Studying a Foreign Language in a Globalizing World: The Case of Hindi-Urdu

Feb 16, 2018
03:00 PM to 04:00 PM
NEW LOCATION: 463 Burrowes Building

Dr. Richard Delacy, Harvard University

What does it mean to study a ‘foreign’ language in an academic environment in today’s rapidly changing world, in which technology has seemingly erased national and linguistic boundaries? In a world in which English appears to have become the dominant language of the global academic marketplace, and where many who come to study in institutions of higher learning in the US are bilingual, if not multilingual, how does this impact the notion that students should study a ‘foreign’ language as a part of a liberal arts education? Where does Hindi-Urdu, arguably the language(s) of over 500 million people, fit into this equation, particularly given people’s seemingly insatiable appetite for English in India and Pakistan? In this talk, Dr. Delacy will discuss studying a language (or languages) like Hindi-Urdu and the meaning that this can provide in the 21st century, in a world that appears to be rapidly changing and increasingly utilitarian in nature.


Richard Delacy teaches Hindi-Urdu in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University. He writes about contemporary South Asian culture and society, in particular literary fiction and Bollywood cinema. He completed a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and before this a Masters in Indian History in Australia, where he was born and raised before settling in the US. He has authored several books related to the teaching of Hindi and Urdu, including a Hindi-English/English-Hindi dictionary, and is currently working on a book on commercial Hindi cinema (Bollywood), as well as one on the contemporary Hindi literary novel. He has been traveling to India for almost thirty years and has spent an aggregate of almost eight years there over more than thirty visits. (Source:

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