Language Use and Language Labels in Community: Bhasha and Boli

  • Cynthia Groff
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Minority Languages and Communities book series (PSMLC)


This chapter analyzes local Kumauni understandings about language and dialect, which are best captured in the Hindi words bhasha and boli. A bhasha is distinct from a boli in that it has the form, the function, and the official status of a language. Yet, a boli or spoken variety also has value within its context. The varied use of these labels reflects a linguistic fluidity that seems quite natural to Kumauni young people and speaks to the emerging literature on the disinvention of language. Implications for community and identity include Kumaunis’ ability to claim both Hindi and Kumauni as their own, referring to either as mother tongue. This chapter provides, in some ways, a local response to the national-level language issues raised in Chapter  3.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia Groff
    • 1
  1. 1.Leiden UniversityThe HagueThe Netherlands

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