SURESH RAMPHUL

No language ever remains static. Every day new words are coming up to form part of Bhojpuri: “ham Metro Express mein vwayaze karli” (I’ve travelled by…), “CSU ke kontakte karya” (contact the CSU), “chala shopping mall” (let’s go…), “hamar beta bisiklet elektrik kinle ba” (my son has bought an electric bicycle”, “remote control-wa kahan ba?” (where is the remote control?), “legim me bahut pestisid servi karelansa, chahela bio kine ke” (they overuse pesticides in vegetables, we must buy organic), “hamar portab” (my cellphone), “program-wa download kardiya” (download the programme for me), “hamar beti call centre mein kaam karela” (my daughter works in a call centre), “1% cash back mile la” (you get 1% cash back), “ham You Tube mein album-wa sounle hay” (I’ve listened to the album on…), “toke chahela ego terapi suiv kareke” (You must follow a therapy), “discount mile la” (you obtain a discount).

Bhojpuri speakers may use words from kreol morisien, French, English or other languages because there may not be alternatives or it may simply be out of habit.  Moreover, the speaker, not too fluent in Bhojpuri, may find that borrowed words allow him to manage to put across his idea, like in “volim-wa thora bese karda” (Please lower the volume), “laport-wa ke kadna tout gal” (The padlocks’s broken”).  Certain words cannot be avoided: vaccin, masin a lave, seswar, dantis, spesialis, late night shopping, “hamar mont ke batri fini hogal” (the battery of my watch isn’t working), Open Day, loan, labank, biro sekirite social, kart fidelite.

Borrowed words enrich a language and allow communication to take place. It may seem awkward but as long as they establish communication, it may be all right.  An old woman wants to buy an electronic gadget.  She’s asking for details: “Babu, kaun garanti ba ke laparey-wa mark japone ba?” (My son, what guarantee is there that this is Japanese made?”  The salesman may not understand Bhojpuri but nonetheless gets the gist of the message from the contextual clues.

Here are genuine examples of words from other languages found in Bhojpuri: “fim-wa kab khelata?” (When will the film be shown?), “enn per savat leponz kin diya” (Buy me a pair of thongs), “biskwi-wa ketna?” (How much does the biscuit cost?), “bazaar jat hawa?” (Are you going to the market?), “terin vag mein okar salte phek delak” (He has dumped his rubbish in an abandoned land), “dood mein melanze kar diya” (Mix it in the milk), “tablo lefase karke” (after cleaning the board), “ham lagazet mein dekli” (I’ve read in the newspaper), “bis-wa tarde karata” (The bus is late), “liv-wa bwat mein rak deli” (I’ve kept the book in the box), “devwar karke” (after finishing your homework), “taxi mein kaam karela” (He works in a taxi).

“Plim se tohar naam signe kara” (Sign your name with a pen), “dokter ka bolata?” (What is the doctor saying?), “dapre sondaz ouhi Presidan bani” (According to surveys/The general impression is that he’ll be the President), “sapit-wa revise karye accha se” (Revise the chapter thoroughly), “kal konze piblik ba” (Tomorrow it’s a public holiday), “kalandriye mein cheke karya” (Check in a calendar”), “hamke telefone karye phadire” (Call me in the morning), “aktris-wa ke foto paz 10 mein ba” (The photo of the actress is on page 10), “tohar nimero telefon sanze kar diya” (You must change your phone number), “kamion salte chal gal?” (Is the scavenging lorry gone?), “lasiet, kouyer, fourset sab accha se dho diye” (Wash the plates, the spoons and the forks well), “divors mile ke fasil naiba” (It’s not easy to obtain a divorce), “tor baap ke roti mein ek dougo pima konfi dal diye” (put one or two pickled chillies in your father’s bread), “takaria mein zepis manke ba” (the curry lacks spices).

“Dantifris fini hogal” (The toothpaste is finished), “tohar kart idantite auri tohar lak-de-nesans leke aya kal” (Bring your identity card and your birth certificate tomorrow), “loto ke larou” (The car’s wheel), “bis-wa mein duz plas standing ba” (Twelve passengers can stand in the bus), “mo-wa souligne karde” (Underline the word), “larmwar, lili, latab, sez, sab kuch aag mein jal gal” (The fire has destroyed everything), “geet-wa bara zoli ba” (The song is beautiful), “loto chahela garaz lejaike” (Take the car to the garage).  “Mol” means value: “somer ke konon mol naiba” (The unemployed has no importance) but it is common to hear “konon valer naiba”.  Maybe the borrowed word brings out the full implication of the man’s predicament better than the Bhojpuri word would do.  Besides, “valer” would be understood by a wider audience than “mol”.

Creolized Bhojpuri

An old woman contacts a plumber for “tiyo bouse” (blocked pipe).  He does the necessary.  She could have said “chokar-wa bara accha kaam karlak” (The boy has done a good job) yet she says the boy is “debriyar”.  I may be wrong but I feel that this word carries a greater resonance, and plays on the boy’s feelings more effectively than the words in Bhojpuri.  So a word from another language may not necessarily be a bad thing. “Bimari” is illness but some people may not get the word easily.  Thus, we have “dokter tohar maladi accha kardei” (The doctor will cure the disease), “ou na, hamesa se apan faida dekhe la” (He always looks for his gain first) but we often hear “apan lavantaz dekhe la”.  “lavantaz” highlights the idea of selfishness more clearly.  The use of the borrowed word may not be conscious; somehow the speaker’s instinct tells him it’s more appropriate.

“Hamke lamin dewela pakaweke” (She helps me to cook), “sima koltare howata” (The road is being asphalted), “chahela soude kareke” (It must be welded), “kaise mamou, korek ba na?” (Is everything all right, uncle?), “enn espes lakangrin hogal ba” (He’s suffering from some sort of gangrene), “khali mekanisien saki debloke kare” (Only a mechanic can unjam it), “laika log kuk kasiet khelat hawansa” (The children are playing hide and seek).

We have recourse to borrowed words to express strong feelings: “hamar sange tou lamerdman nai khojye, toke bol dewat hay” (Don’t mess around with me, I’m warning you), “aisan batar se ham saadi nai karab” (I’ll never marry this bastard), “tou kahe hamanse lagratel khoje le?” (Why are you looking for trouble with me?), “laika bara brigan ba” (The child is very naughty), “chokar-wa ke fami bara gro-fey hawan sa” (The suitor’s family are poor-mannered), “okar kaam bara bisiklet ba, ham oke nai peye karab” (His work is too rough, I won’t pay him) or “adamya ke batri thora feb bate” (the man is a poor sexual performer). On a positive note, here’s a grandmother calling her son’s child “hamar kokotan” (my tender coconut) to express affection, and an aunt teasing her nephew “arre, gro patat-wa kahe rowata?)” (Why is the fat boy crying?).

Not many young people use Bhojpuri today.  The following exchange typifies this: a grandmother says “hamar lasam-wa mein mop pase kar diye beti” (please mop my room) and the young grand-daughter replies “pa trakase nani mo pou fer li la”.

But what happens when a language is too heavily influenced by another language or other