My research interest has been shaped on the one hand by my own inclinations and on the other by needs of the Department since I have joined the University. My basic training in linguistics began early during my graduation. As one of the papers of English (Hons) course, History of English language, required me to read some basic book of Linguistics and thus motivated an urge to study Linguistics. I was thus fascinated by the ways in which languages share their lexicons crossing the geographical boundaries. The very fact that the different root-words travel all the way from Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Baltic, Slavic and finally through Germanic route come to survive in English encourage me to look beyond to pursue my career in Linguistics.
I got the proper environment and academic atmosphere to spur and nurture my intellectual appetite in JNU where I did my MA, MPhil and PhD. The courses and new ways of dealing with the course-content and evaluation system all thrilled me into becoming an academician.
Various papers in MA and MPhil in JNU that shaped my interest in linguistics were ‘Morphological and Syntactic Analysis’, ‘South Asia as a linguistic Area’, Field-Methods and ‘Grammatical theories and models’. I have been interested in the structure of words and sentences from the early days of my training in linguistics. I worked on several small projects and term-papers during my Masters and MPhil in JNU. The main focus of my term-papers has always been to examine the complex relationships of words to other words and to sentences at large. The issue of ergativity and its relationship with the other grammatical alteration in the sentence, dative subject constructions and its effect on the role of verbal inflection were some of the issues which I tried to solve in Hindi and khortHa (my mother tongue).
While at JNU, I was selected through an interview to teach linguistics to the undergraduates doing foreign languages at JNU. Such an experience to put into practice what I had learned was very exciting. I thus taught ‘Morphology’, ‘Introduction to Linguistics’ and ‘Sociolinguistics’ to the undergraduates in JNU for 7 Semesters (three and half year).
I have had the opportunity to undertake several field-works during MA, MPhil and PhD research work in JNU. I worked on Shambalpuri language during my MA. University of Heidelberg, Germany had offered a project to Prof. Anvita Abbi of JNU to cross-examine the findings of Prof. Claude Peter Zollar who had claimed the existence of some kentum elements in an Indo-Aryan language called Bangani. After an orientation program, which was followed by an interview, I was selected to assist her in the field for the abovementioned project. The language and its structural complexities inspired me to take another field-oriented paper in my MPhil and do extensive field-work (12days) on Bangani. I submitted a report on ‘The structure of NP in Bangani’ for the course. My PhD work, as it turned out, needed several field-works (7 except my mother-tongue) in order to have varied and intense linguistic data. All these years I have developed a passion to work with the native speakers of different languages and with all necessary field techniques, I have always been able to create a congenial environment for data collection.
Later on, at the University of Texas at Austin where I went to pursue my PhD, I had the privilege of doing some advanced courses such as morphology, syntax, documentary/descriptive linguistics and psycholinguistics. My research at Austin was also largely related to the examination of the complex nature of words and their syntactic environments in which they are patterned to make up sentence and finally the discourse. Though, I had to quit the program as my TA-ship in Asian Studies got over after one year, I had the chance to learn the streaks of professionalism in academics. Teaching Hindi as a foreign language in the Department of South Asian Studies, UT Austin, enabled me not only to use the techniques and tools of linguistics in my teaching (such as sound-system, structure of the syllable, words and sentences) but also helped me gain a first hand insight into the problems of syntactic constructions such as conjunct verb construction, infinitives and the small clause-construction in Hindi, seen as a foreign language from the perspective of the learner.
I submitted my PhD in JNU (2005) and the thesis has been published by Lincom Europa, Germany in 2006. I am very happy to report that Prof. Bernard Comrie, Director, Department of Linguistics and Anthropology, Max Plank Institute, Germany has written the foreword for the book. He accepted my request to do this as he had read the draft of my PhD. In my book, I have examined eight different varieties of Hindi-Urdu, besides providing an account of nine major languages of India to show how the phenomenon of ‘Grammatical Agreement’ works in these languages. My training as a field-linguist helped me to collect and collate the data of eight varieties of Hindi-Urdu.
The incessant drive to try to find a unified theory for the linguistic phenomenon by comparing and cross examining the structure of different languages that I learned at various stages of either teaching or learning language typology, helped me to provide a better analysis and examination of the function of agreement phenomenon in typologically similar and genetically related varieties of Hindi-Urdu. I have shown that the varieties of Hindi-Urdu can be classified in three different TYPES on the basis of the agreement system that they display;
A. Languages that have only Subject-verb agreement.
B. Languages that have both Subject-verb & Object-verb agreement on an alternative basis (i.e. the verb agrees with either the subject or the object in different syntactic environment).
C. Languages that have primarily Subject-verb agreement, however, other actants (NPs) also find their marking on the verb due to certain pragmatic value or requirements of the language e.g. specificity marking, animacy factor, scale of honorificity and some patter gap in the system of pronouns etc.
I have tried to unify the agreement types (a) & (c) into one system and have termed it as a SINGLE SYSTEM OF AGREEMENT and have labelled the agreement type (b) as a DUAL SYSTEM OF AGREEMENT. The motivation for the combining (a) & (c) into one comes from two main factors; (i) there is no change of the syntactic environment of marking the inflection of other actants (NPs) on the verb besides the subject (ii) the languages do not show overt object agreement. With the help of such micro level study of the phenomenon in the varieties of Hindi-Urdu, I have tried to provide a solution to the problem of ‘agreement facts’ in complex predicates of Hindi-Urdu at a macro level which otherwise remains unexplained.
Before joining the Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi, I was selected in BHU in an open category position in 2000. However, I took up the job at DU, considering the fact that I would be able to finish my PhD within the stipulated time-limit if I work in Delhi. University of Delhi in general and the Department of Linguistics in particular has provided me a very strong and healthy environment of growth and a good opportunity to further shape my research interest. I have been teaching several courses since 2001. They include ‘Morphology’, Field-linguistics (Field-Methods), Language Typology, Semantics, Introduction to Linguistics, Transformational Generative Grammar, General Linguistics (in the Department of Germanic and Romance Studies, DU). I have also helped the Department to carry out intensive field-works on several languages such as Ho, Kokborok, Bodo, Bhalawari Bhasa and Tulu.
In addition to my regular teaching assignments, I have also in contributed to other regularly organized programs of the Department. I have thus taught Hindi and English in such programs to foreign students from Korea, Japan, Norway and California. Teaching these classes always has helped me to practice the theories of most of the core areas of linguistics. The feed back (the assignments) from the programs have enriched my point of view of analyzing the corpus. It has also given me insights into the area of interference and the typological similarity of the target and source language, despite the fact that innovate in language teaching in addition to the direct method of teaching mostly followed and used within teaching of Hindi and English.
I am working on a linguistic grammar of Bhojpuri which has been accepted for publication by Lincom Europa, Germany. The book contains a precise and in-depth account of phonetics and phonology, morphology, and syntax of the language.
I am also working on a text-book–“Introduction to Linguistics for Foreign language learners” which will help the learners to accelerate their process of learning the foreign language. The work has been already accepted for publication by Lincom Europa, Germany. The publisher has also promised to bring out an Indian print from the Oversea Press, India Ltd. to keep the price of the book affordable for students in India.