Meghalaya as a State was carved out of undivided Assam in 1972, with the Capital remaining in Shillong. Meghalaya emerged as a separate state following the non-violent Hill State movement which indirectly resulted from the redrawing of state territories based an linguistic lines, and the policy of using and promoting the regional language within the state the Khasi-Jaintia and Garo tribes resisted the imposition of Assamese as a State language, hence the Hill state movement.
Since both tribes speak different languages-Khasi (A.A family) and its dialects in the Khasi, Jaintia Hills and Garo (T.B Family) and its dialects in the Garo Hills- English was opted as the official language of the State, the language of Administration, the Judiciary, and of Higher Education. This did not pose any problem since English had been in use in all these domains since the British Raj and throughout the Post Independence era in undivided Assam. Moreover, the languages of the tribes were not sufficiently developed to express and communicate different aspects of modern democratic states, and of judiciary modeled on British Governance.
Khasi and Garo are thought in secondary schools mainly as MIL (Modern Indian Language) or/and, are mediums of instruction only in Primary sections in Non-English medium schools.
The national policy related to education recognizes the important languages at the national, regional, and communal level, i.e., Hindi as the Official National Language, obligatory at the schools level, one of the regional languages (basically one of the eighteen scheduled languages, recognized in the Eight Schedule), and the mother Tongue of the Child, at least at the Primary level English as the associate official language at the national level, is retained, considering its history in India, and its importance as a global language. However, there is no uniformly in the implementation of the Government language policies lie to various reasons. This includes the official Language Policy which recommends.
(a) Hindi as the official national language of India. (b) English as the subsidiary official language of India. (c) Regional Language (or the language of the state). (d) Mother tongue.
In Meghalaya certain problems can be identified in implementing the Language Policy:
(i) English has taken roots from Pre-Independence times, hence there is high motivation to know and use, English. English acts a link language between inter-ethnic contacts. English is also perceives as a language for education, social and economic upward mobility, besides being a global language in a global ‘village’. English therefore continues to be used extensively in formal and non formal domains.
(ii) The use of Hindi (i.e., ‘Bazar’ Hindi) in some non formal domains (market etc).
(iii) The Mother Tongue of the indigenous tribes belongs to different linguistic families and is mutually unintelligible. Both Khasi and Garo are inadequate for formal functions in the domains of administration, legislature, judiciary, education, and many modern ‘foreign’ concepts.
(iv) There is no ‘Regional’ language.
(v) Language development and language Planning is absent, except for individual efforts.
This year, 2005 both Khasi and Garo became ‘associate state languages’ by the Act, along with English.
2. History of Planning: Since there is no conscious effort on the part of the government, or of academic bodies for language planning there is no ‘History’ as such.
The process of standardization of Khasi began when Khasi was reduced to writing i.e., in 1841. It is only historical reason that made Sohra dialect as the standard variety, and a link language for the various regional dialects in the Khasi-Jaintia hills. Keeping the Christian root of tribal education in mind, it is fitting that the Bible, the Khasi Book of the Presbyterian Church, some school Primers and Readers, because the carriers of the evolving standard variety. Subsequently, all writers in the Khasi-Jaintia hills wrote in the Sohra variety, with very few exceptions. Sohra also became the standard variety for spoken communication across the length and breadth of the four districts, since some regional dialects are not intelligible to others.
The domains for the use of the standard dialect are in education, print media, advertisement, transport, audio-visual media, church services and meetings, meetings of the Seng Khasi and Sein Raj (Practising indigenous religious, political and other meeting) gatherings, rituals, and all informal situation.
Khasi (Sohra dialect) is use in the traditional institutions called Dorbar Hima, Dorbar syiem, Dorbar Raid, Dorbar Shnong, different levels of councils in the traditional form of governance which runs parallel with legislatures. Khasi is used in the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, Pnar is used in the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council and Garo in the Garo Hills Autonomous district Council, at the level of state Assembly, English is used.
The standard variety in the written form has existed only for 131 years for Khasi Years for Garo. As language is dynamic, the need to modernize is felt by both language communities, especially in the area of vocabulary.
Along with the new religion (Christianity) and new form of governance, education, science and technology, many new concepts and terminology has to be coined, or borrowed eg. Khasi borrowed the words “Assembly” “District Council” “Minister”, “MLA”, “Literashor” (Literature) “Kolshor” (Culture), “Skul” (School), “Kolej” (College), and coined words like ‘diengphna’ (Cross), ‘Ingmane’ (Church), ‘Myntri Rangbah’ (Chief Minister), ‘Lat’ (Governor), ‘Sker’ (Contexts of a book), ‘Iing-dew-bilat’ (Concrete buildings) and so on. The vocabulary has considerably increased with borrowings from English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali etc., and coinages to express new concept, or new things/events.
Besides vocabulary enlargement, spelling also has been modernized, as discussed in earlier sections.
(c) Script Reform – none, except the change from Bengali script to Roman script as discussed earlier. (d) Language Movement – The resistance to the imposition of Assamese, as discussed earlier.
Among some sections of the Khasi society there is a small movement for the development of the Khasi language and literature. The Khasi Authors’ Society, and the Department of Khasi in the North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, is two prominent agencies for development.
As stated earlier, there is no conscious language Planning, hence effects of Planning cannot be discussed.
(a) Governmental- only in bringing in the Act making Khasi and Garo as the associate official languages in Meghalaya. (b) Government- aided institutions- The Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBOSE) and other Board, to implement the learning and teaching
of the Mother Tongue, Hindi and English.
1. Code Switching and Code mixing: Are found among all sections of people. Code switching will be from one dialect and another (especially the standard and non-standard varieties), one language and another (Khasi – English among the Educated, Khasi- and any language, depending on the interlocutor and the situations). The same can be said for Code mixing.
2. Borrowing: There is borrowing from English, and from Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi, Bengali, Assamese etc. Because of contact situation and because of the need to expand the vocabulary.
For Example: English: Teapot, T.V, radio, mobile, computer etc. Hindi: mej, dawai, ut (uth), kulap, (gulap). Assamese: Bengali: Urdu: Legal words like ‘hajir’ [hazi’r],
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