Hindi-Urdu

By Slapstik 40 Comments

This is a redux of an older piece I wrote. Thought of reposting it after a recent bit of twitter conversation with Omar on the topic. This is my attempt to disambiguate some of the terms used in the discussion around the old Urdu-Hindi controversy, on which debates tend to generate more heat than light as a rule. I have enumerateed my thoughts point-wise, to give some structure to the debate and let people comment on specific points raised. Since this subject is quite prone to digression to related (and sometimes politically charged) topics, I reserve the carte blanche to delete comments that go off on tangents etc. I apologize for this ex ante.

Informal use of labels “Urdu” and “Hindi”

Urdu, Hindi, Hindostani, khaRi boli etc are labels, which are use both by laypersons in non-specialist, mundane ways and by specialists (linguists) in very specific and well-defined manner. E.g. one of my wife’s close friends is a British-Pakistani brought up in London, whose (mohajer) family hails from Hyderabad in India and her husband is an Indian of Bihari (Muslim) origin. The language that the husband’s parents speak is referred to informally as Hindi by my wife (London-bred), and as Urdu by the Pakistani friend, when it is neither Hindi nor Urdu but Awadhi.

Therefore, the usage of the label “Hindi” or “Urdu” differs depending on whom one asks, and that is perfectly natural. One must be careful about what sort of usage is implied when using such (simplified) labels in a discussion.

Labels confound

The label “Urdu” itself is, in language evolution time-scales, quite a freshly minted one. There is no evidence for its use by any native- or non-native speaker to refer to the speech of the Gangetic belt before the 18th century CE. However, the speech to which the label refers is the language of Western Gangetic plains (roughly Delhi-Agra-Lucknow belt) and that is indeed much older.

On the other hand, the label “Hindi” is far older in provenance. The word Hindi (or its isomorphs “Hindvi”, “Hindawi” etc) itself is a derivative in Modern Persian (and also in Standard Arabic, via reverse-engineered Semitic tri-root h-n-d) of “Hind”, from Old Persian “Hi(n)duš”, in turn a borrowing from Sanskrit “sindhuH” (via the usual /s/ > /h/ transformation in Old Iranic) attested liberally in the Rg Veda and therefore the oldest known usage. However, merely because “Urdu” is a newer label one cannot argue that what Urdu currently refers to is somehow less genuine than what Hindi currently refers to. In fact, the reality is more like the opposite case.

Urduness of Hindi

I think it is sensible to argue that while both Urdu and Hindi are both crude approximations to a vast cluster of dialects spoken natively across North India (and in some pockets of Pakistan), what Urdu refers to is more conservative, i.e. involves less modern innovation, than what Hindi usually refers to. On the other hand, the more innovative Hindi is used a lot more than the more conservative Urdu and this represents a genuine linguistic shift taking place as I write this. India has roughly ~260m people who self-identify as Hindi speakers, as opposed to ~16m native Urdu speakers in Pakistan and ~80m in India.

Hindi-language movement was a result of the politics of North India during colonial rule, whereby the majority population (mainly Hindus) were gradually accultured to reject the use of a standard register of speech derived from Moghal courtly usage. Farsi (which played the same role in C and S Asia for a while that French played in Europe) was the language of the Moghal court for a good 2-3 centuries. Its influence on vernacular Indian speech of Western Gangetic belt gave rise to an élite register, marked by:

  • generous use of Persian syntactical devices like the efazat (borrowed wholesale without innovation),
  • use of Perso-Arabic lexicon (nouns & adjectives, not verbs) sometimes quite odd/innovative by actual Persian standards, e.g. “murdabad” being unheard of in Farsi,
  • minor extensions of phonetic inventory, e.g. correct use of gutturals like /qaf/, /ghayn/, but re-mapping of /zhe/, /ayn/, /dhal/, /dhwa/ to usual Indic approximations etc)
  • usage of Nasta’liq script, again with innovations for Indic retroflexes and aspirates that do not exist in Farsi/Arabic

However, this top-down effect was not just limited to high-society registers, but common speech – most explicitly in terms of borrowed lexicon. E.g. this common “Hindi” sentence has first four words from Farsi:

yaar, zara darvaza band kar de!

Its more Sanskritic form will have most Hindi-speakers in splits, precisely because that sounds so unnecessarily formal (and hard to understand):

mitra, kripya dvarAvarodhan karo!

In other words, use of Farsi-derived lexicon (up to a point) tends to aid comprehension of the language by most speakers, as opposed to using tatsama (directly borrowed) Sanskrit vocabulary. And if more Farsi vocabulary is the yardstick for Urdu-ness, then common Indo-Gangetic speech is better described by the term Urdu than Hindi. Some people refer to this common register (with enough, but not too many Perso-Arabic loanwords) as Hindostani, whereas Urdu is reserved for a more literary (ketabi) standard.

