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Abstracts: Keynote Speakers

Shobha Satyanath & Ranjan Kumar : Caste and social differentiation of speech

Manny early surveys have reported differences between Brahmin and non Brahmin castes such as in Bloch (1910), Aiyar (1932), Andronov (1962), Bright and Ramanujan (1964), Pillai (1965, 1966, 1968) and McCormack, (1960) among others.

On the other hand sociolinguistics surveys have suggested that caste cannot be understood in isolation (Pandit, 1969; Patnayak, 1975; Satyanath, 2021a,b). The present work is a first attempt to revisit the caste based differentiations in speech by drawing data from Maithili spoken in Bihar.
The two variables tested include:(I) Variation in person marking: the alternation between honorific and non-honorific forms (honorific [ainh] ~non-honorific [-ai] forms) and (II) Variation in object marking: The alternation between double marking (subject and object are morphologically marked on the verb) and single marking (only subject is morphologically marked and object remains unmarked).

The findings suggest that though caste turned out to be significant for one of the variables, it cannot be interpreted in isolation; it interacts with other social factors.