A “nativised” Hindi associated with Assam’s only hill station is trying to hold its own amid a row over the Centre’s move to make Hindi compulsory in high schools across Northeast India.
- Hindi reached Dima Hasao, a district formerly called North Cachar Hills, in the late 1800s primarily through merchants and construction workers who worked on a mountain railway system.
- By the time the railway line was completed in 1899, the non-tribal settlers and diverse indigenous communities across the hills had developed a pidgin to communicate among themselves.
- It came to be known as Haflong Hindi, named after the headquarters of the district where the Dimasa people are the dominant community.
- Haflong Hindi follows the Tibeto-Burman grammar, not the Hindi grammar, and has lexical additions from Nepali and Bengali.
- It has a generic plural marker and does not use numbers as in Hindi.
- Some linguists feel pushing the standardised Hindi as a compulsory subject in school could affect the “earthiness” of variants in the Northeast such as Shillong Hindi, which is not pidgin but informal Hindi, and the “purer” Arunachalee Hindi with tribal intonations.