History of the Hindi language  

Chronological History of the Hindi language



Hindi is a direct descendant of Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha. It has been influenced and enriched by Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portugese and English. It is a very expressive language. In poetry and songs, it can convey emotions using simple and gentle words. It can also be used for exact and rational reasoning.

More than 180 million people in India regard Hindi as their mother tongue. Another 300 million use it as second language. Outside of India, Hindi speakers are 100,000 in USA; 685,170 in Mauritius; 890,292 in South Africa; 232,760 in Yemen; 147,000 in Uganda; 5,000 in Singapore; 8 million in Nepal; 20,000 in New Zealand; 30,000 in Germany. Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, spoken by about 41 million in Pakistan and other countries, is essentially the same language. Dakhini is an older, southern form of Urdu that uses fewer Persian or Arabic words.

Dialects of Hindi: Marwari, MAP Braj, map, Bundeli, map, Kanauji, map, Urdu, map, Chattisgarhi, map, Bagheli, map, Avadhi, map, Bhojpuri map, Maithili, –>and many others. It is not easy to delimit the borders of the Hindi speaking region. There has been considerable controversy on the status of Punjabi and Maithili, map . Sometimes they are regarded to be independent languages and sometimes dialects of Hindi. A 1997 survey found that 66% of all Indians can speak Hindi, and 77% of the Indians regard Hindi as “one language across the nation”.

Brief History of Hindi: Hindi started to emerge as Apabhramsha in the 7th cent. and by the 10 cent. became stable. Several dialects of Hindi have been used in literature. Braj was the popular literary dialect until it was replaced by khari boli in the 19th century.

Background: The period of Prakrits and Classical Sanskrit (dates are approximate):
750 BCE: Gradual emergence of post-vedic Sanskrit
500 BCE: Prakrit texts of Buddhists and Jains originate (Eastern India)
400 BCE: Panini composes his Sanskrit grammar (Western India), reflecting transition from Vedic to Paninian Sanskrit
322 BCE: Brahmi script inscriptions by Mauryas in Prakrit (Pali)
250 BCE: Classical Sanskrit emerges. [Vidhyanath Rao] 100 BCE-100 CE: Sanskrit gradually replaces Prakrit in inscriptions
320: The Gupta or Siddha-matrika script emerges.Apabhranshas and emergence of old Hindi:
400: Apabhransha in Kalidas’s Vikramorvashiyam
550: Dharasena of Valabhi’s inscription mentions Apabhramsha literature
779: Regional languages mentioned by Udyotan Suri in “Kuvalayamala”
769: Siddha Sarahpad composes Dohakosh, considered the first Hindi poet
800: Bulk of the Sanskrit literature after this time is commentaries. [Vidhyanath Rao]
933: Shravakachar of Devasena, considered the first Hindi book
1100: Modern Devanagari script emerges
1145-1229: Hemachadra writes on Apabhransha grammar

Decline of Apabhransha and emergence of modern Hindi:
1283: Khusro’s pahelis and mukaris. Uses term “Hindavi”
1398-1518: Kabir’s works mark origin of “Nirguna-Bhaki” period
1370-: Love-story period originated by “Hansavali” of Asahat
1400-1479: Raighu: last of the great Apabhramsha poets
1450: “Saguna Bhakti” period starts with Ramananda
1580: Early Dakkhini work “Kalmitul-hakayat” of Burhanuddin Janam
1585: “Bhaktamal” of Nabhadas: an account of Hindi Bhakta-poets
1601: “Ardha-Kathanak” by Banarasidas, first autobiography in Hindi
1604: “Adi-Granth” a compilation of works of many poets by Guru Arjan Dev.
1532-1623: Tulsidas, author of “Ramacharita Manasa”.
1623: “Gora-badal ki katha” of Jatmal, first book in Khari Boli dialect (now the standard dialect)
1643: “Reeti” poetry tradition commences according to Ramchandra Shukla
1645: Shahjehan builds Delhi fort, language in the locality starts to be termed Urdu.
1667-1707: Vali’s compositions become popular, Urdu starts replacing Farsi among Delhi nobility.
It is often called “Hindi” by Sauda, Meer etc.
1600-1825: Poets (Bihari to Padmakar) supported by rulers of Orchha and other domains.
Modern Hindi literature emerges:
1796: Earliest type-based Devanagari printing (John Gilchrist, Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language, Calcutta) [Dick Plukker]
1805: Lalloo Lal’s Premsagar published for Fort William College, Calcutta [Daisy Rockwell]
1813-46: Maharaja Swati Tirunal Rama Varma(Travancore) composed verses in Hindi along with South Indian languages.
1826: “Udanta Martanda” Hindi weekly from Calcutta
1837: Phullori, author of “Om Jai Jagdish Hare” born
1839,1847: “History of Hindi Literature” by Garcin de Tassy in French [Daisy Rockwell]
1833-86: Gujarati Poet Narmad proposed Hindi as India’s national language
1850: The term “Hindi” no longer used for what is now called “Urdu”.
1854: “Samachar Sudhavarshan” Hindi daily from Calcutta
1873: Mahendra Bhattachary’s “Padarth-vigyan” (Chemistry) in Hindi
1877: Novel “Bhagyavati” by Shraddharam Phullori
1886: “Bharatendu period” of modern Hindi literature starts
1893 Founding of the Nagari Pracharni Sabha in Benares [Daisy Rockwell] 1900: “Dvivedi period” starts. Nationalist writings
1900: “Indumati” story by Kishorilal Goswami in “Sarasvati”
1913: “Raja Harishchandra”, first Hindi movie by Dadasaheb Phalke
1918-1938: “Chhayavad period”
1918: “Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachara Sabha” founded by Gandhi.
1929: “History of Hindi Literature” by Ramchandra Shukla
1931: “Alam Ara” first Hindi talking movie
1930’s: Hindi typewriters (”Nagari lekhan Yantra”)[Shailendra Mehta]Our age
1949: Official Language Act makes the use of Hindi in Central Government Offices mandatory
1949-50: Hindi accepted as the “official language of the Union” in the constitution. Debates a, b, c.
1952: The Basic Principles Committee of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan recommends that Urdu be the state language.
1965: Opposition to “Hindi-imposition” in Tamilnadu brings DMK to power.
1975: English medium private schools start asserting themselves socially, politically, financially [Peter Hook].
1985-6: Devanagari word processor, Devyani DTP software, both from Dataflow (?).
1987-88: Frans Velthuis creates Devanagari metafont. [Shailendra Mehta]
1990: According to World Almanac and Book of Facts Hindi-Urdu has passed English (and Spanish) to become the second most widely spoken language in the world [Peter Hook].
1991: ITRANS encoding scheme developed by Avinash Chopde allows Hindi documents in Roman and Devanagari on the Internet.
1995: Movie “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun” biggest grosser ever
1997: Prime Minister Deve Gowda emphasises promotion of Hindi and the regional languages, having himself learned Hindi recently.
1997: Hindi Newspaper Nai Dunia on the web (January) (Or was Milap first?)
1998: Karunanithi, the DMK leader, recites a Hindi verse during a political campaign, indicating a change in views.
1998: Sonia Gandhi’s Hindi lessons attract attention

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Indian Language Machine translation  

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

A good overview of the various Indian Machine Translation efforts in India appears as a ppt at http://www.au-kbc.org/dfki/igws/Machine_Translation.ppt

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Hindi Program  

AUSTIN, Texas—The National Security Education Program (NSEP) has awarded The University of Texas at Austin’s South Asia Institute more than $700,000 to establish the first National Flagship Language Program in Hindi and Urdu in the United States.

