Language and Linguistics



Prabodh Bechardas Pandit died on 20th November 1975 at Delhi at the age of 52 after a short spell of unconsciousness brought on by cerebral haemorrhage.  At the prime of his powers, he was so much a part of the scene in Indian linguistics and Indian philology that the conventional phrase ‘a grievous loss to scholarship’ comes home to one in this with especial poignancy.


            Born on 23 June 1923 a Valabhi in Saurashtra, the ancestral place of a family of scholars, he was educated at Ahmedabad where his father, Bechardas Sukhlalji Doshi, taught Sanskrit and Jain studies at the nationalist Gujarat Vidyapith.  B.A. from L.D. Arts College, Ahmedabad with honours in Sanskrit (1944), M.A. in Comparative Philology from Bombay (1946), he was also taught Pali and Prakrit at home.  He went to jail twice in 1942 as a freedom fighter.  He then went to the School of Oriental and African Studies, London (1947) to work with Sir Ralph Turner for his Ph.D. (1949) in Indo-Aryan Philology.  After spending some time with Jules Bloch in Paris and with J.R. Firth and W.S. Allen in London doing general linguistics and phonetics, he returned to India to join I.D. Arts College (1950-55).  Subsequently he taught linguistics at Gujarat University, Ahmedabad (1955-64), the Language Project of Deccan College, Poona (visiting 1956-57), Deccan College (1964-65), the University of Delhi (1966-end), and Cornell University (visiting 1969-70).  In 1955-56 he was Rockfeller Foundation senior fellow at Yale University. Indeed he played a leading rôle in the ushering in of modern linguistics in India that Dr. S.M. Katre set going in the 1950s.  He traveled extensively and participated in many conferences, seminars, and committees.  Indeed lately he could have been called a roving ambassador representing Indian linguistics to other disciplines, to the authorities, and to linguists abroad. While he filled this rôle with distinction and his characteristic gusto, his first love remained teaching and research.  He was the recipient of many honours – sectional presidentship of All-India Oriental Conference (1964), Sahitya Akademi of Poona (1970), the Ranajitram Gold Crescent of the Gujarati Sahitya Sabha (1974), to name but a few.  He was closely associated with the Linguistic Society of India (president 1968, committee on publication 1956-59 and 1971-73; executive committee 1955, 1961-63, 1966 and 1969-71).


            About the making of the scholar, I can do no better than quote from a two-page “informal autobiography” that Prof. Pandit put together around 1956:


            “My father spent the proverbial twelve years at Banaras, learning Sanskrit…  Throughout my career I had never thought twice about ‘the subjects I wanted to choose – languages”.  (He know Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Rajasthani, French besides Gujarati, Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit, and English.)  “Gandhiji wrote … and spoke in a tongue understood by all Gujaratis” in preference to the prevailing Sanskritized norm.  “This language consciousness probably influenced me” and led me “to look at the living languages” and “speech”.  “Malinowski… opened my eyes to … language in society … listening to Professor Blanquert (of Ghent) in London and … Professor Bloch in Paris, I was inspired to choose dialectology as my field” within Indian linguistics; “the neglect of the spoken language in various spheres of communication in present day India”, the misguided slogan of “back to Sanskrit”, and the failure to carry on Grierson’s great work made a painful impression.


            Till about 1966 his interest chiefly lay in synchronic, diachronic, and diatopic phonology.  More recently his attention centred on bilingualism, language planning and policy, and the social dimension of language.  It speaks for his intellectual flexibility and the breadth of his interests that the transition from textual study to historical phonology, and then to phonetics and descriptive linguistics, and finally to applied and social linguistics came very naturally to him at various points in his career.


            When among scholars, he was apt to be the voice of common sense, reminding them of practical realities; when among policy makers, he was the scholar holding out for clear-headed objectivity.  To the young he was friend, philosopher, and guide.  To the elder statesmen of scholarship, he was the young Turk. He was equally lucid in Gujarati, English and Hindi, in writing for fellow linguists and for non-linguists, in the lecture hall and at the seminar table.


            He is survived by his parents, his wife, Dhairyabala an economist, two sons and a daughter, and of course his many students and colleagues.


Ashok R. KELKAR, Central Institute of Indian Languages and

Deccan College



The Bibliography is a slightly revised an supplemented version of one prepared by Udaya Narayana Singh for Pákhā Sanjam 8.1, 1976. Certain details have been provided by Yogendra D. Vyas.



1949    A study of the Gujarati language in the 14th century with selections from aāvasyaka vtti of Taruaprabha critically edited.  London U. Ph.D. Diss. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidyābhavan, 1976.


1951            Bhāratiya prācya pariÀad, so½mũ adhive¿an, lakhanau, Buddhiprakā¿.  99. 324-7.


1952            Linguistic survey of border lands of Gujarat. Journal of the Gujarat Research Society. 14. 57-67.

--.        Bolinũ svarup.  Saskti 69.  331-4, 7. 387-92.

