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Research Areas

Research Areas

New Issues and Themes in Biolinguistics

This course is a survey of current research in areas and issues in Biolinguistics. It also proposes to cover a variety of approaches to language design (as a biological system) and the evolution of language. Some of the major areas of research will be covered in the following sections:

4 Acquisition of speech and language

4 Cognition and perception studies through different disorders of communication.

4 Studies in lateralization and localization of language in brain through imaging techniques.

4 Genes and language/speech.

4 Speech and voice patterns of genetically related people

4 Language and evolution

Cognitive Linguistics

The field of enquiry’ is fully interdisciplinary, sharing wide range of concerns with contemporary cognitive science. In order to discover the natural, organic, historical and developmental parameters of human language, we establish productive contacts with research works in neighbouring disciplines, such as, Psychology, Philosophy, Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, Mathematics, Cognitive Anthropology and the Sciences of Literature including Semiotics. We focus on the discovery of the proper mathematical basis that would suitably modelize the continuous and non-discrete nature of the semantic, pragmatic and cognitive dimensions of human language. Prior to the discrete symbolic structures employed in a combinational syntax-semantics we posit continuous, dynamic and topological `deep’ subsymbolic structures.

Research in Tribal and Lesser Known Languages

The Centre has been engaged in encouraging field work and research on tribal and lesser known languages of India at the M.A. M. Phil and Ph.D. Levels. Courses have also been designed to provide/develop methodologies for the collection, collation and analysis of linguistic data for the determination of the phonological, morphological and syntactic systems of these languages. The students are thus trained to write at least partial linguistic grammars of these languages.

Areal Typology and Language Contact

The aim is to teach students to identify linguistic structures that are shared across typologically different and genetically distinct languages of South Asia. The focus of teaching and research is on the common semantic constructs and their associated similar linguistic structurations. India as a Linguistic Area concept is thus not seen in its traditional taxonomic sense but as an area marking structures manifested in various but shared grammatical and semantic aspects.

Generally diverse languages that coexist in geographical proximity change the course of the developments of various contiguous languages toward typological homogeneity leading to areal universals. A comparison of such areal universal features with language universals is made to bring into focus the linguistic typology of South Asia. Areal typological investigation of the phenomena of Reduplication and Explicator compound Verbs has already been made for more than 40 languages of India by the Centre.

Syntactic and Semantic Grammars of Indian Languages

The Centre gives importance to research in the complex and varied syntactic and semantic structures of different languages of India. Languages of Dravidian, Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, Austro-Asiatic (Munda and non-Munda) families have been investigated into. The students are encouraged to work on the models of Generative Semantics, Cognitive Semantics, Generative Syntax, Government and Binding, and Paninian Grammar.

English in the Third World

This area of study includes investigation into the forms and functions of English language in India, with special reference to its historical, socio-cultural and linguistic dimensions. Besides Indian English, research focus is also on the other non-native varieties of English. Research facilities are provided for work on the emergence, diffusion and establishment of Indian English, South Asian English and African English. Study of the roles and functions of English in the communicative networks of the third world countries is especially encouraged. The teaching of English – its principles, techniques and methodology – constitutes another important area of research.

Applied Linguistics

The focus here is on language pedagogy, the concept of pedagogic grammar, contrastive analysis, testing and evaluation, second and foreign language teaching/learning. The other major components of applied linguistics constitute: (1) Translation: Theory and Practice, especially processes and problems of literary translation; (2) Lexicology and Lexicography (especially with reference to the Multilingual, Indian context); (3) Speech and Language Pathology, aphasiology and acquired and/or developmental disorders; Sign language for the Hearing Impaired; and (4) Linguistic analysis of literary texts.

General and Applied Speech Sciences:

The Centre conducts a number of courses in the area of acoustics and experimental phonetics. Various techniques used in the study of speech sounds are introduced. Although the programme does include experimental methods and technology employed in articulatory phonetics, the thrust is on the study of acoustic aspect of speech sounds. The students are familiarized with various programmes available for speech signal processing and their applications. Some of the major applications of speech sciences introduced are: Speech Pathology, therapeutic and rehabilitative practices in the area of speech and hearing; speaker identification studies and cryptology, speech and voice modulation, diction for media etc.


This area of research focuses on the relationship between theoretical linguistics and recent developments in sociolinguistics. The key concerns in this area are linguistic heterogeneity, language contact and code-choice in different socio-cultural context. Studies of language dynamics (language change, language maintenance and language shift) in multilingual, multi-cultural societies are given particular emphasis. Another focal area of research is the role, function and status of tribal/minor languages vis-a-vis the more developed and relatively powerful languages of wider communication. This area also includes studies of socio-educational deprivation, language inequality and attitudes towards languages and speech-communities. Moreover, language in its varying manifestations is also studied as a marker of identity and means of societal signification.

Philosophy of Language

This area of research focuses on the powerful truth-conditional accounts of meaning proposed by philosophers such as Frege, Russel and Carnag in order to demonstrate the weaknesses of these accounts when they are applied to ordinary language. It also examines alternative theories advanced by later philosophers like Wittgenstein, Quine,. Austin and Searle, which seek to relocate the classic set of problems in a communicative context. Since recent works in Linguistics by Chomsky, Jakendoff and others have had a profound effect on the current philosophical debate on diverse issues, linguistic findings have been considered crucially relevant. This kind of research has as its central goal the development of sharper and more sophisticated analysis of long standing problems in linguistic philosophy.

Semiotics of Conceptual Structures

The research and teaching programme in the Semiotics of Conceptual Structures covers a broad spectrum of communication channels in language, literature, art and culture. A number of courses are offered in the semiotics of creative process in French Scholastic tradition from the Middle Ages to the modern structuralist speculations on the nature of sign and signification. Discursive studies in the discourse of language, literature, cinema, folklore, painting are some of the domains already covered by our research scholars.

Neuro-Cognitive Linguistics:

  1. Theories, Models and Approach to study of early speech and language development. Principals  and Parameters hypothesis.
  2. How is language acquired – in case of a normal child, a deaf child, a slow learner?
  3. Structure and Function of Brain: Representation of Language in Brain, Theories and Models.
  4. Brain Pathology and Language breakdown: Cognitive vs. Neurological disorders, Developmental vs. Acquired  disorders, Clinical Aphasiology, Dyslexia
  5. Issues in Neurolinguistics and Aphasiology

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.