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Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Language and society

Indian Institute of Technology Madras and NPTEL via Swayam

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Language is central to our existence. It is hard to think of ourselves, our societies, and culture without language. Language is a primary means of socialization. It interacts with the social, political and economic power structures. It is the primary medium for the construction and transmission of knowledge and for the articulation of ideas. In short, language constitutes humans and their identities. All people either utilize varieties of a language or use two or more languages to respond to a whole range of affective and interpersonal demands; language by definition must be defined as multilingualism. The primary objective of this course is to examine relationship between language and society with respect to the nature of language


  • What is Language and what is scientific about it?
  • How language is constitutive of being human? 
  • What is the relationship between language and mind? 
  • How do we learn language? 
  • [Biological foundation and Generative explanation of language learning; Language Acquisition Device and Universal Grammar]
  • Critical period hypothesis 
  • Mother tongue (First and Second Language)
  • Competence and performance --- Form and Function
  • Language, dialect and variety (variation) 
  • Language Continuum
  • Linguistic Area
  • Language and Culture
  • How is language structured at the levels of sounds, words, and sentences? 
  • What is the relationship between language and human cognition?
  • Fluidity which results in multilinguality and human mind/cognition
  • How does multilingualism correlate with scholastic achievement, cognitive flexibility and social tolerance?

Taught by

Rajesh Kumar



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