More than Sanskrit for dummies

That said, the speech of North India has undergone major changes, both during the British colonial period and even more so after Independence. The most obvious has been the rise of a parallel literary high-culture standard of the language, but one that looks to Sanskrit for inspiration – in vocabulary of course, but also in syntax (cf. samāsa), in phonetics (cf. saṃdhi rules) and script (Devanagari, arguably a better mapping of Indic phonetics, though by no means exhaustive).

Hindi has a comparatively modern, but in terms of cultural import and the breadth of writing, a huge and important impact on North Indian speech. Furthermore, Hindi writers never shied away from borrowing Sanskrit verbs too (obviously without Sanskrit inflections) and Hindizing them. E.g. these immortal lines by Dinkar that most (if not all) Hindi speakers will find especially moving use the Sanskrit verb morpheme “shobh” (to suit) directly as a Hindi verb.

kshama shobhati uss bhujang ko, jiske paas garal ho;

usko kya jo dant-heen, vishrahit, vineet, saral ho!

The patronage given to standardized Hindi in schools throughout North India and also in other parts of India (including some surprising places like Arunachal Pradesh where people tend to speak Hindi rather than each others’ Tibeto-Burman tribal dialects) means that standard Hindi’s reach and depth have grown enormously and dwarf standard Urdu usage within India (and Pakistan, as the latter has a mere fraction of India’s population). Surprisingly, the influence of Hindi on Bangla within India has been orders of magnitude more successful than of Urdu on Bangla in pre-1971 Pakistan.

Ascendant and absorptive

Hindi’s success at gaining converts (willing or otherwise) has also being due to the tendency of Hindi-wallahs to subsume all dialects near-and-far into the Hindi umbrella. The fact that Hindi movement still exists in the ancestral heartland (whereas many Urduwallahs had to emigrate to regions that had zero history of Urdu high-culture) also helps. So, now Marwari accepts Doordarshan Hindi standard and so does Awadhi, ChattisgaRhi, Haryanvi and Braj. And if Sikhs (by far the most fanatical about Punjabi language) would’ve allowed it, even Punjabi would be absorbed into the Hindi fold.

This Hindi movement has clearly political overtones, but its reach is limited by entrenched (but defensive) language movements in India.

Hindi’s vanguard

Bollywood now plays a major role in proselytization of standard Hindi. The standard clearly used to be Urdu (unless the subject of the movie was clearly religious or pre-Islamic) and to an extent still is, but diminishing. This is because the old generation of dialogue and script writers has been replaced by new entrants from N India, who had almost no exposure to the conservative Urdu standard in school. E.g. a famous recent Bollywood number goes:

sabun ki shakal mein,

beta tu to nikla keval jhaag

The use of Sanskrit “keval” instead of the usual “sirf”, would be unthinkable a decade ago. Examples of this type, of creeping Sanskrit vocab in Bollywood abound.

Besides, there has been democratization and localization in stories, i.e. a concious effort to tailor language based on the linguistic origins of the characters. Gone are the days of ethnically inspecific characters breaking into beautiful melodies in chaste Urdu. Now a couple in a Delhi wedding will sing in Hindi code-mixed with Punjabi, a Bombay mafiosi will issue threats in Mumbaiya Hindi, or characters in Haryana/Bihar will speak in the appropriate local registers.

Epilogue

Urdu and Hindi are organically joined at the hip and have not speciated away yet, and there will be many decades (if not centuries) of future cross-talk between the two standards. That said the bimodality introduced by the Partition and the wholesale adoption of Urdu in the regions that now constitute (West) Pakistan will have measurable effects on the nature of the language (innovative variations in phonology, substrate effects of local IA or Iranic dialects on Urdu grammar etc). Furthermore, the impact of English on both standards, certainly on Hindi, is non-trivial and a serious topic in itself.

5+

40 Replies to “Hindi-Urdu”

  1. I hope that modern Hindi is rid of its Persian and Arabic influences at the earliest. Urdu is the reason why there is a comprehension gulf between the North and the South with respect to Hindi. Some years ago, I read a fantastic theory by a youtuber who said that South Indians (including Tamilians) are actually allergic to Urdu, not Hindi, which is meaningless and unintelligible to them.

    Examples –

    Using the word “please” in context – Kripya/Kripa is crystal clear than Reham, which is unintelligible to South Indians.

    Beauty, as in Sundar/Atisundar, rather than Khubsurat, is naturally South Indian.

    Evidence/proof, as in Aadhar, rather than mutabiqat (wtf?). I am glad they didn’t use this word for the card – South India would have revolted.

    Witness – Sakshi (same in all 4 S.Indian languages). Tasdeeq is 100% alien

    Confidence – Atmavishwas (instantly recognizable). Aitmaad. Aitbaar 🙂

    That guy listed over 10000 words and concluded that the gulf between the North and the South in understanding concepts and everyday usage started with the forced introduction of Persian and Urdu. Its a pity that I didn’t save that video in my feed.

