Linguistic anthropology posits that language, as a potent instrument in shaping cultural identity, exhibits remarkable adaptability and pervasive influence. Historical evidence underscores the undeniable role of linguistic affiliations in shaping and contesting the identities of communities. However, the era of globalisation has ushered in a paradigm where societies and individuals proficient in multiple languages are increasingly prevalent. In this context, the intricacies of linguistic affiliation are far from straightforward; they present complexities with far-reaching implications. This research focuses on the Nepali-speaking Indian population in the Eastern Himalayan region, examining how their linguistic and cultural choices, mirroring those of the neighbouring nation Nepal, function as pivotal instruments for both the State, through governmental institutions, and the broader community. These choices are strategically employed to either ‘foreignise’ or ‘nationalise’ the Nepali-speaking Indian populace, highlighting the multifaceted nature of linguistic dynamics and their profound societal implications. Concentrated in the border regions, this community grapples with persistent misconceptions and allegations related to their ethnicity and nationality. Such challenges stem from their linguistic and cultural ties with Nepal, adding layers of complexity to their identity dynamics.

In contrast to research that has engaged through political, sociological, and anthropological lenses, this paper introduces a literary perspective within the framework of linguistic anthropology. A close analysis of contemporary fictional works, The Land Where I Flee by Prajwal Prajuly and The Woman Who Climbed Trees by Smriti Ravindra, aims to unravel how language, as depicted in these literary creations, crucially delineates the unique identities of border-region communities. These fluid identities are explored not only as expressions of cultural diversity but also as tools countering the perception of being labelled as ‘outsiders’ or originating from a ‘foreign’ background. The examination of contemporary writings becomes imperative in understanding how identities in the bordering region have taken shape, been sustained, confronted challenges, and undergone potential reconstruction within the present social context.

Keywords: language, culture, Nepali-speaking Indians, ethnicity, nationality, identity