By Sumathi Ramaswamy
Why would really like for his or her language lead a number of males in southern India to burn themselves alive in its identify? Passions of the Tongue analyzes the discourses of affection, exertions, and lifestyles that remodeled Tamil into an item of such passionate attachment, generating within the procedure one in all sleek India's such a lot extreme hobbies for linguistic revival and separatism. Sumathi Ramaswamy means that those discourses can't be contained inside a unique metanarrative of linguistic nationalism and in its place proposes a brand new analytic, "language devotion." She makes use of this idea to trace the numerous ways that Tamil was once imagined via its audio system and connects those a number of imaginings to their adventure of colonial and post-colonial modernity. Focusing specifically at the transformation of the language right into a goddess, mom, and maiden, Ramaswamy explores the pious, filial, and erotic elements of Tamil devotion. She considers why, as its audio system sought political and social empowerment, metaphors of motherhood ultimately got here to dominate representations of the language.
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Additional resources for Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970
Another insisted, "[Our] mind is Tamil; [our] entire body is Tamil; [our] life is Tamil; [our] pulse is Tamil; [our] veins are Tamil; [our] flesh, muscle, everything is Tamil; everything in [our] body is Tamil, Tamil, Tamil" (S. Subramanian 1939: 15-16). Body, life, self: all these dissolve into Tamil. Devotion to Tamil, service to Tamil, the sacrifice of wealth and spirit to Tamil: these are the demands of tamilpparru at its radical best. As we will see, there are considerable differences among Tamil's devotees over the meaning of their language, and over how best to practice tamilpparru.
Speeches made in Tamil revival organizations and literary academies, at public rallies, even street poetry and processional songs, were invariably translated into print. Print helped in the standardization and homogenization of Tamil, and granted it a visible continuity with an ancient remote past that it resurrected. It ushered in new discursive styles, modes of punctuation and syntax, genres of literature, transformations in script, and new ways of relating to the languageas something seen and read, rather than merely heard.
Well into the next century, the devout struggled to find funds for their printing presses, subscribers for their journals, and readers for their books. But they did not give up their confidence in this new miraculous technology that allowed them to circulate their ideas about their language among the populace, however limited its literacy. Speeches made in Tamil revival organizations and literary academies, at public rallies, even street poetry and processional songs, were invariably translated into print.