    8+
  2. > mitra, kripya dvarAvarodhan karo!

    This is why I say that Urdu phrases don’t translate well in Hindi. The above example can be said as (in Bhojpuri)

    मित्र, केवड़िया भिडकादा or केवड़िया लगादा।
    (सखी in place of मित्र for स्त्रीलिंग)

    There isn’t always a need to use tatsam, there are alternate words too.

    Why does one always think that it is Sanskrit > Hindi whereas it is Sanskrit > Prakrit > … > Hindi.

    1+
    1. One of the reasons why I feel South used to understand lesser Hindi, is the usage of Urdu/Farsi words instead of words from Bhojpuri/Awadhi/Braj etc.

      3+
    2. In Kannada, one would say:
      Mitra, daya madi bagilannu mucchu.

      Daya madi is a more formal form of ‘please’.
      Bagilu is door. Mucchu is close.

      Not necessarily the same as Sanskrit or Hindi. Yes a lot of words are common, but a lot if words differ too.

      Also South Indian languages retain the original Sanskrit words and pronunciation better than North Indian languages.
      Ex: Rama, Shiva and Ram, Shiv.

      4+
  3. In the deccan north of the krishna/tungabhadra rivers, theres quite a bit of persian in the colloquial speech in kannada, marathi and telugu.

    1+
    1. Compared to what it was in older Marathi (in 17-1800s), it is ways less.

      This de-farsiazation can be done. We ourselves let “दरवाजा” gain prominence over “दार”, “किवाड़” etc. etc.

      I blame Hindi cinema too.

      I have got no problems with words that add something to the language. For e.g.: ईकबाल. However, using “दरवाजा” is just laziness.

      Same is the case with technical words. Use them from whichever language that is better, don’t use “कुंजीपटल” use “कीबोर्ड”

      1+
  4. “it is neither Hindi nor Urdu but Awadhi”

    Awadhi is not really spoken in Bihar at any large scale. Is ‘Bihari’ is a generic term for eastern non-Bengali people among Pakistanis?

    0
  5. In South Tamil went thru its phase of purging Sanskrit words out of tamil. The Dravidian govt was quite fixated with it 50-70 yrs ago.

    0
  6. Hindi became a political project in the 19th century. In the 20th, its fanatical supporters tried to absorb all North Indian dialects into its body. They succeeded with Marwari, Maithili, Bhojpuri and the Pahari dialects of Uttarkhand and Himachal. They tried very hard with Punjabi, and failing turned the Sikhs into a suspect community. No one talks about Bengalis or Tamils being fanatic about their language. How do the Sikhs get to be described so over Punjabi?
    Urdu used not to be so Persianized/Arabized. Till the mid 18th century the language was familiar enough to be spoken by all. It was the urge of the Muslim Ashrafia to produce a language as elegant as Persian that made them incorporate heavy doses of Persian style and Arabic vocabulary. Once it began to resemble Persian more closely they considered it fit for their own use, claiming as they did a foreign origin.
    Munshi Prem Chand wrote his stories in an Urdu that was intelligible to the common man, Hindu and Muslim. The Urdu spoken today in Pakistan mirroring the Sanskritization of Hindi in India, is often incomprehensible. They have begun to follow the rules of Arabic grammar as well.Perhaps because it did not adopt Arabic as the national language at birth, it makes do with an ersatz Arabic in the form of an aspirational Urdu, that pretends like its speakers to origins it never had.

    1+
    1. “Perhaps because it did not adopt Arabic as the national language at birth, it makes do with an ersatz Arabic in the form of an aspirational Urdu, that pretends like its speakers to origins it never had.”

      That’s an absurd thing to say. No one thinks Urdu has Arab origins. Urdu is what it is – a product of Islamization of Hindustan. It’s history sort of parallels that of English – a Germanic language that got transformed by the Norman invasion and subsequent French influence. One could rid try to rid it off the French elements and create a new Germanic language out of it, but that begs the question ‘what’s the point?’ I have the same question for the Hindi Sanskritization folks. Focus on improving your economy. The rest is waste of time.

      2+
  7. The parallel between English and Urdu is a good one, English absorbed a lot of French loanwords because the ruling class spoke French, and Urdu/Hindi absorbed Persian loanwords because the ruling class spoke Persian.
    Even today, the upper classes in England use more French loans than the general population, and the same can be said of Urdu/Hindi.

    Sanskritization of Hindi basically destroyed the poetic and literary heritage of Hindi and handed it over to Urdu. We have people here who believe that Munshi Premchand wrote in ”intelligible Urdu”, both Hindi and Muslim in his time understood ‘complex’ Persian vocabulary, something that eludes most Hindi speakers today due to Sasnkritization. Premchand’s writing be no different than someone like Manto or Chughtai or any modern Pakistani prose writer/columnist.

