Forwarded query from a French researcher about Garhwali

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 8 14:37:09 UTC 2010

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Forwarded From: Frédéric MORONVAL <frederic.moronval at>

I'm a French teacher of French language for foreigners in Paris. I did
a BA of Indian Litterature and Civilization long ago (it consisted
mostly of Sanskrit, history of arts, and introduction to Hindi), and
now besides my job I'm doing a MA in Linguistics, with specialization
in Language Policy. My topic is the sociolinguistic situation of the
Garhwali language in the indian state of Uttarakhand.
I'm going to spend two weeks there from April 19th onwards, to conduct
a questionnaire survey on the use of Garhwali in the area of Dehradun.

 I would like to ask [if anyone has information about Garhwali] for
the research paper I have to submit in June :

1. In the 2001 Census of India, dozens of languages (among which is
Garhwali) are listed as 'mother tongues' under the entry 'Hindi
language'. Surprisingly, Hindi itself appear among these 'mother
tongues' as well. The other 'mother tongues' are hence neither listed
as scheduled languages nor as non-scheduled ones, therefore having no
hope to become listed in the 8th schedule one day.
Am I right to think that to count dozens of languages as some kind of
inferior varieties or dialects of hindi (what else the term 'mother
tongue' could refer to?) is a trick to inflate the number of Hindi
speakers in the census?

2. Isn't it wrong to present Urdu and Hindi as different languages
since in their daily usage they differ only by their alphabet? There
are more differences between some so called dialects of Hindi than
between Urdu and Hindi.

3. Don't you think that the three language formula and actually any
kind of officialization of languages creates a hierarchy and a
competition between languages which didn't exist before, which is a
source of radicalization and conflict between linguistics groups and
which condemns the smaller languages to disappear since their are not
competitive on this political and economic language market ?

4. Would you agree to say that the criteria for the admission of a
language in the 8th schedule aren't clear at all ? Sanskrit, whose
number of mother tongue speakers in the whole country is mentioned as
negligible, has been established in December as the second official
language of the State of Uttrakhand by its BJP Prime Minister, whereas
Garhwali and Kumaoni which are spoken by millions in the State have no

5. I don't know how they ask the questions during the Census survey.
How would you suggest me to ask the people about the language they
speak at home, for instance? If they have a feeling that their
language isn't valuable, they might stress their knowledge of dominant

Would you allow me to send you my questionnaire for checking when completed

Do you have any suggestion to prepare and/or conduct my survey?

Do you know personaly any specialist of the situation in Uttarakhand,
Indian or else, in India or eslwhere, who would agree to give me his

Thank you so much, and just be sure that the very precious analysis
contained in your article will be the main reference for my analysis
of general indian language policy.

Looking forward to your reply

Frederic Moronval

Tous les courriers électroniques émis depuis la messagerie
de Sciences Po doivent respecter des conditions d'usages.
Pour les consulter rendez-vous sur



Hal Schiffman



Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at

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