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The Language of Secular IslamUrdu Nationalism and Colonial India$
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Kavita Datla

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836092

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836092.001.0001

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Reforming a Language

Reforming a Language

Creating Textbooks and Cultivating Urdu

Chapter:
(p.56) Chapter 2 Reforming a Language
Source:
The Language of Secular Islam
Author(s):

Kavita Saraswathi Datla

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824836092.003.0003

This chapter examines the projects pursued at Osmania University, with particular emphasis on efforts to create Urdu-medium textbooks that would allow students access to higher education through an Indian language. It considers the work of Osmania University's Bureau for Translations and Compilations in translating English texts to Urdu and its attempt to create new terminology in the Urdu language with the help of both scientific specialists and linguistic and literary scholars. It also discusses the negotiation involved in the university's modern project of vernacularization—aiming to make Urdu a gateway to high scholarship while retaining some of its historical inflections. The chapter argues that those who produced textbooks for Osmania University were also involved in a fundamental reform of the Urdu language and in reconceptualizing its relationship with other languages in order ultimately to emphasize its secular and national credentials. Finally, it highlights the tension caused by the textbook project as translators and linguistic experts argued over and tried to fix the relationship between Urdu, an Indian national culture, and the Islamic past.

Keywords:   textbooks, higher education, Osmania University, Urdu language, vernacularization, Indian national culture, translators, linguistic experts

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