Postal address: Department of Linguistics and Philology, Box 635, SE-751 26 Uppsala, Sweden
Visiting address: House 9, English Park Campus, Centre for the Humanities
Web page: http://www.lingfil.uu.se/
The department has, through Anju Saxena, been involved in a major project on ”Digitalized documentation of Indian minority languages”, in collaboration with the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, India (represented by Udaya Narayana Singh). In the Spring 2002 the project was given 110 000 SEK from SASNET as a Planning grant. See SASNET’s list of granted projects.
In November 2002 this project was given a Swedish Research Links (Asian–Swedish research partnership programme) grant on 540 000 SEK for three years (2003-05) by Sida and the Swedish Research Council.
See the full list of South Asia related projects that were given grants.
A major part of the research project consisted of creating an extensive web based documentation on Indian languages. A web site was constructed.
Anju Saxena also organized a panel on ”Globalization, technological advances and minority languages in South Asia” at the 18th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, organised by SASNET 6–9 July 2004 in Lund. More information on the panel.
Dr. Anju Saxena was co-organizer for the Seventh Himalayan Languages Symposium, organised at Uppsala University in September 2001. The aim of this annual symposium is to bring together scholars working on languages and language communities of the greater Himalayan region: North-western and north-eastern India, Nepal, Bhutan and the Tibetan Plateau, northern Burma and Sichuan, and Nuristan, Baltistan and the Burushaski-speaking area in the west. The permanent secretariat for the symposium is maintained at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
At the 12th Himalayan Languages Symposium held in Kathmandu, Nepal, 26–28 November 2006, Dr. Saxena held one of the keynote speeches. More information about the Kathmandu symposium (as a pdf-file).
Dr. Anju Saxena was one of the organizers of the 14th Himalayan Languages Symposium, held on the 21-23 August 2008 in Gothenburg. The Keynote speaker was Scott DeLancey (University of Oregon), with a talk titled Towards a History of Verb Agreement in Tibeto-Burman.
The Himalayan Languages Symposium brought together scholars working on languages and language communities of the greater Himalayan region: north-western and north-eastern India, Nepal, Bhutan and the Tibetan Plateau, northern Burma and Sichuan, and Nuristan, Baltistan and the Burushaski-speaking area in the west.
Mrs. Saxena also co-organized the 23rd Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics, Uppsala University, 1–3 October 2008. Uppsala University hosted the conference on behalf of the Nordic Association of Linguists.
Dr. Anju Saxena is the Editor-in-chief of the fortcoming Journal of South Asian Languages and Linguistics. The journal provides a peer-reviewed forum for publishing original research articles and reviews in the field of South Asian languages and linguistics, with a focus on descriptive, functional and typological investigations.
Anju Saxena is involved in research on Tibeto-Burman linguistics, syntax, language contact and language change. She has worked extensively on Kinnauri, a West-Himalayish language spoken in the Himachal Pradesh region in India. She completing her M.Phil at University of Delhi in 1984, with a thesis titled ”A Study of reflexives and intensifiers in major Indo-Aryan languages”, and then defended her doctoral dissertation titled ”Finite verb morphology in Tibeto-Kinnauri” at the University of Oregon, USA, in 1992.
On 30 October 2014, Professor Anju Saxena was granted a project grant from the Swedish Research Council (total amount SEK 5.01 m in four years, 2015-18) for a South Asia related linguistic research project entitled ”Documentation of an endangered language: Kunashi”, to be carried out in collaboration with Professor Lars Borin at the Dept. of Swedish, University of Gothenburg.
Project abstract: The project aims to provide a fuller documentation of Kunashi, a ”definitely endangered” (UNESCO) unwritten and undescribed Tibeto-Burman language spoken in only one village – Malana – in the Kullu district in India. The inaccessibility of Malana has earlier contributed to the maintenance of its traditional culture/language, which is now threatened. The building of a hydro-electric plant is having a devastating effect on community ́s traditional lifestyle (including language). It will soon be too late to record the Kunashi language. The geographical location of Malana (Malana is surrounded by Indo-Aryan speaking villages), together with the unique linguistic make-up of Kunashi raise questions concerning its genetic classification, factors contributing to its special linguistic characteristics and about its pre-history, crying out for more detailed investigation before it is too late. The project will place the documentation of Kunashi within a context of a dialect survey of this region comprising 10 sites. The project plans to use multiple research tools and methodologies to produce e.g.: (i) A 5000-sense open-access digital interactive lexicon, (ii) an annotated corpus (including audio and video files), (iii) a comprehensive grammar, and (iv) material for the speech community. The project is a close collaboration between the members of the speech communities, University of California, Santa Barbara, University of Gothenburg and Uppsala University.
Professor Saxena is also involved in a research project coordinated by Lars Borin. This project, ”South Asia as a Linguistic area? Exploring Big-Data Methods in Areal and Genetic Linguistics” was given a project grant from the Swedish Research Council (total amount SEK 7.34 m in five years, 2015-19) in the same announcement as the project on Kinnauri Language mentioned above.
