January 19, 2006

All the same except different...

Here's a web site that explains the relationship of Hindi, Hindustani and Urdu, which have long confused me...

....Then, about seven centuries ago, the dialects of Hindi spoken in the region of Delhi began to undergo a linguistic change. In the villages, these dialects continued to be spoken much as they had been for centuries. But around Delhi and other urban areas, under the influence of the Persian-speaking Sultans and their military administration, a new dialect began to emerge which would be called Urdu. While Urdu retained the fundamental grammar and basic vocabulary of its Hindi parent dialects, it adopted the Persian writing system, "Nastaliq" and many additional Persian vocabulary words. Indeed, the great poet Amir Khusro (1253-1325) contributed to the early development of Urdu by writing poems with alternating lines of Persian and Hindi dialect written in Persian script.

What began humbly as a hodge-podge language spoken by the Indian recruits in the camps of the Sultan's army, by the Eighteenth Century had developed into a sophisticated, poetic language.

It is important to note that over the centuries, Urdu continued to develop side by side with the original Hindi dialects, and many poets have written comfortably in both. Thus the distinction between Hindi and Urdu was chiefly a question of style. A poet could draw upon Urdu's lexical richness to create an aura of elegant sophistication, or could use the simple rustic vocabulary of dialect Hindi to evoke the folk life of the village. Somewhere in the middle lay the day to day language spoken by the great majority of people. This day to day language was often referred to by the all-encompassing term "Hindustani."

Because day to day Hindustani was essentially a widespread Indian lingua franca not associated with any particular region or class, it was chosen as the basis for modern Hindi, the national language of India. Modern Hindi is essentially Hindustani with a lexicon of Sanskrit-derived vocabulary in preference to the Persian borrowings of literary Urdu. Likewise, Hindustani in its Urdu form was adopted by Pakistan as a national language because Urdu is not tied to any of the regions comprising modern Pakistan....

Fascinating how the languages seem to be defined by poets...

Posted by John Weidner at January 19, 2006 8:01 AM
Weblog by John Weidner