I am Assistant Professor of linguistics in the Department of English Literature & Linguistics at Qatar University. I am a linguist in both the popular and scholarly senses of the term. In the popular sense, I am a linguist because I proficiently speak Urdu, Hindi, English, and Arabic. In addition to commanding different levels of speech in Urdu-Hindi, I also have a good control of both the Devanagari and Arabic/Persian scripts. I also have a near native proficiency in Yemeni dialect. In the scholarly sense, I am a linguist, because I study language. I specialize in sociolinguistics –a branch of linguistics that studies the social, political, and cultural aspects of language.
My specialty is the sociolinguistics of Urdu and Hindi in India. I have done extensive fieldwork in the city of Old Delhi, Shahjahanabad. See the research section for published research papers on Urdu in India. My secondary specialization is the socio-linguistics of Arabic in the Arab World.
I did my fieldwork research in Old Delhi in two phases. I did a pilot study of the sociolinguistic situation of Old Delhi in 2005 and then a full-fledged ethnographic study in 2006. I study the use of Urdu among Hindus and Muslims of Old Delhi. My research participants came from many areas of Old Delhi such as Churiwalan, Turkaman Gate, Ballimaran, Matia Mahal, Farashkhana, Rodgaran, Gali Qasim Jan, Lal Kuan, Bazar Sitaram, Gali Prem Narayan, Katra Neel, Katra Sheikh Chand, Baradari, Gali Gulyan, Pahari Imli, Kalan Masjid. I recorded sociolinguistic interviews with men and women of different ages and social class/caste. I also recorded natural conversations with them. I devoted a significant amount of time working with young boys and girls of Old Delhi studying in the nearby Zakir Husain College.
In my Ph.D. dissertation, I also study the recent phenomenon of adopting the Devanagari script for writing Urdu. It is worth noting that Urdu speakers have traditionally resisted suggestions to adopt Devanagari for Urdu arguing that doing so will destroy the independent identity of Urdu. I analyze data from several Urdu-in-Devanagari magazines and books and show how Muslims are making efforts to preserve some linguistic features of Urdu in Devanagari for example the distinctive Urdu phonemes. I also show how they are trying to preserve the orthographic features of Urdu in Devanagari. An example of this is the representation of the Urdu letter ain. Some of these unique features of Urdu in Devanagari actually violate basic principles of the Devanagari writing system.