    1+
    1. @SQureishi

      Why go back only to Premchand? Premchand can be thought of as an Indian writer today (in 2020), writing in English.

      I can read Ramcharitmanas because I know Hindi+Sanskrit+Bhojpuri (closer to Awadhi). Heck, read Kabir; he is more understandable to me that Premchands (or Mantos) Urdu.

      You hang on to the language of 1800-1900s, we Indians want to go back to 1500s-1600s (or maybe even something older?).

      Hindi is like the descendant that takes input from all North Indian languages from Rajasthan to Bihar. In every region, you add a local flavour to it.

      I talk in both Bhojpuri and Hindi depending upon the context (i.e. in family vs outside). None of the languages are dying (I read couple of books in Bhojpuri!! It would have been unthinkable for my father/grandfather to even find books in Bhojpuri)

      Remember, Marathi was rid of its Persian vocabulary by Great Maratha King Shivaji, so there is precedent.

      You know, all this shit wouldn’t have happened if Indian Muslims had agreed upon writing Hindustani in Devanagari. Liturgical/Religious writing could have stayed in Nastaliq(or other Arabic script) for Urdu/Arabic and normal things could have continued in Devanagari.

      0
  8. I think you missed the point I made. Urdu began as a hybrid of Turkic/Persian and Khari boli, with some early Punjabi influence and later from Braj bhasha and Dakhani forms, but it always had an Arabic vocabulary, via Persian or directly. Today the Arabic influence seems to be dominating. We hear Pakistanis saying amwat instead of mautain (maut- death, plural mautain if you are an Indian Urdu speaker: amwat if you like Arabic forms); similarly aadat (singular for habit- plural in Indian Urdu, aadatain, but in the Pakistani trend, the plural is aadaat). This extends into grammatical forms. “Aapki aadatain”- your habits, in the Indian Urdu becomes “Aapkay aadaat”in the Pakistani style.
    Pakistani Urdu on the serious media, is, to an Indian Urdu speaker who has not studied the language, a gobbledegook of Persian forms with Arabic vocabulary clothed in a smattering of Indian conjunctions, pronouns and preposition which need an expert in both Arabian and Persian to follow. I hear Pakistani Urdu on you tube videos and often have to query Urdu speakers the meanings, despite a life spent among Urdu speakers. And they seem equally at sea, unless they happen to be scholars.
    Pakistanis extirpated Khuda in favour of Allah some decades ago; the same process is at work in language. Between Pakistani Urdu and Indian Hindi, the speakers of a common language have been squeezed out.
    Your opinion on economic development will of course be taken note of by those who make the decisions; if you are one of those empowered to do so in Pakistan I would suggest that you take your own advice..

    0
  9. I think you missed the point. Urdu is a product of Turkic invaders using Persian intermixing with native Khadi boli, Braj and early Punjabi influence. The Arabic element was always there, via Persian, or directly. Currently, in Pakistan, the focus is on Arabic forms predominantly, as any listening to their channels on youtube makes evident. Persian influences seem to have taken a back seat, with Khuda giving way to Allah.
    Your advice on improving the Indian economy will surely be noted by those who empowered to do so in India. May I suggest that if you are one of such, empowered in Pakistan, to take your own advice.

    0
  10. // Sanskritization of Hindi basically destroyed the poetic and literary heritage of Hindi and handed it over to Urdu. //

    Silly comment that betrays ignorance of the topic.

    Hindi has an order of magnitude more literary / creative output than Urdu. Indians are no stupider than Pakistanis, and there are an order of magnitude more Indians. Simple scaling law.

    0
  11. // Even today, the upper classes in England use more French loans than the general population //

    No. The Norman French loans in English are used in roughly equal frequency by all strata of English society (though there may be some regional variation, as opposed to class).

    What you are ignorantly referring to is latter-day Latinate vocab, which are direct loans from ecclesiastical/academic use Latin into English. Primarily technical vocabulary. Eg. the word “primary” was borrowed into English in 16c, “technical” in 17c and “vocabulary” in 16c. Nothing to do with Norman French.

    PS: technical is actually Greek, but loan via Latinate route (hence the “ch”).

    0
  12. Modern Standard Hindi is an ”artificial” language created by Hindu scholars. They decided to open up a Hindustani/Urdu/Old Hindi dictionary and replaced all Perso-Arabic vocabulary with direct borrowings from Sanskrit. These direct Sanskrit loans were not previously used anywhere. This is the reason why nobody actually speaks ‘Shudh Hindi’ on the streets and their vocabulary is full of Persian/Arabic loanwords. This is also why this language does not have any major literary output beyond 120 years. This is why ”Hindi” literary greats like Harishchandra Bhartendu or Premchand started off their careers writing in Urdu (which was also known as Hindi or Hindavi) back then.