--.            Swādhyāy ane samikṣā.  Saskti  71, 432-40.

1954    Prākta Bhāṣā.  Śri Pārśwanāth Vidyāśram, Banaras Hindu University.

--.        Indo-Aryan sibilants in Gujarati. IL. 14. 36-44.

--.        Dīrgha vyañjano.  Manīṣā. 11-14.

--.        Punāthi patra.  Saskti 73. 15-17.

--.            Carotari boli.  Nadiad: Carotar Sarvasangraha. Pp. 756-64.

1955.   E and O in Gujarati.  IL 15. 14-54.

--.        The intrusive -r-  in Indo-Aryan IL 16. 120-3.

--.            Nasalization, aspiration and murmur in Gujarati. IL 17. 165-72

--.        Old Gujarati pronunciation: A Note on linguistic change, Vidyā, the Journal of the Gujarat University : 1-9.

--.        (with Sankalia, H. D.) Saṁśodhananī tālīma.  Saskti 129-345-6.  “Training for research”.

--.            Svādhyyāya ane samikṣā.  Saskti 129. 350-3.

1958.            Duration, syllable, and juncture in Gujarati.  IL. 19. 212-8.

--.        Prācya vidyapariadanũ dilli adhiveśana. Saskti 134. 78-9

1959.            Dhavani parivartana  Saskti 154. 369-75, 156. 457-61.

1960.            Sādṛśya parivartana (: analogical change). Saskti 157. 11-16, 158. 60-64

--.            Bhāṣānũ śabdabhaṇḍoa  (: the word-capital of a language). Buddhiprakāśa 108. 287-300.

--.        Gujarāti bhāṣāmē jāti or parimāṇa (: gender, size and volume, etc. in Gujarati).  Hindi Anuśilana Dhirendra Varma viśeṣāṅk.  13, 1-7.

1961.   Ānśik rupākhyānvāỊi  bhāṣānā vyākaraṇī praśno (: the grammatical problems of marginally inflecting languages) Saskti 170. 49-57.

--.            Historical phonology of Gujarati vowels.  Language 37. 54-66.

--.            Borrowing – A study of linguistic expression of social distance.  Vidyā.  1-24.

--.            Linguistics and the teaching of English in India.  The Third All-India English language seminar proceedings abstracts.  Aligarh : Aligarh Muslim University.

--.            Language and dialects.  Souvenir of the 66th Session of Indian National Congress. As ‘Bhāṣa ane teni bolio’ in the Gujarati version of the souvenir: 291-8.

--.            Bhāṣāmē sāmājik bhedō kī abhivyakti (: the reflection of social differences in language).  Nägarī Pracārii Patrikā.  66. 153-74.

1962.            Dhvanighaak (phonim). Saskti 198. 325-8, 359-56.

--.            Uccāra (: Pronunciation). Buddhiprakāś 110. 363-5.

--.            Gujaratinũ dhvanitantra (: the sound system of Gujarati). Saskti 190. 374-85. 191. 420-9.

--.            Tradition and technology.  Seminar.  Dec. 16-21.

1963.            Sanskritic clusters and caste dialects.  IL. 24. 70-86.

--.            Sajñā, artha ane kavitā : ek carcā (: word, meaning and poetry : a discussion.) [The discussion is with Digish Mehta] Saskti 200.  294-8.

--.            Directions for research in Applied linguistics.  The Conference on Applied Linguistics.  IIT. Kanpur. MS.

--.            Bhāṣanã bhina bhinna swarupo (: various forms of language). Bilimora Arts College Journal, and Ruci. 9-15 Sept. 1967.

1964.   Indian readjustments in the English consonantal system.  IL. 25. 202-5.

1965.   Hindi : A spoken approach. [G.H. Fairbanks, co-author] Poona : Deccan College.

--.            Phonemic and morphemic frequencies of the Gujarati language.  Poona : Deccan College.

--.        Indian linguistics – 1964. BDCRI 25. 1-10.

--.        Kacchī viśe (: about Kachchhi).  Vidyāpih 16.  157-8.

--.        Role of linguistics and language teaching in schools.  Educational and psychological Review  5. 62-8.

--.            Gujarātï. Encyclopedie de l’Islam. Nouvelle adition. Tome II, Livraison 40. Leiden : E.J. Brill.

--.        A Grammatical sketch of the Gujarati language.  Calcutta : Registrar General, Government of India.  1976.

--.        Field work book. Calcutta. Registrar General, Government of India.  Forthcoming.

1966.   Gujarāti bhāṣānũ dhvanisvarup ane dhvaniparivartan. Ahmedabad : Gujarat University [Sahitya Akademi award.]

--.            Logistics of language development.  Language and society in India.  Transactions of the Institute of Advanced Study, Simla 8. 112-7.  Also : Economic and Political, weekly. 23 March. 487-9, with the added title : English has a generative role.  Also Gujarati version L Parab 2. 17-26.

