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Kanjari Considered a Pejorative Name

Grant, Thu, 2019-05-30 08:31
Alternate Names
ISO 639-3: 

My colleagues have worked for the last few years with a group of Kanjari speakers who do not want that term applied to them and their language. They say that "Kanjari" is a pejorative term intended to belittle them and their social status. They refer to themselves as Gihara speakers and ask that others refer to them by that name. My colleague writes, "The complicating factor is that the Gihara consider themselves one of 'The Twelve' groups, and I believe the term Kanjari is used to refer to this wider group, which includes Gihara, but is not limited to them. Therefore a direct replacement of Kanjari by Gihara [in language information sources like the Ethnologue] would be misleading in terms of the scope of the population." He continues: "A bit of context may be helpful. You are of course aware of the hierarchical nature of South Asian culture. For example, in English the term 'backward caste' is commonly used to describe other groups on the lower end of the social strata. In recent years the term 'untouchable' has been replaced in common usage by 'Dalit' (excuse my switching from English to Hindi), which is deemed less offensive. The point is, the language and culture are evolving, but much of the 'caste mentality' still remains in common usage in both Hindi and English here. I would prefer Kanjari not be used due to its pejorative connotation, but I am not sure what suitable replacement is available." I wonder whether others of "The Twelve" groups feel the same way about the name "Kanjari." My colleagues and I do not know. Is it possible to state in the Ethnologue that the term "Kanjari" is considered pejorative by some members of that language community? I know that this is a common issue and partially explains why there are often alternative names for the same language.

Editorial Action

We have made an explicit comment about the name Kanjari being considered to be pejorative and that no other name is used for the entire group.  These changes for the Kanjari [kft] entry in India will appear in the next edition of the Ethnologue.