Episode 35: Azamgarhi Language Documentation with Maaz Shaikh

Today’s episode is with Maaz Shaikh, a Junior Research Fellow pursuing his Ph.D. at the Centre for Linguistics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India. Maaz is an emerging linguist having research interests primarily in language documentation and description, along with language revitalization, phonology, morpho-syntax, and historical linguistics. Last year, Maaz successfully defended his M.Phil. thesis at JNU on his heritage language Azamgarhi—a unique Indo-Aryan language, of which he is a semi-speaker. In this episode we will hear from Maaz on his experiences and opinions of “documenting” a language as an “insider” to the community. Besides his areal interests of his native Indo-Aryan region, he is also now documenting Zangskari, an endangered language of Ladakh (India). 

Maaz, while eliciting Azamgarhi wordlist with a few women consultants in the Bairidih village of Azamgarh. In the Azamgarhi speech community, like many conservative and traditional Muslim communities in general, women generally do not expose their bodies, including the face, to non-mahram (i.e., an unrelated male person). Hence, the woman informants are cropped out from the photo at their request. (January 25, 2020).

Things mentioned in this episode:

Maaz recording a narrative from Mr. Maqsood Khan, a native Bhojpuri speaker and also a fluent Azamgarhi speaker (very rare case), while Mr. Zakir Hussain, a native Azamgarhi speaker, also listens sitting besides Maaz at Mr. Zakir Hussain’s P. G. Rahmaniya College in Ropanpur village of the Mau district. (November 22, 2020)

A scenic view of the banks of a tributary (Pharaī in Azamgarhi) of the Ghāgrā river from the (Pharaī) Chāndpūr village situated in the Maū district. Chandpur, a desolated area until a couple of hundred years ago when some people from Fatehpur village (some 10 km away) settled there, is the last Azamgarhi speaking village on the eastern realm of Azamgarhi. Interestingly, the Azamgarhi variety spoken there differs considerably from that in Fatehpur. (November 22, 2020)

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