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Full text of "Linguistic Survey Of India Vol V Part I Indo Aryan Family Eastern Group"

119

1V.-NORTHERN BENGAL.
The standard of the northern dialect of Bengali may he taken to he the form of
the language which is spoken in the District of Dinajpur. To the west, it merges into
the Maithill dialect of Bihari, through the Siripuria sub-dialect in Eastern Purnea. To
the east and north, it becomes the well-marked dialect spoken in Rangpur, Jalpaiguri
and the neighbouring Districts to the east and known as Eajbaiigsi, To the south, in
Rajshahi and Pabna, it more nearly approaches the standard dialect of Central Bengali
The dialect is spoken in the following Districts,óRajshahi, Dinajpur, Bogra, and
Pabna.
The whole of this tract has, within historic times, been subject to the Koch tribes
who invaded it from Cooch Bihar, Assam, and Eastern Bengal, and members of the tribe
still exist in each District. They were originally reported as speaking their original Koch
language, but an examination of the specimens of their language which I have received
shows that they have given up their original speech, and now only speak a more or less
corrupt variety of Northern Bengali. Careful enquiries made on the spot have elicited
the fact that, even in the privacy of their homes, and when speaking to members of
their own tribe, these Koch speak only Bengali In the four Districts abovementioned,
their language does not differ from that of other peasants of the locality.
The dialect is also spoken in the east of Malda District. Here, there are some
65,000 people of Koch origin, who while they have abandoned their original language,
speak an impure Bengali, differing from that of their neighbours belonging to other
castes. The remaining speakers of Bengali speak a variety of the northern dialect*
Malda, as the meeting place of several languages, would form an interesting study to the
comparative philologist. Curiously enough, language is much more distributed by race
than according to locality, so that in one and the same village in the east of the District
four or five languages may be heard spoken. Bengali, Bihari, Santali, Koch-Bengali,
and others all meet in this District on equal terms. The Bengali of the District, though
of the northern variety, is much infected by the neighbouring Bihari, and this is
specially true of the sub-dialect spoken by the Koch, and is its special point of
difference. Its grammar shows remarkable points of agreement with Oriya.
Another sub-dialect of Northern Bengali is found in the north-east of the District
of Purnoa. It is called Siripuria from the name, ^ripur, of the pargana in which it is
most prevalent, aijd also Kishanganjia, from the principal town of the sub-division of
that name. It is largely mixed with idioms borrowed from the neighbouring Bihari,
and is even written in the Kaithl character which is that usually adopted for writing
that language. The people who speak it are mostly of Koch origin. Of these, some
456,000 are Musalmans, and some 136,000 are still called Koch. A wild tribe entitled
Kuraria also speaks the same sub-dialect Of these there are about 11,500. These
three classes were originally returned as speaking three different languages, but further
inquiry shows that they all speak the same language, Siripuria, which closely resembles
the Koch-Bengali spoken in Malda. The total number of people returned from Purnea
as speaking Siripuria is 603,623. Its westerfi limit, and hence the western limit of
Bengali, may be roughly taken as the River Mahananda*