    A language that resembles modern day Urdu was the lingua franca of British India – the British called it ‘Hindoostani’ as the name Urdu came about later. It was also written in Nastaliq script, as evidence by some earlier British coins which only had English and Hindustani Nastaliq inscriptions, but no Devanagari.

    It is after much effort by the Indian government that Sanskrit vocabulary is now finally being used in Hindi, mostly by speakers whose mother tongue is not Hindi and they learn the government approved version.

    My original point stands that Urdu was the lingua franca of British India. Urdu was Hindi and Hindi was Urdu, the argument initially was only that of script and it ballooned further later. By eliminating Perso Arabic vocabulary, Hindi destroyed a large part of its literary heritage. Poets like Ghalib, Zauq or Mir are not accessible to most Hindi speakers today.

    I am not going to argue on the history of English as I am sure you are the expert in that regard. But the historical parallel between English and Urdu is very striking. Urdu too borrows directly from Arabic when technical vocabulary is concerned. All classes in England may have absorbed Norman French loans after a thousand years, just like all classes in India would also have absorbed the Persian loans if Indian government was not so anal about getting rid of its Muslim past.

    There is very little difference between Indian and Pakistani Urdu, so I am not sure how anyone can claim that Pakistan has Arabicized Urdu when in fact there is no concerted government body in Pakistan trying to do so, and reading an Urdu newspaper from either side of the border does not reveal much difference.

    0
    1. So much Hindustani i.e. Urdu=Hindi here!

      Paak sarzameen shaad baad
      Kishvari haseen shaad baad
      Too nishaani azmi aalee shaan
      Arzi Paakistaan!
      Markazi yaqeen shaad baad

      Paak sarzameen kaa nizaam
      Quvvati Ukhuvvati avaam
      Qaum, mulk, saltanat
      Paayindah taabindah baad!
      Shaad baad manzili muraad

      Parcami sitaarah o hilaal
      Rahbari taraqqee o kamaal
      Tarjumaani maazee, shaani haal
      Jaani istiqbaal!
      Saayahyi Khudaayi Zoo l’jalaal

      “the lingua franca of British India” Nope! Awadhi, Brajbhasha would like to have a word.

      “By eliminating Perso Arabic vocabulary, Hindi destroyed a large part of its literary heritage. Poets like Ghalib, Zauq or Mir are not accessible to most Hindi speakers today.”
      Hindu people who are into these things do read a lot of Ghalib and Mir. The question is why has this fascination/appreciation always been one-way.

      ‘It is after much effort by the Indian government that Sanskrit vocabulary is now finally being used in Hindi, speakers whose mother tongue is not Hindi and they learn the government approved version’

      VERSUS

      ‘when in fact there is no concerted government body in Pakistan trying to do so’

      just listen to yourself – Evil Hindooz, Pak-Musclemaan!
      and this confidence is when half the country was lost because of imposing Urdu by Punjabis whose mother tongue was not even Urdu. Come out of your ass and get some fresh air.

      0
    2. Nosh farmaiye janab:

      “Syed Ahmed Dehlavi, a 19th-century lexicographer who compiled the Farhang-e-Asifiya Urdu dictionary, estimated that 75% of Urdu words have their etymological roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit, and approximately 99% of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit. Urdu has borrowed words from Persian and to a lesser extent, Arabic through Persian, to the extent of about 25% to 30% of Urdu’s vocabulary. A table illustrated by the linguist Afroz Taj of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill likewise illustrates the amount of Persian loanwords to native Sanskrit-derived words in literary Urdu as comprising a 1:3 ratio.

      The “trend towards Persianisation” started in the 18th century by the Delhi school of Urdu poets, though other writers, such as Meeraji, wrote in a Sanskritised form of the language. There has been a move towards hyper Persianisation in Pakistan since 1947…..”

      75% Sanskrit, pretty clear who has borrowed from whom?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urdu

      1+
    3. @Qureishi

      Your views strike me as more motivated/sophistic than factual.

      People who use a language borrow words from any/all sources that catch their fancy. So borrowing from Skt is completely par for the course. It is not an artifice but the choice of a linguistic community. And the tendency is not just to borrow from Skt but Hindi-izing the morphemes (as the shobhati example indicates).

      The one point I (sort of) agree with is the lack of accessibility of Urdu poets like ghalib, zauq et al to modern Hindi speakers. I’d just say two things:

      a) Urdu poetry was always a niche affair even in its heartland (so its not like the grand parents of most people from UP today knew zauq, but the younger generation suffers from collective amnesia – if anything the reverse is likely true)
      b) Indians are likely to respond better and engage with Persian/Persianate culture as a foreign thing they are interested in than being told Persian is Indian heritage. Quite like how the English treat French, with interest and ironic distance.

