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Messages - shamsi

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The information is very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Best Regards,


Shamsi Ara Huda
Assistant Professor
Department of English


You are right. There is misconception regarding 'Feminism' in Bangladesh. Thanks for sharing the ideas.

Best Regards,


Shamsi Ara Huda
Assistant Professor
Department of English

Departments / Re: Short Poems by Shamsi
« on: Yesterday at 04:53:25 PM »
My Dear Colleagues,

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I am so happy with your words.

Best Regards,


Shamsi Ara Huda
Assistant Professor
Department of English

Departments / Re: Subultern Linguistics by Ahmar Mahboob
« on: Yesterday at 04:51:32 PM »
Example 2: “Free Throw Plastic Bottles”

One example of an isolated subaltern project is the design and installation of a disposal for plastic bottles in Pasacao, Camarines Sur, in the Philippines. Using an understanding of how Filipinos love basketball, John Robrigado, a local youth councillor, designed and installed a “Free Throw Plastic Bottles” area to encourage people to discard plastic bottles in a safe manner. This project uses language + understanding of people + some engineering to design a garbage collector for plastic bottles. As such, it is an example of #subalternlinguistics: the application of socio-semiotics for the betterment of people – in this case, the protection of our environment.

In teaching language/linguistics, we should share such examples and encourage others to develop projects for and with the community. Language/linguistics is not really about grammar rules and pronunciation; it is about the use of language to benefit our communities.

While the “Free Throw Plast Bottles” is a good example of how socio-semiotics are used to create a resource, the design can be enhanced in many ways. For example, there can an additional hole in a lower part of the “court”, so that people who are not good at throwing can still discard their plastic waste in an appropriate manner. In addition, there could be signage that educates people about the harms of plastic and pollution. This signage can be in images with supporting text in local languages and can be designed by local communities. Making, placing and maintaining such projects can create jobs for people in local communities; jobs that give economic incentives to people to maintain their languages and to use their languages to empower themselves. In addition to enabling an economy in the local languages, it will also create a greater involvement of the community in developing its own resources and material.

This project can also be expanded and other measures brought into place. The purpose of these measures could be to educate the communities in ways that help them. The current school curriculum in many parts of the world has little to teach children about the places where they live and grow up; and more to do with faraway places and abstract ideas that are not relevant to one’s own context. One reason for this is an over-emphasis on books and reading, and less on doing. And, many of the corporate-published textbooks today, which are considered the “best” in the developing world, are written to train children to work for corporations and endorse the values of the corporate world.

Instead, educational curricula can be conceived as ways of educating our students about doing things. By learning how to engage with communities, they can learn ways to create and do things that respect and are in sync with local ways of being. Such a curriculum would need to be designed with a vision of how the community sees itself to be.

Education is successful when our students develop projects that aid in community empowerment. Such projects raise students’ self-esteem and self-respect, two key goals of education. In current schooling in many parts of the world today, tests, assessments, and exams frustrate many and students leave school (if they graduate) with broken self-esteem and low self-respect; they graduate with a belief that the west has the answers and that living in the west is a desired goal. Their low self-esteem of themselves and their communities leads them to imagine a “better life” elsewhere. If we want to keep our people home, we have to develop economies in and through our own languages and boost the self-esteem and self-respect of our peoples.

Departments / Re: skywalk a smart solution for Dhaka
« on: February 24, 2020, 05:33:47 PM »
I can not agree with you more. Thanks for sharing such a fantastic idea. It is high time for us to do something for our beloved city: Dhaka.

Best Regards,


Shamsi Ara Huda
Assistant Professor
Department of English

Departments / Re: Grammo
« on: February 24, 2020, 05:31:47 PM »
A very good initiative indeed! Thanks for sharing.

Best Regards,


Shamsi Ara Huda
Assistant Professor
Department of English

Departments / Re: Subultern Linguistics by Ahmar Mahboob
« on: February 24, 2020, 05:29:42 PM »
Doing subaltern linguistics

To learn to do subaltern linguistics, we need to observe and learn from case studies. Appropriate case studies for a subaltern linguistics project use first (material/biological) and second (socio-semiotic) order semiotic systems to influence action and change in a community. If there is evidence for change and influence, then we have a case study for a positive discourse analysis (PDA). For example, the Australian anti-tobacco campaign has been successful because the rates of smoking in Australia have reduced and teenage uptake of smoking is lower. Thus, we can study the Australian anti-tobacco campaign as a case study and apply our learning from this and other case studies to design material for issues that are relevant to our context – using material/biological and socio-semiotic resources that are relevant and appropriate for our contexts.

