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
“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
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 Ṣaḍāvasyaka
of Taruṇaprabha critically edited. London U. Ph.D. Diss. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidyābhavan,
1951 Bhāratiya prācya pariÀad, so½mũ
Buddhiprakā¿. 99. 324-7.
1952 Linguistic survey of border lands of
Gujarat. Journal of the Gujarat Research Society. 14. 57-67.
--. Bolinũ svarup.
69. 331-4, 7. 387-92.
ane samikṣā. Saṃskṛti 71, 432-40.
Bhāṣā. Śri Pārśwanāth
Banaras Hindu University.
--. Indo-Aryan sibilants in Gujarati. IL. 14.
--. Dīrgha vyañjano. Manīṣā. 11-14.
--. Punāthi patra.
--. 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
--. (with Sankalia, H. D.) Saṁśodhananī
129-345-6. “Training for research”.
ane samikṣā. Saṃskṛti 129. 350-3.
1958. Duration, syllable, and juncture in
Gujarati. IL. 19. 212-8.
--. Prācya vidyapariṣadanũ dilli adhiveśana.
1959. Dhavani parivartana Saṃskṛti
154. 369-75, 156. 457-61.
parivartana (: analogical change). Saṃskṛti
157. 11-16, 158. 60-64
śabdabhaṇḍoỊa (: the word-capital of a language). Buddhiprakāśa 108. 287-300.
--. Gujarāti bhāṣāmē
or parimāṇa (: gender, size and volume, etc. in
Gujarati). Hindi Anuśilana
Dhirendra Varma viśeṣāṅk. 13, 1-7.
(: the grammatical problems of marginally inflecting languages) Saṃskṛti
--. 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.
abhivyakti (: the reflection of social differences in language). Nägarī Pracāriṇi
Patrikā. 66. 153-74.
(phonim). Saṃskṛti 198. 325-8, 359-56.
(: Pronunciation). Buddhiprakāś 110. 363-5.
dhvanitantra (: the sound system of Gujarati). Saṃskṛti
190. 374-85. 191. 420-9.
--. Tradition and technology. Seminar. Dec.
1963. Sanskritic clusters and caste dialects.
IL. 24. 70-86.
artha ane kavitā : ek carcā
(: word, meaning and poetry : a discussion.) [The discussion is with
Digish Mehta] Saṁskṛti 200. 294-8.
--. Directions for research in Applied
linguistics. The Conference
on Applied Linguistics. IIT.
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). Vidyāpiṭh
--. Role of linguistics and language teaching
in schools. Educational and
psychological Review 5. 62-8.
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.
Field work book. Calcutta. Registrar General, Government of
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
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
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
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.
--. 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
--. Tamil-Saurashtri Bi-lingualism – A case
Study (K.S. Rama Subramanyam, assistant), New Delhi : NCERT being
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.
abhigamo (: new approaches of linguistics).
Ahmedabad : University Grantha Nirmāṇa Board.
[Constitute the 1971-72 Kavi Narmad memorial lectures of South Gujarat
: ārtha ane Akāra. MS. The Thakkar Vasanji Memorial Lectures. Bombay University. To appear.
--. Change – analogical or morphological?
Sanjam 6. 63-70.
--. Gujarati bhāâānā” vidhāyak
(: 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
--. Linguistic history – A relationship
in languages. Problems and
perspectives in linguistic studies.
Kathmandu : Institute of Nepal and Asian Studies, 1976. pp.
--. 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
--. Language and identity : The Punjabi
language in Delhi. To appear. International Journal of Sociology of language.
--. A Contribution to the schwa-deletion debate.
--. 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.