On Hindustani.

Karthik Venkatesh writes about languages and dialects; most of it is standard stuff that’s old hat at the Hattery (the Weinreich quote; the history of standard English, French, and Turkish), but I thought this section was interesting enough to bring to LH:

In similar fashion, in the subcontinent, a Sanskritized Hindi and a Persianized Urdu were “created” from the Hindustani base that was the foundation for both languages. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, “Hindi” was willed into existence by Hindu zealots keen on a language purged of Muslim influences. The Hindustani that was spoken in the bazaars of north India was the vehicle chosen for this dream and was purged of its Arabo-Persian words, which were replaced with Sanskrit equivalents. This new creation was held up as standard Hindi.

Other allied languages like Maithili, Bhojpuri, Braj and many others, many of which were centuries old and had extensive bodies of literature, were then cast as “dialects” of Hindi. The fantastic claim that such a Sanskritized Hindi is likely to have existed in the past before the Muslim invasions was made and the language thus endowed with a history that was nothing more than a purloining of the histories of its “dialects” and more than a dollop of imagination.

Parallely, Urdu was purged of “polluting” Hindu influences. Turkic, Arabic and Persian words were preferred to words from Indian languages and an acceptable Urdu was willed into existence much in the same fashion as an acceptable Hindi was. Both languages jostled for acceptance and legitimacy among their target audience and aspired for “purity” even as the common man continued—and continues to this day—to use what in effect must be rightly termed “Hindustani” (known as Hindi in India and Urdu in Pakistan). In effect, Sanskritized Hindi claims a history that isn’t really its own while Persianized Urdu, on the other hand, chooses not to dwell on that history much, choosing instead to look to Persian and Arabic as its forerunners.

Anyone interested in learning more should get hold of a copy of A House Divided: The Origin and Development of Hindi-Urdu by Amrit Rai, which I bought at a Strand table by Central Park for $4 on a beautiful June day in 1992 — they seem to want $279.99 for it now, but hopefully you can get it from a library. Thanks, Bathrobe!

Comments

  1. $279.99 for a beautiful June day in 1992 sounds good—where do I sign up?

  2. Careless language experiments like this will result in replacement of Hindi/Urdu by English.
    Languages artificially created in the second half of 20th century don’t have same value as real languages with real history, so if they get replaced by English in the end, it’s not that big a loss.

  3. $279.99 for a beautiful June day in 1992 sounds good—where do I sign up?

    Have you tried asking Palmer Luckey?

  4. Languages artificially created in the second half of 20th century don’t have same value as real languages with real history, so if they get replaced by English in the end, it’s not that big a loss.

    Really asking for it, aren’t you?

    My native language, Israeli Hebrew, was “artificially created” beginning in the second half of 19th century. Does it count?

  5. Greg Pandatshang says:

    I’ve always wondered about the term “Hindustani”, viz who decided this would be a good name for the overlap of Urdu and Hindi? Hindustani sounds too close to Hindi for this purpose.

    Urdu and Hindi are both standardised dialects of Khariboli. It seems like it would simpler to refer to Urdu-Hindi as Khariboli or some equivalent term.

  6. Christopher S says:

    Anyone know how popular the different writing systems for Hindustani were in relation to one another before the schism?

  7. I looked at Khariboli on Wikipedia and left with my head spinning uncontrollably.

    The relationship between vernaculars and prestige standards in this area seems to be quite complex.

    Khariboli, also known as Khari Boli or simply Khari, Dehlavi, Kauravi, and Vernacular Hindustani, is the prestige dialect of Hindustani, of which Standard Hindi and Standard Urdu are standard registers and literary styles, which are the principal official languages of India and Pakistan respectively. The term “Khariboli” has, however, been used for any literary dialect, including Braj Bhasa, Bhojpuri, and Awadhi. As a dialect of Hindustani, Khariboli is a part of the Western group of the Central Zone (Hindi Zone) of Indo-Aryan languages. It is spoken mainly in India in the rural area surrounding Delhi, Western Uttar Pradesh, and southern Uttarakhand.
    In academic literature, the term Kauravi (कौरवी) is sometimes applied to the specific Khari dialect spoken in the western parts of the Khari-speaking zone. Although Khariboli and Standard Hindustani differ dialectically, Standard Hindustani is sometimes also referred to as Khariboli and regarded as the literary form of that dialect.
    Khariboli is believed to have initially developed contemporaneously with the neighboring Awadhi, Bhojpuri, and Braj dialects in the 900–1200 CE period. Khari contains some features, such as gemination, which give it a distinctive sound and differentiates it from standard Hindustani, Braj and Awadhi.

