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ERIC Number: EJ1236846
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2019
Pages: 25
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0030-9230
Letters Beautiful and Harmful: Print, Education, and the Issue of Script in Colonial North India
Stark, Ulrike
Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, v55 n6 p829-853 2019
The question of script was paramount in the nineteenth-century debate over Hindi and Urdu, two closely related languages that are characterised by "extreme digraphia". Rather than rehearsing the well-known story of the culturally and politically charged process of differentiation in which the two sister languages became prime markers of religious identity, this paper explores the function and visual dimension of Devanagari and the Perso-Arabic script in the field of primary education. In investigating the impact of movable type printing and lithography in educational publishing, it asks how shifts in print technology and typographic innovation intersected with language ideology. The paper traces the variety of aesthetic, technological, and social arguments advanced by colonial officials, missionaries, and Indian educators in favour of either script, while also exploring how the movement for Romanisation and the prevalence of popular writing systems such as Kaithi challenged the use of the Nagari and Urdu scripts in primary education. Against the backdrop of the complex linguistic ecology of North India, it argues that the issue of script cannot be reduced to language ideological debates. Looking beyond language antagonism and engaging writing systems through the lens of functionality, standardising technologies, and typographic change will help elucidate how their social and cultural function was constituted in educational contexts.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: India
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A