The Central Institute of Indian Languages has reached 25 years of age and it is a time
for reflection about its origin, development, achievements and shortfalls.
The study of Indian language with the objective of preparing them for the new roles
of national reconstruction and development was the concern of many from the
independence of the country. The major responsibility to support such a study was to be
taken up by the State. The Kher Commission of the Government of India recommended
the establishment of three Central Institutes for this purpose. The Official Language
Resolution of 1968 made the Central Government also responsible for the development of
all Indian languages in addition to Hindi. These and other developments led to the
establishment of Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL) in Mysore on July 17, 1969.
The primary objective of the Institute is the development of Indian languages ensuring
coordination between the various developmental activities at the governmental and non
governmental levels and also by orienting linguistic research for the development of Indian
languages. The Institute is also to contribute towards the maintenance of multilingualism
of the country through language teaching, and translation and to strengthen the common
bond between the Indian languages.
The work of the Institute consists of research, training and production of teaching
materials. The results of these activities can be seen in its more than 300 publications and
6879 teachers trained in its Regional Language Centres. The Institute has been able to make
an impact in language teaching in schools making it skill based and function oriented. It
has brought audio visual and computed technology to aid the teaching of Indian languages.
It has helped many tribal languages to be codified, described and used in education. Its
research and training programmes in social, physiological and folkloristic aspects of
language and culture have introduced new dimensions to research on Indian languages.
The International Institutes organised by the Institute in sociolinguistics, semiotics,
phonetics and other areas have helped the development of human resource in these areas.
The major problem of the Institute is that it cannot meet all language needs of. the
whole country. It has to play the role of a catalyst and mqdelsetter. The other agencies-are
to take over the universal implementation of the innovations, This has not taken place to
the desired extent.
In the coming years, the Institute plans to consolidate the earlier work and expand
the work in the ares of translation, computer applications and production of audio visual
materials. It wishes to strike new grounds in language evaluation and storage and
dissemination of language information. The Institute will move into anew Campus to carry
on the work with new vigour and vision.
One part of the Silver Jubilee Celebration is the publication of 25 special volumes.
The present book is one of these volumes.
Structuralism in folkloristics was born with the publication in Russian of V.
J. Propp’s Morphology in 1928. However, this big leap in folkloristics from
historical to descriptive and form diachronic to synchronic era of analysis was not
seriously felt, even in Russia, till the English translation of Morphology appeared
in 1958. Besides other reasons, one important reason for this backwardness in
folkloristics was simply because folklore studies all over the world was not prepared
to receive the scientific benefits of this big leap. Propp, in that sense, was much
ahead of his times. Folkloristics had to wait thirty long years to feel the real impact
of this big leap.
Once the English translation of Propp’s work appeared in 1958, structuralism,
particularly Proppian structural analysis, spread like wild fire not only in
folkloristics but in almost all social sciences and related disciplines. There is hardly
any country now in the world where Propp’s structural method has not been tested,
applied and used with confidence and where it has not highly influenced
folkloristics, literary theory and other related areas.
Very often scholars have expressed doubts about the cross-generic and
cross-cultural validity of Propp’s structural method. These doubts basically seem
to stem from the age old problem of universals and specifics in cultures. The debate
on this and other issues still continues.
In this excellent study Dr. (Mrs.) Lalita Handoo, a folklorist, has tried to test
Propp’s method cross-culturally and cross- generically by studying Kashmiri folk-
tales on Proppian lines. This kind of exercise is unique and important in the sense
that in India very few serious studies in folklore have been based on Proppian
method. I hope that this work will inspire more serious work on Propp and
structuralism in India.
The main thrust of the present work is to test scicntifically VJ. Propp’s
morphological theory and method of narrative analysis in anon - Russian and non European
culture. The study addresses two, folkloristically important, question: (i) across - cultural
application of Propp’s morphological - structural approach, and (11) testing the validity of
the method across different types of folktales. The famous and celebrated collection of
folktales by J. Hinton Knowles Folk - Tales of Kashmir (London, 1893) is used as the basic
data to answer these questions. This celebrated collection is not only a collection of fairy
tales, but contains all kinds of narrative types, traditionally labelled by folklorists as
novellas, legends, animal tales, religious tales etc. Because of its diversity the data
qualified for the application of Propp’s structural theory across various types of folktales.