    It gets worse.

    Khariboli is often seen as rustic by speakers of Standard Hindustani, and elements of it were used in Hum Log, India’s first television soap opera, where the main family was depicted as having roots in Western Uttar Pradesh.
    As the two main Hindustani dialects of Western Uttar Pradesh and the areas surrounding Delhi, Khariboli and Braj Bhasha are often compared. One hypothesis of how Khariboli came to be described as khari (standing) asserts that it refers to the “stiff and rustic uncouthness” of the dialect compared to the “mellifluousness and soft fluency” of Braj Bhasha. On the other hand, Khariboli supporters sometimes pejoratively referred to Braj Bhasha and other dialects as “Pariboli” (पड़ी बोली, پڑی بولی, fallen/supine dialects).

    Khariboli? Braj Bhasha?

    Although most linguists acknowledge that Modern Standard Hindustani descended from Khariboli, the precise mechanism of dialectical changes from Khari to the prestige dialect (such as the loss of gemination which is so prevalent in Khari) lacks consensus. There are also variations within Khari itself across the area in which it is spoken. In the mid-twentieth century, Indian scholar and nationalist, Rahul Sankrityayan, proposed a redrawing of the linguistic map of the Hindustani zone. Drawing a distinction between the Khari of Delhi and the Khari of the extreme western parts of Western Uttar Pradesh, he advocated that the former retain the name Khariboli while the latter be renamed to Kauravi, after the Kuru Kingdom of ancient India. Although the term Khariboli continues to be applied as it traditionally was, some linguists have accepted the term Kauravi as well, applying to the language spoken in the linguistic arc running from Saharanpur to Agra (i.e. the close east and north east of Delhi). Sankrityayan postulated that this Kaurvi dialect was the parent of Delhi’s specific Khari dialect. Sankrityayan had also advocated that all Hindustani be standardised on the Devanagari script and Perso-Arabic entirely be abandoned.

    Khari? Khariboli? Kauravi? What is going on!

    Khariboli is related to four standardised registers of Hindustani: Standard Hindi, Urdu, Dakhini and Rekhta. Standard Hindi (also High Hindi, Nagari Hindi) is used as the lingua franca of Northern India (the Hindi belt), Urdu is the lingua franca of Pakistan, Dakhini is the historical literary dialect of the Deccan region, and Rekhta the court register of Urdu used in medieval poetry. These standard registers together with Sansiboli form the Hindustani dialect group. This group together with Haryanvi, Kauravi, Braj Bhasha, Kanauji and Bundeli forms the Western Hindi dialect group.

    The last paragraph in the article (which I won’t quote) seems to blame the British for everything…

  8. As someone who can get by in Hindi and whose father learned learned Urdu in school, I enjoyed the book enough to write it up on my blog. I’m no linguist, so I’m not linking to my amateur review here. I will share the one major quibble I had with it:

    “The book makes no attempt to look at efforts to separate Hindi from Urdu, the drive for Sanskritisation and “shuddh” Hindi. Given the detailed analysis of the efforts to Persianise Urdu, this omission implies that the divergence is all the “fault” of one side, as it were.”

    It’s possible of course that the book predates the most vigorous of such efforts, which are reaching ever more absurd depths in my opinion. That niggle aside it was a very enjoyable read, even for an amateur hobbyist

  9. “Languages artificially created in the second half of 20th century don’t have same value as real languages with real history, so if they get replaced by English in the end, it’s not that big a loss.”

    I’m not sure, Macedonian for example does not seem to be going anywhere.

  10. –My native language, Israeli Hebrew, was “artificially created” beginning in the second half of 19th century. Does it count?

    I was taught that modern Hebrew is a pidgin in creolisation stage.

    Based on ancient language which makes it kind of unique, but otherwise genesis of modern Israeli Hebrew differs little from the processes which gave us Saramaccan, Sranan Tongo or Morisien

  11. David Marjanović says:

    Hebrew never was as restricted as a pidgin.

    Macedonian wasn’t artificially created, it was classified as a separate language and a southwestern dialect (as far as possible from FYLOSC and Bulgarian) declared the standard.