Among the most widely spoken languages in the world, Hindi and Urdu are considered critical to national security and in the global market. The Hindi and Urdu Flagship Program (HUF-Program) will train students in advanced language proficiency and professional development across a range of disciplines, including business, communications and public policy. Students from the program will become candidates for employment with the federal government or hold a vital place in the worlds of business, technology or academia.

Students in the four-year undergraduate HUF-Program will take language and content classes alongside coursework in their majors. In the third year, students will study abroad at one of India’s prestigious universities. The university’s Center for Global Education Opportunities will collaborate with the institute in developing the study abroad program.

“With our internationally renowned faculty, innovative educational technology and multidisciplinary curriculum, we are poised to house the strongest advanced Hindi-Urdu language program in the country,” said Judith Langlois, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

Professor of Hindi Herman Van Olphen will be the director of the HUF-Program with Asian Studies faculty Rupert Snell (Hindi) and Akbar Hyder (Urdu) as associate directors. Orlando Kelm, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, will join the program to assist with the development of the Hindi and Urdu Cyber Project, a set of computer-assisted, audio-visual materials that draw on the latest instructional technologies. The HUF-Program will enroll about 10 students in fall 2007, with the program expanding to 20 students the following year.

The recruitment of academically excellent high school students with some knowledge of Hindi or Urdu will begin immediately for the 2007-08 academic year.

For more information contact: James Brow, director, South Asia Institute, 512-471-0058; Sarah Green, associate director, South Asia Institute, 512-475-6026; Tracy Mueller, public affairs specialist, College of Liberal Arts, 512-471-2404.

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Influence of English on Modern-day Bengali  

Though the world knows the language by the name of Bengali, Bangla happens to be a derivative of the Indo-Aryan languages of yore; to be more precise, it is the closest kin of Sanskrit after Tamil and German. Somewhere around 70 years down the line, the language of the Bangali people orbited around the Bengali vocabulary (well, Parsi, Arabic and Hindi also had their share due to a large number of residents following Islam) but the recent times witnessed a conglomeration of English words within the Bengali dialect – the aftermath of the British colonization, the trend still continues and is gradually encapsulating the common Bengali tongue-set.

For the unaware, this is a piece that’s intended to bring into light the trend we often refer to as Benglish; it is a mixture (not blend) of purely English words within the perimeter of Bangla; often mispronounced, sometimes they appear funny, but nevertheless, the widespread usage has made the population liberal enough to accept them into the vocabulary (Frenchmen, please excuse us).

The strong influence immediately comes to notice when one gives a patient hearing to especially the college students; what started off as fun and experimentation quickly transformed into a trend that doesn’t stop by including into it a foreign vocabulary but goes up to the extent of forming a complete sentence of which, one part is Bangla and the other an excerpt in English. For example: “The space was so narrow that I had to kneel down” easily moulds into “I had to sit like hnatu murey”, where hnatu is the knee and murey means by folding.

Whether it’s a good thing or not is debatable; the traditionalists definitely would frown upon the whole thing whereas the modern generation claims it to be a lingua franca that allows for a more vivid and picturesque way to exchange ideas that is easy flowing and light as well. But fact remains that even a hundred years back, when certain words in English took entry into the Bengali realm like tebil (table), tifin (tiffin or snack) or cup (pushing into obscurity the word peyala), the trend was not opposed by even the scholars who found Bangla then shedding some of its weight to facilitate the required speed in its motion. However, in Bangladesh, it’s a different scenario, and they are perhaps more staunch than the French when it comes to their own mother tongue.

Bangla, like English, has distinct linguistic patterns, and that’s what has started another trend that caught up very recently; it is speaking the English language keeping the Bangla mood and syntax intact. As we all know it, repeating words is against the English grammar whereas in Bangla, it is used to denote the magnitude more vividly. Thus, instead of pretty small stuff, people hesitate not to use small small things, which is a direct translation of the idea choto choto jinish. Similarly, it feels like the weekend translates into its like Saturday-Saturday and which which places instead of what are the places we shall be visiting.

But arguments aside, all we can say is that the influence of English in Bangla has changed (or should we say, confused?) the mindset of the populace up to quite an extent; while the modern generation thinks it to be plain stupid and an indicator of backwardness to use the mother tongue, half-a-knowledge has rendered their speaking habits into a style that’s totally unique in a sarcastic way.

Bengali translation by native translators www.indianscripts.com

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India a land of many Languages  

The languages different nationalities living in India speak are as diverse as its heritage and culture. Interestingly, across our vast country, people speak in at least 850 different languages and 1,683 dialects or their “mother tongues”. Languages spoken in India belong to any of the four major groups: the Indo-Aryan (74%), the Dravidian (24%), the Austro-Asiatic (1.2%), or the Tibeto-Burman (1 %) families and some Himalayan languages still remain to be classified. On the basis of a language, India can be divided into “Hindi” and “non-Hindi” speaking regions. The Hindi speaking belt – constitutes of only 10 (out of 28) states and 3 (out of 7 union territories) has Hindi as the principal official language, while the rest use their own “state” or regional language with English translation for those who don’t understand the language. Thus, protecting the interests of people in non-Hindi speaking belt, the constitution prohibits giving any one language the status of a “National Language”, unless it is voluntarily accepted by all the Indian states. Hindi (written in the Devanagri script), has evolved from Sanskrit.Though, as per our Constitution of the country, only “Hindi in Devnagri script” enjoys the status of an “official language”, thanks to recent rapid industrialization, introduction of new technologies and globalization of our economy, English continues to be another influential communication medium for day-to-day business of the government. It is therefore accorded a similar status of “official language” as Hindi. Besides, each state from the “non-Hindi” belt uses its own “state” or regional language for communication with the rest of India. India has thus not just two, but (together with regional languages) 23 listed official languages. Among the 23 official languages, 18 are regional or “state” languages.Over time, Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portuguese and English languages have enriched it, developing as the main official language that is understood well and spoken in most urban parts of the country. Whereas, Hindi is predominantly used for communication within the central government departments and with the state governments in the “Hindi belt”, communication from the Centre to “non-Hindi belt” states are both in Hindi, accompanied with an English translation. Similarly, the communication from the “non-Hindi belt” states to the centre or any other state is in its “state” or regional language, accompanied with a translation in English. For example, information from the center to West Bengal will be in Hindi with English translation and this state communicates back in Bengali and English translation. 21 other languages, besides Hindi and English that enjoy the “official language” status are important from point of view of translation jobs.

State specific, unofficial state language (not recognized by the Constitution)
1 Kokborok Tripura 1.3
2 Mizo Mizoram, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura. Also spoken in Bangladesh, Myanmar. < 1
3 Sikkimese North Sikkim by Bhutia tribe and in Bhutan < 0.5
4 Khasi, Meghalaya, West Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Udaipur, Tripura, West Bengal. Also spoken in Bangladesh 0.6
5 Garo
6 French Pondicherry.
1 Bihari language
Angika North and South Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal (Magadh area) 0.7
Bhojpuri Bihar 23
Magadhi South Bihar 12
2 Rajasthani Language 50
Marwari Marwar Jodhpur, Nagour and Bikaner 20
Mewari Udaipur, Chittor and Kota-Bundi
Shekhavati Shekhavati (Sikar, Churu, Jhunjhunu) region 3
3 Haryanvi Hindi dialect used in Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh 13
4 Chhatisgarhi Chhatisgarh 11
5 Dhakanni (dialect of Urdu language) Amalgam of Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, Telugu, Arabic, Persian and Turkish Spoken in the Deccan plateau region in the South, mostly around Hyderabad and predominantly by Muslims of South India) 11
6 Bhili Spoken by Bhil tribals 1.5
7 Gondi Spoken by Gond tribals in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra 2.1
8 Kodava Kodagu district of Karnataka 1.5
9 Kutchi Kutch region in Gujarat Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Orissa. Also spoken in Kenya, Malawi, Pakistan and Tanzania. 1
10 Tulu Spoken by Tulu people in Karnataka and Kerala 2
11 Sankethi Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala
12 Avadhi West UP 0.5
13 Gamit Surat (Gujrat) by Gamit Caste 0.4
MINORITY LANGUAGES (less than 1 mln speakers)
1 Mahl Minicoy island, Lakshadweep 0.015
2 French Pondicherry
3 Portuguese Goa, Daman and Diu, Dadar and Nagar Haveli
4 Persian Pre- British era Govt. language

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Sanskrit – a source of knowledge and wisdom or a dying heritage?  

