Accepted paper:

Migrant Bengalis and the Survival of their language in non-Bengali Speaking States of India


Jayati Chatterjee (The English and Foreign Languages University)

Paper short abstract:

India has 18.60 million Bengali speakers outside West Bengal and Tripura. The paper investigates the linguistic impact of internal migration on Bengali. Key words: Migration, Language contact, Change in Bengali

Paper long abstract:

According to the Census of India (2001) Language, there are 83.36 million Bengali (here after Bangla) speakers in India out of which 64.76 million live in Bengali majority states of West Bengal and Tripura. The rest are scattered all over India. The paper proposes to explore the linguistic impact on Bangla when the Bengali migrants, whose first language is Bangla, communicate with the speakers of the dominant languages of the host states after domestic migration. To study what happens when Bangla, an Indo-European language encounters Hindi, a fellow Indo-European language or when Bangla meets Telugu, a Dravidian language or comes in contact with Austro-Asiatic language, Khasi, a sample of fifty educated, urban, migrant Bangla speakers in the age group of 15-75 are chosen from three Indian cities—Delhi, Hyderabad and Shillong. Hindi, Telugu and Khasi are the dominant respective state languages. The respondents supply the requisite data through questionnaires and unstructured interviews. Though Bangla is the home language, most of the young subjects (15-30) cannot use the language for reading or writing but are able to use it for speaking. Irrespective of the dominance of the state languages, Hindi has the maximum influence on Bangla, the language of the migrant Bengalis. The speech of the respondents exhibits some deviation from the standard Bangla at the morphological, pragmatic and phonological level. This change, though largely noticeable, is not indelible and hardly threatens the maintenance of standard Bangla.

panel MMM15
Migration and its linguistic consequences in South Asia and neighbouring regions