Himalayan Linguistics: A Sociolinguistic Study of the Baram Language

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himalayan linguistics
A free refereed web journal and archive devoted to the study of the languages of the Himalayas Himalayan Linguistics A sociolinguistic study of the Baram language Tej Ratna Kansakar Yogendra Prasad Yadava Krishna Prasad Chalise Balaram Prasain Dubi Nanda Dhakal Krishna Paudel Tribhuvan University, Nepal


This paper reports on a sociolinguistic study of the Baram language undertaken as a part of the Linguistic and Ethnographic Documentation of the Baram Language (LEDBL) project funded by the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (HRELDP) and hosted by the Central Department of Linguistics at Tribhuvan University in Nepal. This study, carried out in different Baram-speaking areas in the Gorkha District (Western Nepal), is based on the analysis of data collected by the LEDBL team between May 2007 and April 2010, employing tools such as sociolinguistic questionnaires and Swadesh Wordlist, as well as interpersonal interactions and conversations with members of the Baram community and Baram language consultants. The main objectives of this sociolinguistic study were to: i. Identify the areas of Baram settlement; ii. Gather information about Baram speakers; iii. Collect details about various sociolinguistic aspects of the language such as the language name, language variation, knowledge and use of the language, language attitudes, vitality and maintenance, and the level of language endangerment.

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Baram, linguistic survey, language endangerment, language use, lexical similarities and differences, language documentation, language variation This is a contribution from Himalayan Linguistics, Vol. 10(1) [Special Issue in Memory of Michael Noonan and David Watters]: 187–225. ISSN 1544-7502 © 2011. All rights reserved. This Portable Document Format (PDF) file may not be altered in any way. Tables of contents, abstracts, and submission guidelines are available at www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/HimalayanLinguistics

Himalayan Linguistics, Vol. 10(1). © Himalayan Linguistics 2011 ISSN 1544-7502

A sociolinguistic study of the Baram language
Tej Ratna Kansakar Yogendra Prasad Yadava Krishna Prasad Chalise Balaram Prasain Dubi Nanda Dhakal Krishna Paudel Tribhuvan University, Nepal 1 The Baram people: Language names, settlements, and demographics

Beginning with nomenclature, two alternative terms, Baram and Baramu, are used as both ethnonyms and glossonyms. Variants of these terms have been used to refer to the Baram in the past; Hodgson (1847) and Grierson (1909) used Bhramu, while Bista (1980) used both Bhra:mu and Ba:rhmu. The Baram people, however, prefer to call themselves Balbang,1 which means ‘people’ or ‘human kind’ in their language. The Baram people are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group. Physically they resemble the Gurungs and Magars, but linguistically and culturally they are very different from any of the neighboring Tibeto-Burman communities. The 2001 Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) report of Nepal shows that the main area where the Baram people are settled is in the central-southern part of the Gorkha district of western Nepal, along the Daraundi and Budhigandaki rivers and their tributaries. A very small number of these people live in the Dhading, Lalitpur, Lamjung, Tanahun, and Syangja districts. According to this report, the total population of the Baram community is 7383, which constitutes 0.01% of the total population of Nepal. Most of them (viz. 6709 or 90.9%) live in the Gorkha district while the rest of them live in the other parts of Nepal. Figure 1 presents the distribution of the Baram people in the Gorkha district, their mainland.

1 This word is a compound form in which bal means ‘human’ and bang means ‘group’ or class; it is used in the villages where people still speak the Baram language. The villages where people have given up speaking the language use the term ‘Baram’.

Himalayan Linguistics, Vol 10(1)

Figure 1. Distribution of...
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