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Francis Cody


Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms: Cultivating Regimes of Circulation in Tamil Indias Newspaper Revolution


Two of Tamil Indias most popular newspapers both claim to be using spoken as opposed to written varieties of Tamil, despite appealing to different class and gender sensibilities. Developing a method that can take into account the relations among (1) explicit metadiscourses on journalistic language, (2) variegated reading practices, and (3) the formal qualities of newspapers as text artifacts, I argue that what is at stake in the difference between the two papers in my comparison is in fact a difference in regimes of circulationcultivated habits of animating artifactually mediated texts, enabling the movement of discourse along predictable social trajectories. Claims to using the language of speech in the press refer to two very different phenomena: a Tamil written to be spoken aloud at the point of reading in one paper, and a spoken Tamil made to be read silently in the other.[media, publics, reading, textuality, circulation, India]

uring my eldwork investigations of pedagogy in an adult literacy movement in rural Tamilnadu, I often asked older villagers who could read and write about their own childhood education. Velan, a dalit (formerly untouchable) man of very modest means in his late sixties, was among my most talkative and informative interlocutors during these exercises. He would often remark to me that, even though he had gone through two years of village schooling, learning to recite the Tamil alphasyllabary when he was a child, My real teacher, I must say, was Dinathanthi (The Daily Wire).1 The teacher Velan was referring to is a newspaper, which in 2000 could be counted as the most widely read newspaper in all of India.2 This is a signicant achievement given the fact that only 6.3 percent of Indians speak Tamil. Dinathanthi has been one of the leaders of what the historian Robin Jeffrey (2000) has called Indias Newspaper Revolution, a fourfold increase in the number of daily newspapers per thousand people between 1976 and 1996. The dramatic growth of daily newspaper readership across India has continued in the years since Jeffreys important study, with rapidly growing rural literacy rates, and despite the similarly rapid penetration of cable television.3 This essay seeks to understand what this print revolution looks like in Tamilnadu from the theoretical perspective of circulation, and secondarily, to explain how it is that a newspaper like Dinathanthi can be thought of as a teacher for generations of Tamil readers like Velan. In order to tell the story of how different newspapers circulate and educate in distinct ways, I draw a comparison between the typical social trajectory of Dinathanthi and that of its primary competitor in the early to mid-2000s, Dinamalar (The Daily Blossom). The vernacular daily print media market has not only
Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, Vol. 19, Issue 2, pp. 286309, ISSN 1055-1360, EISSN 1548-1395. 2009 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1395.2009.01035.x.


Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms


grown tremendously, it has also diversied along social lines, with Dinathanthi placed as a more working-class newspaper read in the masculine spheres of the teashop and the street, compared to Dinamalars claims to being a family paper, read at home, in private among both men and women of the expanding Tamil-speaking middle class.4 As I demonstrate below, these two papers are deeply entangled in the very production of emergent classed and gendered spatial regimes under conditions of rapid economic growth. What both newspapers have in common is a metalinguistic claim to be using ccuttamil ) in contrast to many other forms writing that adhere to spoken Tamil (pe a stricter diglossic ideology. In a language that is usually divided by common speakers and by literary scholars alike into the high, usually written, variety of centamil (rened or cultivated Tamil), and the low speech of koccaittamil (vulgar Tamil), newspapers appear to have broken the rules, bringing colloquial lexical items, and occasionally, morphological and phonological forms associated with masculine, vulgar speech into print.5 Journalists and editors from both papers go further to explain their commercial success to be a result of this strategy, by reaching out to people who would not have read much in the past due to the difculty of written Tamil. Many readers in Tamilnadu would agree that popular newspapers are written in a spoken style. These two papers, however, clearly appeal to, and actively cultivate, different audiences and aesthetic sensibilities by using different linguistic and graphic means. Using a method that can take into account the relations among (1) explicit metadiscourses on journalistic language, (2) variegated reading practices, and (3) the formal qualities of newspapers as text artifacts, I argue that what is at stake in the difference between the two papers in my comparison is primarily a difference in regimes of circulation. These regimes of circulationcultivated habits of animating actifactually mediated texts, enabling the movement of discourse along predictable social trajectoriesare, in fact, premised on rather different understandings and uses of what people refer to as spoken Tamil in written form.6 More precisely, the two papers in my comparison rely on different ways of speaking in relation to news and newspaper language: one paper uses a spoken Tamil written to be spoken aloud at the point of reading, and the other uses a form of spoken Tamil that is made to be read silently. The metalinguistic claims made by producers and consumers of both papers therefore sit in an uneasy relationship with the material text artifacts in question; and part of the burden of my analysis of these artifacts is to show that there are, in fact, different varieties of spoken Tamil being used to different circulatory effects in these respective papers. This essay must therefore attend to the very interaction that unfolds between the material newspaper itself and those who would form a newspapers reading public. The data and analysis highlight an important aspect of circulation by focusing on how ethnographically locatable acts of consumption relate to the language ideologies of producers as evidenced in metalinguistic discourse, and as made concrete in the material form of the artifact itself.7 As such, this essay complements recent efforts in the emergent anthropology of news to understand the politics of circulation and mass mediation from the perspective of journalists (e.g., Boyer 2005; Hannerz 2004; Hasty 2005; Pedelty 1995; Peterson 2001; Sthlberg 2006). My investigation into specic modes of circulation, as captured in an ethnography of reading, also, just as importantly, serves as a means of elucidating how linguistic style in printed mass media is enmeshed in the production of class and gender differences among differentiated reading publics. However, this essay focuses more on different modes of sociality and consumption that can be mapped onto segments of a sociolinguistic continuum than it does on clear-cut linguistic differences. Without claiming to trace a simple line of cause and effect, I argue that variegated reading habits have been cultivated over time, and that the daily press has played a signicant role in shaping the practical logic and textual regimentation of Tamilnadus class and gender habitus system.


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Markets, Circulation, Materiality An examination of newspapers has the advantage of dealing with a veritable linguistic marketplace, in which words are commodities meant to be sold (cf. Anderson 1991; Bourdieu 1991; Irvine 1989). Yet there is a potentially deceptive sense in which the very materiality of the newspaper can lend itself to political economic approaches to language that would look at circulation gures in simple terms of market penetration, while ignoring the specicities of reading habits, linguistic usage, and the ways in which texts can have social lives that escape their material forms of inscription. Circulation in the press is, of course, a term of trade, indicating market shares, focusing on the artifact itself and its distribution or dissemination. However, the numbers commonly cited regarding this type of circulation require some sociological grounding by means of a more rened theory of circulation in the political economy of language. Such a theoretical framework must begin with an analytical separation, now familiar in linguistic anthropology, between the social trajectories of text artifacts and an ethnographic understanding of circulation as the effect of particular acts of entextualization, that is, the decontextualization and subsequent recontextualization of discursive units, establishing textuality (Bauman & Briggs 1990; Silverstein & Urban 1996). In the latter process, units of discourse appear to move through social space time (Munn 1986), riding on establishment of intertextual links to prior instances of the same thing (Culler 1981; Silverstein 2005).8 Perhaps the best model available to understand the circulation of mass-mediated texts from an ethnographic perspective is that developed by Debra Spitulnik in her studies of radio in Zambia (Spitulnik 1996, 1998, 2002). In a now-classic paper, Spitulnik (1996) tracks instances of recycled radio language in everyday speech in order to understand intertextual circulation effects as the social grounds for imagining ones relationship to communities that would theoretically extend beyond face-to-face interaction. Media works, in part, through such animations to produce modern publics, in the sense Michael Warner (2002) has offered: a recognition of identity in relation to texts, and a certain reexivity regarding texts capacity to address particular types of people, placing relative strangers on a minimally shared footing. In this essay I pursue a method inspired by Spitulniks approach to argue for a more nuanced understanding of variation in how publics orient themselves to text, under conditions of capitalist modernity where bourgeois stranger sociality is perhaps less hegemonic than it appears to be in Warners account. Having distinguished between material text artifacts and textuality as a circulation effect, researchers are now in a better position to understand the varieties of relationship that might exist between analytically separable facts. Text artifacts and habits of text production are in fact intertwined insofar as certain semiotic forms seem to lend themselves to particular regimes of entextualization, and hence, to particular forms of circulation and publicness. As we will see in the analysis that follows, only some types of newspaper headlines, for example, have a certain made-for detachability that allows for their entry as reactivated intertexts into the circulatory eld of talk. Drawing on earlier ethnographic investigations of the semiotics of material culture in circulation (e.g., Munn 1986), media studies in anthropology are increasingly arguing that the distinctive qualities of material artifacts do matter in their reception, as does the more systemic question of material infrastructure (Larkin 2008; Spitulnik 2002). In recent studies of written language, for example, Matthew Hull (2003) and Shunsuke Nozawa (2007) have tried to come to terms with the ways in which inscriptional genres anticipate particular reading practices. Some of these theoretical developments draw on work in the history and ethnography of reading (e.g., Boyarin 1993; Chartier 1992; Darnton 1982; Hoggart 1957; Radway 1984), and I will be building on the insights of the historian A.R. Venkatachalapathy (1994, 2002, 2004) in particular. He is the rst scholar to examine carefully the relation between modes of reading and the very form of what is being read in Tamil, from palm-leaf manuscripts, to novels, chapbooks, and newspapers.9

Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms


The interrelated problems of material form, infrastructurally conditioned practices of reception, and the mediating function of genres have all come to the fore with particular sharpness in critical analyses of modernist ideologies of transparency (Bauman & Briggs 2003; Hall 1980; Kunreuther 2006; Mazzarella 2006). Of particular relevance to my discussion here is Miyako Inoues (2006) analysis of the role of Japans write as you speak (gembunitchi) movement in producing newly objectied forms of womens language. Much like one of the newspapers I discuss in this essay, it was a modernist desire to make writing closer to speech, in the name of a certain transparency and delity to the sound of language, that appears to have led to the marked representation of particular varieties of spoken language in written form, such that they could be displayed, cited, and enjoyed vicariously by readers. In this essay, I argue that the two newspapers in my comparison, Dinathanthi and Dinamalar, have asked and solved to the question of how to bridge the gap between speech and writing in very different ways. The material differences between these papers are partly of linguistic and sociolinguistic signicance, in the sense of drawing on differing sound patterns that index particular social types and settings, and partly a product graphic styles that rest on different assumptions about how a newspaper is read. In the processes of material and textual circulation, enabled by formal differences in the artifacts themselves, these papers have cultivated reading publics that differ from each other, primarily along class and gender lines. It is to the material and cultural conditions in which these variegated reading practices and discourses on language take place that I now turn, before moving on to an analysis of the artifactual form. Reading Dinathanthi at the Teashop When I was doing eldwork in rural Pudukkottai from 2003 to 2005, Velan, whom we met briey, was still reading the Dinathanthi newspaper every day at the teashop in a village just one kilometer down the road from his own small hamlet. His dalit hamlet had no shops of its own. It was reading the paper at the teashop in the neighboring government housing project for the rural poor that Velan felt he could stay connected to the world at large in his old age. He would begin his morning by walking to the local temple, making a small daily offering to the goddess Nadiyambal, then he would light up one of his homemade cigars and sit at the shop bench, drinking one small glass of tea while thumbing through the paper, reading aloud, usually to himself. Reading the newspaper is a morning ritual of sorts for Velan, as it is for newspaper readers around the world. What distinguishes this variety of reading from certain stereotyped depictions and assumptions that dominate in a number of academic accounts, however, is that the Dinathanthi paper was meant to be read in groups, often aloud, and discussed in a public space of sorts, like a teashop or perhaps a barbershop. As Bernard Bate (2002:324n5) has already noted regarding this sort of Tamil newspaper reading, it departs signicantly from Benedict Andersons inuential depiction of newspaper reading as a mass-ceremony performed at home, in silent privacy, in the lair of the skull (Anderson 1991:35). Habermass (1989) mythical coffee shop of rational-critical debate among strangers provides another tempting, though equally misleading, model for understanding the politics of debate and reading in the teashops of Tamilnadu. The public that gathers around the newspaper to discuss politics is not mainly bound by the sort of stranger sociality that Anderson, Habermas, and Warner take to be constitutive of modern publics. Everybody already knows everybody else in the region around the village teashop. The social identities of speakers matter tremendously in the animation and discursive elaboration of news stories in oral form at the Tamil teashop. Teashops are especially masculine spaces, for example. If women workers stop for a cup of tea or a snack on the way to the elds, they are likely to sit off to the side and not take the lead in any discussion of the contents of the newspaper. There is furthermore a


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history of caste domination that continues to weigh on seating arrangements at the teashop I studied, such that older dalits will tend to sit on the peripheral benches or stand. Newspaper reading at the teashop, however, does provide an important node of sociality for Velan and his fellow villagers. Reading at the teashop provides a major point of intercaste, as well as intervillage discussion and argument. Furthermore, the newspaper does act regularly as a sort of spark, motivating discussions of general concern, a point I will return to shortly. The Dinathanthi newspaper arrives, most days, in the village by bus at around 8:30 in the morning, when most people have already been up for two or three hours and are on their way to work, either in the elds or in town. As soon as it arrives, the twenty-two page broadsheet is immediately taken apart and distributed so that every man interested and able can read a page. Dinathanthis layout appears as if it was, in fact, designed for ease of reading after the paper has been dismantled in this fashion. If the paper should not arrive, as happens at least once a week, the disappointed crowd at the teashop quickly disperses and much less tea is sold that day. A smaller crowd will gather at the teashop again, on days when the newspaper arrived, at about ve in the evening, by which point the paper will be completely dismantled into separate sheets that have been left lying around on the shop benches or among the vegetables. Someone might have already clipped out the small history section or taken the special supplement for children or for women home to share with their family. It is only if the paper has been taken home by someone that women are likely to read it. Over the course of a day, it is common for a single copy of Dinathanthi to pass through up to one hundred pairs of hands at this teashop, and it then moves through neighboring villages. It is only a few days later that the paper will be brought back to the teashop and recycled for use as a wrapping for fried snacks or as a container for small parcels of grain or lentils. Dinathanthi was designed precisely for use in such places, where literacy is unevenly distributed. This is what Venkatachalapathy has characterized with reference to Dinathanthi as a popular mode of reading . . . usually in groups, unfettered by the lack of literacy (1994: 290). The paper is known by all as the working-class newspaper of Tamilnadu and as the rst paper in India to develop a broad readership well beyond the literate urban middle classes. It is commonly referred to, sometimes derisively, as the rickshaw drivers newspaper. Those in the teashop who cannot read will sit next to a friend who can and listen as he reads out the headlines. Typically, someone will read out a headline, and this will lead to a discussion of the topic raised by the news story, without necessarily referring back to the story itself or to the details of how it was reported.10 The paper presumes a face-to-face mode of transmission at the point of reception. It has been written and designed in a style that would facilitate this specic mode of discursive elaboration. During my time at the teashop near Velans village, for example, I have seen a headline on political rivalries and fracturing among the Dravidian nationalist parties spark a conversation about the problems with Indias parliamentary system inherited from the British, and even provoke comparison with forms of representative democracy in the US or elsewhere. A headline from the local section about lovers who had committed suicide because their parents would not give their consent to marriage, on the other hand, provoked a discussion of intercaste relations in the region and similar failed attempts at love marriage in neighboring villages. The news event reported in the paper thus has a social life that lives well beyond the act reading. While this is case in a number of contexts, what is distinctive about the style in which Dinathanthi is read, is the degree to which this paper acts as a spark for conversation without prompting explicit reference back to the paper itself. It is rare for people to comment how the story was reported, for example, and many of the people discussing the topic at hand may not have even read its representation in written form, as they are often responding as ratied overhearers or as direct addressees to the spoken discourse of someone else who is reading the paper.11 To read the newspaper is to talk about the news (see Figure 1).

Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms


Figure 1 Talking about news with friends over Dinathanthi at the teashop near Velans village

The English educated lawyer, S.P. Adithan, started Thanthi (The Wire), as it was then called, in 1942, with exactly the scenes I have been describing in mind.12 He had just moved to Tamilnadu after working in Singapore for eight years, following the Japanese invasion. In a departure from common practice in the Tamil-language press, Adithan decided to start his major daily paper in the provincial, but more centrally located city of Madurai, only later establishing an ofce in the metropolitan capital of Madras. While the daily papers of Madras would only arrive in the other Tamilspeaking regions a day or two later, Thanthi was to be made available to readers in the Tamil heartland on the very day it was published, reaching a public that was used to reading news several days after it happened, especially under the conditions of scarcity imposed by the war. From the very founding of his newspaper, Adithan was also concerned that most papers used varieties of written Tamil that were unavailable to the common reader, who might have had a very limited formal education, able to decipher script, but not trained in the special lexicon and grammar of higher varieties of written Tamil. Literacy rates in south India had been rising at a steady pace with the beginnings of mass education in the early 20th century, and Adithan saw tremendous potential for cultivating a new market if he could deliver a daily newspaper to this marginally literate public, and their friends and kin. In a speech he gave on The Wires inauguration in 1942, Adithan explained his strategy in relation to the existing textual habitus and division of reading labor that predominated in much of rural Tamilnadu:
Even today you can see this in the villages: parents might not be literate, [but] they listen to their literate children read out stories from the Mahabharatam and the Ramayanam. In the days to come they will also start listening to newspapers being read aloud.

In the words of Venkatachalapathy, Adithans prophetic forecast was right on target (1994: 290). Dinathanthi was thus providing a new base for common knowledge and ethical discussion among the urban working classes and in villages, sitting side-byside with the great epics, animated through reading aloud.13 From the beginning, the paper was designed with a pedagogical purpose in mind. Velans attributing his education to Dinathanthi, however, is not only a comment on the role of the newspaper in shaping the contents of discussion. He was probably referring just as much to the forms of language found in this paper, a form of Tamil that many consider to be much more accessible than other written varieties. Indeed, most people consider Dinathanthis language as a written form of spoken Tamil


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ccuttamil ). At the height of Dravidian nationalist efforts to purify Tamil, and rid it (pe of its Sanskritic lexicon in a resuscitation of ancient grammatical models for written Tamil, Dinathanthi was involved in the different project of developing a new (modernist) written standard which would be accessible, and appealing to potential working-class readers and listeners.14 Dinathanthis simplication of written language did include the purging of lexicon bearing obvious marks of Sanskritic or even Persian origin. Adithans appeal in such replacements, however, was to the language spoken by the majority of the common people ( pamaramakkal ) rather than to the classical Tamil texts or to the speech of the learned. As a result of this policy, the Dinathanthi newspaper was often attacked by Tamil scholars as a menace to the language because it was thought to out the rules of prescribed grammar (Sami 1990:113). Responding to a series of public attacks on his use of language, in 1971 Adithan wrote a Journalists Handbook explaining the logic behind his choices. The book begins with what he calls, The Golden Rule (pon viti) of journalistic writing: Living Tamil is in spoken usage. One must remove its vulgarity (koccai) and write in that style (1971:9). This rst, golden rule is followed by two more rules of language in general explaining, Dont write in a difcult style, and It is not enough to write in understandable Tamil, writing must be in the Tamil people speak. While the handbook never goes on to dene exactly what vulgarity in spoken Tamil is, apart from demanding that reporters avoid what he took to be sexually explicit language, it does go on to provide a long list of spelling guidelines and lexical substitutions roughly consistent with the broader project of Dravidianization. Throughout the Journalists Handbook, Adithans primary reference point and justication is the language that is spoken by common people. Dinathanthi presents itself a voice from nowhere, devoid of opinion, presenting the news as it is, in simple language, much like the telegraph wire it is named after. Having tapped into extant habits of reading aloud, and using these to deliver and circulate information about the world in the form of news stories, Adithan was also attempting to reorder dominant ideologies of written language with a new focus on understandability and on the imagined commonness of spoken language. His Tamil was in fact a form of written language that was meant to be read aloud, so as to enable the specic mode of circulation he was imagining, like the recitation of the great Indian epics. For example, he dened what a headline should be in the following fashion: A headline should convey what one person would rst tell another person regarding a news item (Adithan 1971:101, emphasis added). Adithans emphasis on what he considered to be spoken style being used in the paper revolutionized the language of the press in Tamil, and what is sometimes called the new journalism of Dinathanthi was part of a larger, pan-Indian phenomenon of molding written language to suit the reading and speaking practices of working-class readers with limited education.15 The arguments put forth by Adithan in his Journalists Handbook were also echoed by a number of Dinathanthi reporters I interviewed in contemporary Tamilnadu. When asked to characterize the language used in his newspaper, for example, the head regional reporter for Dinathanthi in Pudukkottai in 2004 told me,
Dinathanthi is read by all people, middle class and [after a little hesitation] lower class. If you ask why this is the case, it is because of readability [using the English word]. This is why Thanthi [referring to Dinathanthi] was the most read paper in all of India, even with all the Hindi and English papers it was the most read.

While perhaps reticent to assume Dinathanthis working-class public image, he nevertheless celebrated its success in terms of linguistic accessibility. He went on to contrast lexical items from the standardized written Tamil students would learn at school with language used in the newspaper, going through a whole list of words. Seeing that he was potentially playing into arguments made by many intellectuals that Dinathanthi uses a degraded and lower-class variety of Tamil, this reporter

Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms


paused again for a second. He continued, But we do not use vulgar language in headlines like Dinamalar! Here, he was referring to the second paper in my comparison, and Dinathanthis main competition at the time, The Daily Blossom, a paper which also prides itself on using spoken Tamil. An Alternative Trajectory for Dinamalar Dinamalar is a paper that has developed its public image, in contradistinction to Dinathanthi, as the paper of the growing Tamil speaking, urban middle class. As one of Dinamalars reporters told me quite candidly, Thanthi only goes for low people, we go for lower, middle, and upper classes. Youll nd Dinamalar in the hands of decent people. Its a family paper. By the late 1990s it could cite Audit Bureau of Circulation gures to claim a wider reach than its main competitor among upper-income groups in urban centers outside of Chennai (Jeffrey 2000:213). The fact that their readers are much more likely to own a television and a car than readers of Dinathanthi is something that they continue to advertise, as is the fact that they reach more women than other papers. Dinamalar has successfully carved out a market and brand image that might be said to lie somewhere between Dinathanthis working-class image and the more literary Dinamani, a paper that is considered to be inuential among intellectuals but which enjoys very limited total circulation. Dinamalar was started in 1951 by T.V. Ramasubbaiyar (popularly known as TVR) in the city of Tiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), in what is now Kerala. Malayalam was the dominant language of the state, but TVRs family owned salt manufacturing operations in nearby Nagercoil, a Tamil-speaking region then under the jurisdiction of Travancore-Cochin and now part of Tamilnadu (Jeffrey 2000:113).16 Dinamalar is oftentimes considered to be a Brahmin paperand this too can be a derisive term in Tamil Indiapartially in reference to its founders caste status. As indicated in his very name, T.V. Ramasubbaiyar was from the Saivite Iyar Brahmin community, and the Tamil he would use in his editorials contained many Sanskrit words that had either never been used in non-Brahmin Tamil, or that had been purged as a result of the Dravidian nationalist movement. However, the characterization I have often heard of Dinamalar as a Brahmin paper is not only result of the founders caste status. Such comments were often made to me because people perceived the paper to have sympathies for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).17 TVR himself, though conservative and Brahminical in his cultural habitus, was not inclined toward religious nationalist politics. The Dinamalar reader I came to know best during my time living in India was Kumar, a man in his early twenties who had just nished his degree at the Madurai Law College. Like Velan, Kumar is also a dalit. But unlike Velan, his family had risen from rural poverty as a result of his fathers work as an army ofcer. Kumars family might be characterized as upwardly mobile and middle class insofar as they lived in a house that they owned in a suburb of the city of Madurai with fairly high land values. The house where Kumar lived with his mother, younger sister, and his wife had a color television set, with cable, and a stereo system. He and his family would get their news from a number of sources, including cable television, and radio, but they also read the paper silently at home every morning over coffee. While atypical insofar they came from a caste background that is not well represented in middleclass occupations, Kumars family was in many other respects representative of an emergent middle class that is still closely connected through kinship to the world of villages. It was his father who had succeeded in leaving his village through government employment, but it was Kumar who would use the opportunities afforded by this class advancement to enter the booming private sector, potentially earning much more than his father had. Once I asked Kumar about why he read Dinamalar as opposed to any of the other dailies. He responded that it was father, who had since passed away, who used to read it and that he had simply continued to subscribe to it. Kumar explained:


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Ill read Malar [referring to Dinamalar] at home ( v ttukkulle , literally inside the house), then when Im out Ill look at Thanthi or Dinamani or whatever is around. Dinamani has nice essays, but Dinamalar has nice books [supplemental magazines] and better news.

There are a few points worth noting in what seems like an unremarkable response to an ethnographers leading question.18 First, Dinamalar is characterized as the paper of the home whereas the other dailies are more likely to be encountered outside, on the street. Kumar was drawing on a distinction between inside ( ulle ) and outside ( veliye ) that has received much attention in recent ethnography and social thought on India (Chakrabarty 1991; Chatterjee 1993; Dickey 2000; Kaviraj 1997; Mines 2005; Seizer 2005). Both Dipesh Chakrabarty (1991) and Sudipta Kaviraj (1997) argue that this distinction is easily mistaken for a simple distinction between private and public, when in fact it has come to be understood through these categories of propriety only as a result of colonial modernity, and specically through strategies of emulation pursued by middle class Indians. These authors argue that, in a range of South Asian contexts, outside is not necessarily a space that is to be respected as common to all, as opposed to the privacy of ones home and property, as in the more British sense of public, but rather a space of relative disorder like the bazaar or the street. Inside, on the other hand, refers to a space like a home or a shrine that has been rendered auspicious or secure, but not at all private in the sense of belonging to an individual or characteristic of some sense of personal interiority. What has happened over the last two hundred years, or so, is that the public-private distinction has been mapped onto that of inside-outside, substantially changing the qualities of both contrasts. But these now-overlapping distinctions, Kaviraj notes, weigh more heavily on those aspiring to middle-class sensibilities than among the poor, whose work renders the insideoutside distinction more portable and less tied to property, consumer goods, and a life lived indoors. That is to say, that the inside-outside distinction is less likely to be taken up into the conceptual and practical framework of a private-public distinction among people like Velan or his fellow villagers. In Kumars usage, however, inside the house refers to something very much like a private sphere in the making. This inside-outside distinction is also where the question of class becomes particularly gendered insofar as middle-class women carry the burden of maintaining their class status by inhabiting the now fused inside-outside/public-private distinction in ways that men or working-class women are not expected to. Expanding on Kavirajs observations, I would argue that Kumar is in fact staking claim to a certain form of middle-class domesticity by subscribing to Dinamalar at home, and by making this distinction between what is read outside, and what is brought into the home and read inside, in relative privacy. He is not like Velan and others for whom this distinction is not applicable in the same ways and for whom reading is not a private act. Middleclass habitus, it turns out, is produced in part through the very reading habits that instantiate a normative public-private distinction. Apart from popular conceptions of which paper belongs where, it is also empirically the case that Dinamalar is more likely to be delivered to a home than to a teashop or barbershop, unlike Dinathanthi according to a distributor I came to know in Pudukkottai.19 One of the reasons that Dinamalar has entered the domestic sphere more successfully than other Tamil papers is because of the very books mentioned by Kumar. In the 1980s, it was Dinamalar that pioneered the inclusion of supplemental magazines aimed at women and children with its daily broadsheet. This move was presumably based on the assumption that it is mainly men who would be interested in newspapers for the hard news stories carried in broadsheet format, and that women and children would be more interested in the short stories, educational aids, and stories about cinema actors that are contained in the smaller magazine-style supplements. In trying to distinguish itself from other papers, read primarily in masculinized public spaces on the street, at the teashop, or perhaps in the ofce, Dinamalar has aggressively sought to widen its appeal, by means of differentiated contents, to women whose access to such spaces is limited. Kumars younger sister and his wife Chitra

Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms


were, in fact, avid readers of the Cinema Malar (the papers supplements are all called malar [blossom]) as well as other arts supplements, though Chitra would also read the main broadsheet as well. More recently, in 2008 Dinamalar started including a new supplement, the Computer Malar on Mondays, to appeal to young readers hoping take part in the information technology boom.20 In light of the appeal Dinamalars supplemental materials have for the whole family, it might well not have been Kumars decision to make alone as to which paper gets delivered to the household. It is not only the case that different sections of the newspaper would appeal to different members of the family, the spatiotemporal structure of news consumption in Kumars household was also shaped according gendered and generational roles in the family. Mornings in this house would begin while the sun was still rising, when Chitra and his mother would rst prepare coffee for everyone to drink, and then cook the morning meal of steamed rice cakes while the radio played lm songs in the background. This would be the time when Kumar would go out and pick up the paper sitting in front of the house, and then wake up his little sister, before sitting down on the verandah to read the main broadsheet while sipping coffee. After his morning meal, Kumar would then meet with his (male) friends by the local bus terminus, where they regularly chat about neighborhood and city politics before going off to work. Conversation would often refer to what the Dinamalar had said about struggles over caste-based job reservations for government lawyers, for example, and then move on to compare Dinathanthi or Dinamanis reporting on the same subject, or what they had heard on the Tamil broadcast of Sun TV News at home the previous night.21 Meanwhile, back at home, Chitra would read the broadsheet alone between helping her mother-in-law with chores over the course of the day, having been too busy cooking and preparing for the day to read in the early morning like Kumar. Kumars mother, although able to read, preferred to get her news from the television in the evening. Supplemental magazines such as the Cinema Malar would most likely be read by either Chitra or Kumars younger sister in their respective rooms in the evening, before cooking dinner, or whenever they found some free time over the course of the weekmagazines news value having a longer life than that of the broadsheet. Returning to the main thread of my argument, what is at stake in the difference between Dinathanthi, which we might broadly characterize as a paper of the masculine outside, and Dinamalar, the paper of spatiotemporally disaggregated, silent reading at home, is a difference between regimes of circulation, or the kinds of publics that are produced as a result of habitual orientations to text. Kumar and his family certainly belong to the category of the Dinamalar reading public, and they can relate to other people in part through reference to, or invocation of this paper that they read inside the private home. However, the sense in which they form a reading public is quite different from the sense in which Velan and his fellow villagers appear to form a locatable public around Dinathanthi. The relations between text artifact and face-toface interaction are organized differently in these two contrasting regimes of circulation: one (Dinathanthi) is premised on a face-to-face public at the very point of consumption, the other (Dinamalar) based on the type of sociality that is engendered through animations of the text in contexts far from the point of reading. Not only are these two kinds of publics different from the point of view of an analytic of text-text artifact relations; people who belong to one or the other fall broadly into one of two self-conscious social types, even if there are, of course, a large number of people like Kumar who might belong to both publics as they navigate the insides and outsides of social life. Contrasting Textual and Graphic Styles in Newspaper Language So far this essay has focused primarily on reading practices and explicit discourses on language, but in order to grasp the manner in which text artifacts work in relation to


