(Last Updated on : 09/01/2010)
The dominant tribal languages of Jharkhand are either the scheduled languages belonging to the Indo-Aryan family or their dialects. Interestingly, the dominated tribal languages are those of the Munda and the Dravidian language families. Communication within this complex linguistic network has generated bi or multilingual peoples, with interaction between various indigenous groups such as Kharia (Munda) and Oraon as well as between those of various dominant languages and their dialects such as Hindi and Sadani/Sadari. The resultant scene is of a unique nature where minority community is on higher level at the 'scale of bilingual proficiency' than the dominant majority communities.
However, the contact-induced changes in the tribal languages of Jharkhand such as Kurux and Kharia have led to linguistic typological homogeneity on the one hand, and to a tendency to language attrition, on the other. In the tug of war between language maintenance, retention of mother tongues and language proficiency in the dominant/contact languages, the tribal language have begun passing through a transition and language change and language convergence postponing or avoiding the expected language obsolescence situation. The paradoxical oscillation between language maintenance and language loss or shift is a natural consequence of high rate of bilingualism prevailing in the state of Jharkhand
In Jharkhand, bilingualism prevails between intra-tribal and inter-tribal communities. Hence, it is quite expected that a Kharia language speaker will have a working knowledge of Kurux and Sadari. Fortunately, none of the tribal languages of the area has reached this extreme. However, danger signs of languages attrition are visible in the loss of basic vocabulary, borrowings of Indo-Aryan lexicons and morphological processes as well as in the change of word order. Interestingly, despite the fact that these tribal languages of Jharkhand seem to be linguistically converged, they do serve as the identity markers of their respective speech communities. One of the important factors determining the sociolinguistic status of the tribal languages in Jharkhand is the urbanization and rapid industrialization. Thus, an interesting linguistic scene emerges stating that the tribal languages in Jharkhand undergo a drastic change towards a typological homogeneity. These tribal languages also expand in their linguistic structures. Thus the dominated tribal languages of this central region of India shrink as well as conflate at the same time.
Jharkhand offers ample opportunity for disparate and diverge speech communities to interact with each other. Hence, the tribal languages of the area have begun utilising this opportunity by changing and converging themselves to the mainstream linguistic structures.