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The purpose of this sociolinguistic survey of the Tharu dialects of the Indo-Nepal Tarai was to investigate three areas: 1) socio-cultural factors: to discover important social, cultural, and geographic information about the Tharu; 2) strategic factors: to determine the best strategy for work among the Tharu; and 3) the need for mother tongue literature and literacy classes: to determine whether or not the Tharu desire written materials and literacy classes in their mother tongue, and if so, where.
Data collection for this survey began in September 1992 and was completed in November of the same year. The survey team, eight others besides myself, did an outstanding job in administering over 400 recorded text tests, 190 sentence repetition tests, and 100 language use and attitude questionnaires, and in collecting fifteen wordlists, all in less than two months! The team covered a huge area—by bus, train, rickshaw, bicycle, and on foot.
Towards fulfilling the first two purposes of this survey, the investigation of socio-cultural and strategic factors, we can claim only partial success. So much more could be learned about the Tharu, but the solid foundation of cultural observation and experience by the team provides a sound basis for achieving the goals that relate to these purposes. Conclusions remain tentative, and the team remains sensitive to their need to continue as learners of the rich and complex Tharu culture.
(This survey report written some time ago deserves to be made available even at this late date. Conditions were such that it was not published when originally written. The reader is cautioned that more recent research may be available. Historical data are quite valuable as a basis for longitudinal analysis and help us understand both the trajectory and pace of change as compared with more recent studies.—Editor)