Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi in India have such structural similarities
that linguists have gone to suggest that they are three manifestations of a single language. L. M. Khubchandani calls the entire
North-Indian region as the HUP region. There was a time when
Urdu was the language of education in the entire region. Whether
it was due to imperial pressure or love of Urdu, religion was not
a factor against Urdu education.
The ‘communal’ character of languages in India led to a
situation where there were no sharp boundaries between languages
and dialects. Even the language boundaries were fuzzy. Variety,
which became focussed because of good literature, regal or religious support was treated as language. When it faded because of
the shift in focus, it was treated as dialect. The inclusive logic
permeating Indian thinking which permitted co-existence of different cultural entities helped the growth and maintenance of such
a situation. Thus at times Awadhi, Braj, Maithili were treated as
languages, at other times they were treated as dialects. For a variety of reasons Urdu remained focussed for a long time and was
treated as a separate language."
For long time separate identity of Punjabi was questioned.
Even the Sikh Gurus used Bhakha in the Grantha Saheb. But _
once religion was made a factor for separate identity, the language
of religion naturally assumed a separate sanctity for its practitioners. In the case of Punjabi, since the language of Adi Grantha
is not what is known as Punjabi now, it was the script which was .
treated as the defining factor of the group. No wonder that in
successive censuses, people of that region returned Gurumukhi as
their mother tongue.
Adoption of the dominant regional language as culture language to be used in domains other than the intimate domains by
minority and settlers was a natural thing. While Hindi provided
a macro identity to a host of languages thus creating a loose dialect
language relation, the Sindhi Hindi mother tongue label transfer,
the Bengali-Assamese mother-tongue transfer in Assam and the
declaration of regional languages as mother tongues by tribals and
other minority groups was a natural process. The latest manifestation of this feature is in Abohar and Fazilka area, where the
Wagadis once counted as Punjabi’s, declared themselves as Hindi
speakers and upset the calculation of many political pundits.
It is in this context that maintenance studies in India have to.
be seen. In India where determined minorities have retained their
loyalty to their language under most inhospitable conditions as
Saurashtri in Tamilnadu and people are willing to sacrifice their
languages on the alter of privilege as in the case of those preferring
English to the exclusion of their language. maintenance must be
seen as a spectrum. Documentation of various contact situations, ,
differing attitudes of speakers towards each other’s language and
the change 1 lingo-centric socio political behaviour over period
of time is bound to provide fresh insights into the study of this
The present study is a contribution to this aspect of Socio-linguistics which has held the interest of scholars in different parts of the world. If this adds to the existing knowledge in the field,
then our efforts would have been rewarded.
I congratulate all those responsible for the publication of this
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