    Does the Wikipedia article mean “dialectally” by “dialectically”, or is it actually talking about some kind of dialectics?

  12. Greg Pandatshang says:

    I’m not sure, Macedonian for example does not seem to be going anywhere.

    Double check your sources, friend. Macedonian hasn’t seen a lot of use since Hesychius or so. I feel like everybody I know in Macedon is switching to Skopiote these days.

    I kid, I kid.

  13. January First-of-May says:

    I feel like everybody I know in Macedon is switching to Skopiote these days.

    I wonder how would you then call whatever Cyril and Methodius spoke – Solunic?

  14. David Marjanović says:

    Skopiote

    Üsküpçe.

    *dives under table and never comes back*

  15. Bathrobe: What I understood from the passage is that Khari Boli:Standard Hindi/Urdu=Tuscan:Italian. With the Khari Boli zone separated into Khari Boli and Kauravi by some dialectologists.

  16. The gemination thing is intriguing. Do they really say kamm for Hindi/Urdu kām < *kamm < karma, or was there some secondary gemination happening somewhere?

  17. The former sounds right to me: cf. Pali dhamma < Skt dharma.

    I think you’d write Scopiot in English: cf. Maniot, Cypriot.

  18. David Marjanović says:

    Also idiot for someone who lives in his own head.

  19. Congratulations for making sense of it. Perhaps you could rewrite the lead so that it makes sense to others, too.

  20. David Marjanović: There’s no such thing as a Macedonian dialect. However you want to define the region of Macedonia (in the modern, revived in the 19th century meaning), it does not correspond to any particularly important isoglosses, or particular groupings of dialects with similar features (however you choose to group them). The yat border passes through the region (by any definition of it), for example. It would be pretty hard to come up with some definition of the region, that most people nowadays would agree with, without having a few groupings of dialects cross its borders.

    The Macedonian literary standard was designed to contain the most possible features from the dialect groups found in that territory that are not found in the Bulgarian literary standard, but not necessarily in dialects from the post-war territory of Bulgaria. It does contain features from other Bulgarian dialects, from Bulgaria and from other countries, even ones found pretty far from the republic of Macedonia. It’s considerably harder to learn for people from the republic of Macedonia (maybe younger people just learn it as their native language, but that’s certainly not universal, Serbian is the primary language of a considerable number of them) than the current Bulgarian standard is for most people in what is now Bulgaria, because it’s not designed for ease of learning (that’s not the only reason, but it’s the main one).

  21. David Marjanović says:

    Interesting, thanks.

  22. Greg Pandatshang says:

    What I understood from the passage is that Khari Boli:Standard Hindi/Urdu=Tuscan:Italian.

    That’s what I got from it as well. And if there were no name for Italian but it needed one, “Tuscan” wouldn’t be a bad choice.

    By the way, does anyone know about the etymology of Urdu~Hindi बोली boli “speech” or “dialect”? Is it a Persianism? You’d expect b- to be fairly rare in the ancestral Old I-A outside of a Grassmann’s context. Although, now that I’m thinking about it, I seem to recall that Old I-A v- became b- generally in Khariboli.

  23. The root bol- ‘say, speak’ is already present in 2C Shauraseni Prakrit: trivial reflexes exist in Marathi, Punjabi, and Bengali as well as Hindi/Urdu.

  24. Greg Pandatshang says:

    I’m not trying to be deliberately naḯve here, but … why does FYROM feel the need to create a standard form of Macedonian language anyway? The Austrians seem to do just fine with Standard German as their standard language. It seems like it would be simpler for everybody if Macedonians would just use Bulgarian the same way.

  25. You should read up on the history of Macedonia and Bulgaria. Unlike the Austrians, many of whom were delighted with the idea of being part of Germany, the Macedonians had to struggle for their independence and have no interest in encouraging the idea that they’re “really” Bulgarians.

  26. We Americans, on the other hand, struggled for ours and didn’t even bother to rename the language.

  27. But we did not struggle because we didn’t want to be English (we’d been thrilled to be English for generations), we struggled because we didn’t want to have to pay taxes and stop oppressing Native Americans.

  28. the Macedonians had to struggle for their independence and have no interest in encouraging the idea that they’re “really” Bulgarians

    I think it’s the other way round: the fewer resources to rally the new nationalism around (loyalty to the Emperor morphed into the Austrian nation just right), the larger necessity to emphasize the linguistic difference.