      0
  13. The Pakistani national anthem is entirely in Urdu, however the poet did make an extra effort to differentiate it from India after the events of partition. The Urdu-Hindi controversy was caused entirely by some (elite) Hindus so you cannot blame us.

    //“the lingua franca of British India” Nope! Awadhi, Brajbhasha would like to have a word.//

    The British were better at judging what the lingua franca was, and to them it was Hindustani. They even published English to Hindustani dictionaries to help their officers learn the language of the masses and govern. Here is one such dictionary

    https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.263319/page/n45/mode/2up

    If you scroll through this dictionary, you will notice that this is more of an ‘English to Urdu’ dictionary with dose of heavy Perso-Arabic vocabulary. Hindustani was basically another name for Urdu.

    // Hindu people who are into these things do read a lot of Ghalib and Mir. The question is why has this fascination/appreciation always been one-way.//

    Because a lot of Hindus themselves spoke Urdu? (or at least their upper class ancestors did). It’s natural for them to be fascinated with a language their elders speak, especially when that language signified a rich heritage.

    I don’t know any Muslims (Pakistanis or Indians) who would want to learn Shudh Hindi or are fascinated by Shudh Hindi. It does not have the history or the pedigree. Sanskrit as a language? Yes, many Muslims would be intrigued but not Shudh Hindi.

    //just listen to yourself – Evil Hindooz, Pak-Musclemaan!//

    I am telling you how it is. There is no government effort to purify Urdu from Indic words, the poets in the 18th century Lucknow and Delhi already did that for us. Blame them, not us. We like our Persian, Arabic and (tadbhav) Indic vocabulary.

    //and this confidence is when half the country was lost because of imposing Urdu by Punjabis //

    Bengali was made official language alongside Urdu in 1956. The causes of the divide are not related to language but that’s the narrative being peddled in India and Bangladesh, I will pass. It’s been 50 years, we don’t think about it much. Urdu adoption has only helped integrate our four provinces further so it’s been a plus.

    1+
    1. “Urdu adoption has only helped integrate our four provinces further so it’s been a plus.”

      One could say the same for Hindi.

      Sanskrit origin technical and legal terminology helps make it more accessible to folks in a number of non-Hindi speaking states as well as to non-elites who historically didn’t speak the high register of Urdu. I don’t see any reason why using Persian or Arabic loans would have been a better choice.

      In any case, this is a useless debate since both Hindi and Urdu today are sufficiently influenced by English to be indistinguishable on the street.

      Whenever I see Pakistani talk shows, I am a bit surprised at the amount of English nouns being used. In India, they just skip to talking in English altogether. Or switch between English and Hindi sentences.

      0
    2. “The British were better at judging what the lingua franca was, and to them it was Hindustani.”
      Kuch bhi, matlab kuch bhi !!

      “I don’t know any Muslims (Pakistanis or Indians) who would want to learn Shudh Hindi or are fascinated by Shudh Hindi.”
      Oh! Muslims are lining up to read Mira Bai, Kabir, Tagore or Dinkar!

      The simple fact is Muslims are upfront about their assholery that they won’t adjust and want others to not only accommodate but modify their ways. When this demand is not met they complain, make excuses and resort to thuggery.

      “I am telling you how it is.”
      Say that again and I will believe you. LoL!

      “the poets in the 18th century Lucknow and Delhi already did that for us. Blame them, not us.”
      Exactly! that’s why some don’t blame them but try to correct their excesses.

      “We like our Persian, Arabic and (tadbhav) Indic vocabulary.”
      Slick! but it is (also) called Sanskrit/Prakrit vocabulary

      “Syed Ahmed Dehlavi, a 19th-century lexicographer who compiled the Farhang-e-Asifiya Urdu dictionary, estimated that 75% of Urdu words have their etymological roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit,and approximately 99% of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit.Urdu has borrowed words from Persian and to a lesser extent, Arabic through Persian, to the extent of about 25% to 30% of Urdu’s vocabulary. A table illustrated by the linguist Afroz Taj of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill likewise illustrates the amount of Persian loanwords to native Sanskrit-derived words in literary Urdu as comprising a 1:3 ratio.

      The “trend towards Persianisation” started in the 18th century by the Delhi school of Urdu poets, though other writers, such as Meeraji, wrote in a Sanskritised form of the language.There has been a move towards hyper Persianisation in Pakistan since 1947, which has been adopted by much of the country’s writers….”

      “Urdu adoption has only helped integrate our four provinces further so it’s been a plus.”

      Good work, keep going. India (idk for good or bad) prefers all the languages to thrive(i.e. no integration via language), there is nothing special about Hindi when compared to Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi…

      0
  14. @bhimrao

    It seems you really don’t know what you are talking about, and now citing wikipedia entries.

