Accepted Paper:

Migration and the changing nature of multilingualism among the people of Byans, Far Western Nepal and adjacent regions  


Katsuo Nawa (The University of Tokyo)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I discuss the changing nature of multilingualism among the people of Byans, far western Nepal and adjacent regions, by focusing on recent development of language ideologies and practices among Rang migrants, based on my fieldwork in Darchula, Kathmandu, and the Greater Boston area.

Paper long abstract:

The people of Byans and two adjacent Himalayan regions share the ethnonym 'Rang' and their own language generally called 'Rang lwo' which actually consists of several sub-varieties. Many Rangs have traditionally been people 'on the move' as trans-Himalayan traders who use Tibetan and Pahari languages besides their mother tongue. The fact that the international border divided their homeland into the territories of two countries, India and Nepal, has made their multilingualism still more complicated, especially after the introduction of formal school education. Moreover, some Nepali Rangs have lived in Kathmandu for about 50 years, and from the 1990s a substantial number of Rangs in Nepal have migrated outside South Asia, temporarily or permanently. The largely 'successful' process of their migration has had various impacts on the nature of multilingualism of Rangs in their homeland and abroad, to which recent development of ICTs have added further twists.

In this paper I analyse the changing nature of multilingualism among Rangs in both practical and ideological levels, based on my fieldwork in Darchula where many Rangs in Nepali Byans have their winter houses, Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and the Greater Boston area. I deal with three ethnographic fragments: the language use in Rang gatherings in Kathmandu; a music clip made by a Rang migrant in the United States; and a speech made by a Rang groom who came back home from abroad for his own marriage during his marriage ceremony.

Panel RM-LL06
Speakers on the move: displacement, surveillance and engagement [IUAES Commission of Linguistic Anthropology]