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A language of India

ISO 639-3mai

Population  31,900,000 in India (2000). 40% monolingual. Population total all countries: 34,700,000.
Region  Bihar, Muzaffarpur on west, past Kosi east to west Purnia District, to Munger, Bhagalpur districts south, and Himalayan foothills north; Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai. Many settled abroad. Cultural and linguistic centers are Madhubani and Darbhanga towns. Janakpur also important culturally and religiously. Also in Nepal.
Alternate names   Apabhramsa, Bihari, Maitili, Maitli, Methli, Tirahutia, Tirhuti, Tirhutia
Dialects  Standard Maithili, Southern Standard Maithili, Eastern Maithili (Khotta, Kortha, Kortha Bihari), Western Maithili, Jolaha, Central Colloquial Maithili (Sotipura), Kisan, Dehati, Bajjika, Thetiya. Caste variation more than geographic variation in dialects. Functional intelligibility among all dialects, including those in Nepal. Most similar to Magahi [mag]. Lexical similarity: 91% between Brahmin and non-Brahmin dialects.
Classification  Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bihari
Language use  Official language. Used by Brahmin and other high caste or educated Hindus, who influence the culture and language, and other castes. There is a Maithili Academy. Linguistics and literature taught at Patna University and at L. N. Mithila University in Darbhanga. Home, community. Language attitudes influenced by caste, ranging from superiority to resentment. Non-Brahmin speech viewed as inferior. Hindi considered superior, Nepali [nep] generally accepted. Also use Hindi, Nepali [nep], English, Bhojpuri [bho], or Bengali [ben].
Language development  Literacy rate in L1: 25%–50%. Literacy rate in L2: 25%–50%. If they can read Nepali or Hindi, they can read Maithili. The educated read Hindi, Nepali, or English books for pleasure. Some literacy work in India. Poetry. Magazines. Newspapers. Radio programs. Films. TV. Dictionary. Grammar.
Writing system  Devanagari script.
Comments  SOV; postpositions; genitives, articles, numerals before noun heads, adjectives before and after noun heads; 1 prefix, 1 suffix; object marked by position; person, gender, animate distinguished, obligatory for subject; transitives; passives; causatives; comparatives; V, VC, VCC, CV, CVC, CVV, CCV, CVCC, CCVCC; nontonal. Peasant agriculturalists: rice. Hindu.

Also spoken in:


Language name   Maithili
Population  2,800,000 in Nepal (2001 census), increasing. 489 Kisan.
Region  Narayani zone, Rautahat District; Janakpur zone, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusa districts; Sagarmatha zone, Siraha, Saptari districts; Koshi zone, Sunsari District.
Language maps  Eastern Nepal, reference number 63
Western Nepal, reference number 63
Alternate names  Apabhramsa, Bihari, Maitili, Maitli, Methli, Tirahutia, Tirhuti, Tirhutia
Dialects  Bajjika, Bantar, Barei, Barmeli, Kawar, Kisan, Kyabrat, Makrana, Musar, Sadri, Tati, Dehati, Bajjika.
Language use  Spoken by a wide variety of castes, both ‘high’ and ‘low’. A Maithili Academy in Patna; Bihar Maithili taught at several universities including L. N. Mithila University in Darbhanga, Patna University, and Janakpur campus of Tribhuvan University. Home, village, towns, cities. All ages. Brahmin speech considered standard. Brahmins consider themselves superior, varying from friendly to domineering. Others vary toward Brahmins from friendly to resentment. Hindi and its speakers considered close, culturally similar; Nepali [nep] accepted. Some also use Hindi, Nepali, or English even at home and with other Maithili. Bhojpuri [bho] or Bengali [ben] are used with friends from those groups.
Language development  Literacy rate in L1: 20%. Literacy rate in L2: 25%–50%. Educated read Hindi, Nepali, or English. If they can read Hindi or Nepali, they can read Maithili.
Comments  Peasant agriculturalists. Hindu, Muslim.