Khalia Booth

Indian Languages

The country of India is home to over 300 languages. At the time of its independence, Hindi was deemed the main language and English as its second. According to a 1997 survey, 66% of Indians speak Hindi and 77% of them regard it as the national language culturally speaking. The Indian government recognizes at least 18 languages, not including dialects.

Each region in India has its own native language. Within each region, dialects of that language have developed such as Punjabi, the language spoken in the Punjabi region. The region of Punjab is large in size and has six major dialects: Majhi (spoken in the heart of the Punjab region), Malwi, Doabi, Potohari, Jhangvi, and Multani. As with the Urdu language famously used as a form of poetry and as the official language of Pakistan, Punjabi dialects are written with an Arabian influence. Pakistani Muslims use this dialect as well as their official language.

Sanskrit is the basis for most Indo-European language. In India, this language is the ancestor to Hindi. The Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portugese, and English languages have influenced Hindi over the years. In literature, several dialects of Hindi have been used. The dialect of Braj was popular up until the 19th century where it was replaced by Khari Boli.

The Urdu language is mostly an oral language rather than a written one. It is a language associated with a form of Indian poetry known as Urdu poetry. Over the years, it has absorbed elements of Persian and Arabic writing. Before the Indian partition of 1947, the Urdu language had close relations with Hindi, but afterwards it became separate. The British used the Urdu language as a means to divide the Muslims and Hindus in the years before the partition. The Urdu language first developed in northern India as a result of cultural diffusion between the native Northern Indians and invading Muslims from Central Asia during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The first Urdu poet was Quili Qutub Shah (1565-1611) when he wrote a volume of poetry written in a language that would later be known as Urdu. After Shah came several others who formed the styles of poetry that could be written in Mrdu, Mir Taqi Mir (1722-1810) and Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869) formed the ghazal (love lyric). Mirza Mohammad Rafi Sauda (1713-1780) developed the qasida (panegyric), Mir Hasan developed the mathnawi (romance) and Mir Babr Ali Anis (1802-1874) and Mirza Salamat Dabir (1803-1875) developed the marthiya (elegy). Mohammed Iqbal (1877-1938) was the most famous of the Urdu poets for his work reflected a philosophical point of view while maintaining a literary excellence. During the 1930's, Urdu poetry was seen as a way to express a new world order and vision for the nationalist movement. The writers who were nationalist rebels were klnown as Progressive Writers. The progressive writers infused their literature with themes of class struggle, scenes reflecting a more "modern" view of the world and a complete removal of traditional ideas. After the partition, Urdu writers looked back to the original writers and combined the old style with the Indian form of western literature.






Hindi: The language of Songs. 

India Today State of the Nation August 18, 1997. 

Punjabi (Language). 

Rahman, Anisur History of Urdu Poetry.