A Sociolinguistic Survey of the Bhumij People of India

Statement of Responsibility:
Bailey, Troy and Loren Maggard
This sociolinguistic survey of the Bhumij people in the states of Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal had as a goal to determine whether language development would be feasible in the languages of Bhumij and Mundari. Preliminary sociolinguistic research was carried out, and data collection took place between September and mid-December 1996. Language use patterns among the Bhumij were found to vary from region to region. In Bihar, the Bhumij speak Bhumij primarily in the home and family domains. In Orissa, it appears that in the northern part of Mayurbhanj district, the Bhumij are in the process of shifting to Oriya, while the Bhumij in the southern part of the district continue to speak Bhumij as the vernacular. In West Bengal, in only a few isolated spots do the people retain Bhumij as their mother tongue. The researchers found no indication of negative attitudes toward the Mundari people or language which might prevent the Bhumij from accepting Mundari literature. Consequently, it is recommended that a dialect adaptation for the Bhumij be considered low priority, and proposed that Mundari literature be utilised for the Bhumij-speaking community. Literacy rates among the Bhumij population are quite low (15%), although responses to the survey questionnaires appear to indicate a favourable attitude toward literacy. The choice of script is an important issue to be addressed. The maps in this report were created by author Troy Bailey. (This survey report, written some time ago, deserves to be made available even at this late date. Conditions were such that it could not be published when originally written. Thus, the reader is cautioned that more recent research may be available. However, even if available, historical data is quite valuable as it provides a basis for a longitudinal analysis, and at the same time helps us understand both the trajectory and the pace of change as compared with more recent studies.—Editor)
130 pages
Table of Contents:
Preface -- 1 Introduction -- 1.1 People -- 1.2 Language -- 1.3 Previous survey -- 1.4 Purpose and goals -- 2 Linguistic aspects of Bhumij speech found in this survey -- 2.1 Lexical similarity comparison -- 2.2 Intelligibility testing -- 3 Social aspects of Bhumij speech found in this survey -- 3.1 Language use -- 3.2 Language attitudes -- 3.3 Bilingualism -- 4 Recommendations -- Appendices -- References
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