As regards the morphology, the Kashmiri folktales are highly structured and show
similar formal complexities as one notices in marchen, or any other type of narrative with
similar properties. However, as expected, morphological oicotypization was quite evident
in the structure of these tales.
My own theoretical background, which is structuralist has kept me strictly within the
boundaries of my self-imposed structural objectives. At times, it was tempting to take
recourse to paradigmatic analysis or psychological interpretations. However, the present
study did not provide enough scope for these exercises. In this respect, then, I follow
Propp’s footsteps and limit my analysis strictly to the framework of the form of these tales.
This study has seven Chapters or parts. Chapter one introduces the historical and
geographical background of the Valley of Kashmir and its surrounding areas. It also gives
a vivid description of the various ethnic groups, their linguistic affinities and socio-cultural
conditions. These socio-cultural factors that contribute to the processes of acculturation
and identification in cultures, might have significant bearing upon the pattern of Kashmir
folklore in general, and folktale in particular, are also discussed in detail in this Chapter.
Attempts are made in Chapter Two to trace the tradition of Kashmiri oral narrative.
The special status of the folktale genre in the overall folkloric phenomenon cf Kashmir is
also briefly discussed. This Chapter also provides a historical chronology of the available
literature on Kashmiri oral narrative.
In Chapter Three, an attempt has been made to describe a sound classificatory and an
analytic unit, in view of the needs of structural analysis, particularly the syntagmatic
structural analysis of oral narrative. Furthermore, this Chapter also discusses briefly the
growth and development of structural theory and the method or methods it very strongly
advocates. These methodologies and the view points they present have been summarily ©
described under the names of their chief proponents such as Joseph Bédier, A.I. Nikiforov,
Adolf Stender Peterson, V.J. Propp, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Thomas A. Sebeok, Alan
Dundes, A.J. Greimas, Claude Bremond, Roland Barthes, Heda Jason, Elli Kéngas
Maranda and Pierre Maranda.
In Chapter Four Propp’s morphological method has been introduced both as a scale,
and as a scheme to measure the morphology of Kashmiri folktales. The morphology and
the morphological combinations thus found in these narratives are of the following kind:
(i) Villainy - Villainy Liquidated (A - K) type, (ii) Lack - Lack Liquidated (a - K) type,
(iii) Task - Task Resolved (M - N) type. This morphological scheme takes into account,
both the Single Move Tales and the Multi Move Tales. However, in this Chapter, the
morphology of only Single Move Tales (both A - K anda- K type) is discussed.
In continuation of the previous Chapter, the morphology of the Multi Move Tales,
their various move - combinations, schemes and the order they followin variousconditions
are discussed in Chapter Five. Four main Move Combinations are, therefore, identified,
described and discussed. These are: (i) Direct Move Combinations, (ii) Interwoven Move
Combinations, (iii) Embedded Move Combinations and (iv) Simultaneous Move
In Chapter Six, the structure of the so-called "non-fairy" tales, traditionally known
as novellas or sometimes labelled as numskull or trickster tales, etc, is described. These
simple narrative forms, for obvious reasons, do not exhibit the complex morphology of the
fairy tales. However, they are highly structured narrative forms, and as such demand the
application of Propp’s structural method atleast in its basic logical metaphor. An attempt
has, therefore, been made in this Chapter to reduce the basic structure of these
thematically different narratives into a logical formula, which works out as Task - Task
Resolved (M - N) Type. This basic structure is further subdivided into three groups, which
are discussed both structurally and in terms of themes as well.
Besides a brief summary of the preceding Chapters, the final part of this study, in the
form of a Conclusion, briefly discusses the main structural characteristics of Kashmiri
folktales, from the point of view of their morphology. This chapter further consolidates
the findings as far as the applicational aspects of Propp’s method are concerned.
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