Language Vitality, Attitude and Endangerment: Understanding from Field Work among Lodha Speakers


Author: Shuvam Dutta (School of Languages & Linguistics, Jadavpur University, India)
Speaker: Shuvam Dutta
Topic: Language Contact and Change
CALA 2020 General Session


Abstract

Lodha is an Indo-Aryan language (Anderson, Gregory D. S. 2008), spoken in some villages of West Bengal, India. It mainly spreads through the jungle tracts of Midnapur, Kharagpur and Jhargram districts of West Bengal. The Lodhas are marginalized scheduled tribe groups in West Bengal, India, and were labeled as criminal tribes until the revocation of the Criminal Tribes’ Act of 1952.

This paper is descriptive and analytical in nature. An interview method was used to collect the primary data. The methods of data collection were mainly based on preliminary surveys, observation, interviews, and inquiry, in order to obtain the required data. As such, this paper has four objectives:

  • To realize the effect of Dominant language on Lodha.
  • To discuss the Language attitude of the Lodha community.
  • To observe the economic struggle of this community for a better life, and how this process effects their language.
  • To analysis the current state of Lodha language through UNESCO’s Language vitality factors.

First, this paper discusses the effect of the dominant languages. We collected a large lexical sample from the community, and have observed that the Lodha language is heavily influenced by the Bangla language. The lexical sets collected by the SRIELI project team evidence that much of the language has been borrowed from Bengali.

For example, the following presents a comparative list words.

English Lodha in IPA Bangla in IPA
Corn ɟonar bʰuʈʈa
Orange ɟamir kɔmla lebu
Garlic

rosun rosun
Carrot

gaɟor gaɟor

To raise their economy, the Lodha now attempt to interact with the non-tribal Indo-Aryan population, and to forget their own language. We thus discuss in detail their language attitudes, so to describe present Lodha communities. We also discuss the socio-economic conditions of Lodha, and how these conditions create a barrier against them. Finally, we also discuss this in our paper by elaborating on the situation. Finally, this paper assesses the nature and degree of language endangerment of Lodha, based on UNESCO’s Language Vitality and Endangerment framework.

References:
Anderson, Gregory D. S. 2008. The Munda Languages, Routledge Language Family Series.
Ghatak, Proggya. 2013. Stigmatized Identity and Social Exclusion: A Case Study on Lodhas of West Bengal: Social Action (Vol 63).
Panda, Santanu & Guha, Abhijit. 2013. Ground Realities of Development among the Lodhas in West Bengal: Journal of South Asian Anthropologist (ISSN: 0257-7348).
UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group on Endangered Languages, 2003. Language Vitality and Endangerment.

Keywords: Lodha, Socio-economic , Vitality, Endangerment, Attitude