Caste in and Recasting language

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This paper considers translation in Tamil as an internal process of changes within the language itself and focuses on how it has negotiated the pressures of the other classical language, accommodating and resisting Sanskrit sounds, words and literary concerns. This negotiation has been influenced by factors that contribute to the power structure—religion, caste and political patronage. Although early in the second millennium there was a movement to write a mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit, Tamil identity has consolidated around the idea of a classical language and culture distinct from that of Sanskrit. This led to repeated purification campaigns, some conducted on clear caste lines. The paper examines how Tamil was translated into a hybrid language and how in turn it has purified itself, especially over the last century.


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