Project abstract: Linguistics is entering the age of big data and e-science. We are now at a point where it is possible to see how new research questions can be formulated – and old research questions addressed from a new angle or established results verified – on the basis of exhaustive collections of data, rather than small samples. In this project we will study an old linguistic research question using big data: the South Asian linguistic area hypothesis. South Asia (SA) is regularly mentioned in the literature as a classic linguistic area, but systematic investigations of this claim are lacking and the need for a more thorough study has been stressed repeatedly. This is the primary empirical objective. Grierson’s ”Linguistic Survey of India” (LSI; 1903-1927) still remains the most complete source on SA languages. Its 21 tomes (9.500 pages) cover 723 SA linguistic varieties. Comparable lexical and grammatical information is provided for 268 varieties representing the four major SA language families. Prof. Borin and Prof. Saxena will work with an extensive data set extracted from a digitized version of LSI and develop computational methods for conducting large-scale quantitative lexical and grammatical comparative studies in order to establish typological profiles of the four families. They will also complement these large-scale studies with an in-depth case study focusing on a particular language contact situation. This will give a firm empirical basis for evaluating the SA areal hypothesis.
More information about Swedish Research Council grants to South Asia related projects 2014.
Previous South Asia related research
Previous research projects by Anju Saxena at Uppsala University include:
• Spoken language syntax (1998-2003):
Abstract: The research project aims to examine linguistic structure in Swedish and Kinnauri oral narratives in order to further our understanding of the traits (conceptual as well as functional) which characterize the spoken and written languages. The project is unique in that it takes into consideration not only one language, or languages
representing one kind of orality, but rather languages representing both primary and secondary orality, providing both cross-linguistic data as well both types of orality.
• The translation of oral texts from indigenous languages (1996-99)
Abstract: The aim of this project was to examine issues involved in translating oral narratives, address questions dealing with cross-cultural translation, and to critically evaluate theoretical claims made in the literature. Compiling a data corpus of phonetically trancribed oral narratives of Kinnauri, an unwritten Tibeto-Burman language was an important part of this project. Such collections of narratives are crucial for evaluating claims in translation studies and are also valuable for theoretical linguistics and cultural anthropology.
• Development of IT-based grammar exercises (2001)
• Evaluation of multimedia resources for the teaching of Hindi (2001)
• IT-based Collaborative Learning in Grammar
Abstract: This project suggests a new form for teaching courses in grammar in Linguistics. In the proposed method interactive practical training and corpus-based exercises comprise an integral part of the students’ learning process, giving them the opportunity and incentive to participate more actively in their own learning process. The Kinnauri corpus will form an integral part of this project. The collaborative learning method that we propose here is more widely applicable than only in grammar courses in linguistics. Thus, in the last phase of the proejct we will apply the method in the teaching of less-widely taught languages. This is a three-year project which will start soon.
In August 2006 Anju Saxena and Lars Borin, Professor of Natural Language Processing at the Dept. of Swedish, Göteborg University, published an edited volume titled ”Lesser-Known Languages of South Asia Status and Policies, Case Studies and Applications of Information Technology” in the publication series ”Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs” (Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin), bringing together research on a large number of smaller languages in South Asia. It provides basic knowledge about the problems involved and some directions from which solutions could be forthcoming, for helping to shape the linguistic future of South Asia. More information.
In October 2007, Dr. Saxena received SEK 525 000 as a three year grant (2008-10) from the Swedish Research Links programme (funded by Sida and the Swedish Research Council) for an project titled ”Multimedia and GIS supported language documentation of the Himalayas with the focus on ethno-biological terms”. More information on the Swedish Research Links grants 2007.
Abstract: Multimedia and GIS supported language documentation of the Himalayas with the focus on ethno-biological terms The aim of the proposed project is to establish co-operation between Uppsala University and Himachal Pradesh University to work jointly on producing digital documentation of languages of the Himalayan region in the Himachal Pradesh region in India, using modern technology – multimedia tools and GIS (Geographical Information Systems) – with a focus on ethno-biological terms, and to document their role in the socio-cultural life of this region. Just as India exhibits linguistic diversity (South Asia being the third linguistically richest area in the world), it boasts also a high degree of biodiversity (e.g. 6% of all flowering plants species in the world). The Threatened plants unit (TPU) of the WCMC has classified Western Himalaya as one of the five threatened areas in India. This is also a region where linguistic diversity is apparently very high, but very little information is available. Factors such as modern media, education policies, construction of major hydro-electrical plants, tourist industry, and general tendencies for globalization are distabilizing traditional lifestyle(s) of the indigenous communities of this area. This is apparent in the younger generation’s decreasing familiarity with local ethnobiological terms, their usages, and their role in the community. There is an urgent need to document traditional knowledge (including language) of these indigenous communities. This is the main goal of this project. The focus in language documentation in this project will be on ethnobiological terms and their relevance in the socio-cultural life of these communities. Data collection will be in the survey format. Documentation will be done by taking (i) still pictures and Latin terms for each ethno-botanical term; (ii) Video recordings of narratives, socio-cultural activities where ethno-botanical terms have special significance; (iii) An annotated narrative corpus (together with audio and video recording) comprising phonetically transcribed text, morpheme-by-morpheme translation and a free translation into English. If time permits, grammatical sketches of the languages of this region (including observations about their dialectal variation) will be produced, based on the data collected in this project. The ethnolinguistic data collection will be conducted in selected village groups of these regions. The database will then form the basis for (i) language descriptions of these languages (including questions relating to their genetic relationship, languge change and language contact), and (ii) multi-media products – an interactive CD and an interactive language map of this region – the latter using GIS. The results of this project will contribute to (i) providing a systematic database for investigating language situation of this region, (ii) our understanding of the ethno-biological features of this region, (iii) preserving this knowledge (e.g. traditional knowledge in matters of medicine, environment and natural resources) and (iv) evaluating these multimedia tools and GIS in language documentation.