Sanskrit, like Latin or Greek is the world’s one of the oldest and few classical languages. In present times, it is written in the Devnagri script and its grammar was set out in 500 BC. It is listed as one of India’s 23 official languages. The total number of people who speak Sanskrit does not exceed 50,000, whereas it is also a second language to less than 2 lakh people. In whatever limited numbers, besides India, it is also spoken in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and some other areas of South and Southeast Asia. Like in the earlier mentioned counties, many Buddhist scholars in China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam also speak and use Sanskrit. This is supported by the fact that all scriptures of Hindus, Jains and Budhists are written and recorded in Sanskrit. Books of Puranas, with Bhagavad Gita as one of them, are one of the most interesting collection of stories about the Hindu gods and goddesses written in Sanskrit. The fact that Vedas, India’s two most talked about epics, Mahabarat and Ramayan, the works of Kalidas, etc were all written in Sanskrit shows that Hindu philosophy and traditions revolve around Sanskrit based writings. Sanskrit was a vehicle of creativity and development. The work done in Sanskrit is huge - Vedas laid the foundation of Vedic literature and all Sanskrit literature thereafter. Classical Sanskrit literature contains rich poetry, is found in Indian Classical Music and literature, as well as scientific, (Indian plants and animal species, Indian astronomy and ancient Indian sciences), technical, philosophical and religious texts. Sanskrit has been extensively used in religion and philosophy, in grammar, phonetics, etymology and lexicography. Astronomy, astrology, sociology, arts and aesthetics, politics and sex are well explained in Sanskrit language. Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages is considered as the “mother of all languages”, as many languages of world have either evolved out of it or have been greatly influenced by it. At the same time, Sanskrit language, it is believed belongs to the Indo-European, Indo-Aryan language group, as there are too many words in European languages that are similar phonetically and in meaning to those in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is related to Asian and South East Asian culture and philosophy, as Latin and Greek to European. Sanskrit originated from the same source as Latin, Greek and Persian, what we now refer as the Indo European languages. Sanskrit language has a wonderful structure - more perfect than the Greek, more abundant than the Latin, and more elegantly refined than either. It bears such a stronger resemblance to both - verb roots as well as forms of grammar, that it possibly could not be an accident that these evolved from some common source. Unfortunately, this link no longer exists. Though, there are people who suggest that Sanskrit evolved from either Dravidian group of languages or an earlier version of Sanskrit spoken in the sub-continent. But, some of the most widely used words common among these languages suggest that they all came from the same source. Evolution of different words in each language and possible connection with similar words in other comparable languages provides irrefutable evidence of their common origin. Sanskrit today has practically turned in to a ceremonial language, mainly used in Hindu hymns (mantras) and Bhudhists and Jain scriptures, but unfortunately, not brought in day-to-day use.

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Hindi vs Urdu  

Like Hindi, Urdu is also an Indo-Aryan language that evolved from the Indo-European group of languages. Like Hindi, it too is spoken mostly on the Asian sub-continent. But in comparison to Hindi it is spoken by about 104 million people, including those, for whom it is a second language. Urdu language, since 1200 AD has evolved under Persian, Turkish, Pashto and Arabic on one side and Hindi and Sanskrit on the other. Urdu script is known as “Nastaliq” and unlike most languages is written from right to left.

Together with English, Urdu is one of the 23 official languages of India, besides being the official language of majority of provinces in Pakistan. It is also recognized as the official state language in some states of India, like UP, Andhra, J&K, Punjab and Haryana and is widely spoken in areas with Muslim population. Many in big cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Mysore also speak the same language. Urdu is taught as a compulsory language in all English and Urdu medium schools in Pakistan and special Urdu schools and Madrasas in India. Outside India and Pakistan, Urdu is spoken in several other countries also, like Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, Fiji, Germany, Guyana, Malawi, Mauritius, Nepal, Norway, Oman, Qatar, South Africa, Spain Sweden, Thailand, UAE, UK, USA, Zambia, Afghanistan, Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia. Urdu by itself is the 15th most spoken language, but together with Hindi (Hindustani) ranks as the fifth most spoken language of the planet. Both languages have very close semblance to each other, each influencing development and growth of the other. While Urdu vocabulary has been enriched with Persian and Arabic words, Hindi, on the other hand has taken more from Sanskrit. No doubt, the two languages find reflection in evolution of yet another language, supposedly the court language of the Mogul rulers in India – the Hindustani, which made the two groups – Urdu and non-Urdu speaking courtiers to understand each other. With many words common in both languages, people speaking the two languages (if special vocabulary not used) can easily understand each other well. Urdu in India and Pakistan is spoken in four different dialects, each differing from the other by the local specifics and the influence of locally spoken languages. Like, modern Urdu (spoken in Delhi, Lucknow, Karachi and Lahore) is free from complex Persian and Arabian words. The Dakhini (spoken in Andhra, Maharashtra, Hyderabad) has even fewer Persian and Arabian words. Urdu grammar is similar to Hindi, but differs from that of English – the verb falls after the subject/ object, rather than before it (as in English). Similarly, verbs agree with the object and not the subject (as in English). Also, the definite article “the” is absent in Urdu. Even gender, interrogatives, use of cases and tenses also differ from English. Like in Hindi, there are only two forms of gender – male and female and the English neuter gender is absent. Urdu’s punctuation rules too are different than in English. Urdu, for those who can read, understand and appreciate is a rich language. It is remarkable how Urdu has imbibed and developed from best of both Muslim and Indian cultures and their rich traditions, amidst which it has blossomed. This richness is reflected in the form of a large resource of words available for use in prose and poetry. The films on Mogul era reflect the splendour, beauty, prosperity and wisdom of those times, which one does not get tired of.

