Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Rajesh Kumar

Head and Professor of Linguistics and English Language


Rajesh Kumar is a professor of linguistics in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai. He obtained his PhD in linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining IIT Madras, he taught at IIT Kanpur and IIT Patna in India and at the University of Texas at Austin in the USA. He has been a visiting faculty at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai in India. His book on Syntax of Negation and Licensing of Negative Polarity Items was published by Routledge in their prestigious series Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics in 2006. He has been associate editor of the journal Language and Language Teaching. He has been part of the language teaching program at all the institutions he has been affiliated with. The broad goal of his research is uncovering regularities underlying both the structural form (what language is) and sociolinguistic functions (what language does) of natural language. He works on structure of South Asian Languages. He is keenly interested in issues related to language (multilingualism) in education; politics; human cognition; and landscape.

Research Interests

  • Natural Language Syntax and Typology of South Asian Languages
  • Multilingualism in Education, Human Cognition, and Politics

  Full-Time / Regular Affiliations

  • IIT Madras (2012- xxxx)
  • IIT  Patna (2009-2012)
  • IIT Kanpur (2006-2007)
  • University of Texas at Austin (2002-2006 and 2007-2009)

  Visiting Positions / Short-Time Affiliations

  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  • Visiting Faculty Osaka University, Osaka, Japan
  • Zakir Hussain Center for Education, JNU, New Delhi
  • Editor (2022 – ), Language and Language Teaching
  • Associate Editor (2019-2022), Language and Language Teaching
  • Review Editor (2010-2013), Language and Language Teaching (ISSN No. 2277-307X )
  • Member Editorial Board (2010-xxxx), Language and Language Teaching ISSN No. 2277-307X )
  1. Kumar, Rajesh. (2006). Negation and licensing of negative polarity items in Hindi syntax. New York, London: Routledge. [DOI-]
    (This book was selected by Routledge, New York for publication in their prestigious series Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics.)
  2. Agnihotri, Rama Kant and Kumar, Rajesh. (2011). Some landmarks in the history of ideasJayant Lele lectures. Udaipur/ Bangalore: Vidya Bhawan Society, Udaipur and Azim Premji University.
    This book has been translated in Marathi under the following title:
    Pashchatya vicharsarninchaya itihasatil mahatvache tappe (2013/2014, 2nd rev. edn.) (Pune: The Unique Academy) Translators: Vidyut Bhagwat and Abhay Kanta.
  3. Singh, Shailendra Kumar, Kumar, Rajesh, Prakash, Om, and Lalremzami, C. (2017). Linguistic Ecology of Mizoram. Guwahati: EBH (Eastern Book House) Publishers.
  4. Prakash, Om and Kumar, Rajesh. (2018). Linguistic Foundations of Identity: Readings in Language, Literature, and Contemporary Cultures, Aakar Publications, New Delhi and Routledge, New York/London []
  5. Kumar, Rajesh and Prakash, Om. (2018). Language, Identity and Contemporary Society. London: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  6. Kumar, Rajesh and Prakash, Om. (2019). Text, Context and Constructing Identity. London: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  7. Prakash, Om and Kumar, Rajesh (2020). Apprenticeship Language Studies. Guwahati: Eastern Books.
  8. Agnihotri, R.K. and Kumar, Rajesh (2022). Language, Mind, and Society. Chennai/Delhi: Orient Blackswan
    (This was made possible with support from Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai).
  9. Kumar, R. & Prakash, O. Eds. (2023). Language Studies in India – Cognition, Structure, Variation, Singapore: Springer Nature Singapore Pvt. Ltd. []
  10. Kumar, R. (2023). Hindi Vakya Sanrachna me Nakaratmak Shabd (Negation Words in Hindi Clause Structure), New Delhi: LG Publishers.
    (Translation with Rajani Dwivedi, Vidya Bhawan Society, Udaipur)
  1. Jayaraj, T., Kumar, R. (2023). Towards an Understanding of Micro-variations: Decoding the Hierarchical Module of Variation and the Correlates of Mappila Malayalam, pp 179-205. In: Chandra, P. (ed.) Variation in South Asian Languages: From Macro to Micro-Differences. Springer, Singapore.
  2. Kumar, R., Brahma, S., Monsang, S.F., Dilip, M. (2023). Negation in Select South Asian Languages, pp 45-76. In: Chandra, P. (ed.) Variation in South Asian Languages: From Macro to Micro-Differences. Springer, Singapore.