  29. I don’t understand; could you elaborate? What’s “the other way round”?

  30. marie-lucie says:

    I read somewhere (serious) that at the time that independence from Britain was being talked about there was a movement to stop using English, the language of the British oppressor, as the de facto national language. There was a substantial population of German origin in some states and German was considered. Another proposal favoured Hebrew, but the logistics of trying to teach it to the whole population made this project unrealistic. Finally English prevailed as the most practical choice, but was not declared the “official language” to be legally imposed on the population.

  31. Greg Pandatshang says:

    marie-lucie, I’m afraid that’s a popular and oft-debunked legend: https://www.snopes.com/language/apocryph/german.asp

    Never heard the version with Hebrew before. I’m pretty sure the only choices presented to Congress were English, German, Austrian, Western Neo-Aramaic, Macedonian, dnghu, Klingon, Ido, Lingua Franca Nova, Loglan, Lojban, and Skerre. It was felt that delegates had their hands full mastering each of those in order to judge which was best suited for the new republic, so they had to reject any further proposals for additional candidate languages.

  32. Lnaguage Hat: can you fuck off for a second? A lot of my ancestors hat to fight off the Greeks for the idea that we we not really Bulgarians? You know, the Megali Idea? My Great-graparents were persecuted for daring to be Bulgarian? Beaten?

  33. My great-granmother was beaten in school for speaking bulgarian?

  34. David Marjanović says:

    why does FYROM feel the need to create a standard form of Macedonian language anyway?

    Oh, it didn’t. Standard Macedonian is a product of the Balkan Wars, WWI and Yugoslavia (“OK, OK, you don’t have to be Serbs if you really don’t want to, but there’s no way you’re Bulgarians”).

    loyalty to the Emperor morphed into the Austrian nation just right

    No. Most Austrians flatly denied that there was such a thing as an Austrian nation until the 1950s or 60s or something. The reason Austria didn’t join Germany in 1919 is that the victors of WWI simply forbade that (together with the name Deutschösterreich, “German Austria”, which had been official for a year).

  35. I respect all of marie-lucie, David Marjanović, and language hat, but please respect my family’s experience also. The history of the Bulgarian refugees from what is now the republic of Macedonia and northern Greece get ignored enough in linguistics circles as it is, you don’t need to rub it in. And I even still have relatives who married in there and assimilated, just, people, don’t make it harder than it already is.

  36. Lnaguage Hat: can you fuck off for a second? A lot of my ancestors hat to fight off the Greeks for the idea that we we not really Bulgarians? You know, the Megali Idea? My Great-graparents were persecuted for daring to be Bulgarian? Beaten?

    I’m very sorry to have offended you. I thought we were talking about Macedonians in what is now the republic of Macedonia, who had to fight off Turks, Serbs, Bulgarians, and Greeks (I’ve read a lot about the Balkan Wars and their background); of course if your family were Bulgarian refugees you’d have a very different point of view, and I can respect that.

  37. David: What I thought (quite probably wrong) is that there was a core elite group of Imperial bureaucrats and other people who benefitted from Imperial Vienna and loyal to the Emperor (I had Zweig protagonists in my head); those people, or so I thought, were the most opposed to the Anschluss, and their sentiment, the only one within the post-war Overton window, provided some base for the Austrianization of the national identity.

    Hat: There are strong, confident nationalisms and weak, insecure nationalisms. In the post-WWII conditions at least, the greatest danger to a national identity is assimilation. That’s why the Khalkha Mongols are right to be so comically anti-Chinese: their Inner Mongolian co-ethnics, without this kind of knee-jerk opposition to anything Chinese, are now thoroughly assimilated. In the Macedonian case, the absence of any objective markers from the Bulgarians and real grudges towards Bulgaria makes the danger of Bulgarization paramount. Perhaps a century later, when the Bulgarian-Macedonian distinction would have acquired a kind of Platonic clearness, Bulgarian Folk Songs would be printed in the original titile.

  38. Trond Engen says:

    There are strong, confident nationalisms and weak, insecure nationalisms

    I was thinking of inclusive and exclusive nationalisms.

  39. Greg Pandatshang says:

    You should read up on the history of Macedonia and Bulgaria.