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processes of entextualization to shape a eld of circulation, we must now turn to the language and graphic layout of the paper itself. The rst thing that strikes any reader with an analytical perspective on the Tamil register system is that, from the perspective of linguistic form, many of the claims made by writers and readers of both papers to using spoken Tamil cannot be sustained so easily. Despite Adithans golden rule regarding the use of spoken language in the paper, in the eyes of a linguist the language of Dinathanthi is, in fact, quite thoroughly written in its lexicon, phonology, morphology, and syntax.22 The language used in this paper uses none of the orthographic devices that the authors of modernist novels have devised to capture spoken phonology and morphology, for example, changing initial u to o, or writing person-number-gender marking sufxes as they would be spoken in verbs. But Dinathanthi Tamil is not literary rened Tamil (centamil ) either and is quite far from it. It represents a new, written, quasi-standard variety, or what the linguist Francis Britto (1986:144) refers to as popular H (high) in contradistinction both to the literary H found in journals aimed at more highly educated audiences, on one hand, to and the L (low) of colloquial speech, on the other hand.23 It is perceived by many to be spoken Tamil because it has simplied some of the rules of written centamil that one would learn in school in the realm of orthography, it has eschewed certain purication tendencies in lexicon, and because of the relative simplicity of its sentence structure. Although Dinamalars reporters also argue that they use spoken language, this papers style of linguistic populism is, in fact, quite distinct from Dinathanthis. Dinamalar will almost always use one-word expressions or small phrases lifted directly from spoken idioms in its headlines, and then switch to written standards, not unlike those of Dinathanthi, though using slightly more Sankritic lexicon, for the main text of a story. Spoken forms of Tamil that borrow from modernist innovations in representing colloquial speech in written form, such as those mentioned above, are used in other parts of the Dinamalar as well. But I will start with a comparison of the two papers headline style, before moving on to an examination of internal differentiation within Dinamalar in the next section. Let us begin with the lead story of the September 3rd 2004 edition of both papers reporting on the politics of the disputed waters of the Kaveri River. This is an important river which has its headwaters in the neighboring Kannada-speaking state of Karnataka and then ows through Tamilnadu to the Bay of Bengal. Because use of river water has been deemed a state issue in which the national government cannot interfere, Tamilnadu and Karnataka work through a jointly established river tribunal to determine how much water each state should be permitted to use for irrigation. The conict between the two states over water rights is perennial, but it does intensify in periods of low rainfall such as the summer of 2004. While Dinathanthi and Dinamalar carry different lead stories often, in this case the issue of Karnatakas attempt to change the make-up of the river tribunal was deemed important enough to all Tamil readers to warrant the status of lead story in both papers. The Dinathanthi headline is typically long and informative: Jayalalitha (then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu) assures that the Government will take drastic measures to stop Karnataka Governments efforts to establish a different Kaveri Tribunal. This headline is also rather objectivist in its presentation of the facts, assuming a Tamil perspective on what counts as news (we do not hear from the Government of Karnataka), but presuming a relatively neutral alignment to the chief ministers pronouncement. It is written in a solid black font generally associated with newspapers (see Figure 2). Following the subject-object-verb sentence structure of Tamil, we can also see Dinathanthis style of using progressively larger font size, and different types, for different parts of the sentence: line 1) The idea of establishing a changed Kaveri tribunal is followed by the larger, line 2) To stop the Karnataka governments efforts, then the largest, line 3) The government will take drastic measures. Then comes the smaller, line 4) Jayalalithas assurance. In the parlance of the papers layout specialists, these four lines are called rst and second top headline (lines 1

Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms


Figure 2 Dinathanthis front page on September 3, 2004. Reproduced here with permission from Dinathanthi

and 2), main headline (line 3), second headline (line 4). The most important main headline (line 3) is rendered in the papers signature special large font that is designed to be easily read from afar. This font has been named after the papers founder, as Adithan font. As the chief designer of the magazine section told me, Our headline layout is designed so that people can see even as they are walking down the road or driving by in a bus. We use the 8-column [across the full broadsheet] Adithan font headline in order to reach common people. . . . In those days [when this headline style was devised by Adithan] you know, very few people could read and write, so his is how we would try to educate people in simple language through the headline itself. You should know the news just by hearing the headline. Recall that Adithans very denition of a good headline, which was quoted to me when talking to those in charge of layout in the contemporary Dinathanthi ofce, insists that it must represent what you would tell someone about a the essentials of a news story. Much like the early modern French Bibliothque Bleue, Dinathanthi headlines are addressed to the ear as much as the eye . . . the work play[s] with forms and processes designed to submit the written word to the requirements of oral performance (Chartier & Gonzlez 1992:53). In typical Dinathanthi fashion, the headline is then repeated, almost word for word, using the same indirect reported speech in the following lead paragraph, still in a rather large font for ease of reading aloud in groups and among semiliterate readers. Only below the repeated headline comes the dateline and a short quote from Chief Minister Jayalalitha presented as direct quotation. The font size gets progressively smaller as the article continues, and my ethnography of reading practices at the teashop near Velans village conrms the fact that very few readers will actually make it through the whole article. This is, of course, a common way of reading the newspaper in many contexts, but Dinathanthi is unique among Tamil papers in using smaller and smaller font size over the course of the main article, assuming that many will not read beyond the headline, and almost actively discouraging those who are reading aloud or in groups from following the story to the end of its inverted pyramidal structure.


Journal of Linguistic Anthropology

Figure 3 Dinamalars front page on September 3, 2004. Reproduced here with permission from Dinamalar

Dinamalars headline for the same lead story, We wont let go! ( vitamattom! ) is written as one word in Tamil in very large, more contemporary looking, computer font outlined in shadow effect with an exclamation point (see Figure 3). The oneword headline is followed by the much smaller, Establishment of a different Kaveri Tribunal: J.s Opposition and then a quote, with quotation marks marking direct reported speech, from Jayalalitha aimed at her Tamil competition, Farmers will not forgive the opposition parties (presumably for not supporting her efforts on behalf of the Tamil peoples bid for more water from the river).24 The emotionally charged collective voicing interpellates the reader as a participant in refusal, with the Chief Minister, here referred to with the more familiar rst letter J, through use of the rst-person plural verb ending. We wont let go! presumes a willful voice shared by the people and the state that many Tamil readers might sympathize with. However, this statement of resolve was not only aimed at the Government of Karnataka, but also at the opposition parties for their alleged betrayal of Tamil interests. As one reads the boldfaced 8-point, small-font lead paragraph quoting the Chief Ministers speech extensively, one can see that We wont let go, is something she herself had said in the speech, speaking using we for the Tamil people and for her political party in equal measure. The Dinamalars form carries with it the assumption that the reader will continue past the headline to understand the reasons for the Chief Ministers declaration. This usage stands in stark contrast to Dinathanthis presentation of news as a more passive relay of information concerning the activities of a state that is presumed to be a little more distant from its readers. In terms of graphic style, the papers current publisher explained to me that Dinamalar was the rst Tamil daily to introduce photo composing techniques and newly developed computer fonts allowing for what he called the crisp, one-line headline format that the paper became known for in the 1990s. This grabs peoples attention, he explained. Dinathanthis always long headline sentence is meant for

Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms


ease of reading aloud or picking up the news just by glancing at it, giving enough information about a story to start a conversation that will depart signicantly from the newspapers framing of the story. In contrast, nearly every single Dinamalar headline consists of one or two words inviting the reader to read more carefully. In this sense, Dinamalars style is closer to that of many US papers, using the headline and lead paragraph as a means to sell the story to consumers who are expected to read on to understand the more objective facts of the event in question (cf. Hasty 2006:8081; Peterson 2001). Unlike Dinathanthis logic of giving essential information regarding an event in its headlines, a reader does not know exactly what a news story is about simply by reading the Dinamalar headline. There is a greater internal contrast between the language and graphic style of the headline and that of the main story in Dinamalar than in Dinathanthi, where the facts and style of the headline are essentially repeated three times in a font that dwindles in size. The one-word expressions used in Dinamalar headlines are also usually drawn from colloquial speech, sometimes invoking well-known proverbs, and they are always followed by an exclamation point. The Dinamalar short headline is in fact made for detachability, making the text eminently portable beyond the circulation of the text artifact itself, because it is so quotable. Let me share a brief example of the uses of citation beyond the reading context: on the morning after the national elections of 2004 had been called for a coalition led by the Congress Party, a man in his twenties named Ayappan, whom I knew a little from around the small town of Alangudi, came up to my friend and I as we were sitting on a bench in town and said angrily, Sonia to rule over one billion Hindus! He then went on to explain, that was the Malar headline today. The headline he had quoted was written in reference to the Congress President, Sonia Gandhis Italian birth, and by extension, the assumption that she is not a Hindu. The headline played not only on religious modes of communal identication, but also on anticolonial rhetoric. Ayappans shock and motivation for quoting the newspaper was the prospect that an Italian should become Prime Minister of India.25 I suspect that he quoted the Dinamalar headline precisely to provoke an argument on the subject, knowing that my friend had sympathies for the political left. In this case of quoting we have a relatively reexive use of newspaper language to align ones self to a social-political type. I have never heard anyone quote directly from a Dinathanthi headline, other than to read it aloud with the paper in their hands. The self-conscious fashion in which these papers and their readers are differentiated in discourse on textual style and ethics was made even clearer to me when talking to reporters from these respective papers about the competition. Reporters from both papers would focus on their competitors front page and headlines, but they would point to different textual expressions of lack in style. As we saw in an earlier section of this essay, the Dinathanthi reporter I had interviewed claimed that while his paper did cater to a lower-class readership, they did not carry vulgar headlines like their competitor. This reporter gave me many examples of what he meant to distinguish himself from, drawing precisely from famous one-word headlines Dinamalar has run, including appu! (wedge, a colloquial expression ! (a sweet snack, used to butter similar to the English, getting the axe) and alva someone up). Dinamalar has become well known for these particular headlines, pioneering a new style in the Tamil press resembling that used by the New York Post and other similar papers in the US, and especially the UK.26 The Dinathanthi reporter found the use of such expressions to characterize important political issues to be unseemly and distasteful. He went on to explain his aversion by echoing Adithans Journalists Handbook, We wont give our own ideas, we only report what happens, but they will give it a direction. They load their headlines with assumptions. In our paper there are no assumptions. Once again, this is an expression of Dinathanthis quality and decency in terms of objective headlines and transparent reporting, a sort of moral distance between the language used and the event reported.


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On the other hand, reporters for Dinamalar would often reiterate the common perception that Dinathanthi panders to low-class tastes. They told me that Dinathanthi was obsessed with overly graphic representations of local murders, suicides, or other scenes of violence, and that they will put gory pictures in prominent places to attract readers through the lure of voyeurism. For example, while I was visiting the ofce one day, a reporter called me over to his desk and picked up copies of both papers. He asked me to look at the Dinathanthi headline story on a railway accident that led to the death of ve people. First he wanted me to see how, unlike Dinathanthi, Dinamalar had reported the story only on the seventh page, because they thought that the government worker strike was a more important story and that one should not put such articles on the front page.27 He went on to compare the words used in the two papers to refer to death, claiming that Dinamalars use of pali, has a sense of injustice compared Dinathanthis more vulgar vu. On another occasion the same reporter tried to differentiate the (koccai) word, ca papers sense of ethics and taste by pointing out that large cinema ads are printed only once week in his paper compared to his competitors daily coverage, and that they refuse to print lottery results: two other signs of restraint characteristic of a more middle-class sense of propriety.28 On the one hand, this reporter was proud of his papers use of colloquial language that would, in his words, express how people feel. On the other hand, he saw his paper as providing a sort of moral standard that would not bow to more popular desires. Dinamalars pedagogical mission is strikingly different from that of Dinathanthi.

Domesticating the Teashop: Written Speech and Reading Objectied If Dinamalar provides written tools to help dene a middle class, properly domestic interior, it also provides spaces of nostalgia for the outside sphere, in which reading the newspaper means talking politics with male friends at the teashop. On the eighth page of the paper, there is a section called Teashop Bench, marked off by a box from more standard news text and situated in a section devoted to political and social scandal. In Teashop Bench, readers nd their imagined counterparts sitting at the teashop reading the paper and chatting about politics in a marked southern Tamil dialect, making all sorts of witty remarks about politicians and the state of the world. The section is always accompanied by a cartoon, and Teashop Benchs main characters, Annachi, Kuppanna, Anwarbhai, and Antonisami are familiar names to readers across Tamilnadu.29 In a recent speech marking the release of a stamp recognizing TVRs contributions to the Indian press, for example, the current Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, M. Karunanidhi even admitted to worrying about whether or not he was being talked about in the paper by these well-known characters. This section of the newspaper represents an idealized version of what public teashop readers are actually likely to do, and it has become Dinamalars most well known contribution to Tamil public culture.30 Teashop Benchs famous spoken-style dialogues are delivered in quotes, such that the small stretches of narrating frame appear in a neutral written variety. In this respect, Teashop Bench is using a realist literary technique that has been used in Tamil short stories and novels since the early 20th century.31 This is, in fact, the only part of any daily newspaper where orthography and even grammatical forms, such as verb endings, have been altered to resemble more closely Tamil as it would be spoken in an everyday conversation between friends. Dinamalars major innovation is to have introduced this technique into the newspaper in order to render reexively what newspaper reading at the teashop is supposed to be about, talking politics with friends (see Figure 4). In this case, spoken Tamil about politics, rendered in writing, has been objectied as charming, earthy, and witty for a reading public that probably spends less and less time at the very sort of teashop being represented. If distribution patterns

Daily Wires and Daily Blossoms


Figure 4 Cartoon depicting Annachi, Kuppanna, Anwarbai, and Antonisami talking on the Teashop Bench with the newspaper in hand. Reproduced here with permission from Dinamalar

from Pudukkottai are any indication of a more generalized phenomenon, Teashop Bench is in fact more likely to be read silently, in the privacy and comfort of ones own home or ofce than at the teashop. There is something of a nostalgia represented for more domesticated forms of stranger sociality looking back on the paperin-hand, face-to-face masculine world. I would further argue that the very Teashop Bench linguistic aesthetic involves a form objectication that is only attractive from a certain social distance in relation to something one still has intimate knowledge of. The speech represented in these lively dialogues is both proximate, in sense of resembling familiar ways of talking not often found in the daily press, and distant, in the sense of looking strange or unusual in a written landscape dominated by standards that depart signicantly from spoken varieties. The Dinamalar reader is likely to have a relatively deep enough education for these written standards to appear as a naturalized background against which the folksy wit of Annachi and his friends can strike one as innovative in a written context (apart from the content of their acute political observations). I would suggest that the success of this section is premised on what Bourdieu has called a strategy of condescension, not unlike his memorable mayor of the town of Pau, from Language and Symbolic Power (1991:68), who can sound charming giving a speech in the local Barnais only because everyone knows that he can also speak perfectly standard French. Or, to borrow from Inoues (2006) framework, the vicarious pleasure of reading Teashop Bench is best enjoyed by those who know the standard so well as to appreciate stylistic departures from it. The representation of spoken language in the press, in this context, far from reaching out to marginally literate newspaper consumers, instead marks a separation of domains, attractive to those with more formal education.32 Dinamalar works through a system of semiotic distinctions, assuming and exploiting the cultivation of an appreciation for differences between registers and varieties, as represented in written form, using a wide range of fonts, whereas the Dinathanthi appears monotone


