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Auteur: William RITCHIE

Co-Auteur(s): Tej BHATIA, Syracuse University, USA

Emerging trilingual literacies in Rural India: Linguistic, Marketing and Developmental Aspects

Abstract/Résumé: The forces of globalization and digital communication has created a new rather unique communication situation is rural India which has serious bearing not only for multilingualism and also for a variety of issue pertaining to literacy in developing and rural societies. The new emerging form of bimodal (man-machine; verbal-visual) is called an e-chaupal. An e-chaupal is primarily responsible for the emergence of trilingualism and is responsible for additive bi-/tri-lingualism rather than subtractive bilingualism in those setting where home language (non-standard) is distinct from the language of education (Bhatia and Ritchie 2004) as this development has empowered rural varieties of languages which are spoken by more than 80 percent of the population living in more than half million villages. In the villages of multilingual India, there is a traditional assembly place called a chaupal, where farmers meet to discuss informally a wide variety of topics including the market value of their crops, etc. In the early 2000s, the Indian Tobacco Company (ITC), which had traditionally bought crops from farmers through intermediary agents, established what they refer to as e-chaupals in the form of computer stations managed by representatives of the company (trilingual in English, Hindi, and the local language), through which farmers can communicate electronically directly with ITC, thereby becoming informed about what crops the company is looking for, what the current market prices are for these crops, etc. The paper is based on a case study of the e-chaupal in the village of Moonpur in the state of Rajasthan, India (see Bhatia 2007) which adds to the growing body of empirical research on e-chaupals and demonstrates at the same time how market forces, particularly the business at the Bottom of the Pyramid (the BOP model; Prahlad 2005), have dramatically changed the communicative and advertising landscape of rural India and the approximately 80% of the Indian population that lives in more than half a million villages -- which show a staggering array of linguistic and geographical dispersion -- in the age of the Internet and globalization. The analysis will be framed in terms of Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations (2003) and two contemporary theoretical research traditions—Socio-cultural and Cognitive Science approach-- to the study of in multilingual societies.