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Tamil – A classical, Dravidian language  

India is a multi-facet country, with varied traditions and cultures and Indians speak in different languages. Besides the Indo-Aryan group of languages spoken across the country, except the southern part, we have another relatively large group of Dravidian languages spoken only in the south. Origin of Tamil, unlike that of other Indian languages is unclear. But Tamil has been free from influence of Sanskrit, mother of most north Indian languages. Tamil is one major representative of the classical Dravidian language, with nearly 2 millennia old history and background and its literature is the oldest amongst that of all Dravidian languages. It is one of the several languages that form the Tamil-Kannada group, which itself forms a part of greater Tamil-Malayalam group (there are 22 Tamil dialects, heavily influenced by Malayalam) – all forming the Dravidian group of languages. Tamil is spoken maximum in countries like India and Sri Lanka, the cradle for Tamil language. Fewer (minority) Tamils are found in South Asia - Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius, besides also in Dubai, and South Africa, and by even groups migrated and settled abroad. Tamil, Malayalam (official language of Kerala), Kannada (official language of Karnataka) and Telugu (official language of Andhra Pradesh) that constitute the Dravidian group of languages – all form the part of the list of 23 official languages of India. Tamil also is the official language of Tamil Nadu state and of union territories of Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicobar too. Tamil also happens to be one of the official languages of Sri Lanka and Singapore. Tamil language, by any parameter does not qualify as one of the most spoken languages of the world. As per the last census count (2005), there must be over 80 million Tamils across the globe today. This places it at the same level as Telugu or Marathi – around 15th most spoken language. Keeping these facts in mind, it deserves its due attention – both from point of view of translation as well as literature. Contemporary Tamil language and literature have inherited greatly from its two millennia old ancient history and it has retained great number of words from its classical form. Parts of old classical works are taught at primary level, which reflects the extent of its influence over the contemporary form. Tamil displays a unique property, by which its classical or written or centamil and spoken (in more than 22 different) colloquial or koduntamil forms exist at the same time differently. Whereas, the former has helped to retain written language uniform across times and geography, the latter represents different dialects spoken in different regions and by different communities. The written form is more standardized and has specific grammatical rules, while the spoken form depends on the area or region where used. All literature and text books use centamil, while cinema uses commonly spoken dialects, or koduntamil. However, the vocabulary across dialects has remained unchanged. Tamil characters are based on phonetic properties of the uttered sound. The present Tamil script has undergone a sea change over time. Its original form was adopted from the Brahmi script form of Ashoka times, but later modified to create Tamil-Brahmi and once again modified to get Grantha script for writing both Sanskrit and Tamil texts. Subsequent changes to present times have been adaptations to make it more suitable, first for engraving on stone and later (as now) for printing.

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Bengali festival  

Bengali Festival

Being the land of varied cultures and tradition, Bengal is a state that graces festivals both on the cultural and religious grounds. Baro maashey Tero Parbon (13 festivals in 12 months) is a phrase that developed on this ground; Bengal’s festivals literally exceed the number of months in the calendar. Let’s start with the biggest among the big; Durga Puja, what signifies the worship of ‘Shakti’ or the divine power has now changed into a celebration of lights and unbound revelry over four continuous days, either in the last part of September or in October (Autumn), namely Shashthi (6th), Saptami (7th), Ashtami (8th) and Nabami (9th). The festival ends on Bijoy Dashami (10th). However, one thing does require a mention here; the festival has its origins in the period of Sree Raam, who hastily worshipped the Goddess Durga before setting for Lanka to rescue Sita from Raban. According to Puranas, King Suratha, used to worship the goddess Durga in spring. Another name for the festival is Akal Bodhon or untimely worship since Durga Puja was originally celebrated in Spring, but over the years, Akal Bodhon has become the tradition among the Bengali people. Next comes Lakshmipuja, or the festival that worships Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and one of the daughters of Durga. Usually performed a week after Durga puja on a full moon night. The other form of worshipping the Divine Power is Kalipuja, which is performed towards the end of Autumn or at the onset of winter in Bengal specifically on a new moon night. The rituals performed in Kalipuja are quite Spartan in nature and the offerings are made with great devotion. Sacrificial killings used to be a part of the ritual until last year (2005); however, the government has put a ban on it as of now. Kalipuja also marks the end of all Hindu religious festivals of that year. The onset of every new-year is marked by Saraswati Puja, the goddess of wisdom. Performed every February, it is a day that prohibits everyone from studying and it is a must for the youngest girl in the family to wear yellow-coloured saree. Celebrated in every educational institution as well as in every locality, Saraswati Puja is a custom that can truly be said the festival of the learned. Among the non-religious festivals, the one that holds the most significance among the Bengali people is Poyla Baishakh; it is equivalent to the first of January and is considered to be the most auspicious day for marriages and starting new business ventures. Cultural programs dominate a large part of the day; prayers are offered for the wellbeing and prosperity of the families. This is also the day when Bengalis flock to the temple of Goddess Kali apart from Kalipuja. But things do not end there. What we brought into the limelight are the accounts of the five major ones; Islam followers being an integral part of Bengal also have their share of festivals that stall the entire city and provide a chance to rejoice fully the very essence of it. But that’s another story and should appear within sometime on the same pages.

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Bengali Cusine-a spiced-up Tale  

A spiced-up Tale

If not the only, then perhaps the Bengali people are one among those with extra-sensitive taste buds in the whole of the Indian Subcontinent. Our journey begins with this much of information but before it’s too long, we shall be able to figure out the labor and ingenuity that rules the average Bengali kitchen. For gourmets, it’s all the more elaborate.

A tactile approach to food is what we can comment on the Bengali cuisine. Evident from the phrase Kobji dubiye khaowa (Up to one’s wrist in food) and picking of the items at the market, the former phrase also stands to denote gluttonous indulgence; it also denotes the out-of-the-world taste that the Bengali cuisine delivers.

Bengali recipes revolve around a few particular styles that take into account the basic tastes as well as a combination of all of them. From the essentially sour ambol made with vegetables or with fish in addition with tamarind pulp to the pora (burnt or roasted items) examples are galore, but instead of wording, it’s better to put down the categories in which Bengali food is broadly classified.

Bhaja: A name assigned to fried items; ranges from potatoes and brinjals to fishes. Apparently, Fried Rice also got the new name of Bhaat bhaja from this concept.

Bhapa: This is the name given to the recipes that are steamed with oil and spices.

Bhatey: A recipe comprising of mashed boiled vegetables seasoned with mustard oil or ghee and spices.

Chacchari: Let’s place it as the Bengali equivalent of the Chinese Chop-Suey; it mostly comprises vegetables, spices and sometimes, the skin and bones of large fishes.

Chyanchra: Almost like the above one, it’s the fish-head and the fish-oil that marks the difference.

Chenchki: The recipe makes use of small vegetable pieces or peels flavored with five kinds of spices along with chopped onion and garlic.

Daalnaa: Mixed vegetables or eggs in medium-thick gravy and seasoned with ground spices and ghee.

Dom: Potatoes cooked in covered pot over a slow heat.

Ghonto: Literally meaning a hotchpotch, the recipe embraces almost all kinds of vegetables (chopped or finely grated) and cooked with spices, though non-vegetarian varieties are also found.

Jhal: The Bengali for hot (as in taste), it’s made with lightly fried fish, shrimps or crabs in a light sauce of red chili or mustard powder with appropriate flavorings.

Jhol: A stew, though not the English one. Comprise fish or meat and vegetables and seasoned with ground spices and whole green chilies.

Till now, we spoke about the pure Bengali recipe; however West Bengal, being a place of mixed cultures, molded many of the outer world recipes as per the Bengali taste. Worthwhile are the Kaliaa, Koftaa and Korma, the roots of which lie in the Muslim culture; even the English left their fingerprints through the preparation of mixed vegetables that slowly adopted the name of Tarkari, which means vegetables in general. But that’s another story and hopefully to be covered in the near future

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Resource on Indian Languages in Internet  

Resource on Tamil and other Indian Languages in Internet


Posted in Uncategorized No Comments »

December 29th, 2006 by motso
I have found great resources for Indian languages in the Internet.

