An ethnolinguistic repositioning of the Balmiki language of Odisha
A bibliographic appraisal
Language identification is a complex process. In most cases, the processes of language identification by governmental agencies are based on their political compulsions and intentions. Even objective studies made by linguists are not free from the flaws of their philosophical background. This kind of lack of objectivity in establishing linguistic identities may lead to linguistic right movements. In this context, an ethnolinguistic analysis to establish the identity of a language becomes important. The cases of Balmiki and Kupia represent a situation where the linguistic identities of many languages are equally disputable due to the lack of scientific and objective studies. They are listed as different languages in many governmental and non-governmental reports. Linguists who have worked on these languages held the view that Balmiki is an isolated language spoken in Odisha only and is certainly different from Kupia, which is spoken in Andhra Pradesh. The present study attempts to ascertain the ethnolinguistic position of Balmiki vis-à-vis Kupia using bibliographical evidence. It concludes that Balmiki and Kupia are one and the same language. It also finds that it is well recorded and studied by different scholars since long.
Keywords: Balmiki, Kupia, Valmiki, Walmiki, ethnolinguistics, tribal language, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh
Published online: 11 December 2020
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