• Dr. Anju Saxena is one of the Editor for Brill’s Studies in South and Southwest Asian Languages (BSSAL), a new peer-reviewed series that provides a venue for high-quality monograph-length descriptive and theoretical studies on the languages of South and Southwest Asia. In the political sense, South Asia encompasses the seven independent states Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but linguistically and culturally it also includes some adjacent areas to the east and north, notably Tibet. Southwest Asia is understood here as comprising the Iranian languagespeaking territory to the west of South Asia, i.e., the states of Afghanistan and Iran and the geocultural transnational region Kurdistan, consisting of parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. For enquiries or to submit a manuscript proposal, please contact the Series Editors: Dr. Anju Saxena or Dr. John Peterson, University of Osnabrück/University of Leipzig. The editorial board includes Prof. Udaya Narayana Singh, previously at the Central Institute of Indian Languages in Mysore. More information about this series.
Dr. Styrbjörn Alström has been connected to the department for some years. He worked on a research project on ”The 20th Century Indian agriculture as perceived in the oral literary tradition of a drought-prone semi-desert region with a unique ancient folklore culture – an interdisciplinary approach”. This project, dealing with Marwari folk culture in Rajasthan, was awarded a SASNET Planning grant in February 2005.
After establishing contacts with scientists at the Rajasthani Shodh Sansthan Chopasni (RSSC), a small Jodhpur research centre specializing on western Rajasthani history and culture in the feudal age of pre-independent India, Dr. Alström has carried out field work on the oral literary traditions in Hindi and Marwari in the Borunda region, and in villages of the Nagaur District, from October 2005 till March 2006.
Since the start of RSSC in 1955 the centre has published a quarterly journal called Parampara (Tradition). The Rajasthani dictionary publication society Upsamiti Rajasthani Shabd Kosh, is also located in the same office building. Its editor, Dr Saddik Mohammad, has written a Rajasthani-Hindi dictionary on words of economic and commercial importance based. Besides the Director of RSSC, Dr Hukam Singh Bhati, has compiled a catalogue in Hindi of the Thikana records of the erstwhile Marwar state. Using it as a guide Alström has now started to examine a collection of 701 handwritten records from the early 19th century up to 1950 A.D. (2007 V.S.), obtained from the Khaijarla Thikana, a Bhati jagir of the erstwhile Bilara pargana. The material Dr. Alström collects will be put into the following preliminary framework: 1. An overall introduction of the erstwhile Marwar state and its agrarian population 1850-1950. 2. The relations between agricultural tenants and their the jagirdars, the former feudal lords of the area. 3. Farmer/merchant relations 4. Farmers/Livestock breeders relations 5. Traditional farm production including the impact of nature.
Dr. Alström is also in close contact with the Dept. of Hindi at Jai Narain Vyas University in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. The department is headed by Professor Ram Bux.
Alström is originally a Doctor of Agronomy, he defended his doctoral dissertation on “Weed management in tropical agriculture with emphasis on India” at the Dept. of Ecology and Crop Production Science, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Uppsala, in 1991. Since then he has done research work on farm life changes in Rajasthan for many years. He has been a member of the US-based Rajasthan Study Group, an International network of scientists conducting research on Rajasthan issues.
Styrbjörn Alström came to India for the first time in 1963 at the age of 22. Since then he has lived in India off and on. In the 1970s he worked at an international agricultural organization in New Delhi. Later he has lived for several years in western Rajasthan, collecting material for his research.
Under the pen name Son Lal, he has documented rural life in western Rajasthan during the last 15 years. On his web page, he presents extensive photo galleries, besides Marwari poems and narrations. E-books by Son Lal on the same subject are also available. Altogether six ebooks are in English and four in Swedish. Go for Styrbjörn Alström’s web page.
The books have been published by Smashwords. The two latest ones in Swedish are entitled ”Indien Underifrån” (India from below), and ”Delhi Underifrån” (Delhi from below). They deal with his experiences from living with Dalits in northern and western India during the period 2012 – 2014. It also describes the Lok Sabha election campaign in 2014, and the rise and fall and again rise of the anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party.
The third recent book is entiled ”The Land of the Rulers” and portraits life in western Rajasthan under the feudal era. It is to a large extent based on true stories by Styrbjörn’s friend Ton Dan about his native village.
Go for Smashword and links to all Sturbjörn Alström’s (Son Lal’s) books.