For Bengali visit




For Urdu


For Hindi


For Punjabi




Posted in Indian Languages No Comments »

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Telugu – the language, people and the land through ages  

Telugu – the language, people and the land through ages. India officially has only 23 recognized languages, but these have given birth to more than 1700 mother tongues that have evolved over time from these different language families. Telugu, one of these 23 official languages is not only the largest spoken Dravidian language, but also the second largest spoken language after Hindi. More than 80 million people across the world (Bahrain, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates and the United States), including 66 million native speakers in India – Andhra Pradesh and Pondicherry (where it is the official language of the state), and Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa, and Chhattisgarh also know how to speak, read or write in this beautiful, culturally rich and evolved over ages language. Telugu like Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Gujrati, is also considered as another “shudh bhasha”. In India, 40% of the population or a vast majority speaks Hindi, either as the mother tongue or the second language. Also, only 0.5% of educated society also uses English as a second language and as a medium for research and official communication between inter-lingual cultures. In contrast, though Telugu is the most frequently spoken Dravidian language (like Bengali, Marathi or Tamil), only 6.0 to 8.0 % of the population speaks or understands it. Carnatic Music, the Classical music of South India is expressed through Dravidian languages, including Telugu as its medium of expression. Presently, though Tamil Nadu represents the centre for Carnatic culture, most Carnatic songs are written and sung in Telugu. One need not go far to find the reason for it. Telugu was the principal court language when Carnatic Music evolved. Besides, Telugu is a language that ends in vowels, which is suitable to express music well. One word Telugu represents all – the language, the people who speak it and the land where they live. The actual land of Telugu people is bounded by three mountains Kalesvara, Srisaila, and Bhimeshvara that form the geographical boundary of Telugu region, where it is believed Lord Shiva descended. Thus, the word “Telugu”, many claim is derived from the word “trilinga”, which is synonymous with Lord Shiva. Some other scholars associate Telugu as originating from a frequently used Sanskrit word “Kalinga” or “Kling”, which in Puranas and Ashok’s inscriptions depicted people of Continental India – as it is even today in the Malay language. The word “Telugu”, still others claim has originated either from the word “talaing” - few people who conquered Andhra region, or from “tenunga” - refering to white or fair-skinned people (or people of the South). However, “Andhra” seems to be the old Aryan name for Telugu country.

Telugu is one of the few languages that has borrowed and absorbed everything from every language of the period it evolved and grew in. Telugu script or characters closely resemble Kannada and there now seems to be evidence that they were derived from the Kannada writing of the Calukya dynasty.

Coexistence of Buddhism in the ancient Telugu country, where it was widely practiced and Jainism in the Kannada country, where it flourished is another evidence of Telugu script and alphabets evolving from Kannada. The close ties between the two spread the Jain traditions in the Telugu country. Though, both religions had influence in their respective territory, Jain gurus were preferred and often taught even Telugu children.

Later, between 10th and 14th centuries, when Shivism became wide spread in the Telugu country, Shivites, instead of Jains were now the preferred religious leaders and teachers and initiated prayers and imparted knowledge. But the Jain traditions had taken deep roots and did not die away easily. The initiation prayer over the years which then was in the form of “O-Na-Ma-See-Vaa-Yaa-See-Dham-Namaha” continued. The alphabets that were learnt with this prayer came to be called “O-na-ma-lu.”

Onamaalu, or the Telugu alphabet consist of 60 symbols - 16 vowels, 3 vowel modifiers, and 41 consonants have almost 1-to-1 correspondence with Sanskrit alphabets, yet another proof of its influence on its evolution. A blank space separates two words. Telugu, like most other languages is written from left to right and consists of sequences of simple and/or complex characters made from these 60 symbols. Telugu script is syllabic. In other words, syllables that form the basic units of writing Telugu are composed of more basic units: vowels (“achchu” or “swar”) and consonants (“hallu” or “vyanjan”). Consonants are pure consonants, i.e., without any vowel sound. However, like in Hindi or other Indian languages, consonants are read and written with an implied sound of the vowel ‘a’. When consonants combine with other vowel signs, the vowel part is indicated orthographically using “maatras” signs. Each “maatra” has a definite shape, different from the shape of the corresponding vowel.

The earliest entirely Telugu inscriptions are not found before the 6th century. Literary texts, however begin to appear only later in the 11th century. Much like the other major Dravidian languages, the Telugu script has a very marked distinction between its formal / literary and colloquial language and social dialect.

Though no inscriptions in Telugu language (as it is written/ spoken today) have been found prior to the period 200 BC – 500 AD, inferences to the existence of Telugu during that time can be made from the frequent use of words of that period found in the “Telugu” region found on Parakrit (Sanskrit) inscriptions and also in anthology of poems in Parakrit language, collected by the Satavahna dynasty King – all point to existence of Telugu and Telugu people in that period between the Krishna and Godavri rivers basin. Thus, we can safely presume Telugu to have originated earlier than 200 BC.

Besides, Sanskrit words are imbedded into the language. Urdu and Turk languages, as the court language during Mogul domination (especially in Hyderabad) have left their imprint on its vocabulary. It was only much later, when the movement began to “cleanse” Telugu language that use of pure Telugu and sanskritised words began to be used. Period after 575 AD marks the development and evolution of Telugu script. Under Chola kings around that period broke the tradition of writing Telugu in Sanskrit. Instead, they began to insist on making inscriptions and royal proclamations in their local language only. The other kings too picked up this tradition and it soon spread across everywhere. Breaking away from the use of Sanskrit, this period marks the growth of Telugu language and literature, which first appeared as inscriptions and poetry in courts and later in written works. Growth of literature also is one parameter in the language life cycle. The spoken language of commons at this time begins to differ from the literary one and the two take off on different growth trajectories. Thus, grew the “spoken” Telugu and the “literary” Telugu. 1100-1900 AD marks the period of beginning of Muslim influence on Telugu language. First Muslim ruled state – Telangana is established. This brings further sophistication in Telugu language. After 1600 AD, Telugu undergoes dramatic change towards modernization. Moguls establishing the princely state of Hyderabad again increase Muslim influence on Telugu (especially in Hyderabad), which is felt on Telugu prose. Muslim influence on Telugu creates a distinctive dialect out of the “Telengana Telugu”, whereas “pure” Telugu elsewhere (Vijayanagar empire in Rayalseema region) bloomed and experienced its golden era. The authors in Rayalseema region were forbidden to use commonly used spoken words in prose and poetry. English armies and British Empire’s victory after 1900 marks a period of English influence on Telugu language. Telugu is popularized through mass media - press, television and films bring Telugu closer to the common people. Telugu is also started as a subject and is taught in schools. After independence, Telugu people migrating abroad and settling in those areas has further enriched the language through intermingling of people and cultures. Thus, today, Telugu with Sanskrit, Muslim and English influence and Kannada script is far richer in context, literature, prose and poetry. Even the script of late has undergone change. Few vowels that are randomly used have been discarded to make language simpler.

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Malayalam – the mountainous country  

