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U. of I. linguistics scholar to receive Presidential Award in India

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor


Photo of Yamuna Kachru
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Yamuna Kachru, a proferssor emerita of linguistics at the U. of I., will travel to New Delhi to receive the Presidential Award from Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the president of India.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A professor emerita of linguistics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will receive the Presidential Award from the president of India.

Yamuna Kachru will go to the Presidential Palace in New Delhi on Sept. 14 to receive her award, one of four to be presented by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the president of India.

According to Abbas Benmamoun, head of the linguistics department, the Presidential Award is “a highly prestigious award, one that speaks to Yamuna’s distinguished research record and stellar reputation as one of the premier experts on the Hindi language and linguistics.”

Kachru began teaching at Illinois in 1965 and took early retirement in 1999. She is engaged in research and publishing.

Over the course of her career, a few early years spent teaching in India and the United Kingdom and most of her professional life in the United States, Kachru has written several books and more than 50 research papers on various aspects of Hindi grammatical structure; she is considered a pioneer on the interface of language, society and discourse in Hindi.

In addition to her research, Kachru has been active in teaching Hindi to speakers of other languages, especially English. Her textbook “Intermediate Hindi,” co-written with Illinois colleague Rajeshwari Pandharipande, was published in 1983 and has been reprinted many times.

Kachru has lectured on linguistic topics related to Hindi and varieties of English around the world at national and international conferences worldwide.

She also has published extensively on varieties of English in Asia and Africa. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal World Englishes, and of the book series “Asian Englishes Today,” published by the Hong Kong University Press.

She is a co-author of “World Englishes in Asian Contexts” (Hong Kong University Press, 2006) and co-editor of “The Handbook of World Englishes” (Blackwell, Oxford, 2006). She also is on the executive committee of the International Association for World Englishes.

Kachru taught and conducted research on Hindi at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, and earned a doctorate in linguistics there in 1965. Her thesis was one of the first analyses of Hindi based on the “Chomskyan model,” she said.

Kachru will return to campus Sept. 20.