  3. Bagchi, T. and Kumar, R. (2022) Honorification as directional stabilizer in the Santal community, pp-149-174. In Sharma, G. and Lowe, J.J. (eds.) Advances in South Asian Linguistics. München: LINCOM. 482+xii pp. ISBN: 978-3-96-939124-2
  4. Eldho, E. & Kumar, R. (2022). From blackboard to White board and beyond: The role of ICTs in reforming English language classrooms in Tamil Nadu. In Kaushik, R. & Khanna, A.L. (eds.) Critical Issues in ELT, pp-285-297. New Delhi: Aakar Books.
  5. Kumar, R. (2022). What is the name of the language you speak? In Agnihotri, R.K. & Sachdeva, R. (eds.) Being and becoming multilingual. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, pp. 244-257.
  6. Nishioka, M. & Kumar, R. (2021). Structures and functions of noun modification in Hindi: An analysis based on the nominalization theory [ヒンディー語の名詞修飾構造と機能について―体言化理論からの考察― (Hindigo no meishi shuushoku kouzou to kinou ni tsuite)]. In Sung Yeo, Chung & Shibatani, Masayoshi (Eds.) 体言化理論と言語分析 (Taigenka riron to gengo bunseki) (sort of English Translation – Nominalization Theory and Linguistic Analysis), pp. 59-151. Osaka: Osaka University Press [Osaka daigaku shuppankai]
  7. Roy, G., Kumar, R., & Subbarao, K.V. (2021). Reciprocals in Kokborok: A case of syntactic convergence. In Sharma, G. & Lowe, J. (Eds.) Trends in South Asian Linguistics, pp. 311-338. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.
  8. Kumar, R. (2020). Bhasha kaa vaigyanik vishleshan: Bhasha sikshan hetu nihitartha (Scientific analysis of language: Implications for language teaching). In Dwivedi, R. & Diwan, H.K. (eds.) Bhasha kaa buniyadi tana-bana (Basic structure of language). pp. 172-179. Bhopal: Eklavya Foundation. [This is a translated version of originally published in Language and Language Teaching 2.2.4]
  9. Arunbalaji, T. and Kumar, R. (2020). English in Dravidian Movement. In Khan, T. (ed.) The Interplays of Language, Society, and Culture. Mysuru and Pune: Central Institute of Indian Languages and Linguistic Society of India. pp. 40-47. ISBN 978-81-946499-8-4
  10. Sathyanathan, Karthika & Kumar, Rajesh (2020). ‘Bhaashaa’ in Bhaya Nair, Rukmini & DeSouza, Peter R. (eds.) Keywords for India: A Conceptual Lexicon for the 21st Century. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 303-305.
  11. Dilip, Mayuri, Kumar, Rajesh, Subbārāo, Kārumūri Venkata, Uma Maheshwar Rao, G., Everaert, Martin. (2020). Relative Clauses in Santali: A Matching Analysis Approach. In Jenny, Mathias (Zurich, Switzerland), Alves, Mark (Maryland, USA), and Sidwell, Paul (Canberra, Australia) (eds.) Austroasiatic Syntax in Areal and Diachronic Perspective (pp. 258-283). Brill Publishers (The Netherlands).
  12. Narayanan, Jayakrishnan and Kumar, Rajesh. (2019). Vernacularization in Malayalam Cinema: Urban Kochi Slang and the Youth Identity. In In Rajesh Kumar and Om Prakash (eds.) Text, Context, and Construction of Identity, (pp. 76-97). London: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  13. Jayaraj, Thapasya and Kumar, Rajesh. (2018). Identity Representations and Variation in Pronouns and Kinship Terms: A study on Sociolects of Malayalam. In Rajesh Kumar and Om Prakash (eds.) Language, Identity, and Contemporary Society, (pp. 178-189). London: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  14. Krishnamurthy, Namita and Kumar, Rajesh. (2018). Identity Creation, Conformity and Resistance on Campus. In Rajesh Kumar and Om Prakash (eds.) Language, Identity, and Contemporary Society, (pp. 190-203). London: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  15. Kumar, Rajesh. (2018). Bhashanchaya pravahipanache aakalan: Shikshanacha ek meva marga [Understanding Fluidity of language: The only way for education], pp. 148-162. In Vinaya Malati Hari and Avinash Pandey (eds.). Bahubhashikta: Gunavattapurna Shikshanacha Paya [Multilingualism: Pillar of Quality Education]. Pune: Unique Academy Publications. [In Marathi]
  16. Prakash, Om and Kumar, Rajesh. (2017). Linguistic (im)politeness and public discourse in media sphere. In Singh, S. K., Rastogi, K., Prasannanshu, Tripathi, A. K., and Chatterji, J. (eds.) Ways with Language (pp. 126-148). New Delhi: Lakshi Publishers.
  17. Atreya, Lata and Kumar, Rajesh. (2017). Reduplication in Magahi. In Singh, S.K. and S. A. Lyngdoh (eds.) Syntactic Typology: Language Contact and Convergence (pp. 245-264). Guwahati: Eastern Book House.
  18. Kumar, Rajesh. (2016). Linguistic analyses: Implications for language teaching. In R. K. Agnihotri and A. L. Khanna (Eds.) Bhasha Shikshan, Volume 2 (pp. 96-104), New Delhi: Vani Prakashan.
