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Daudi Bohra English As Spoken In Sri Lanka Daudi Bohra English as spoken in Sri Lanka by Tasneem Amirally Akbarally Paper V - Standards & Varieties of English Dr. Manique Gunesekara 1st November 2001 Daudi Bohra English as spoken in Sri Lanka Just a few centuries ago English was only spoken by about five to seven million people on Britain, which was merely one, relatively small island. The language at that time only consisted of dialects spoken by monolinguals. But the story of English is quite different today. There are more non-native than native speakers of English, and it has become the linguistic key used for opening borders.
It is now a global medium with local identities and messages. It has truly come of age. Spoken by at least 750 million people. English is by now the world language. (Rushdie, 1992: 64) It is more widely spoken and written than any other language, even Latin, has ever been. It can, indeed, be said to be the first truly global language being the dominant, official or semi-official language in over 60 countries and has a prominent place in a further 20.
(Crystal, 1987: 358) Objectives The main aim of this research paper is to trace the development and emergence of a variety of specific English, in this case the variety known as Daudi Bohra English as spoken in Sri Lanka. Basically anywhere that the language is spoken has its own variety and history. This paper will focus on the Daudi Bohra English an off shoot of Hindustani or old Indian English, but more significantly as it is spoken in Sri Lanka. The focus is going to be on all the aspects of the language. This includes the phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and other special features that the variety of English may possess.
Review of literature There is very little published literature on the Daudi Bohra community and especially on their usage of English and their contact with the British Raj. What material there is, is not really accessible to those outside the community. A lot of the historical date for this research paper has been gathered by way of interviews with the older generation and from sermons preached at the mosque. These sermons are preached to give a sense of the continuity to the community and give the younger generation an understanding of their heritage. These sermons are not published nor are they open to the outside public.
But the other literature used in this paper is to do with Indian English and for this Tom McArthurs The Oxford Companion to the English Language proved invaluable. So too were the writings of Braj B. Kachru and Salman Rushdie. Main Bhai Mulla Abdul Hussains work too gave a fairly accurate though not totally accepted introduction into the history of the Bohras. Thus most of the material is based on personal narration and not written or published literature. This is one of the shortcomings of this paper the fact that much of the date cannot be reviewed. Only parties inside the Bohra community can verify some of the information for lack of published sources. Sri Lankan Daudi Bohra English influences Daudi Bohra English has been influenced by many different varieties.
Initially the influence was British English and subsequently the influence has been by Indian English, Pakistani English and of course Sri Lankan English, Sinhala and Tamil. Further Arabic as spoken in countries like the UAE and Yemen have influenced the variety of English spoken by the community as well. Today though, with large-scale migration into different regions of the world like the United States of America, Canada, Australia and African countries like Kenya and Tanzania the national and regional languages of these areas too have influenced Daudi Bohra English. This factor is important because it has also affected the Daudi Bohra English spoken in Sri Lanka as well, because of cross boarder travel and marriage. One key feature in the community is that marriages are made with Bohras living all over the globe. It is not considered unusual to bring a wife for a son from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or indeed from any part of the world where there are Bohras.
Similarly girls get married to boys resident all over the globe. Hence this phenomena means that the English spoken by the Bohras in Sri Lanka is constantly being influenced by different varieties of English from all parts of the globe. Migration and travel are key features of the community, which has to a large extent continued its basic fundamental practice of being a community involved in trade and business. History The Daudi Bohra community traces its history back to Persia when the first wave of Arabian Islamic conquerors invaded Persia. In the subsequent battles, the Persians lost to the Islamic princes, namely Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed. After this defeat Hussain married Princess Sherebanu of Persia.
This was a tactic used to unite the warring factions and bring peace and reconciliation. The reason for the Islamic wars being not only the advance of their political and military rule but mainly the advancement of their new faith. Thus the Persians converted to Islam. These Persian Shias became the bulk of the Shia Muslim population that followed Hussain to Karbala [in modern day Iraq] and fought with him in the battle that led to his martyrdom along with the rest of the male population of his caravan. The only male to survive the massacre in Karbala was Hussains very ill son Ali Zain-ul-Abedeen who eventually took the caravan back to Medina in the UAE.
After many changes of residence with the shifting of the caliphate of the Islamic State from Cairo the centre of the Daudi Bohra community became Yemen. This destination too was eventually made unsafe for the governance of the community. One of the mail reasons being on account of the political troubles due to the success of Turks in Aden (1537 AD)(Mulla Abdul Hussain, 1920: 43-4) Thus, the centre shifted to state of Gujarat in central India where the Moughal emperors proved kind and benevolent sanction. From here on the Daudi Bohra community slowly spread to other parts of the nation and integrated itself with the local communities throughout including large populations in all the major trading centres including Surat, and Mumbai. Currently the official centre of administration of the Daudi Bohra State is in Mumbai in India with its two centres for religious study being based in Surat and Karachi respectively.
