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The last variety of Western Bengali is the dialect spoken by the Mal-Paharias,
a Dravidian tribe which has abandoned its original customs and language, and has
become Hinduised. Its present language is a corrupt Bengali, included in which,
like flies in ambfir, we meet, here and there, a stray word of Dravidian birth. Accord-
ing to Mr. Risley, their latest describer, the tribe is probably of common origin
with the Males of Rajmahal, who still speak a Dravidian language. But its members
have become so thoroughly Hinduised, and are so shocked at the impure practices of
their northern cousins, that they deny all relationship.
The MSi-Paharias inhabit the centre portion of the District of the Sonthal
Parganas and the adjoining portion of the Birbhum District, but the dialect associated
with their name is only reported from the former district. The map opposite p. 59
shows the locality in which it is spoken. The number of speakers is estimated at
12,801. Hitherto, hardly anything was known about the language of this interesting
people. From their Dravidian origin, and from the fact that a few words of the
meagre vocabulary, which is all that has been available, are Dravidian, it has been
provisionally assumed that it belonged to the Dravidian family. The following speci-
men, for which I am indebted to the Rev. L. O. Skrefsradof Benagaria, shows, however,
that it is merely a corrupt Bengali.
The following are the authorities which I have seen regarding the Mal-Paharias :—
BUCHANAN-HAMILTON, Dr. Francis, apud The History, Antiquities* Topography, awl Statistics oj
Eastern India, by MONTGOJOBT MARTIN. London, 1838. There is an account of the tribe on
p. 126 of Vol. II.
DALTON, Edward Tuite, C.S.I., Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal. Calcutta, 1872. Account of the
tribe on p. 274 Vocabulary, p. 302.
HUNTEB, Sir W. W-, LL.D., K.O.S.I., Statistical Account of Bengal, Vol. XIV, Bhagalpur
and the Santal Parganas. London, 1877; Account of the tribe on p. 298.
SISLUT, H. H., O.I.E., The Tribes and Castes of Bengal Calcutta, 1891. Vol. H p. 66.
The language of the Mal-Paharias closely resemhles the Kharia-thar spoken in
Manbhum, of which examples have just been given. It is not» therefore, necessary to
give a full analysis of the various grammatical forms presented in the version of the
Parable printed below. The following remarks will be sufficient,
As in Kharia-thar, every n becomes cerebralised to n, which is strongly pronounced
as in Oriya and Western India. In the Bengali language, the letter n has lost its proper
pronunciation, and is pronounced like an ordinary dental n. Hence a ne^v device has
to be coined for representing the true sound of #. This is done, in the case of Mai-
Paharia, by writing the letter $ i.e.9 the letter r, with the following vowel nasalised.
Whenever this occurs, I have transliterated the whole as n.
In the conjugation of verbs, the third person singular of the past tense ends in *£, as
in Mia, he said. The following forms of the Perfect may be noted :—
kenchha, I have done.
dtfdchhas, thou hast given.
bachi&cJiha/i, he has survived.
The Conjunctive Participle is formed by adding henaJc, as in gutiai-henak, having
collected; g$ye-henaJc9 having gone; '.and many other instances.
Beogali ° *