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and monoregister by comparison. Indeed, it would be difcult to imagine Velan and his fellow readers at the teashop reading this section aloud, or discussing how Annachi and his friends are talking about politics sitting at the teashop bench. Such detachment is not available to them. This is not to say that Dinamalar is not found at teashops, or that more marginally literate teashop readers do not have as sophisticated a sense of register difference. I am rather seeking to emphasize a reading style that is more likely to correlate with one paper as opposed to the other, and to focus on the written representation of linguistic variation as part of a cultivated aesthetic that might not appeal to all.33 When I asked readers among the rural poor who had read Dinamalar, for example, they seemed for the most part vaguely familiar with this section, if not with the names of its cast of characters. For regular readers of Dinamalar, however, Teashop Bench provides the stuff of conversation at work or among friends, and even makes it into the intertextual eld of formal party politics, as we have seen. An invocation of Teashop Bench, like that of headlines from the same paper, draws strongly on indexical ties pointing back to the paper itself, and not solely to the news item being discussed in this special section of the paper. It marks one as a Dinamalar reader. Concluding Thoughts on Reading and Speaking the Newspaper In an innovative essay on modes of reading in colonial Tamilnadu, Venkatachalapathy (1994) argues that the newly emergent silent, private, introverted mode of reading associated with the rise of the modern novel belongs to a middle-class habitus that was not able to establish hegemony. He uses the example of Dinathanthi in particular to make this claim about reading practices in the 1940s.
The popular mode of reading was far from being displaced by the new phenomenon. If anything it was spreading further in domains over which the middle class had little, if any, inuence, with the growth of the daily press (1994:290).

For Vankatachalapathy, the reading practices associated with Dinathanthi, such as those I have described for Velan and his fellow villagers, stand as a massication of older ways of animating popular texts such as chapbooks. In my description of newspaper reading habits among more middle-class readers, here associated with Dinamalar, we can see how the silent mode of reading rst cultivated around novels can be, and has indeed been, transferred to the daily press on a large scale over the course of the vernacular newspaper revolution. The inuence of a middle-class textual habitus has certainly expanded in the postcolonial era, and especially since the liberalization of Indias economy in the early 1990s, even if marked differences between two modes of reading do remain. If we expand the scope of analysis to examine the eld of oral citation in relation to the written linguistic devices enabling the production of particular regimes of circulation, we nd that the two different modes of reading are, in fact, intimately connected to the uses of spoken language in the daily press. Claims to using the language of speech in the press seem to be referring to two very different phenomena: a written Tamil made to be spoken aloud at the point of reading in Dinathanthi, and a spoken Tamil made to be read silently in Dinamalar, and then perhaps reanimated in later conversation. We have seen how the massication of one form of reading and quasi-public circulation has provided a norm against which a contrasting variety of circulation, riding on citability, has been cultivated, demarking distinctive positions in the eld of journalism. These regimes of circulation might be said to be the result of an elective afnity among types of readers, modes of sociality, and types of textuality, or what Bourdieu calls the correspondence between goods production and taste production in the cultural market (1984:230). Of course, what is also being produced through these modes of textual consumption are the very dening habits of socioeconomic class and gender.

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That class and gender are made, in part, through media-reception habits is well known. What I hope to have added to the study of language and social differentiation through media is an analysis of the very embodied means and cultural mechanisms by which such a delineation of publics is achieved. Habitual orientations to text, or what I have been calling regimes of circulation, are historical products that can be cultivated on a mass scale. We know, for instance, that the silent mode of reading is relatively new to southern India and that newspapers have replaced other text artifacts as the central mediators of communal reading in villages. But such varying orientations to text, once established and made habitual, also stand as grounds for the elaboration of social difference, giving publics a certain feeling and cultural logic. By disaggregating these various modes of feeling for text in our analysis, we can better apprehend the simultaneous growth of two rather different regimes of circulation that are both fuelling Indias vernacular print revolution.

Acknowledgments. Research for this essay was funded by a Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Research Fellowship and a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation. Thoughts on circulation developed in this essay were rst developed in conversation with Andrew Graan. I would like to thank him, Debra Spitulnik for her comments, and all of the participants in our panel on News Media and the Politics of Circulation at the 2006 meetings of the American Anthropological Association in San Jose, California. For comments on early drafts, thanks to John Thiels. The Stanford University workshop on Mass-Mediated Personhood in 2008 proved to be the perfect environment in which to rene the argument. I would like to thank all of the participants in this workshop, and especially Asif Agha, Michael Silverstein, and Miyako Inoue, for their comments, critiques, and encouragement. Finally, I would like to thank Paul Manning, Barney Bate, Alejandro Paz, and my anonymous reviewers at the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 1. Like all South Asian scripts derived from Brahmi, Tamil uses an alphsyllabary or abudiga segmental system in which consonants are represented with a default vowel that can be modied by appending a diacritic. Word-initial vowels have their own independent characters. 2. This is according to the ndings of 19992000 National Readership Survey, conducted under the auspices of the National Readership Survey Council (NRSC), three industry bodies the INS (Indian Newspaper Society), the AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) and the ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation). In 2008, according to the Indian Readership Survey Dinathanthi ranked sixth, as Hindi readership of print media had grown over the intervening years. 3. Daily newspapers added 12.6 million readers in 2006 alone, reaching 203.6 million nation-wide, with regional languages generally outselling English publications. These data are based on the summary ndings of the 2006 National Readership Survey. I must also note here that these are readership gures, based on the fact that many people might read a single copy, and not gures of copies sold, in which case English papers would have a larger share. 4. Shortly after data were collected for the 2006 National Readership Survey, a paper that had been the third most popular, Dinakaran, lowered its price to one rupee and soon overtook its competitors. However, Dinathanthi quickly returned to rst place when the price was raised to two rupees once again, and it remains the most popular Tamil newspaper. At the time when most of my ethnographic work was conducted, Dinakaran was well behind Dinathanthi and Dinamalar, and was furthermore considered to be the party paper of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party, and so only read by party members. Part of Dinakarans later popularity is also a result of its being bought and managed by the now politically independent Sun Television Network due to a split in the DMK party ranks. 5. It is clear from Constantine G. Beschis (1822 [1782],1831 [1730]) early grammars that what is known as centamil (rened or cultivated Tamil) has long been distinguished as a privileged register from koccaittamil (vulgar Tamil) or kotuntami l (broken Tamil). However, the exact form of the variety known as centamil has changed over time, in part due to 20th-century efforts to purify the Tamil language of Sanskritic vocabulary, and it has only recently been conated with written language as such. Most linguistic analyses tend to agree that it makes more sense


