Halbi is the lingua franca of Bastar District in Chhattisgargh, India, and is the mother tongue of close to 600,000 people.
It has been classified as Indo-Aryan, closely related to Oriya, Hindi, and Marathi, but has features from Dravidian and Munda which may indicate it more properly to be a creole with Indo-Aryan influence being the strongest.
Halbi is the mother tongue of a number of tribal groupings and castes that include Raj Mureas, Halbas, Mahras, Lohras, some Bhatras, Parjas, and others. Halbi is also the language of the market place in Bastar District and, as such, is used by most of the other tribal groups of the area.
The research on Halbi was conducted among Raj Mureas in the village of Bhatpal and was limited as much as possible to the Bhatpal Raj Mureas. Data were collected in Bhatpal village between 1967 and 1969 by Fran Woods and Betsy Schuyler, and by Fran Woods on numerous field trips between 1971 and 1978. Thus the lexicon is of historic value.
Bhatpal village, at that time, consisted of several hamlets and the hamlet in which we were located was a small one located about a mile from the the largest hamlet. Nearby was another small hamlet where resided several families of Chhattisghari speakers.
Durga Ram Kasyap and Chingaru Ram Baghel were the two main language associates assisting with the transcription of recorded materials. Other Halbi speaking residents of the village as well as visitors from other nearby villagers provided endless opportunities for recording and learning the language.