Malayalam – the mountainous country

Malayalam – the mountainous country About 74 Dravidian languages are spoken by over 200 million people across the globe. Out of these, an estimated 169 million Indians speak 23 different Dravidian languages, mainly in southern India. However, the 4 major Dravidian tongues recognized as official state languages are —Tamil (Tamil Nadu), Telugu (Andhra Pradesh), Kannada (Karnataka) and of course Malayalam (Kerala and Lakhshadweep). Telugu is the largest spoken tongue; Tamil, extremely ancient has the richest literature and it is spoken over the widest area, including northwestern Sri Lanka; Kannada script has served as the source base for Telugu and finally Malayalam is the only language, whose almost 100% speakers are literate and speak English too. All the four Dravidian languages have long literary histories and their own scripts to write in. As Latin in European history, Sanskrit was an aristocratic and scholastic language in many parts of India, the reason why it influenced evolution of other languages. Some basic vocabulary from Sanskrit has also found its way into Malayalam. These all having been greatly been influenced by Sanskrit and as a result have absorbed and adapted a large number of its words into their vocabularies. Thus, a large number of words in all four Dravidian languages have same root and therefore similar or similar sounding words. Other Dravidian languages, offshoots of these four languages, maybe resemble or mostly similar to these are spoken by few and practically no script to write with. Mala-y-alam – (mala – (mountain) + alam – (place) meaning mountainous country) is one of the 23 official languages of India and the principal language of the South Indian state of Kerala and also of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep Islands on the west coast of India. Malayalam is the only name of a language that is spelt and read alike forwards and backwards – i.e., is a Malayalam, besides being spoken predominantly in Kerala, “Malayalis” (people speaking Malyalam) living in Mahé (Mayyazhii), Union Territories of Andaman Islands, Nicobar Islands and Puducherry in southern India also speak it. In all, it is spoken by around 37 million native (who account for only 4 percent of the Indian population; they constitute 96 percent of the population of Kerala) and 10 million else where. Kerala boasts of bringing out nearly 170 daily newspapers, 235 weeklies and over 565 monthly periodicals – good enough to whet the appetite of almost totally literate Malayali population. Malayalam writing round writing or vattezhuthu system has evolved in the early 9th century from Tamil script, adopted from the brahmi script. Many are of the opinion that as the grammar and vocabulary of the two languages are common, and therefore Malayalam is more of an offspring of Tamil than an original language. However, it is not so, as Malayalam already has a rich modern literature dating thousands years and an independent written script (Kolezhethu) of its own. The original Dravidian settlers commonly used Tamil as their Language. Tamil was the court Language too. Around the 10th century, Malayalam started to develop its own distinctive character. After Aryans started to settle, the Brahmin Namboodiris used Sanskrit only. Sanskrit influence put a brake on the growth of Malayalam. This instead enriched Malayalam rather than putting a question mark on its further evolution. The local language absorbed these words from Sanskrit and adopted them with a Malayali modification. Thus the Mani Pravlam or Malayalam evolved, heavily relying on Sanskrit words. Due to coexistence of different cultures, languages and people, one language has influenced the evolution and growth of the other. The Dravidian languages acquired, absorbed and adapted many words from the Indic languages, especially from Sanskrit, while, the Indic languages borrowed Dravidian sounds and grammatical structures, enriching each other. In Malayalam script, individual vowels and consonants can be easily differentiated. This script is syllabic - the syllables (taken as sequence of graphic elements) have to be read as one. After mid 20th century, like in Kannada language, Malayalam language also dropped many special, but not frequently used conjunct consonants and combinations of the vowel “u” with different consonants letters. Malayalam currently has 53 letters, of which 20 are long and short vowels and the rest consonants. From late 20th century, the earlier style of writing has now been replaced with a new style. This new script reduces the different letters for typeset from 900 to less than 90, which makes it easier to develop Malayalam on the keyboards of typewriters and computers for use and promotion in local language. Malayalam, during its evolution, developed 3 distinct dialects and several smaller ones, indicating how dialects change under the local influence, culture and religious influence from one region to another. Influence of Sanskrit in Malayalam, like for most other Indian languages cannot be wished away. This is most prominently visible in the Brahimin dialects but to a lesser extent in the Harijan dialects. Malayalam has borrowed thousands of nouns and verbs and few indeclinable words. Words adopted from other languages - English, Syriac, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Portuguese abound in the Christian dialects and those from Arabic and Urdu in the Muslim dialects make up a large chunk of Malayalam vocabulary. English is only second to Sanskrit in its influence on Malayalam. Hundreds of individual lexical items and many idiomatic expressions in modern Malayalam are taken from English too. Together with Tamil, Kannada and two smaller dialects Kota and Kodagu, Malayalam belongs to the southern group of Dravidian languages. It resembles Tamil more than with others. Proto-Tamil Malayalam, the common source for both Tamil and Malayalam most likely separated into two branches from the ninth century onwards and this went on for over a period of four of five centuries. This gave rise to a new language – Malayalam, a language, distinct from Tamil and having its on script and spoken language. Tamil, as the language used by scholars and administrators, greatly influenced the development of Malayalam in its early period. Brahmins influence on the cultural life of Malyalis in later period helped to acquire and assimilate Indo-Aryan features into Malayalam language. Both the language and its writing system are closely related to Tamil; however Malayalam has a script of its own, distinct from Tamil or any other Dravidian language. Tamil is its neighbor on the south and east and Kannada on the north and east. The earliest written record of Malayalam is the vazhappalli inscription of 830 AD. The works of early Malayali writers were of three types:

Classical songs of the Tamil tradition, known as pattu
maniprvalam, which permitted free intermingling of Sanskrit and Malayalam vocabularies
The rich native folk songs
Malayalam poetry of the late twentieth century reflects a combination of all these three different trends. The oldest (twelfth century) example of ramacharitam is the oldest work in pattu, while vaishikatantram is of maniprvalam trend. Another earliest (12th century) existing prose work in Malayalam is Bhashakautaliyam, a commentary on Chanakya’s Arthasastra. Malayalis have always welcomed other languages to coexist with their own and the interaction of these with Malayalam has helped its development and evolution. Malayalam prose of different periods exhibit degree of influence of different languages such as Tamil, Sanskrit, Prakrits, Pali, Hindi, Urdu, Arabi, Persian, Syriac, Portuguese, Dutch, French and English. Modern literature is rich in poetry, fiction, drama, biography, and literary criticism. It is no doubt that with such an open mind, not only the language has flourished, but also Malayalis have become fully literate.

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(by Dr Ausaf Sayeed)

Urdu writing in its various primitive forms can be traced to Muhammad
Urfi (Tadhkirah - 1228 AD), Amir Khusro (1259-1325 AD) and Kwaja
Muhammad Husaini (1318-1422 AD). As Urdu started flourishing in the
kingdoms of Golconda and Bijapur, the earliest writings in Urdu are
in the Dakhni (Deccani) dialect. The Sufi saints were the earliest
promoters of the Dakhni Urdu. The Sufi-saint Hazrat Khwaja Banda
Nawaz Gesudaraz is considered to be the first prose writer of Dakhni
Urdu and some treatises like Merajul Ashiqin and Tilawatul Wajud are
attributed to him but his authorship is open to doubt. The first
literary work in Urdu is that of Bidar poet Fakhruddin Nizami’s
mathnavi ‘Kadam Rao Padam Rao’ written between 1421 and 1434 A.D.
Kamal Khan Rustami (Khawar Nama) and Nusrati (Gulshan-e-Ishq, Ali
Nama and Tarikh-e-Iskandari) were two great poets of Bijapur.
Muhammed Quli Qutb Shah, the greatest of Golconda Kings who was a
distinguished poet, is credited with introducing a secular content to
otherwise predominantly religious Urdu poetry. His poetry focused on
love, nature and social life of the day.
Among the other important writers of Dakhni Urdu were Shah Miranji
Shamsul Ushaq (Khush Nama and Khush Naghz), Shah Burhanuddin Janam,
Mullah Wajhi (Qutb Mushtari and Sabras), Ghawasi (Saiful Mulook-O-
Badi-Ul-Jamal and Tuti Nama), Ibn-e-Nishati (Phul Ban) and Tabai
(Bhahram-O-Guldandam). Wajhi’s Sabras is considered to be a
masterpiece of great literary and philosophical merit. Vali Mohammed
or Vali Dakhni (Diwan) was one of the most prolific Dakhni poets of
the medieval period. He developed the form of the ghazal. When his
Diwan (Collection of Ghazals and other poetic genres) reached Delhi,
the poets of Delhi who were engaged in composing poetry in Persian
language, were much impressed and they also started writing poetry in
Urdu, which they named Rekhta.