Positive discourse analysis (PDA) can be both broad and narrow. Here, I will focus on broad PDA. [A narrow PDA will require different tools of analysis.] A broad PDA has two goals:

1) to review examples and case studies of projects that make an impact and take notes on how the project relates to first and second order socio-semiotics; and

2) to design and, if feasible, implement a project that draws on understandings of local material, biological, and socio-semiotic resources to benefit one’s own community and environment.

In achieving the second goal, broad PDA helps analyse multiple case studies and then plan and execute a project that respond to a local issue by respecting the local material, biological, and socio-semiotic resources. In searching for projects to use as case studies, it is useful to collect examples from diverse sources and regions, as each place and people have different ways of being, thinking, and doing. We can learn from and invest in diversity.

PDA is a complementary approach to the popular Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). In contrast to CDA, which often explores how power impacts communities by looking for patterns of oppression in discourse, PDA is focussed on looking at good practices and using understandings of good practices to improve ourselves and our communities. PDA is not focussed on examining discourses for the sake of examining discourses; PDA is about doing. PDA is not about identifying power structures that disable us; rather, it is about creating alternatives and possibilities for people to improve themselves on their own terms and by doing things that they want to do. To do PDA, we can look at successful projects from around the world – not just the west – and consider questions such as: how each of these is designed? what material senses are drawn upon? what socio-semiotics is assumed and/or projected?

Example 1: Australian anti-tobacco campaign

The Australian anti-tobacco campaign is an example of a successful project because it has resulted in lowering of tobacco use and uptake. This project was multi-thronged and used advertisements, taxes, laws, and education to influence a change in the community. The advertisement material that it developed related to all five material senses and made one see, hear, smell, touch and taste the negative impacts of tobacco.

The campaign impacted vision by enforcing laws and policies that prohibit smoking in public places, parks, school zones, restaurants, public transport, etc. This prohibition implies that smoking and smokers cannot be seen, heard, or smelt in most public places. An absence, or at least a reduction, of smoking and smokers in public spaces implies that children grow up with minimal exposure to smoking. This reduces the likelihood that children will grow up smoking.

The campaign included television, radio, and internet advertisements which included sounds of people coughing or gasping for air. These sounds and associated visuals create a negative association of smoking with health and well-being. The material also implied that smoke smells bad and effects our ability to smell other things; that it leads to diseases with skin deformities and inflation – connecting to our sense of touch; and, that one can’t taste food and other things well if one continues to smoke.

In addition, the campaign provided alternative discourses that projected positive images of how one’s life can improve if one gives up smoking. It provided educational resources and materials. It projected the savings one can make along with other benefits of quitting smoking. And, in doing all this, new jobs and sub-specialisations were created. For example, people were trained and employed to provide support to individuals who want to quit smoking.

A broad PDA of the Australian tobacco campaign demonstrates how an effective campaign relates to all our material senses, using multiple modes, along with advocating for and reaffirming particular socio-semiotics. It needs to be noted that there are examples of successful campaigns and projects all over the world. The reason I chose the Australian example here is not because it is the only one; it is because I live in Australia and am more familiar with it; and, because, I am working with Aurlie Mallet and Yaegan Doran, on developing and carrying out a PDA (both broad and narrow) analysis of the Australian tobacco campaign. We plan to use this PDA to design and lobby for a Sugar Campaign, which will be aimed at reducing the use of sugar in our diets.

Projects that can work as good examples exist everywhere. If a community is peaceful and prosperous, we can look at how it manages to achieve that harmony. And, by reflecting on multiple case studies across a range of contexts, we can start experimenting with and designing projects for our own communities.

Departments / Subultern Linguistics by Ahmar Mahboob
« on: February 24, 2020, 05:24:17 PM »
What is subaltern linguistics?

