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Passions of the Tongue – Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970 - California Scholarship Online
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Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970

Sumathi Ramaswamy


Why would love for their language lead several men in southern India to burn themselves alive in its name? This book analyzes the discourses of love, labor, and life that transformed Tamil into an object of such passionate attachment, producing in the process one of modern India's most intense movements for linguistic revival and separatism. The book suggests that these discourses cannot be contained within a singular metanarrative of linguistic nationalism and instead proposes a new analytic, “language devotion.” It uses this concept to track the many ways in which Tamil was imagined by its s ... More

Keywords: Tamil, southern India, linguistic revival, linguistic separatism, linguistic nationalism, language devotion, metaphors of motherhood, colonial modernity, post-colonial modernity, empowerment

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1997 Print ISBN-13: 9780520208049
Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012 DOI:10.1525/california/9780520208049.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Sumathi Ramaswamy, author