Upcoming Events

Chicago Tamil Forum Keynote: Decolonizing Linguistics from South Asia: Practices in Search of a Theory

May 12, 2022 - 5pm

This event will be a hybrid event held in Foster Hall 103 and on Zoom.

Chicago Tamil Forum: Social Meeting and Pragmatics in Tamil Discourse 

Keynote Lecture:
Suresh Canagarajah (Pennsylvania State University) 

This presentation will draw from communicative practices in South Asia to outline their differences from dominant orientations in linguistics. The Euro-centric orientation values a linguistics based on temporal and genealogical foundations (i.e., featuring communicative efficiency and purity; ordering of language families and hierarchies; and insistence on ownership ideologies). I will articulate a spatial paradigm based on land and ecology, which informs communicative practices from South Asia. The spatial paradigm embodies a vision of relationality and dependency between human and nonhuman beings, communication through plural embodied semiotic resources, and distributed practice between social networks and material ecologies for meaning construction. Rather than promoting this orientation as relevant only to South Asian communities, I will demonstrate how it explains better the communicative practices in a globalized world, drawing from my research with multilingual and multinational STEM scholars communicating in American universities.

About the 2022 Chicago Tamil Forum

The study of Tamil discourse has long been a rich source for sociolinguistic study, with linguistic and anthropological studies of caste dialects, address practices and honorification, oratory, literature, standardization, codemixing and language contact, among other topics. Such research has demonstrated the wider theoretical importance of pragmatics to the understanding of language beyond a narrow formalist focus and the importance that the Tamil language contributes to our understanding of the linguistic and cultural diversity of human speech. In this workshop we explore new directions in the sociolinguistic and anthropological study of Tamil discourse pragmatics amidst a half-century of ongoing, rapid linguistic change in a globalizing Tamilagam. For more information about the Forum and it’s corresponding workshop, please visit

Register here if you want to attend via Zoom. If you’d like to attend in-person, please email Lauren Doan at