1967.            Parameters of variation in an Indian speech community.  Language and Society in India.  8. 207-29. Simla.  Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 1969.

--.        Gujarati bhāṣā-bolinā kramik vibhājanna sandarbhamān (:in the context of the chronology of the Gujarati language and dialects).  Dilli Gujarati Samāj Smti Granth : 13-19.

--.        Oriental Studies and modern linguistics.  Read at a symposium on the topic.  27th International congress of Orientalists.  An Arbor. MS.

1968.   India as a sociolinguistic area, (Gune memorial lectures). Poona : University of Poona.

--.        Socio-linguistics and Indian languages.  Studies in Hindi linguistics.  78-84. New Delhi : AIIS. Duplicated.

--.        A grammar of Gujarati names. IL 29. 133-41.

--.            Hemacandra and the linguistic tradition.  Golden Jubilee Volume 210-12. Mahavira Jain Vidyalaya.

--.        Some pronominal forms in New Indo-Aryan.  Studies in Indian Linguistics.  Bh. Krishnamurti, ed. 247-9. Poona and Annamalainagar : CASL.

--.            Relationship in Indo-Aryan.  Pákhā Sanjam 1. 29-33.

1969.            Gujarati.  Current trends in linguistics.  T.A.  Sebeok, ed. 5. 105-21.  The Hague : Mouton

--.            Comments on J.J. Gumperz’s ‘How can we describe and measure the behaviour of bilingual groups?’  Description and measurement of bilingualism.  C.G. Kelly, ed. 255-6.  Toronto.

--.            Cracking the code – a linguist looks at the problems of deciphering the script. Hindustan Times, March 30.

1970.   Profiles in multilingualism.  Toward the description of the languages of the world, Burg Wartenstein Symposium No.49, NewYork : wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.  Preprint.

--.        Review of F.R. Palmer (ed.) : Selected papers of J.R. Firth 1952-1959.  Journal of linguistics 6. 280-84.

1971.   Some observations on perception studies in speech analysis.  Speech analysis in Indian languages.  N. Ratna, ed. Mysore : All India Institute of Speech and Hearing.

--.        Review of Valter Tuli : Introduction to a theory of language planning.  IRAL 9:1. 74-6.

--.        Tamil-Saurashtri Bi-lingualism – A case Study (K.S. Rama Subramanyam, assistant), New Delhi : NCERT being published.

1972.   Calling names – some observations on the folk categories of language labels. MS. CIEFL, Hyderabad.

--.        The linguistic survey of India – perspectives on language use.  MS. Centre for Applied linguistics USA.

1973.            Bhāsāvijñāna arvācin abhigamo (: new approaches of linguistics).  Ahmedabad : University Grantha Nirmāa Board. [Constitute the 1971-72 Kavi Narmad memorial lectures of South Gujarat Uni.]

--.            Vyākaraa : ārtha ane Akāra. MS. The Thakkar Vasanji Memorial Lectures.  Bombay University. To appear.

--.        Change – analogical or morphological?  Pákhā Sanjam  6. 63-70.

--.        Gujarati bhāâānā” vidhāyak pariba½o (: The formative forces of the Gujaratī language).  History of Gujarati Literature. Umashankar Joshi et al. (ed.). Ahmedabad : Gujarati Sahitya PariÀad. Pp. 51-9.

--.            Workshop on Social Stratification and langauge behaviour :  Presidential address. Simla : Indian Instt. of Adv. Study.

--.            Perspectives on Sociolinguistics in India.  In Aspects of Sociolinguistics. IXth International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences.  Chicago.  Preprint.  Proceedings to be published by Mouton, The Hague.

--.            Postscript to Perspectives.  MS.

1974.   Bi-lingual’s grammar : A case study of Tamil-Saurashtri number names.  IJDL 3. 181-98.

--.        Paheli bh¡À¡, ... ane?  SaÆsk¤ti 327.  81-87.

--.            Linguistic history – A relationship in languages.  Problems and perspectives in linguistic studies.  Kathmandu : Institute of Nepal and Asian Studies, 1976. pp. 85-98.

--.            Aspects of Sociolinguistics.  Duplicated.  [A collection of Essays].

--.            Linguistics and Sociology.  To appear.  Linguistics and Neighbouring sciences. North Holland Pub. Co.

1975.            Periodization in linguistic history and literary history.  Nahar Felicitation volume.  Calcutta.

--.        Review of S. Vaidyanathan : Indo-Aryan loan words in Old Tamil.  IJDL 4. 181-4.

--.            Language and identity : The Punjabi language in Delhi.  To appear.  International Journal of Sociology of language.

--.        A Contribution to the schwa-deletion debate. MS

--.            Language in a plural society (: Devraj Channa Memorial lectures1975, read, posthumously on his behalf by Prof. H.S. Gill and Rajani Kothari on March 2 and 3, 1976).  Delhi University.


--.        (See also two entries above in 1949. 1965)






            This was published in Indian Linguistics 37:77-81, 1976.