The medieval Urdu poetry grew under the shadow of Persian poetry.
Unlike the Hindi poetry, which grew out of the Indian soil, Urdu
poetry was initially fed with Persian words and imagery. Sirajuddin
Ali Khan Arzu and Shaikh Sadullah Gulshan were the earliest promoters
of Urdu language in North India. By the beginning of the 18th century
a more sophisticated North Indian variation of the Urdu language
began to evolve through the writings of Shaikh Zahooruddin Hatim
(1699-1781 AD), Mirza Mazhar Jan-e-Janan (1699-1781 AD) Khwaja Mir
Dard (1719- 1785 AD), Mir Taqi Mir (1722-1810 AD), Mir Hasan (1727-
1786 AD) and Mohammed Rafi Sauda (1713-1780 AD). Sauda has been
described as the foremost satirist of Urdu literature during the 18th
Century. His Shahr Ashob and Qasida Tazheek-e-Rozgar are considered
as masterpieces of Urdu literature. Mir Hassan’s mathnavi Sihr-ul-
Bayan and Mir Taqi Mir’s mathnavies provided a distinct Indian touch
to the language. Mir’s works, apart from his six Diwans, include
Nikat-ush-Shora (Tazkira) and Zikr-se-Mir (Autobiography).

Shaik Ghulam Hamdani Mushafi (1750-1824), Insha Allah Khan (Darya-e-
Latafat and Rani Ketaki), Khwaja Haider Ali Atish, Daya Shankar
Naseem (mathnavi: Gulzare-e-Naseem), Nawab Mirza Shauq (Bahr-e-Ishq,
Zahr-e-Ishq and Lazzat-e-Ishq) and Shaik Imam Bakhsh Nasikh were the
early poets of Lucknow. Mir Babar Ali Anees (1802-1874) excelled in
the art of writing marsiyas.
The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was a poet with unique
style, typified by difficult rhymes, excessive word play and use of
idiomatic language. He has authored four voluminous Diwans. Before
the national uprising of 1857 the reign of Bahadur Shah Zafar
witnessed the luxurious spring of Urdu poetry immediately followed by
the chilly winds of autumn. Shaik Ibrahim Zauq was the Shah’s mentor
in poetry. Next to Sauda he is considered to be the most outstanding
composer of qasidas (panegyrics). Hakim Momin Khan Momin wrote
ghazals in a style peculiar to him. He used ghazal exclusively for
expressing emotions of love. Any description of Urdu literature can
never be complete without the mention of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib
(1797-1869), who is considered as the greatest of all the Urdu poets.
With his passion for originality, Ghalib brought in a renaissance in
Urdu poetry. In the post - Ghalib period, Dagh (b. 1831) emerged as
a distinct poet, whose poetry was distinguished by its purity of
idiom and simplicity of language and thought.
Modern Urdu literature covers the time from the last quarter of the
19th century till the present day and can be divided into two
periods: the period of the Aligarh Movement started by Sir Sayyid
Ahmed Khan and the period influenced by Sir Mohammed Iqbal followed
by the Progressive movement and movements of Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zouq,
Modernism and Post modernism. However, Altaf Hussain Hali (1837-1914)
is the actual innovator of the modern spirit in Urdu poetry. Hali’s
works include Diwan-e-Hali, Madd-o-Jazr-e-Islam or Musaddas-e-Hali
(1879), Shakwa-e-Hind (1887), Munajat-e-Beva (1886) and Chup ki Dad
(1905). Hali showered the art of writing biographies with a critical
approach in his biographies Hayat-e-Sadi and Hayat-e-Jaweed. Hali was
the pioneer of modern criticism.

His Muqaddama-e-Sher-o-Shaeri is the foundation stone of Urdu
criticism. Shibli Nomani (b.1857) is considered as the father of
modern history in Urdu. He has produced several works based on
historical research, especially on Islamic history, like Seerat-un-
Noman (1892) and Al Faruq (1899). Shibli also produced important
works like Swanih Umari Moulana Rum, Ilmul Kalam (1903), Muvazina-e-
Anis-o-Dabir (1907) and Sher-ul-Ajam (1899). Mohammed Hussain Azad
was an important writer and poet of this period. He laid the
foundation of modern poem in Urdu. Ab-e-Hayat, Sukhandan-e-Pars,
Darbar-e-Akbari and Nazm-e-Azad are some of his outstanding literary
works. Other leading poets of modern period include Syyid Akbar
Husain Akbar Allahabadi (1846-1921), who had a flair for extempore
composition of satiric and comic verses, Khushi Mohammed Nazir (1872-
1944), who composed Jogi and Pani Mein, Mohammed Iqbal (1873-1938),
Durga Sahai Suroor (d.1910), Mohammed Ali Jauhar (d.1931) and Hasrat
Mohani (d.1951). Iqbal’s poetry underwent several phases of evolution
from Romanticism (Nala-e-Yateem and Abr-e-Guhar Bar) to Indian
Nationalism (Tasvir-e-Dard, Naya Shivala and Tarana-e-Hindi) and
finally to Pan-Islamism (Shakva, Sham-o-Shair, Jawab-e-Shakva, Khizr-
e-Rah and Tulu-e-Islam). Fani Badayuni (1879-1941), Shad Azimabadi
(1846-1927), Yagana Changezi (1884-1956), Asghar Gondavi (1884-1936),
Jigar Moradabadi (1896-1982), Akhtar Shirani, Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1912-
1985), Miraji (1912-1950), N.M.Rashid (1910-1976), Akhtarul-Iman
(b.1915), Ali Sardar Jafri (b.1913), Makhdoom Mohiuddin (1908 -1969),
Kaifi Azmi (b.1918), Jan Nisar Akhtar (1914-1979), Sahir Ludhianvi
(1922-1980), Majrooh Sultanpuri (1919-2000), Asrarul Haq Majaz (1911-
1955), Nasir Kazmi, Ibn-e-Insha and Dr Kalim Ajiz have taken the Urdu
poetry to new heights.
A new generation of poets emerged around the sixth decade of
twentieth century. The leading poets of this generation include
Khaleelur Rahman Aazmi, Himyat Ali Shair, Balraj Komal, Ameeq Hanafi,
Kumar Pashi, Makhmoor Saidi, Mazhar Imam, Dr Mughni Tabassum, Bani,
Munir Niyazi, Suleman Areeb, Aziz Qaisi, Saqi Faruqi, Iftekhar Arif,
Saleem Ahmed, Qazi Saleem, Shafiq Fatima Shera, Bashar Nawaz, Akbar
Hyderabadi, Waheed Akhter, Shaz Tamkanat, Zubair Razvi, Muztar Majaz,
Mushaf Iqbal Tausifi, Zohra Nigah, Kishwar Naheed, Zahida Zaidi,
Siddiqua Shabnam and others.
The short story in Urdu began with Munshi Premchand’s Soz-e-Vatan
(1908). Premchand’s short stories cover nearly a dozen volumes
including Prem Pachisi, Prem Battisi, Prem Chalisi, Zad-e-Rah,
Vardaat, Akhri Tuhfa and Khak-e-Parvana. Mohammed Hussan Askari and
Khwaja Ahmed Abbas are counted among the leading lights of the Urdu
Short story. The Progressive Movement in Urdu fiction gained momentum
under Sajjad Zaheer (1905-1976), Ahmed Ali (1912-1994), Mahmood-uz-
Zafar (1908-1994) and Rasheed Jahan (1905-1952). Urdu writers like
Rajender Singh Bedi and Krishn Chander (1914-1977) showed commitment
to the Marxist philosophy in their writings. Krishn Chander’s Adhe
Ghante Ka Khuda is one of the most memorable stories in Urdu
literature. His other renowned short stories include Zindagi Ke Mor
Par, Kalu Bhangi and Mahalaxmi Ka Pul. Bedi’s Garm Kot and Lajvanti
are among the masterpieces of Urdu short story. Bedi’s important
works include collections of short stories, Dana-o-Daam Girhen, Kokh
Jali and Apne Dukh Mujhe Dedo etc., collection of plays “Saat Khel”
and a novel Ek Chadar Maili Si (1972). Manto, Ismat Chughtai and
Mumtaz Mufti form a different brand of Urdu writers who concentrated
on the “psychological story” in contrast to the “sociological story”
of Bedi and Krishn Chander. Some of Ismat Chughtai’s leading short
stories are Chauthi Ka Jora, Do Hath, Lehren and Lihaf. Manto dealt
in an artistic way with many unconventional subjects, like sex, which
were considered taboo by the Middle-class. His Thanda Gosht, which
dealt with the subject of necrophilia, shocked the readers. Another
of Manto’s praise-worthy works was Khol Do, which tackled the horrors
of partition. Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi (b.1915) is another leading name in
Urdu short story. His important short stories include Alhamd-o-
Lillah, Savab, Nasib and others. In the post-1936 period, the writers
belonging to the Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zauq produced several good stories
in Urdu. Upender Nath Ashk (Dachi), Ghulam Abbas (Anandi). Intezar
Hussain, Anwar Sajjad, Balraj Mainra, Surender Parkash and Qurratul-
ain Haider (Sitaroun Se Aage, Mere Sanam Khane) are the other leading
lights of Urdu short story. Several leading fiction writers emerged
from the city of Hyderabad in the contemporary times, which include
Jeelani Bano, Iqbal Mateen, Awaz Sayeed, Kadeer Zaman, Mazhr-uz-Zaman
and others.

