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Seminars and Colloquia

Humanities and Social Sciences

Story of Mr and Mrs: Pragmatics and Aesthetics of English borrowings in Indian languages 
Mon, Aug 24, 2020,   12:00 PM at Zoom

Dr. Chinmay Dharurkar
Assistant Professor Department of Linguistics Central University of Kerala, Kasaragod

English words are borrowed in several Indian languages for reasons of register levels – meaning we borrow words not because we don’t have equivalents in our languages but because the usage labels (like informal, formal, journalistic, religious-ritualistic, legal etc. see Hornby (2015) for more) do not fit into the given contexts. Borrowed words come through in such situations and thus make their way and space in our languages – I take this representative example of mister and Mrs. in Marathi, how they have made their way despite there being equivalents for them. Here, in this talk, I argue, firstly that such usage labels are of immense relevance to lexical pragmatics. Besides explaining elegantly, the usage of the borrowed words, usage labels offer a deeper pragmatic sense in which the so-called synonyms differ from each other. Rather, the usage labels apprise us how there are, in fact, no synonyms, how each one may differ from the other in its register-level/usage label. Secondly, I envisage thesauri and dictionaries that include these usage labels not only for advanced or second language learners but also for the first language users, as the usage labels differ across varieties of a language and indeed they change over time. I bring in the issue of generational aesthetics of lexicon and usage labels – how the word-choices and the associated usage-labels are interlinked with the socialization patterns, the contemporary socio-political ecology of languages that shape the lexical aesthetics which changes from generation to generation. Thirdly, such tagging of usage labels will be helpful in translation – manual and machine, to get better near-equivalents. Usage labels would offer a better picture of pragmatic lexical ontology, rather, ontologies can be inclusive of the lexical pragmatic information that goes with the lexical entries in a dictionary. I explore here issues in conceptual identity and borrowings in relation to technical terminology – how the usage-labels/register levels may mismatch in settling upon the equivalence in terminology.


Time: Aug 24, 2020 12:00 PM India

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