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Baram Dictionary


Language Baram
Depositor Yogendra Prasad Yadava
Affiliation Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University
Location Nepal
Deposit ID 0154
Grant ID MDP0158
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the deposit

This deposit contains the lexical database, sound files and images for the Baram (Baraamu) dictionary. Additional ethnographic and linguistic materials, as well as the published dictionary, can be found in the deposit “Linguistic and ethnographic documentation of Baram”.


Group represented

The multilingual setting (along with other factors) has resulted in heavy decline in mother tongue retention among the Barams. Of the total population of Baram people, viz. 7,383, only 342 ( 3.16%) have retained it as their mother tongue. This language remained marginalized and ignored earlier than the latest 2001 census in which Baram speakers have been returned for the first time. Some Nepali native speakers were also found speaking Baram as a second language during the recent field visit. The Baram people have gradually been shifting to Nepali. All the adult and older speakers of Baram are bilingual while the young people and children have ceased to speak their ancestral language. Baram is found to be a seriously endangered language because of lack of Inter-generational language transmission, marginal number and old age of speakers, very scanty linguistic and ethnic studies, low economic and socio-economic status of the speakers, and gradual migration to urban areas and foreign countries for job or education. As it has no script, it is not used in domains such as education and mass media and is confined only to intra- and interhousehold communications among Baram older speakers. However, there are some elderly people who have continued to be its fluent speakers and use it in their daily life. The language is also used in ritual and cultural functions. Also, the Government of Nepal has a language policy to preserve and promote minority languages. It is, therefore, high time that this language is documented with the assistance of its limited elderly speakers before it ceases to exist.


Language information

Baram (with its alternate names ‘Baraamu’ and ‘Brahmu’) is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by a minority ethnic group of Nepal. Also known by the same name, Baram people prefer to call themselves ‘Bal Bang’ (‘human kind’), and their language ‘Bal Kura’((‘a language of human kind’). They have converged with Hindu customs though they still continue to preserve their own native culture. Traditionally serving as bearers of palanquin during marriage, they are now employed in Gorkha army like their Magar and Gurung neighbours. Baram language is spoken mainly in Gorkha district in central Nepal, along Daraundi River and its tributaries, their traditional settlements. In a recent field visit, this research team found that Baram is mainly spoken in Takukot Village Development Committee comprising four settlements: Danda Tole, Palla gaun, Gaira Tole and Mukhiya Tole, where its native speakers figure 126. A few Baram people are also scattered in neighbouring villages and districts but most of them have shifted to Nepali. Its adjacent languages include other Tibeto-Burman languages such as Ghale, Bhujel, Dura and Gurung while the official language Nepali is extensively spoken as a lingua franca by non-Nepali speakers. Baram is found to be most closely related to the Thangmi language with extensive convergence with Nepali.

There exist few studies on Baram language. Brian Hodgson (1857:321-327; 1880:164-170) recorded the first word list of this language. Using this list Sten Konow classified Baram together with Thangmi within the ‘Eastern Subgroup’ of the ‘Complex Pronominalized Group’(Grierson 1909.III (I):405-406). Van Driem (2001) has also corroborated to this classification with additional lexical and morphological similarities in their studies. The latest work on Baram is the “Basic Dictionary of the Baram Language” prepared at the Central Department of Linguistics in collaboration with the National Foundation for Development of Indigenous Nationalities and Nepal Baram Sangh (Nepal Baram Association). It is a trilingual dictionary with nearly 2500 entries, each of which contains fields such as lexeme, pronunciation (using IPA symbols), pronunciation (in Devanagari), part of speech, definitions (in Nepali and English), example sentences, context, etc.


Special characteristics

The deposit contains photographs of many plants with their names in the Baram language and different types of grasshoppers. Remarkably, Baram language has about 25 native words to refer to different types of grasshoppers.


Deposit contents

This deposit is a lexicon of Baram, containing 3676 entries with headword, phonetic transcription, variants and corresponding phonetic transcriptions, POS, English and Nepali translation. Also included are 885 recordings of individual words, and 204 pictures of objects, activities, food, etc., used in the dictionary.


Deposit history

This project is based on ethnographic and linguistic fieldwork by Tej Ratna Kansakar and Yogendra Prasad Yadava, together with researchers Krishna Prasad Chalise and Balaram Prasai, and research assistants Dubinanda Dhakal, Krishna Poudel and Bhadra Kumari Baramu. Baram Nepali English Dictionary (2011) was compiled and published and can be found in the associated deposit “Linguistic and ethnographic documentation of Baram”. This dictionary consists of three parts: Baram-Nepali-English Dictionary, Nepali-Baram Index, and English-Baram Index. With the consensus of the ethnic community, we adopted Devanagari script for writing Baram. Our dictionary and text books were written using this orthography.


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Yadava, Yogendra Prasad. 2018. Baram Dictionary. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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