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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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Linguistic Relationships: Bhojpuri and Standard Hindi. A View from the Western Hemisphere Surendra K. Gambhir

Introduction

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Linguistic Relationships: Bhojpuri and Standard Hindi

A View from the Western Hemisphere

Surendra K. Gambhir

Like people, languages also develop relationships during their life journey. Linguistic relationships develop through genealogical descent or through language contact (WEINREICH 1974). Once developed, such relationships continue to stay intact even during diasporic voyages of their speakers. Such relationships are notions that become a part of the speakers’ mindset, and continue to remain so wherever they go. These notions not only stay with the speakers but are further bequeathed to successive generations.

This paper examines the relationship of various rural varieties of the so-called Bihari language group with members of ‘Hindi’ languages1 in diasporic settings of the Western Hemisphere. Speakers of both Bihari and “Hindi” language forms emigrated from India to Guyana during 1838–1917 as part of what is commonly called the “second diaspora” of South Asians (cf. MESTHRIE 2008). In India, these people lived in different areas and spoke various tongues, but after relocation to Guyana they were forced to live near, see and communicate with each other on a daily basis. Such an intense interaction among them finally converted them into one unified speech community.

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