    I happen to have done a little reading up on Macedonian history yesterday. And I do mean a little, just some Wikipedia pages. But I didn’t notice an incident where Macedonia struggled for independence vs. Bulgaria. It seems to me that Macedonia is essentially the chunk of Bulgaria that was conquered by Serbia in the 13th century, not long before the whole Balkans was absorbed by the Ottomans. Thus, when Bulgaria became independent 500 years later, Macedonia was not included since it had not under Bulgarian rule as of the Ottoman conquest. So, there were conflicts with the Turks and Serbs, but not with Bulgaria. I could very well be missing something, though.

    That being the case, though, David’s explanation that Standard Macedonian was created by Serbs and/or Yugoslavs makes a lot of sense.

    Anschluß was popular at the time, but in hindsight it has become fraught to say the least, since now Austrian independence has began to be seen as a Platonic fact. But I guess Standard German was too well established in Austria by the 20th century to consider the creation of a Standard Austrian instead. German was a top tier world language for which Vienna had long been one of its major cultural centers.

  40. David Marjanović says:

    those people, or so I thought, were the most opposed to the Anschluss, and their sentiment, the only one within the post-war Overton window, provided some base for the Austrianization of the national identity.

    There were quite few of those people, especially outside Vienna (and that matters in a federalist system); and there really wasn’t that much continuity between 1918 and 1945. Fascist Austria (1934–1938), an explicitly classist society, tried to be “the better Germany” (the other one was doing fascism wrong, and over half of them weren’t even Catholic…) and abolished itself without violence “lest German blood be spilled”.

  41. spom-mda-tshang dge-regs lags: Well, if you read Wikipedia close enough, you’ll find the following quotation:
    Kaufman, Stuart J. (2001). Modern hatreds: the symbolic politics of ethnic war. New York: Cornell University Press. p. 193.

    “While Bulgarian was most common affiliation then, mistreatment by occupying Bulgarian troops during WWII cured most Macedonians from their pro-Bulgarian sympathies, leaving them embracing the new Macedonian identity promoted by the Tito regime after the war.”

    No idea about the relative portion of contribution, though, as even after the war, it was still felt necessary to kill a couple of hundreds of Bulgarophiles to set the example.

  42. David Marjanović says:

    Our previous discussion of Austrian identity starts here.

  43. Greg Pandatshang says:

    “‘”While Bulgarian was most common affiliation then, mistreatment by occupying Bulgarian troops during WWII cured most Macedonians from their pro-Bulgarian sympathies, leaving them embracing the new Macedonian identity promoted by the Tito regime after the war.”‘”

    I should have known to keep looking for more Balkans infighting.

  44. I vaguely remember many years ago having a chat with Elizabeth Barber, who had traveled to the Balkans. If I remember correctly, she said that Macedonian was the easiest of the languages in the region for her to understand, using her knowledge of Russian (I don’t remember if she mentioned Bulgarian.) Hat, does that ring any bell with you?

  45. Good lord, Elizabeth Barber was my linguistics teacher in college! Hi, Dr. Barber! Other than that, no, doesn’t ring any bells, but maybe I should try learning Macedonian.

  46. David Eddyshaw says:

    On Bulgarian/Russian:

    I learnt Russian (up to a point) at school with someone (a Brit) who had previously lived for years in Bulgaria, and who undoubtedly had a vast unfair advantage in consequence. About all that gave him trouble in Russian was the case system (not that that isn’t enough to be going on with.)

  47. My experience with Bulgarian is that the technical / scientific / absctract lexicon is a piece of cake if you know Russian, as there has been much mutual influence – first from (Bulgarian) Church Slavic on Russian up to th 15th / 16th century, and then from Russian on Bulgarian in the 19th and 20th century. But everyday words like food or household items are sufficiently different that for me, it was easier reading Bulgarian financial accounts and contracts than reading menus in restaurants.

  48. “Once upon a time there was a Tongue, and that Tongue had Vowels. And four of those were long, and four were not; and four were high, and four were not; and four were front, and four were not.” Thus begins Ivan Derzhanski’s “History of Bulgarian Orthography”, which has a good deal to say about the reciprocity of Bulgarian and Russian.

  49. I’d hazard a guess and say that Macedonian is the easiest Slav language for an English speaker to learn if you have some familiarity with Cyrillic. The main reason I say that is that the spelling is almost entirely phonetic and the case system has been simplified, just as in English. Vocabulary can be a challenge, but it is largely Slavic, with some Turkish elements to it. Eg. Pazar means market.

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