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to speak of a historically shifting diglossic continuum of registers (Arokianathan 1988; Britto 1986; cf. Ferguson 1959). See Bernard Bate (2009) on the feminine qualities of centamil as opposed the masculine and vulgar registers of speech. 6. My choice of the word regime in this phrase is meant less to highlight the agency of those who might be said to have established the textual forms in question, leading to a certain set of circulatory effects, than it is to indicate a set of emergent structuring conditions creating regular patterns of action. 7. My claim here is not to have captured the whole circulatory process, which is potentially limitless and certainly difcult to track ethnographically, but rather to focus on three empirically knowable moments (metadiscourse among consumers and producers, reading practice, and artifactual form) in order to build a theoretical approach to contrasting modes of circulation. 8. Reported speech and public performance have been classic sites of analysis in a tradition that looks at the question of ideological mediation in the politics of such textual circulation (e.g., Bauman 2004; Voloshinov 1973). 9. All of these studies warn against a simple textual analysis of media forms, abstracted from practice. Indeed, many studies of newspapers, such as Benedict Andersons (1991) famous assertions regarding their homogenizing powers, tend to smuggle in a number of unwarranted assumptions about the practice of reading due to lack of attention to circulation as a situated effect of linguistic practice. I point here to a possible convergence of sociolinguistic (Silverstein 2000) and postcolonial (Chatterjee 2004) theoretical critiques of Andersonian orientations to print capitalism concerning the homogeneity of space and time that are assumed to be an effect of the form. 10. In a brilliant account of how press reports on Gandhi were reanimated through such conversation around the act of reading aloud, Shahid Amin writes, In Indian villages even printed texts revert to their oral characteristics in the very process of communication (1988:335, see also Gumperz 1971:19). 11. Such a mode of reading is reminiscent of that which prevailed in early modern France, around the series of chapbooks known collectively as the Bibliothque Bleue, where the implicit reading of a text, literary or not, was construed as a vocalization and its reader as the auditor of read speech [parole lectrice] (Chartier & Gonzlez 1992:53). 12. It is often said that while studying at Middle-Temple College in London, Adithan was greatly impressed by the British press, and by the Daily Mirror in particular, for its capacity to appeal to working-class readers (Jeffrey 1997; Sami 1990). 13. In this sense, Dinathanthi is like the Ghanaian newspapers studied by Jennifer Hasty (2005, 2006), insofar it has been shaped by and has actively exploited existing narrative practices. In Tamil India, as in Ghana, national modernity went public only through the appropriation of tradition (Hasty 2006:74). 14. Adithan was very sympathetic to Dravidian nationalisms language-based political cause, but he saw the simplication of Tamil as a form of Tamil nationalist service more effective than the elevation of Tamil through archaicizing efforts. In this respect, his project was very different from that of Maraimalai Adigal, leader of the Pure Tamil Movement (tanittamil iyakkam), who sought to revive ancient forms as the model for written language (Kailasapathy 1979; Nambi Arooran 1980; Ramaswamy 1997). See Bate (2009) for an account of the archaicizing aesthetic of Dravidian nationalist political speech in the same period that Dinathanthi was being launched. 15. Other papers that took similar measures to develop a new form of journalistic prose to enable the development of a working-class readership include Panjab Kesari, the Telugu paper Eenadu, and the Marathi daily Sakal (Jeffrey 2000:98102). 16. Dinamalar was in fact founded as a part of the struggle for these Tamil-speaking southern regions of Travancore-Cochin to be merged with the Tamil-dominant Madras State. In 1957, one year after the Tamil-speaking Kanyakumari District was successfully integrated into Madras, with Tiruvananthapuram going to Kerala, TVR moved his paper to the large town of Tirunelveli. 17. The very harsh treatment they had given to the Congress leader, Sonia Gandhi, during the national elections of 2004 would seem to give credence to such claims, but it is not the case that Dinamalars readers are necessarily inclined towards right-wing, religious politics, or that Brahmins read this paper in particular. The lotus blossom that serves as the newspapers emblem is also the party emblem of the BJP. 18. It is only among people who have already developed a sort of consumerist sensibility that the question of which paper they prefer even makes sense. When questioning people

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about their choice of newspaper in rural Tamilnadu, I was almost inevitably told, Ill read whatever is around at the teashop, with the implication being that I had asked a silly question. 19. In the region where I did most of my eldwork, the newspaper distributor told me that he delivers about 70% of his copies of Dinamalar to private homes, most of them in the town of Alangudi, whereas only about 25% of his copies of Dinathanthi are delivered to residences, with the rest of them going to teashops, barbershops, and other places of group reading that might be characterized as outside. The more literary Dinamani is most often delivered to whitecollar ofces in town. 20. As noted previously, Dinathanthi also includes supplemental magazines with short stories and cinema news aimed primarily at children and teenagers, though they are considered by most readers to be of poorer quality. 21. A number of Kumars friends were also dalits studying at the Madurai Law College, and therefore especially concerned with the question of job quotas for Scheduled Castes. 22. See Britto (1986) for an exhaustive formal analysis of what he considers to be a Tamil diglossic continuum along a range of features in speech and writing, and Arokianathan (1988) for an analysis with specic reference to radio language genres, in which news reading counts as closer to written norms than historical plays or interviews. 23. In all, Britto (1986) delineates four categories of high Tamil, Literary, Popular, Sanskritic, and Survival, and three basic categories of low, Standard Colloquial, Marked Colloquial, and Substandard Colloquial. 24. Dinamalars headline uses the English tribunal in its headline, as opposed to the Tamil natuvar manram used by Dinathanthi in its headline, thus assuming knowledge of an English word which would more likely be part of a formally educated persons repertoire. 25. Sonia Gandhi wisely asked Manmohan Singh to become Prime Minister that very day so as to avoid any further confrontation on these grounds. 26. It is worth noting here that Dinamalars headlines, at least, if not necessarily its manner of reporting in the main text, corresponds in part to what in the United States and Britain would be referred to as tabloid style, meant to appeal to popular sentiments through a more personalized narrative style (cf. Bird 1998). However, in the Tamil case, it is the paper that is aspiring to middle-class distinction that has adopted a more emotive style, contrasting with the relatively staid linguistic style of Dinathanthi, even if the latter papers news stories on local murders and the like might be said to be more sensational. 27. Leading stories tell a good deal about how newspapers anticipate what matters most to their readers. Dinamalars readers are indeed more likely to be government workers concerned about the strike. 28. While tremendously popular, lm culture in Tamilnadu is often associated with working-class aesthetics, carrying with it a vaguely licentious reputation (Dickey 2001:216). 29. These four names are clearly Southern and Northern Tamil Hindu, Muslim and Christian, thereby representing the teashop bench as an idealized sphere of intercommunal harmony, transcending religious and regional difference. 30. One of the standard Tamil literature textbooks used in colleges even mentions this column: Teashop bench proved to be a great success for Dinamalar because of its attractive headlines and the way it uses readers own drawl (Srichandran 1998:436). 31. The technique of representing everyday speech in this manner was pioneered in the 1930s by antipurist writers associated with the journal Manikkoti , and is now common in a range of literatures (Kailasapathy 1979). See also E. Annamalai (2007) for an informed analysis of the challenges facing writers who seek to represent spoken forms in writing. 32. In the preparation of reading materials for neoliterates, writers consistently nd that the spoken language they often use in short stories and novels is, in fact, not well suited to reading aloud and thus not attractive to those who are marginally literate or trained in popular reading practices of recitation. 33. In order to gain a theoretical understanding of the mechanisms behind social differentiation I have run the risk of overdoing a contrast between what I must emphasize to be tendencies, and not absolute differences. Some teashops in rural Pudukkottai do get Dinamalar, and a number of middle-class homes in the city of Madurai get Dinathanthi. Dinathanthi has in fact tried to elevate its image in recent years and appeal to new audiences, not only through the Internet, but also by including a page of Tamil translation from the Financial Times in their broadsheet. Dinamalar, on the other hand, has always sought to appeal to rural professionals, especially schoolteachers.


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