Object of the present inquiry
The present study is intended to be an introductory synchronic description of the
dialect spoken by Bhils residing in the district of Dangs of Gujrat State. The model
used for the description is one that was developed by Bloomfield and his successors
and which is still useful for linguistic analysis. While Chomsky and his followers
are investigating into the nature of natural languages, there is an urgent need that
at least some of the linguists should devote themselves to the description of
hundreds of fast disappearing tribal language and dialects in this country and
preserve the linguistic material with the use of whichever model available to them.
With this intention the author of the present work visited the tribal colonies of
Dangs in the months of Deeember 1964 and May 1971 and collected a limited corpus of
speech material of the above mentioned dialect, principally from the local
informant. The material consists of about 3500 lexical items, 600 unconnected
sentences, 45 prose texts and several nominal and verbal paradigms. All the prose
texts and about a thousand of lexical items were recorded on a portable tape-
recorder. In all, a continuous recording of ten hours duration was made at
intervals. Even though the study is based on the idiolect of one informant, it
represets the speech of other Bhil speakers of the area also, as the speech
variation among the speakers is quite small and the structure of the dialect remains
essentially the same throughout. However, an effort is made to stick to the speech
of the principal informant for analysis and use the speech of others for
Area and Number of Speakers
The dialect analysed here is spoken by an aboriginal tribe Rajewadi Bhil, who
constitute one of the major major tribes inhabiting the mountain fastness in the
district of Dangs in the Gujrat State. According to the Census of India of 1961, it
claims a population of 23,701, which is distributed all over the district of Dangs.
The total population of Dangs is 71,567, out of which 92.55% belong to the scheduled
The district of Dangs is entirely a hilly and forest region measuring 689 sq. miles
and having the best jungles in the State. The term Dangs itself means forests. Its
hill ranges on the northern fringes of the Sahyadri and its rivers and brooks, :its
green vegetation and variegated flora and fauna make the district a region of rare
beauty and full of natural wealth.
The district of Dangs contains only the Taluka of the same name and is entirely
rural. The major tribes inhabiting the district are Kunbis or Koknas, Bhils and
Varlis, It is assumed by Grierson in the Linguistic Survey of India and in the
subsequent works that the language of all the tribes from Dangs is Dangi.
Accordingly the Census of India of 1961 gives the :figure of Dangi speakers as
60,663. The distribution of Dangi speakers in various
The Koknas and Kunbis are the same tribe with variant local names, and constitute
the dominant tribe of Dangs. Bhils and Varlis stand next to them in the strength of
the population. The Gamits, Dhodias Chodhris, Dublas, Naikda, etc. came from the
adjoining districts of Gujrat.
The informant used for the present analysis comes from the village Nilsakya from the
central region of Dangs, a place five miles away from Ahwa, the district
headquarters. The village lies on the northern Sahyadri ranges. Its natural beauty
is derived from high and dense wood land, green foliage, rivers and rivulets criss-
crossing the land. The valleys and ravines carved out by the rapid flow of the
rivers Gira, Khapri, Ambika and Purna are overlaid with a green carpet as soon as
monsoon advances. During spring, when the Khakhra trees bear flowers, which are
scarlet red, the forest looks ablaze.
The Dangs district is favourably situated for the growth of forests, as it lies
within the belt of heavy rainfall. The forest is an emporium of innumerable
varieties of vegetation, timber, woods, and other medicinal herbs. Shri. Indu
Dagadya, the informant is a tribal priest by profession and knows many medicines
from the forest. He guards his knowledge as a close secret, with the usual
conviction that publicity nullifies the therapeutic property of medicines.
Teakwood accounts for a major share of timber found in the Dangs, used in
construction, furniture and ship-building. The teak tree in this region grows
straight without any knots and reaches a height of 125 feetThe other important
products are bamboo which grows 100-120 feet high, sajad’ trees used to make
sleepers; ‘haldarva’ trees used to make bobbins required in spinning mills; ‘sisam’
used for furniture, while a number of forest products are used in Ayurvedic
The Bhil is necessarily a man of the forest. He is very well acquainted with the
plant life. His occupation necessitates this knowledge. He has rarely land of his
own, and no fixed profession to give him a him a regular income. He is a hunter.
Coal-maker, timber-feller, gatherer and seller of forest products, freshwater
fisherman, field-labourer and agriculturist raising the crop of raggy.
Wild life is still extant in this forest though gradually declining. Tigers, wolves,
bears, boars, hyaenas, monkeys and wild cats are inhabitants of this forest. Wild
goats and wild buffaloes are frequent. Among reptiles, huge pythons, cobras,
kambalya and many other varieties are noticed.
The bird life in this region is colourful and rich. Among different species mention
may be made of wild pheasants, wild fowls. Partridges, owls, pigeons, etc.
The climate of Dangs is salubrious and pleasant during the months of January and
March. In May, the temperature rises upto 42C. Heavy rains pour in from July to
November which vary from 90 to 100 inches. However, the peculiar physical
configuration of the area entails great scarcity of water during summer.
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