The official language of the Moghul courts was Persian. Thus the new Bohra migrants didnt really have a cultural, religious or language integration problem The Moghuls, like other residents who lived to the west of the Indian sub-continent named India Hind or Hindustan, after the river Indus which flows in the present day Pakistan. The language spoken in Hind they called Hindi or Hindustani. This language and its script were based on an ancient Indian language called Sanskrit and its script called Devanagiri. Some of the Moghul family members were great patrons of poetry and music and slowly there developed a Hindustani poetry, based on Hindustani language, which used words from Arabic and Persian and was written in Perso-Arabic script.
This language was called Urdu, which replaced Persian as the language of the Moghul courtyards. Thus, there developed two languages with different writings but were actually one language when spoken except for their higher vocabularies. After the collapse of the Moghuls the British became the rulers of north India introducing English to the nation while continuing to use Urdu for official purposes. The use of English dates from the trading 'factories' started by the East India Company: Surat (1612), Madras (1639 - 40), Bombay (1674), Calcutta (1690). European traders at that time used a form of Portuguese, current since Portugal had acquired Goa in 1510. (McArthur, 1992.) With the British Imperialist rule, the Daudi Bohra community, which was a community by tradition of traders and merchants became exposed to English in this case British English.
This lead to the community slowly commencing to speak the more subservient varieties of English known as Babu English and Boxwallah English. Babu English emerged in the late 19th century from the word babu, a mode of address and reference in several Indo-Aryan languages, including Gujarathi, Hindi and Urdu, for officials working for rajahs, landlords, etc. It became a generic term during the British Raj for Hindu and especially Bengali officials and clerks working in English, and was often disparaging. It was generally a variety of South Asian English used by middle-level bureaucrats and associated with a flowery, extremely deferential, and indirect style of writing and speaking. Boxwallah English on the other hand comes from English box and wallah, someone involved with or in charge of something, from /Gujarathi/Hindi/Urdu wala, an owner, Sanskrit pala, a protector].
This was a South Asian Pidgin English used primarily by boxwallahs, peddlers who carry a box or bundle containing such wares as shawls and jewellery. Their English is mixed with other languages and has a simplified syntax. Bearer English had an uncertain date and came from bearer, applied in the 18th century to a palanquin carrier in India, then to a domestic servant who has charge of his master's clothes, household goods, etc., perhaps from, or influenced by, Bengali behara, from Sanskrit vyavhari. The use of the term then extended to a servant in the kitchen]. A term for the English used by (and sometimes with) servants, shopkeepers, etc., in South Asia.
And although the Daudi Bohra communitys occupation ever led to them being bearers or servants [this was not their line of work] they were definitely some of the small time shopkeepers. And so Bearer English, like Babu English and Boxwallah English demonstrate how the community slowly began using the language in their day to day activities as merchants and traders. It is interesting to note that at this point in history the English language was mainly used by the male population, as most females did not deal with the speakers of English meaning the British Colonialists. Thus this form of English used was marked by the omission of auxiliaries, pronouns, conjunctions, and plural endings, and articles. There was extensive code mixing with Hindustani or the individual's native language, in this case Gujarathi and Dawath-ni-zabaan. But with the rise in the wealth of the community they began to travel to different parts of the British Empire as traders.
So the India became a base for those who wished to make their fortune. Many moved to Africa and its different states like Madagascar with its English/French speaking colonies, and to other places like Singapore, Sri Lanka and Arabia. This meant that the language they spoke as traders i.e. English or French was heavily influenced by both the native host language and the languages of their former homes. A feature of the Daudi Bohra community is that it is their belief that whatever part of the world they inhabit becomes their home. So their allegiance is to that country and state this means that integration is done. Thus although traditional values and beliefs and lifestyle patterns are maintained at home, with the usage of Dawath-ni-zabaan or the dialect of Gujarathi which is spoken by the Daudi Bohra community they do not attempt to stand out as separate but instead try to blend in with the mainstream.
This has been one of the reasons for the communitys survival over time and distance because although they have moved their religious and administration centre, it still functions as a State of its own. The boundaries of the State are not based on geography but religious ideology. Further, following the traditions laid down by their ancestors, the Dawoodi Bohras in Sri Lanka have eschewed politics and devoted themselves to the peaceful pursuits of commerce and trade. (The Island, 14 March 1982: 60) Once the community stated migrating to the different out posts of the British empire and increasing in prosperity they started educating their children to join the ranks of the elite of the countries they inhabited. And because there were no restrictions in any way on the issue of male and female education the more prosperous families educated both offspring equally.
This move to give their children English education lead to many of the younger generation growing up to speak the variety of English known as Convent English. In Sri Lanka for example such schools date from the 17th 18th centuries They were originally intended to provide a Christian education but became in recent decades increasingly secular. The model of Convent English is not specifically British Engl ...
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