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Bihari languages

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Title: Bihari languages  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Bihari culture, Fiji Hindi, Magahi language, Sadri language, Angika language
Collection: Bihari Languages, Culture of Bihar, Hindi Languages, Languages of India
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Bihari languages

Linguistic classification: Indo-European
ISO 639-1: bh
ISO 639-2 / 5: bih
Glottolog: biha1245[1]

Bihari is the western group of Eastern Indic languages, spoken in Bihar and neighboring states in India. Angika, Bajjika, Bhojpuri, Magahi, and Maithili are spoken in Nepal as well. The Angika, Bajjika, Bhojpuri, Magahi and Maithili speaking population form more than 21% of Nepalese population. Despite the large number of speakers of these languages, they have not been constitutionally recognised in India, except Maithili, which gained constitutional status via the 92nd amendment to the Constitution of India, of 2003 (gaining assent in 2004).[2] Even in Bihar, Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters.[3] These languages were legally absorbed under the overarching label Hindi in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerments.[4] After independence Hindi was given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950.[5] Hindi was displaced as the sole official language of Bihar in 1981, when Urdu was accorded the status of the second official language. In this struggle between Hindi and Urdu, the claims of the three large native languages of the region – Angika, Bhojpuri and Magahi, were ignored.


  • Speakers 1
  • Languages included in Bihari group 2
  • See also 3
  • External links 4
  • References and footnotes 5


The number of speakers of Bihari languages is difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban region most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The educated and the urban population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language.[6]

The relationship of Maithili community with Angika, Bhojpuri and Magahi communities – the immediate neighbors have been neither very pleasant nor very hostile. These two groups have rather been very envious of the series of achievements – both literary and socio-political. But Maithili has been the only one among them which has been trying to constantly deny superimposition of Hindi over her identity. The other three have given up their claims and have resigned to accept the status of dialects of Hindi.

Languages included in Bihari group

Language[7] ISO 639-3 Scripts No. of Speakers[6] Geographical Distribution
Angika anp Previously Anga Lipi; Devanagari 60,000,000 North Bihar and Eastern Bihar, North-eastern Jharkhand, West Bengal, Nepal
Bajjika Devanagari 8,738,000 North-Central Bihar Eastern Terai
Bhojpuri bho Previously Kaithi; Devanagari 38,546,000 Western Bihar, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Central Terai, Southern Nepal
Fiji Hindi[8] hif Latin and Devanagari 460,000 Fiji Islands
Kudmali kyw Devanagari, Chis (also suggested as its possible script) 37,000 Eastern Jharkhand, West Bengal
Magahi mag Previously Kaithi; Devanagari 20,362,000 South-Western Bihar
Maithili mai Maithili variant of Eastern Nagari script, Devanagari 250,000 Northern Bihar, Official Status in Madhesh, Nepal
Majhi mjz N.A 21,841 Eastern Bihar, Nepal
Musasa smm N.A 50,000 Eastern Bihar, Nepal
Panchpargania tdb Devanagari, sometimes Bengali & Kaithi 274,000 West Bengal Jharkhand Assam
Sadri sck Devanagari 165,683 Jharkhand Bihar and Bangladesh
Khortha sdr Eastern Nagari script, Devanagari 1,965,000 Northern Jharkhand
Sarnami Hindustani[9] hns Latin, Devanagari 150,000 Suriname
Surajpuri sjp Devanagari 273,000 North-eastern Bihar

See also

External links

  • By August Friedrich Rudolf Hoernle, Sir George Abraham Grierson (1885)A Comparative dictionary of the Bihārī language, Volume 1
  • Translation of useful phrases in Angika, Bhojpuri and Maithili
  • Angika Language WorldHeritage
  • Google Search Engine in Angika Language
  • Nalanda Open University offers courses on Bihari languages (Magahi, Bhojpuri, Maithili)

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Bihari".  
  2. ^ "The Constitution (Ninety-Second Amendment) Act, 2003". National Portal of India. 7 January 2004. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Damani, Guarang (2015). "History of Indian Languages". Die-hard Indian. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Verma, Mahandra K. "Language Endangerment and Indian languages : An exploration and a critique". Linguistic Structure and Language Dynamics in South Asia. 
  5. ^ Brass, Paul R. (8 September 1994). The Politics of India Since Independence (Second ed.).  
  6. ^ a b  
  7. ^ Bihari Languages
  8. ^ "Form of Bihari and Awadhi, spoken by Fiji Indians"
  9. ^ "Form of Bihari with Awadhi influence spoken by Surinamers of Indian descent"
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