  19. Kumar, Rajesh. (2016). Teaching Hindi as less commonly taught language. In R. K. Agnihotri, A. L. Khanna & Anju Sahgal (eds.) Trends in language teaching, (pp. 45-55). New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan.
  20. Kumar, Rajesh and Prakash, Om. (2015). Hindi-Hindustani-Urdu: A language continuum. In R. K. Agnihotri, C. Benthien, and T. Oranskaia (eds.) Impure languages: Literary and linguistic hybridity in contemporary cultures (pp. 258-271). New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan.
  21. Subbarao, Karumuri Venkata and Kumar, Rajesh. (2013). Aspects of agreement in Hmar. In Shu-Fen Chen & Benjamin Slade (eds.) Grammatica et verba / Glamour and verve — Studies in South Asian, historical, and Indo-European linguistics ( 269-281). Ann Arbor, MI: Beech Stave Press.
  22. Kumar, Rajesh and Misra, Rajiv. (2011). On resolving ambiguity using socially contextualized hierarchy. In R. K. Mishra & Narayanan Srinivasan (eds.) Language-cognition interface: State of the art (p 311-321). Muenchen: Lincom Europa.
  23. Kumar, Rajesh. (2009). Morphosyntax of Hindi infinitives. In Imtiaz Hasnain & S. Chaudhary (eds.) Problematizing language studies: Cultural theoretical and applied perspectives (pp. 328-342). New Delhi: Aakar Books.
  1. Bagchi, Tanima, Rajesh Kumar (2023). A Critical Analysis of Honorification in Human Relations. Rupkatha Journal 15:3.
  2. Eldho, E. & Kumar, R. (2022). From backboard to whiteboard and beyond: The role of ICTs in reforming English language classrooms in Tamil Nadu. FORTELL (Forum for Teachers of English Language and Literature), 44, 130-141.
  3. Roy, G., Kumar, R. & Subbarao, KV (2022). Control structures in Kokborok: A case of syntactic convergence. Lingua Posnaniensis ((De Gruyter)) LXIII (2), 21-52.
    [DOI: 10.2478/linpo-2021-0002]
  4. Eldho, E. & Kumar, R. (2022). Sociolinguistic variation and change of enunciative word-final schwa in Tamil English spoken in Chennai. The Journal of English as an International Language, 16 (2) 2021, 20, 23-47.
  5. Eldho, E. & Kumar, R. (2021). The dynamics in democratization of English language education in Tamil Nadu. Language and Language Teaching, 10 (1), 20, 42-47.
  6. Brahma, S. & Kumar, R. (2021). The scalar interpretation of the additive focus particle *=Bv in select Boro-Garo languages. Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society (JSEALS), 14.1, 73-91.
  7. Monsang, S.F. & Kumar, R. (2021). Ergativity marking in Monsang. SKY Journal of Linguistics, 33, 49-66.
  8. Roy, G., Kumar, R., Subbārāo, K.V., Everaert, M. (2020). Kokborok and the simple-complex reflexive distinction. Studies in Language, 45 (1), 109-134.
  9. Rajasekaran, Subhashini and Kumar, Rajesh (2020). How do multilingual children experience English language acquisition in an urban Indian school?, Contemporary Education Dialogue, 17 (2), 202-236.
  10. Monsang, Sh. F. and Kumar R. (2020). An Ethnographic Profile of the Monsang Tribe. Antrocom J. of Anthropology 16 (1), 241-258.
  11. Roy, G. Kumar, R. & Subbarao, K.V. (2020). Relative Clauses in Kokborok—A Case of Syntactic Convergence. Published in International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics. Vol XLIX, No. 2. 116-145.
  12. Roy, G. and Kumar, R. (2020). Embedded Clauses in Two Varieties of Bangla. Indian Linguistics, Vol. 80, No. 3-4, 37-67.
  13. Dilip, Mayuri J. and Kumar, Rajesh (2020). Clitic or agreement restriction in Santali: A typological analysis, Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 10 (1), 09-33.
  14. Sathyanathan, Karthika and Kumar, Rajesh (2020). ‘Instilingo puts intro – A study of Indian variety of English’. FORTELL (Journal of English Language and Literature), 40 (January 2020), 33-44.
  15. Sathyanathan, Karthika and Kumar, Rajesh (2020). ‘Choice of Language in School: An Enquiry into Teacher Attitudes towards Multilingual Education’. Journal of Exclusion Studies, 10 (1)- 13-33.
  16. Patil, A. and Kumar, R. (2019). Language and Identity: The Case of Kannada in Bengaluru. Journal of Exclusion Studies, 9 (2), 174-182.
  17. Jayaraj T. and Kumar, R. (2019). Linguistic Exclusion through Divergence: A Case of Mappila Malayalam’s Resistance against Social Exclusion. Journal of Exclusion Studies, 9 (2), 144 – 153. []
  18. Sruthi K.V., Thapasya Jayaraj, and Rajesh Kumar (2019). Exploring Variation through many ‘Malayalams’; A Study on ‘Northern Kannur Dialect of Malayalam, Indian Linguistics, 79 (1-2), 51-64.
  19. Dilip, Mayuri and Rajesh Kumar (2019). Negative Polarity Items in Telugu. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 9 (1), 09-28.  
