Published August 7, 2019
This video was recorded by Hardeep Singh in Uttar-Pradesh, India. Kumaoni belongs to the Central Pahari language group that also includes Garhwali. While Kumaoni speakers number in the millions, their speaker population is shrinking rapidly, having gone from nearly 5 million in 2011 to just under 4 million in a short period of time. Accordingly, UNESCO's Atlas of Endangered Languages lists Kumaoni as 'vulnerable', meaning that ongoing effort is required and more support is needed to ensure stable vitality. This includes things like education and schooling in the Kumaoni language. Census data has proven difficult to verify, as Kumaoni speakers are sometimes conflated with Hindi speakers given their close relationship and proximity. Most Kumaoni speakers also speak Hindi, and the two languages are distantly related, both belonging to the Indo-Aryan grouping, but while they share similarities in grammar, they are not mutually intelligible. It is largely the prestige status of neighboring Hindi that has seen Kumaoni's recent decline. Kumaoni itself is incredibly diverse, with nearly twenty distinct dialects. It is believed to have been influenced by Palpa as well as several unrelated Tibeto-Burman languages. The Kumaoni language also contains rich traditions in folk music and literature.