 By Ahmar Mahboob,  Ph.D, University of Sydney, Australia. Last updated Jan 21, 2019

Subaltern linguistics is a linguistics carried out by and for a community’s self-empowerment, well-being, and prosperity. Subaltern linguistics can be carried out by anyone. And, it can be done in any language – it does not need to use or rely on English or on technical jargon. The goal of subaltern linguistics is to create economies, practices, projects, and resources that can be made and used by community members and leaders to develop and promote community beneficial socio-semiotic processes in their own language (or a language of their choice). Socio-semiotics can be broadly understood as ways in which various meaning-making resources (including, but not limited to, images, texts, colours, symbols, gestures, movement, sounds, smells, tastes, touch) relate to the lives of people.
Subaltern linguistics can be – and is often – carried out by people who do not have a training in modern linguistics.

To read my critique of modern linguistics, please visit:

There is no one way of doing subaltern linguistics.

Work in subaltern linguistics can be characterised by

1) its goals: community empowerment, well-being, and prosperity;

2) its use of five material senses: visual, oral, smell, touch, and taste [note: these five senses are presented in a particular hierarchy; I will discuss this hierarchy and its significance in a later essay]; and,

 3) its recognition of the relationship between socio-semiotic and material systems.

Our worlds can be broadly classified into two systems: material systems and socio-semiotic systems.

Material systems include physical and biological systems. Physical systems are the primary building blocks of our existence. A study of these (e.g. through physics or chemistry), and the use of these studies (e.g. through engineering) helps us to manipulate the physical world to suit our needs. Biological systems give us life. A study of these (e.g. through plant and animal sciences), and the use of these studies (e.g. through medicine) helps us to fight off diseases and live a longer and healthier life.

Physical and biological systems are not independent of each other. All biological organisms are made of physical matter; however, not all physical matter is biological (e.g. stones and rocks and water and air). Biological organisms can impact physical objects; and physical environment can impact the evolution of biological organisms. We can also use studies of the physical world and apply them to biological creatures, e.g., by using x-rays and nuclear medicine. And, we can use a study of biological creatures in working with physical objects, e.g., designing helicopters based on studying dragonflies.

However, there can be little development or application of the physical or biological sciences without our ability to form socio-semiotic systems. Socio-semiotic systems include sociological systems and semiotic systems. Sociological systems are ways in which a group organises itself. All sociological systems are biological, but not all biological systems (e.g., trees) are sociological. Semiotic systems are meaning-making systems; and all sociological systems have some form of meaning-making processes (this includes but is not limited to language). It is the socio-semiotic systems that give us our understandings of the world, including our belief systems, economic systems, ways of thinking, ways of being, and ways of doing. Socio-semiotic systems can help explain and predict the relationship that an individual or a community has with other social systems, biological organisms, and the physical world. Language plays a small, but crucial, role in creating and enabling our socio-semiotic systems.

Language is created, changed, and used by people. People use language as one way of understanding and sharing the world around us: both material world and socio-semiotic world. Language responds to and changes as people change or the things that they do with language change. Language, like the people who create language, changes all the time. To understand language, we need to understand people: what people do with language. Thus, people are at the centre of our understanding of subaltern linguistics. Not language. Language is one meaning-making resource amongst many; and people use this resource for their benefit – or, for their harm.

Indigenous communities throughout the world developed respectful relationships with the material world and lived in harmony with it. This was reflected in their socio-semiotic processes. For example, Indigenous people of Australia believed that earth (and rivers and mountains) are living things and deserve respect. Their languages gave human-like characteristics to animals and birds. This reflects an understanding that other living thing also have meaning-making systems and navigate their lives and the world through them. Their social, cultural and linguistic practices reflected these beliefs. And, these beliefs led them to develop a respectful relationship with their environment – and all objects and beings that were part of that environment. Readers familiar with Indigenous languages from other parts of the world will be able to quickly add to these examples: of how Indigenous languages embedded a respect for material, biological, and other socio-semiotic systems. However, these practices and ways of being were disrupted by colonisation – and have led to many of the problems that we experience in the world today.
Colonizing communities (a.k.a. exploiting communities) speak and promote language, culture and social practices that do not share this respect of the physical or biological systems. Colonizing powers belief in the superiority of humans over other creatures; and of the superiority of some human belief systems and practices over others. They believe that their own ways of doing things are “developed” because they control other parts of the world; and that others need to follow their lead to become “developed”. As a consequence of this, they create policies and practices (including education and academic disciplines) whereby other people and communities give up their own ways of being and doing to become “developed”. This leads to a devastation of Indigenous communities and local ways of being and doing.
Once on decline, “experts” from exploiting communities (and those trained in the approaches developed by the exploiting communities) go into the exploited communities to “document” the ways of these societies. This include “experts” from across social sciences, education, and humanities, including linguists.  And, while the linguists (and others) document languages (and other practices), the communities that speak these languages (and practice different beliefs) continue to suffer and gradually disappear. (To follow up on the link between colonisation and linguistics, visit:

