History of a Polyglossic Literary Culture: On the Decline of the History of Hindi Literature
Keywords:rīti, bhāṣā, Braj, Hindi, literary culture, sociolinguistics, diglossia, polyglossia, nationalism
One of many Western categories which prove to be unsuitable to South Asian evidence is the history of literature (meant as the history of a single language). With reference to the Hindi literary traditions, the logic of this concept created huge gaps. One of those (16th to 18th century) has been filled with the history of literatures written in genetically close but different languages. The problem is being solved by the most recent scholarship with the new concept of literary cultures which should replace the old category of the histories of one-language literatures. The extension and adaptation of the sociolinguistic concept of diglossia may provide a theoretical justification and a tool for such reform to be definitively undertaken and accepted by the scholars. This preliminary suggestion is offered after a selective sketch of the problems imposed by the linguistic variety in the area discussed.
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