• Anuj Choudhury

Just the other day I met a guy on the train. As he sat just next to me, I introduced myself and so did he. We started our initial conversation in Assamese. Through our conversation I came to know that he too was a Koch-Rajbangshi. To this, I shifted by dialect of conversation to our mother tongue- Kamatapuri or Rajbangshi (whatever you may call it). To my changed dialect the guy replied ‘aapuni pura gaolia kotha koi dekhun’ (You speak completely rural tongue). I was not surprised to hear this, as many times the ‘gaolia’ (‘rural tongue’ mostly referred as the language of uneducated people) word is used as synonyms to Kamatapuri or Rajbangshi language. But this time it made me think real hard why one would call one’s own mother-tongue as ‘gaolia’.

Today the word gaolia has become a popular synonym for Kamatapuri or Rajbangshi language especially in Assam. But has anybody ever tried to question why our dialect is called ‘gaolia’? If Kamatapuri or Rajbangshi language is ‘gaolia’ language than which language is ‘townia’? For the majority, who has been blind to this language-politics would definitely say the so called ‘Assamese’ language as ‘townia’.
Yes, there is no doubt that language-politics have been very well played by some of the mainstream communities of Assam to suppress other communities. Language is the pillar of a community. Culture, lifestyle, food habits, dress, religion, etc comes later. If a community has no well established language than the very whole foundation of a community’s identity is shaken. And this suppression of one’s language has been very well understood and practised by some of the mainstream communities in Assam. Domination and suppression of languages have been an ongoing project for a long time by one community over another, mainly by some mainstream communities. This mainstream community or these economically rich class who handles the ‘production of knowledge’ had produced so much of grand narratives through literature, media, verbal and non-verbal communication, etc over the years that communities who has not been a part of this knowledge production has been submerged and blinded to accept whatever the mainstream ‘Assamese’ produced as true. Thus, a man calling his own mother-tongue as ‘gaolia’ is a classic example to this.

Also, the most surprising thing is that a language which used to be language of the great Koch kings who had their influence over Assam and ruled the territory for several centuries, how can the Kamatapuri or Rajbangshi language be a ‘gaolia’ language?
Terming Kamatapuri or Rajbongshi language as ‘gaolia’ is terming someone’s language as inferior. Who has the right to decide whose language is superior or inferior? Terming one’s language as ‘gaolia’ is a humiliation to a particular community. This is a very clever politics played by the mainstream class to assimilate other communities to theirs by showing other communities as inferior and their mainstream community as superior so that there is an upward movement by the inferior language speaking groups towards the superior language speaking groups. This is also the prime reason why today many Koch-Rajbangshi people try to hide their identity and call themselves as ‘Assamese’.
However, this strategy of ‘Assaminization’ by the mainstream Assamese is starting to fail because it’s very foundation build on false premises. Spread of education and the so-called inferior communities trying to produce their own set of knowledge and unveiling their own history which is in contrary to the earlier ‘Assamese knowledge’ is loosening the ‘Assamese’ knot now. Also, more and more ethnic communities disagreeing to the false notion of ‘Assamese’ and demanding their own reorganization of language in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Construction is indeed a revolution in itself today.

(The witter is presently pursuing MA in Social Work at ‘Dalit and Tribal Studies and Action Center for Social Justice and Governance’, Tata Institute of Social Science, Mumbai. He can be reached at : anuj@srd.tiss.edu)

5 thoughts on “My mother tongue is not Gaolia

  1. ‘Assaminization’ of Koch-Rajbanshis of Assam and ‘Bengalinization’ of Rajbanshis in West Bengal are dangerous trend to make Kamota-Rajbanshi language extinct. You are right Mr Anuj in bringing out the issue very clearly in front of the fellow countrymen which, we have been harping and trying to make our people aware. through our writings. Constitutional recognition of our language is the only solution to save and develop it.

  2. i lov my rajbnsghi language. D same thing happen with me anuj. N i also replyd him its not gaolia language its called rajbngshi language it has complete gramer.

  3. You have raised an important issue Anuj. This is often seen when you are talking to your own community people in your mother tongue and he point out that you are speaking ‘gaolia’. I have also faced such situation many times. I think this is due to the lack knowledge of our own culture and tradition. Thus I also appeal all my community people we should take seriously on this matter and work out to revive our own language. Now I want to share some of my personal experiences. Whenever, I introduced myself to any people as Koch Rajbangshi they often asked me whether we have our own language or any script. This makes me answer less as our pronunciation changes region wise. I feel we should have a definite language. There is one more thing I want to draw all of yours attention is that whenever I met our peoples from upper Assam they always gives their identity as Assamese or Koch not as Koch Rajbongshi. I don’t why? may be our friends from upper Assam side may answer.

  4. i am not completely satisfied with ur statement and information wat u hav posted and provided about the rajbongsjhis being of koch origin. the the term kamatapuri language came into existence recently wat do u have to say abut the koch language which the meghalaya koches use till today from ancient times.. even the koches of assam do use koch language and we can fully understand there language cos i know that the koches of assam mostly belong to the tintikya and wanang clans of koches and i myself belong to hargiya koch clan( i am reffering to koches of assam in here not the rajbongshis)… though u hav done a great research .. i cant find even a single similarity between the koches of meghalaya and that of assam…if i talk about languages,cultures, and traditions… not even 1% is similar if u try to do some research in meghalaya about the koches u might come to know more about us..

  5. I love my language… We don’t say its gaonliya language.. We proudly said that its our RAJBANGSHI language..

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