Abhishek Avtans talks about the apabhraṃśa, a word that refers to the middle stage of the Indo-Aryan languages, crucial links between ancient languages like Sanskrit, and modern South Asian languages such as Hindi, Bangla, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Marathi, Nepali, and others. The first mention of apabhraṃśas is in Mahabhasya, a 2nd century BCE text by Patanjali, where the author refers to languages considered deviations from Sanskrit. However, research into apabhraṃśas, for the same reason, has become crucial in dispelling notions of linguistic purity and politics that is dependent on these notions.

Abhishek Avtans is a lecturer of Indic language/s at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He
loves to work on literature and linguistics of languages spoken in south Asia. He has contributed
in making dictionaries of Great Andamanese, Bhojpuri and Brajbhasha. He writes a column
Dialectical for the Himal SouthAsian Magazine. He tweets at @avtansa.

Image: © 2021 Saronik Bosu

(the stanza of verse in the image comes from the text of Bāhubalī rāsa by 13th Century AD Jain poet Shalibhadra Suri, it is an onomatopoeic stanza that describes the activities done by elephants, soldiers and horses.)

Music used in promotional material: “Rajasthani Folk Instrumental Music” by Rupayan Sansthan, Jodhpur, from the collection of Shri Komal Kothari

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In this episode Kim talks to Adrienne Raphel about crossword puzzles.

For lots more about crosswords, check out Adrienne’s book Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can’t Live Without Them (Penguin Random House, 2021)

For some of the historical puzzles she mentions in the episode, Adrienne recommends The Curious History of the Crossword: 100 Puzzles from Then and Now by Ben Tausig.
If you’re inspired to start doing crosswords and looking for some guidance, she suggests the New York Times guide: “How to Solve The New York Times Crossword.”
For more on cryptic crosswords, check out Stephen Sondheim’s article “How to Do a Real Crossword Puzzle.” New York Magazine (April 1968). Also on cryptics, Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon’s book The Random House Guide to Cryptic Crosswords (Random House, 2003) is out of print but very good. And the crossword blog in The Guardian has lots of cryptic crosswords too.

Adrienne is a poet, scholar, and lecturer in the Princeton writing program. She has a super cool web site with links to all the other amazing things she’s written!

Our cover photo shows the stage set from Puzzles of 1925, a crossword musical! The digital image is from the White Studio Theatrical Photography Collection at the New York Public Library.

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