The Linguistic Identities of the Milky Shaikhs in India:
A Myth or Reality
Nazrin B. Laskar
This book deals with the speech of the Milky Shaikh community in Bihar, India. The Milky Shaikhs perceive their language “Milky” to have roots in Persian and Arabic, and have affinity with Urdu. The Milky Shaikhs coexists with the Bhojpuri speaking community, the dominant language of the region, where the present study was conducted. However, the linguistic analysis of Milky shows it to be more like a contact language with features of both Urdu and Bhojpuri. The linguistic structure of Milky is closer to Bhojpuri than Urdu. Urdu indexes Muslim identity in North and Central India. Urdu is used in Islamic texts and teaching in Islamic seminaries. It also has a very rich literary tradition. In the recent years, the use of Urdu is declining in the younger generation of the Muslim community. But Urdu is still part of the collective memory and cultural, and religious identity of the Muslims in North and Central India. The Milky Shaikhs, who are also Muslims identify themselves with the rich heritage of Urdu. They assume their language to be in proximity with Urdu, which is however not the case. Thus, this study shows how ideology and socio-political history construct the ‘linguistic identity’ of the Milky Shaikh community.
ISBN 9783969390023. Linguistics Edition 126. 110pp. 2020.