Novel writing in Urdu can be traced to Nazir Ahmed (1836 - 1912) who
composed several novels like Mirat-ul-Urus (1869), Banat-un-Nash
(1873), Taubat-un-Nasuh (1877), Fasana-e-Mubtala (1885), Ibn-ul-Waqt
(1888), Ayama (1891) and others. Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar (1845 -
1903)’s Fasana-e-Azad, Abdul Halim Sharar (1860 - 1920)’s Badr-un-
Nisa Ki Musibat and Agha Sadiq ki Shadi, Mirza Muhammed Hadi Ruswa’s
Umrao Jan Ada (1899) are some of the great novels and novelettes
written during the period. Niaz Fatehpuri (1887 - 1966) and Qazi
Abdul Gaffar (1862-1956) were the other eminent early romantic
novelists in the language. However, it was Premchand (1880-1936) who
tried to introduce the trend of realism in Urdu novel. Premchand was
a prolific writer who produced several books. His important novels
include Bazare-e-Husn (1917), Gosha-e-Afiat, Chaugan-e-Hasti, Maidan-
e-Amal and Godan. Premchand’s realism was further strengthened by the
writers of the Indian Progressive Writers’ Association like Sajjad
Zaheer, Krishn Chander and Ismat Chughtai. Krishn Chander’s Jab Khet
Jage (1952), Ek Gadhe Ki Sarguzasht (1957) and Shikast are considered
among the outstanding novels in Urdu literature. Ismat Chughtai’s
novel Terhi Lakir (1947) and Qurratul-ain Haider’s novel Aag Ka Darya
are considered as important works in the history of Urdu novel.
Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Aziz Ahmed, Balwant Singh, Khadija Mastur,
Intezar Hussain are the other important writers in Urdu in the
contemporary times.
Urdu was not confined to only the Muslim writers. Several writers
from other religions also wrote in Urdu. Prominent among them are
Munshi Premchand, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar (Fasana-
e-Azad) and Brij Narain Chakbast (1882 - 1926), who composed Subh-e-
Watan and Tilok Chand Mahrum (1887-1966), who composed Andhi and Utra
Hua Darya, Krishn Chander, Rajindar Singh Bedi, Kanhaiyalal Kapur,
Upendar Nath Ashk, Jagan Nath Azad, Jogender Pal, Balraj Komal and
Kumar Pashi.
Akbar Allahabadi (1846-1921) was the pioneer among the Urdu humorists
and satirists. Majeed Lahori, Mehdi Ali Khan, Patras Bokhari (1898-
1958), Mirza Farhatullah Beg, Shafiq-ur-Rahman, Azim Baig Chughtai,
Ibn-e-Insha, Mushfiq Khwaja, Mushtaq Ahmed Yousifi, K.L.Kapur, Amjad
Hussain, Mujtaba Hussain, Himayatullah and Talib Khundmeri are the
other leading names in the
field of humour.
Prof. Hafiz Mohammed Sheerani (1888-1945) devoted long years to the
field of literary criticism. Others in this field include Shaikh
Mohammed Ikram (1907-1976), Sayyid Ihtesham Hussain (1912 - 1976),
Mohammed Hasan Askari, Ale-Ahmed Suroor, Mumtaz Husain, Masud Husain,
Shams-ur-Rahman Faruqi, Gopichand Narang, Mughni Tabassum (b.1930)
and others.
Farhang-e-Asifya is the first Urdu dictionary based on principles of
the modern lexicography, which was produced by Maulana Sayyid Ahmed
Dehlvi (1846-1920) in 1892.

Copyright (C) Dr Ausaf Sayeed, 2000-2001.
Permission is granted to reprint the following article as long as no
changes are made and the byline, copyright information, and the
resource box is included. Please let me know if you use this article
by sending an email to webmaster@…

Article Title: Jarawa Tribes - Confluence of the Present with the Past
Author: Dr Ausaf Sayeed
Contact Author: webmaster@…
Publishing Guidelines: May be freely published w/bylines
Web Address: http://www.culturopedia.com
About the Author : The author is a Ph.D by qualification. He is
currently the Chief Coordinating Officer of the Indian Culture Centre
(ICC), Doha,Qatar

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Top 10 World Languages and the Internet  

Source Internet(See below for Authors credit)

Purnendu Chatterji intrigued me today by saying, that Bengali is the 5th largest
spoken language in the world. Well, I looked it up …

1. Mandarin: 1 Billion+
2. English: 508 Million
3. Hindi: 497 Million
4. Spanish: 392 Million
5. Russian: 277 Million
6. Arabic: 246 Million
7. Bengali: 211 Million
8. Portuguese: 191 Million
9. Malay-Indonesian: 159 Million
10. French: 129 Million

Here are the languages that just barely missed the list (from the most popular
to the least): German, Japanese, Urdu, Punjabi, Korean, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi,
Cantonese, Wu, Vietnamese, Javanese, Italian, Turkish, Tagalog, and Thai.

Why do we care?

Because, the Media industry is moving online, and a question that is looming
large: what other languages besides the obvious ones like Mandarin, need major
Internet presence? The list above starts to provide some indicators …

Key question to answer: Which of these languages have sustainable (a) Internet
Presence (b) Online Advertising Pull behind them?

Today, English, Mandarin, French, and Spanish have traction. German and Italian
also have some Internet presence.

Big languages like Hindi and Bengali, by virtue of the fact that they belong to
a largely bilingual population that is fluent in English - have little adoption.

Even online advertising dollars are largely limited to North American target
audiences, with a small bit of traction in the UK and Western Europe. No one
wants to advertise to audiences in Brazil or Russia.

It would be interesting to watch how the game changes in the next decade.

Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Strategy Consultant Sramana Mitra writes about
Entrepreneurship, Business Strategy, Emerging Technology, Market Moves, and
sundry other topics in her Blog “Sramana Mitra on Strategy”. Read more of her
writings at http://www.sramanamitra.com.

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