Subaltern linguistics recognises these inherent discriminatory and subjugating practices carried out and encouraged by academics and experts from (or trained in) exploitative linguistics and other social sciences (including education).
The goal of subaltern linguistics is not to document languages or write grammars. It sees these practices as subjugating practices – practices that further weaken and marginalise communities and languages.

A deemphasis on language documentation and writing grammars in subaltern linguistics is based both on theoretical and practical concerns. In terms of theory, subaltern linguistics recognises the impossibility of writing a comprehensive grammar of any language. This is because language is a dynamic system that changes and varies all the time; one cannot capture all the language changes and variations in a single grammar of language. The most that one can hope for is to document language use in one context, by one person (or group of people), at one time. The writing and use of grammars contribute to discriminatory practices: since one set of language features is considered “standard” and others are seen as deviancies (and deficiencies).

There are at least three inter-related practical reasons for subaltern linguistics not to focus on writing linguistic descriptions or grammars. First, if the goals of subaltern linguistics and “modern linguistics” are at odds, then how can it follow the methods used by “modern linguists”? Second, if subaltern linguistics focuses on people and communities, and considers language to be a minor, albeit crucial, resource for meaning-making, then how can it focus on just language? And, third, if subaltern linguistics can be carried out by anyone in any language, then how can it be tied down with heavy theoretical and terminological knowledge that is only accessible to people who are trained in “modern linguistics”?

Having said this, subaltern linguists can do some documentation. However, this is limited in scope and is only done in order to achieve the goals of a specific project (which are about empowerment of people and communities). Subaltern linguistics documents and analyses the use of language (along with other meaning-making systems) in as far as it helps them to create economies, practices, projects, and resources that benefit their communities.

I will now give three examples of subaltern linguistics. Notice that these come from very different contexts and “modern linguistics” has little contribution to any of these.

Example 1: Sequoyah was a Cherokee (an Indigenous tribe in north America) who realised that the colonizers used writing to communicate. Cherokee, at that point was an oral language. Sequoyah set out – with no training in linguistics – to develop a writing system for his language. He first experimented with a phonemic system, but realised that it did not suit his language – and would be too difficult to teach and learn. He therefore invented a set of characters that were syllabic, not phonetic. Once he had completed his script and published it, the Cherokee script spread quickly through his community and people who had no literacy developed literacy in their language very quickly. Sequoyah’s script, which is a socio-semiotic resource, is still used today and is one reason why the Cherokee people and language have survived the onslaughts of colonization and genocide.

 Cherokee_syllabary–photo Wikimeida Commons
Sequoyah can be considered a champion of subaltern linguistics. He saw a need in his community and addressed it by creating a new writing system – a writing system that is arguable much better than the phonemic scripts used and promoted by “modern linguistics”.

Example 2: National Road and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) is an organisation that offers roadside assistance to motorists in Australia. Recently, NRMA started a “drive nice” campaign and placed large advertisements on highways that read “Drive nice…” and then a message in a child’s writing along with drawings. An example of one such advertisement is given below:
 National Road and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) advertisement –photo provided by the author
This text uses not just language, but Tom’s handwriting and drawing to create an impact. Tom, as the advertisement states, was 6-year-old when he composed this text. This – and other advertisements in this campaign – are powerful because they draws on socio-semiotics and our understanding of how using a child’s handwriting and drawing can influence adults. This is an example of subaltern linguistics as it draws on an understanding of socio-semiotics to influence practices that can save peoples’ lives.
A subaltern linguistic, if they so choose, can review this (and other successful campaigns from around the world) and create their own resources – with an understanding of their own people and communities – to influence unsafe driving (or other) practices that are harmful to the community. A subaltern linguist will analyse these texts only to understand how they work; their goal is not to document or describe language use, but to create their own resources (for their own goals, in their own languages, and in ways that work for their communities). The resources created, which are socio-semiotic in nature, will impact the material systems: e.g., these resources may decrease the number of accidents in the area and thus improve the physical and biological environment in which people live.