  20. Jayaraj, Thapasya and Kumar, Rajesh. (2020). Variation of Lexical Items and the Changing Need of Identity Projection: A Study on Mappila Malayalam. Dialectologia, 24 (1), 157-176.
  21. Narayanan, Ajit and Kumar, Rajesh. (2019). Computer-Aided Scaffolding in Communicative Language Teaching Environments. Computer Assisted Language Learning – EJ, 20 (1), 20-34.
  22. Bagchi, Tanima and Kumar, Rajesh. (2018). Image schematic analysis of Bangla postpositions. Acta Scientiarum Language and Culture, 40 (2).
    [ -4555.2019.00014.7]
  23. Bagchi, Tanima and Kumar, Rajesh. (2017). Marginalisation, Exclusion, and Identity of Santals. Journal of Exclusion Studies, 7 (1), 116-126.
  24. Rajasekaran, Subhashini and Kumar, Rajesh. (2016). Challenges and strategies for multilingual education in India. Fortell (Forum for Teachers of English Language and Literature), July 2016: 33, 21-24.
  25. Nishioka, Miki and Kumar, Rajesh. (2015). Language change in Hindi dialects: A case study of Bhojpuri, Magahi and Maithili. International Journal of South Asian Studies (a journal of The Japanese Association of South Asian Studies), 7 (2015), 159-175.
  26. Kumar, Rajesh. (2015). Bahubhashita aur Angreji: Shiksha ke liye bhasha ke chunav kaa sawal. Bhasha Boli, 2, 09-13.
  27. Kumar, Rajesh and Yunus, Reva. (2014). Linguistics in language education. Contemporary Education Dialogue, 11:2, 197-220.
  28. Singh, Smriti, Kumar, Rajesh, and Atreya, Lata. (2014). Language, dialect, and variety – A continuum. Indian Linguistics, 75 (3-4), 187-198.
  29. Atreya, Lata, Singh, Smriti, and Kumar, Rajesh. (2014). Anaphors in Magahi- A descriptive story. International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, 43:2, 145-163.
  30. Chandra, Pritha and Kumar, Rajesh. (2014). Urdu possession: An instance of ezafe. Indian Linguistics, 74 (3-4), 101-109.
  31. Kumari, Pragya and Kumar, Rajesh. (2014). Linguistically grounded techniques for English in the professional institutions of rural India. Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 40:1-2, 77-92.
  32. Nilu and Kumar, Rajesh. (2013). Complex predicates in South Asian languages: A study of Magahi. Indian Linguistics, 74 (1-2), 11-31.
  33. Kumar, Rajesh. (2013). Linguistic analyses: Implications for language teaching. Language and Language Teaching, 1:2.4, 22-26.
  34. Kumar, Rajesh. (2013). Challenges of heritage language teaching. Fortell (Forum for Teachers of English Language and Literature), July 2013:27, 24-26.
  35. Nilu and Kumar, Rajesh. (2013). Multilinguality in academic institutes in India. Language and Language Teaching, 2:1, 01-04.
  36. Nilu and Kumar, Rajesh. (2012). Derivational complex predicate constructions in Magahi. Aligarh Journal of Linguistics, 2 (1-2), 29-40 (ISSN-2249-1511).
  37. Kumar, Rajesh. (2012). Linguistic theory and language acquisition (Knowledge of Language) in Language Teaching. Indian Journal of English Studies, 50, 371-382, (ISSN-0537-1988).
  38. Chandra, Pritha and Kumar, Rajesh. (2012). Alienable-inalienable possession distinctions: From syntax to semantics. Indian Linguistics, 73 (1-4), 35-45.
  39. Kumar, Rajesh and Nilu. (2012). Verbs in South Asian languages. International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, 41 (2), 01-16, (ISSN 0378-2484).
  40. Kumar, Rajesh. (2012). Multilinguality and English: Choice of language for education in India. Fortell (Forum for Teachers of English Language and Literature), September 2012: 25, 24-26.
  41. Kumar, Rajesh. (2010). Two types of NPIs in Hindi with one licensing condition. In Singh, R. (ed.) Annual Review of South Asian Languages and Linguistics (pp. 19-48). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton. 
  42. Benmamoun, Elabbas and Kumar, Rajesh. (2006). Overt licensing of NPIs in Hindi. In Singh, R. (ed.) The Yearbook of South Asian Languages and Linguistics (pp. 31-48). Berlin, New York: Mouton deGruyter.
  43. Kumar, Rajesh and Subbarao, Karumuri Venkata. (2005). Postposition incorporation and internally headed relative clauses in Hmar. In Yadava, Y. et al. (eds.) Contemporary issues in Nepalese Linguistics (pp. 129-138), Kathmandu: Linguistics Society of Nepal.
  44. Kumar, Rajesh. (2004). Negation in the clause structure of Hindi. In Adams, N., Cooper, A., Parrill, F., and Wier, T. (eds.) Proceedings of the 40th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 40 (1), 171-188.
  45. Kumar, Rajesh. (2001). Shift from Maithili to Hindi: A sociolinguistics study. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences, 31 (2), 127-142.

