The Baram people in Takukot
A recent study (Tej Ratna Kansakar, Yogendra Prasad Yadava, Krishna Prasad Chalise et al: "A sociolinguistic study of the Baram language", Tribhuvan University, Nepal)
shows that the Baram people (= Baramu people) are most present in Gorkha District. Within Gorkha the highest density of Barams is in three VDCs, namely Takukot, Arupokhari and Thumi. In each of these villages there are between 500 and 800 Barams.
The following passages have been taken from this study.
"We did find some elderly Baram speakers in the VDC’s of Dandagaun Takukot-8, and Mailung Takukot-5 in the Gorkha District. Dandagaun is the only place where the language is still in daily use."
"Apart from their native practices, the Barams also follow most of the Hindu rites and rituals, and celebrate the Hindu festivals. They have also adopted cultural practices from other non-Hindu neighboring communities. For example, the Barams in Takukot take part in Gai Jatra (the “cow festival”), which is celebrated by the Newar community. It is striking, however, that the Barams have nativized the adopted practices and follow them in their own way."
"In 2006, Krishna Prasad Chalise and Balaram Prasain, in collaboration with the Nepal Baram Association, carried out a short (one week) survey of the Baram areas in the Gorkha District. Their goal was to collect information necessary to prepare a grant proposal. This survey showed that the Takukot VDC in the Gorkha District was *** the only place where the Baram language is still in regular use***. A follow-up pilot survey during the early phases of the LEDBL Project confirmed this finding. We thus selected Takukot VDC as the field site of the LEDBL Project. Takukot was thus adopted as the study centre and the VDCs around Taku with the largest populations of Barams were selected as the study locations. A total of 51 respondents were selected from 11 VDCs in the Gorkha District. Of these, 50 were Barams and 1 was a non-Baram."
"5.2 Baram-speaking areas:
Baram is spoken in Takukot-5, Mailung (Figure 6), and in Takukot-8, Dandagaun, in the Gorkha district. These two villages are about four kilometers apart and are situated on two opposite slopes of the same mountain, the first facing the south and the second facing the north.
The way to the district headquarters runs along the top of the mountain; people therefore come up from their villages in order to go to their destinations. As a result, the people in each of these two villages report having little contact with those from the other village."
"The Baram live within a larger local community that is ethnically complex. Brahmins, Kshetries, and the so-called Hindu lower castes inhabit the vicinity of Dandagaun, whereas Brahmins, Kshetries, and Newars inhabit the vicinity of Mailung. Both the Baram and the non-Baram people have been living there for a long time in social and cultural harmony. The relationship among them is very friendly and they live in daily contact with one another. Nepali and Baram are both spoken in these areas. Nepali is used widely while Baram is used in limited domains and particular
situations. The Gurung and Newar languages were also spoken in adjacent villages in the past, but now their use has been drastically reduced due to the increasing prevalence of Nepali.
As a result of this extensive contact and language shift, the Baram language shows significant evidence of convergence with Nepali both lexically and grammatically. The number of Nepali loan words included in the dictionary of Baram, 2478 out of the 3729 (66.45%), supports this fact.
Similarly, several grammatical structures have been borrowed from Nepali."
This study has established four facts regarding the accelerating decline in the use of the Baram language. Firstly, of the two villages in the Gorkha District where Baram is still spoken, Mailung in Takukot-5 has 9 speakers; however, these speakers do not use the language in day-to-day conversation. Dandagaun in Takukot-8 is the only village where Baram is used for everyday communication, but it occurs only in limited domains of language use. Secondly, the study identified 51 fluent speakers, 44 semi-fluent speakers, and 34 people with tacit knowledge of the language. Among them, most of the fluent speakers are senior in age and their number is decreasing rapidly. During the three-year duration of this project, six of the fluent speakers passed away. Thirdly, all the speakers are bilingual in Nepali, which is widely used as a preferred language of social communication.
Our findings show that only 18% of the 129 speakers have retained their language. Fourthly, the inter-generational transmission of Baram is not taking place. All of these facts indicate that Nepali is rapidly replacing the native language, and as a result Baram has been reduced to a seriously
However, the present trend among the younger generation of speakers shows a growing awareness of their ethnic and linguistic identity, and the need to preserve and promote their language and culture through education in the mother-tongue and through revival of their traditional social and cultural practices. This trend of language revitalization is an encouraging sign that the Baram language and the Baram way of life will survive."