Example 3: Elders and children from the Kristang community in Melaka, Malaysia, in collaboration with FLC Group, organised a Language Travels in late 2018. The goal of this Language Travels was to enhance the prestige of Kristang by creating economic opportunities that use and strengthen the community language (see Language Travels in Melaka was coordinated by the community elders, who supervised their youth to take on the role of language teachers. This project provided an income to the community, including to the children, and gave them pride in their own language.

In this subaltern linguistics project, the community developed and ran a successful project that brought an income to the community through the use of their language. The community elders and youth worked together to study their own language and developed material and methods to teach their language to Language Travelers. As a result of this first Language Travels, the Kristang community is now setting up additional programs and running them independent of FLC. This example shows how communities can create economic opportunities for themselves by using and empowering their own languages. They use socio-semiotic resources to bring material and other benefits to the people of their community.

To summarise, subaltern linguistics is a linguistics of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is inclusive and does not discriminate between people based on their language, training, education, age, gender, sexual orientation, social class, or other demographic features. Anyone who uses language (or a study of language) to empower their communities is a subaltern linguist. This can be a child, or a grandmother, or the two together. The goal of subaltern linguistics is community enhancement – done by and in terms of the members of the community. We can all participate in subaltern linguistics – to create more prosperous and harmonized societies.

Departments / Re: Short Poems by Shamsi
« on: February 24, 2020, 05:16:48 PM »
Thanks for your feedback. I feel encouraged.

Best Regards,


Departments / Re: Short Poems by Shamsi
« on: February 19, 2020, 10:28:03 AM »
Moments Confused
Shamsi Ara Huda

Children of the nearest school are shouting,

Cars on the opposite street are peeping,

The fan above my bed is rolling,

Pages of the half-read book are flapping,

The heart beneath my chest is beating

Louder than ever before…

My head is spinning.

I am having a feeling of unbearable suffocation

Surrounded with infinite

‘If’s, ‘but’s and ‘moreover’s.

Departments / Re: Short Poems by Shamsi
« on: February 19, 2020, 10:19:27 AM »
Short Poems by Shamsi Ara Huda (I)

Redolent with the aroma of semai, payesh and jarda

Groom’s people are coming
For asking the eldest daughter’s hand
Mother commands the younger and the more beautiful ones to be invisible

Home sweet home
Will never be alike
Siblings scattered to fulfill the needs of life

Horns of cars
Outsmarting birds’ chirping
Dhaka 7 a.m.

Signal red for an hour
People choked in bus
VIP going

People in different attires
Moving here and there
Each with a different story

Drops of diamonds
From the sky
Relishing body and mind

Departments / Short Poems by Shamsi
« on: February 19, 2020, 10:15:30 AM »
A Storied Evening
By Shamsi Ara Huda

Lamp shades placed in corners of a newly bought flat,

Green pot plants in the finest porcelain,

Soothing instrumental music infused with imported incense,

Flowery candles floating in wood inlaid bowls,

Sky-blue curtains swaying in the wind,

Cozy cushions waiting here and there,

Fusion food ready on an elegant embroidered runner,

A storied evening ahead.

Departments / Re: Tagore's Views on Education
« on: February 19, 2020, 10:11:29 AM »
Thanks for sharing such an informative post.



This is so inspiring, "  Her foresight, tolerance and broad-mindedness can still guide women who want to pursue their dreams against all sorts of intolerance and religious bigotry."

Thanks for sharing.


Departments / Re: Ten Fascinating Facts About Gabriel García Márquez
« on: February 19, 2020, 10:03:49 AM »
I did not know before many of the information. Thanks for sharing.



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