    Urdu definitely has more than 50% of it’s vocabulary sourced Indic. I doubt the 75% figure, as will my Lughat. But lets agree to the 75% figure. This is not surprising since for many nouns, Urdu contains one Indic word and one Persian. And then there are many nouns which do not have a Persian loan, so only the Indic is used. And then most of the grammar is Indic.

    However a key distinction here is usage: Urdu vocabulary is contains both Farsi and Indic, but in usage, Farsi equivalent is more common than it’s representative percentage. This is completely normal for an Indic language that adopted Farsi loans, the foreign loan will almost always be higher in usage that their total % of words in any language, because people would not adopt a foreign loan if they don’t intend on using it.

    Also, tatsama Sanskrit loans are direct borrowings from Sanskrit that do not exist in Urdu or Hindi until they were put there by Hindu scholars in late 19th century. That’s how they differentiated Hindi from Urdu. Sanskrit was never a mass language in India so it’s disingenuous to claim that Tatsam Sasnkrit loans in Hindi were the original words before Persianization.

    2+
    1. Yes, I am out of my depth here, not my field of expertise or interest. Will leave it to other better men to slug it out.

      I have no issues with Urdu btw, technically it is (one of) my mother tongue, the more it thrives the better for me. My issue is with Persian and Arabic, screw both of them.

      Anyways, thanks for replying. Ram-Ram!

      0
  15. @Prats

    It’s a good policy if Sanskrit loans increase outreach of Hindi to the South. My issue is not with that but with the wrong info being spread about history of Urdu/Hindi w.r.t to Sanskritization.

    Yes Pakistani talk shows do use a lot of English, because Urdu is borrowing a lot of loans from English now. Few decades ago, new vocabulary would have been adopted from Arabic, but now I see wholesale import of English vocabulary in Urdu. Common everyday words such as Computer, Net, Table, etc etc now part of Urdu lexicon and used formally

    0
  16. The major bone of contention in the Hindi-Urdu conflict was the script (Nagari vs Arabic), vocabulary was not a big issue at the time.

    As far as creative work is concerned, literature in both languages is quite dull IMO (atleast in India, dont know about Pakistan). There is a reason our children read Harry Potter, young adults read Tolkien and older folks dont read much at all. Indian literature, even that produced by the likes of Premchand is very depressing and the soaring imagination isnt really there to see.

    Indian English literature might have a better future, it doesnt seem to carry as much baggage. Take Salman Rushdie for example, his work seems very unburdened.

    0
  17. Government Hindi, which they call administrative Hindi is a God awful language that no one in his right mind would want to speak, but it is infiltrating into common usage by Governmental fiats when it is used in Governmental formats, particularly in public communication, Railways and Airlines. For example, udan main vilamb hai instead of dair or dairi hai. Examples can be found by anyone. It is equally bad in Pakistan, if that is where modern Urdu originates. Pakistan, and some Indian Urdu speakers have abandoned Indian plural forms. Aadatein, plural of aadat, habit, is now aadat, among the cultured. Consequentially the plural form of Aap ki aadatein becomes Aap kay aadat. Deaths used to be mauten, plural for maut. Now, it is amwat In Pakistan they consider it undesirable Hindu influence to use any non Arabic vocab; and yet it seeps in. I frequently hear moosladhar used to describe rain, Gambhir for serious instead of sangeen, and virajmaan for presenting oneself. Pakistani Urdu is as artificial as Indian administrative Hindi. It is not the language of the people, but a deliberate political play to establish new identity. Even in India there are some who insist that Pakistan noveau Urdu is the only correct one.

    0
    1. It is not the language of the people, but a deliberate political play to establish new identity.

      Was with you until this sentence. If it is not the “language of the people” are Martians speaking it in India?

      India is changing (for better or worse) and this is one of many ways it is changing in. You may like it or not (entirely your choice!), but it is what it is.

      Re Urdu, in India its status is now of a dialect as opposed to the language of the corridors of power in Delhi. C’est la vie.

      1+
    2. “It is not the language of the people, but a deliberate political play to establish new identity”

      languages evolve all the time. we dont speak the language that our forefathers spoke in the lanes of mohenjodaro. (or on the grasslands of central asia, if you prefer). so there is no need to get all worked up over something as trivial as language.

      that being said, there is a subtlety in the way trajectories of hindi and urdu are going in india and pak respectively. when indians sanskritize their language, they are moving closer to the speech of their ancestors. when pakistanis arabicize their language, they are moving further away from the speech of their ancestors. 🙂

      3+
    3. Udaan main dair hain -> The flight still has time before take off.

      Udaan main vilamb hain -> The flight has been delayed.

      They mean different things and vilamb is the right word for the context you are implying. In any case, most colloquial speakers today will use “flight delay hogayi hain.”

