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Defining the Indefinable: Delimiting Hindi

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Edited By Agnieszka Kucziewicz-Fras

The nine extensive essays of this volume are by specialists on South Asia whose research focus includes the extremely complicated problematics of the linguistic situation there. It is devoted to the broadly understood problem of defining Hindi as well as indicating the different ranges of its use. The authors of the included texts come from Europe, the USA and India, and grapple with questions such as what Hindi is, how it functions in the social, political and cultural dimensions of present-day India, and how it is being used by authorities and various influential actors at different levels of Indian reality. The volume should be important and useful for all those who are interested in Hindi, its official and non-official status, and in Indian linguistic policy and politics generally.
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Hindi as a Contact Language of Northeast India Anvita Abbi and Maansi Sharma

1.Introduction

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Hindi as a Contact Language of Northeast India1

Anvita Abbi and Maansi Sharma

Hindi in its various avatāra-s is used all over India as a link language; out of all the Indian languages this is the only one which is an acceptable lingua franca across the whole country. Other than the Indian states and union territories where Hindi is recognised as one of the official languages, or the official language,2 besides English, it functions as the link to connect various disparate non-Hindi mother tongue speakers. The most significant attribute of Hindi is that its usefulness for national integration is rated uniformly high across the whole of India including the South (ABBI/GUPTA/GARGESH 1998–2000).

In some states of the heterogeneous Northeast, Hindi is not merely a lingua franca, but fulfils all the requirements of a major language of the community. It enjoys prestige and power, as many consider Hindi a ladder to promotion and development in the society, besides English and in different circumstances. As one of the two official languages of the whole Indian union, it is a language of priorities and is symbolised as being ‘modern.’ In the following pages, we would like to discuss the emergence of this ‘highly acceptable’ language of ‘wider communication,’ Hindi, in a particular setting.

Our results are based on the fieldwork conducted in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya (MODI 2005, SHARMA 2011–2012), two states of Northeast India known for its linguistic diversity...

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