Visiting Professor in Tamil
Office: Foster Hall 511
E. Annamalai is a linguist trained at Annamalai University and at The University of Chicago and specialized in Tamil grammar, modern and traditional, including semantics. His interest in grammar extended, at the Central Institute of Indian languages, Mysore, India, to the study of language use and ideology in the Tamil society, multilingualism, language conflicts, language policy in India, as well as to the study and development of the indigenous languages of India. Having interest in social issues and cultural creativity, he looks at language as a prism to gain a sound understanding of them. He looks at Tamil literature also as a means of understanding these two phenomena.
He has taught the Tamil language as a second language for English speakers at the University of Chicago and at Annamalai University to a variety of students with cultural, professional and instrumental interests in Tamil. His recent book co-authored with R.E. Asher, Colloquial Tamil, is a culmination of this experience. The Chicago Tamil materials are accessible at https://tamilcourse.uchicago.edu. He has designed and guided pedagogy of Tamil as a second language to the speakers of Indian languages and the production of pedagogical materials in Tamil at CIIL. He has been deeply involved in the production of reference books which aid language learning and using; they include A Dictionary of Contemporary Tamil, A Dictionary of Idioms and Phrases of Contemporary Tamil, Style Manual of Tamil and Handbook of Verb Conjugation in Tamil.
He did academic research, training and management work for nearly 25 years at CIIL. As a Visiting Fellow, he conducted seminars and research on Tamil and other Indian languages, outside India, at institutions in Tokyo, Leiden, Nijmegen, Melbourne, Leipzig. He taught Tamil at Yale before Chicago.
His recent books include Social Dimensions of Modern Tamil (2011), Managing Multilingualism in India: Political and Linguistic Manifestations (2001). Among his numerous invited papers to be book chapters and for special volumes of journals, some recent ones are: Contexts of Multilingualism (2002), India as a Communicative Area (2003), Medium of Power: The Question of English in Education in India (2003), An Interpretive Survey of Studies on Tamil Language (2004), The River of Tamil Grammar on its course (2007), Transformations of Dravidian Identity in South India(2008), English in the linguistic ecology of India (2008), The Politics of Language in India (2010), India’s Economic Restructuring with English: Benefits vs. Costs (2013), Death by other means: Neo-vernacularization of South Asian languages (2013).
On the literary side, he has translated a few classical and modern Tamil literary pieces into English.
Besides having served on national level committees on language policy and planning in India, he has been a member of the panel of the Endangered Languages Documentation Project, London and UNESCO’s World Language Survey, Bilbao, Spain. He is currently Chair of Terralingua, an international non-profit organization promoting bio-cultural diversity and a Secretary-General of International Association for Tamil Research.