 Regular Offline Courses

  • Introduction to Linguistics
  • Principles and Parameters in Natural Language
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Advanced Linguistics
  • Language and Society in India
  • English Phonetics and Phonology
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Preparatory English

 NPTEL (Massive Online Open) Courses on Swayam

 Online B.Sc. Degree in Programming and Data Science

  • English – 1
  • English – 2
  • Title:     Creating English Language Proficiency for Air Traffic Services Professionals and English Language Trainers in consistent with Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)/International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) provisions Role:     Principal Investigator Agency: Airports Authority of India (AAI)
  • Title:     Linguistic Diversity of Assam Rooted in the Socio-Cultural Landscape of the North East of India Role:     Principal Investigator (Co-PI: Om Prakash, GBU, Greater Noida) Agency: ICSSR (Indian Council of Social Science Research)
  • Title:     Developing and Creating Proficiency in English Role:     Principal Investigator Agency: Fullerton India Credit Company Limited funded project, IIT Madras [2019-22].
  • Title:     Bringing Proficiency in English to Slum and Rural School Children Role:     Principal Investigator Agency: Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL)
  • Title:     Translating Higher Education MOOCs Video Lectures in Indian Languages ​​ Role:     Co-Principal Investigator (PI- Prathap Haridoss, Co-PIs- Abhijit Deshpande, and Andrew Thangraj of IIT Maras, Chennai) Agency:  Ministry of Education (formerly known as Ministry of Human Resource Development)
  • Title:     Content Development for A Reader on Language, Mind, and Society Role:     Principal Investigator (Co-PI R K Agnihotri) Agency: Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai