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New dialect claim in US linguist discovery

Mohammad Jehangir Warsi, a US-based linguist with roots in Darbhanga, has claimed to have traced a new Urdu dialect spoken in Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, Samastipur and Begusarai districts of north Bihar.

However, language experts in the state have not accepted Warsi’s claim.

The professor said the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language under the Union ministry of human resource development published his findings in December, 2012.

“Muslims speak with non-Muslims in Maithili, with literate persons in either Hindi or Urdu. However, when they communicate among themselves, they speak this new dialect, different from Maithili, Urdu and Hindi and without a script,” said Warsi, who teaches Indian languages at Washington University in St Louis.

During his visits to India every summer since 2003, Warsi studied the new dialect. He said: “I spent my childhood in Mithilanchal and completed my school education. I always thought about this spoken dialect. Fortunately, I completed my higher education in linguistics and got a chance to look at this dialect closely. ”

He has given the nomenclature of Mithilanchal Urdu to this dialect, which 15 per cent of the population in the five districts speak.

Warsi found the verb, conjugation and sentence structure of the dialect different from one other. “Syntactic pattern of this dialect is different from Maithili, Urdu and Hindi. However, to some extent it uses the lexical items from that of Maithili, Urdu and Hindi. For example, in Hindi, one would say: ‘Hum jaa rahain hain (I am going)’, in Maithili, ‘Hum jaay rahal chhii’, in Urdu, ‘Hum jaa rahain hain’ and ‘Ham jaa rahaliya hae’ in the new dialect. There is no agentive marker ‘ne’ in Mithilanchal Urdu and only one second person pronoun ‘tu’ instead of ‘tu, tum and aap’. These examples make it clear that the verb conjugation in the new dialect is completely different from that of Hindi, Urdu, and Maithili,” Warsi said.

Countering Warsi’s claim, Dr Birendra Jha, head of the department of Maithili department of Patna University, said: “This so-called new dialect is a figment of Warsi saheb’s imagination. In Darbhanga and Madhubani, Muslims sing songs in Maithili while raising the tazia. There may be a change in tones spoken in different classes and sections of people living in Mithilanchal but all of them speak Maithili. The Muslims there do speak Hindi but not a new dialect.”