      0
  18. @Onlooker
    Hindi is on a predictable trajectory as Indians are using more and more Sanskrit loans and less Perso-Arabic equivalents when this is the Indian state policy. However you are once again drawing false equivalency to Pakistani state doing to the same to Urdu, there is no state policy in Pakistan to rid Urdu of Indic origin words of Indic grammar. Urdu already adopted loans and grammar from Arabic centuries ago, via Persian. Most Arabic loans in Urdu came via Persian, except some Islamic religious terminology. Arabic grammar is quite complex. I have never read ”mautein” anywhere for the plural of ‘maut’, and it seems like Hindi spin to the Arabic loanword.. ”Amvaat” is the correct Urdu word because this follows the Arabic plural pattern. ”Maut.on” may also be correct, depending on how its placed in a sentence. But ”mautein” I have never heard or read. Urdu usually has multiple words for every thing, including this.. we could use Faut, Wafat, Inteqal, Jaanbehaq, Halak, Qatl, etc depending on the context and placement of the word in a sentence.

    This does not mean that Urdu does not use Indic grammar sometimes for Arabic loans, it does: for example, aadat –> aadatein, kitab –> kitabein.. etc

    Arabic grammar is complex, it’s a very technical language and Urdu adopted those technicalities long before Pakistan was conceived. You might intuitively get the plural patterns if you know how to read Arabic script.
    If you read an Urdu newspaper in Pakistan and then India, there is very little difference if any at all. Hell I as a Pakistani can read earlier words of Premchand or Ghalib but modern Hindi speakers cannot. Older Bollywood movies are almost entirely in Urdu completely legible to me (even though they called it Hindi at the time) but these movies will not be comprehensible to most Hindi speakers in the future. But then you could blame it on the Muslims dominating Bollywood, but then here is a clip of Nehru speaking to an audience in pure Urdu

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXvIzgAzML8

    Infact not only was he speaking Urdu, he even pronounced the Q’s and the Kh’s and the Gh’s correctly, something that eludes Hindi speakers today and some Indian Urdu speakers as well.
    So you should not draw false equivalency here, it is Indians who have changed Hindi but Pakistanis have not changed Urdu and there is no proof of it. If I was speaking some Arabicized version of Urdu in Pakistan, I would not be able to understand old Hindi movies, poets, and literature.

    The only argument you can make is that the Pakistanis do use less Indic words colloquially when compared to Indian Urdu speakers.. that’s not because of Pakistani policy but because of Indian policy of marginalizing Urdu in India which has reduced the quality of spoken Urdu in India.

    0
    1. @Qureishi

      Can you please write short comments and not pontificate? (or I’ll start deleting them)

      Secondly, lol @ “Arabic grammar is complex, it’s a very technical language”.

      Thirdly, people can do whatever the heck they like to their language – Arabicize, Sanskritize, Anglicize, Klingonize – whatever catches their fancy. Stop getting het up about pointless things.

      1+
  19. //when indians sanskritize their language, they are moving closer to the speech of their ancestors. when pakistanis arabicize their language, they are moving further away from the speech of their ancestors//

    Well it’s refreshing to know we all had Steppe Brahmin ancestors who all spoke Sanskrit 🙂

    3+
  20. @slapstik

    1) Point noted

    2) Arabic grammar rules are indeed complex, and its not an easy language to learn (I have halfheartedly tried). Making new words in Arabic is easy because of its three consonant root system, almost all existing Arabic words being derived from the root and it makes new words easier to form. Farsi on the other hand has simpler grammar than Urdu/Hindi. Don’t take my word for it though as I am not a linguist nor an expert on Arabic or Farsi. This discussion is besides the point.

    3) It’s fair game if a country wants to Sasnkritize, Arabicize, Klingonize etc. I only contested the claim that Pakistan is Arabicizing Urdu, which is incorrect. India is changing its language deliberately, Pakistan is not. But Indians are under the impression that it’s the other way round.

    Cheers.

    0
  21. I am not aware of h/n/d root in Arabic, Hind is a Farsi loan to Arabic.
    So deriving new words from h/n/d is out of question in Arabic, at least I have never read anything derived from h/n/d in Urdu. Since this was a Farsi loan, Urdu does adopt the Farsi derivatives: Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan.

    Also wanted to add, that both Arabic and Sanskrit have relatively fewer foreign loans, compared to languages like English or Urdu which borrowed grammar and vocabulary wholesale. Which is why English & Urdu are relatively hard to learn.

    0
    1. @Qureishi

      Arabic has words like muhannad, hunud, hind etc – clearly a sign of using h-n-d as a (reverse-engineered) tri-consonantal morpheme.

      Also you should not be making claims like Urdu and English having “borrowed grammar wholesale”. You really don’t know what you are talking about.

      0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.