycled in conversational interaction and therefore the proposed seminar aims to contribute to a broader perspective on the relevance of media to language in society and to move the discussion beyond fixed boundaries between ‘media language’ vs. ‘community language’ or ‘mass media’ vs. ‘interpersonal contact’.
---
*Grandnephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, social commentator. Contact: firozbakhtahmed08@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

'Discussed' with Modi, Gujarat Rann Sarovar proposal for Kutch runs into rough weather

By Rajiv Shah
Top Saurashtra industrialist Jaysukhbhai Patel’s by now controversial proposal to convert the 4,900 sq km Little Rann of Kutch area, an eco-sensitive zone – a UNESCO biosphere, world’s only wild ass reserve, and a nesting ground of lesser flamingoes – into a huge sweet water lake, called Rann Sarovar, has suffered a major roadblock. At least three Central agencies have expressed serious doubts about its feasibility.