origins (time frame) of Hindi

malaiya at ravi.CS.ColoState.EDU malaiya at ravi.CS.ColoState.EDU
Sun May 28 17:27:41 UTC 1995

Pramit Bhasin asked:
>Could anyone be kind enough to post the origins ( time frame ) of 
>the Hindi language?
>Just recently a friend of mine told me that spoken Hindi has been in
>existance for only a 100 odd years or so, while I dont agree I have no
>resources at my disposal to prove this otherwise.

Joydeep Mitra replied:
>Hindi originated from a combination of Persian, Urdu and Sanskrit during 
>the Moghul rule in northern India. 

It should be recognized that languages change slowly. Because the change 
is gradual, is is rather hard to say exactly when the language swithched
from being Apabhransha to Hindi. 

Remember that the standard Hindi (Khadi boli), as used in books, is
just a dialect of Hindi. The Khadi boli (Urdu/Hindi) is the dialect of the Delhi-
Meerut region.

The history of evolution of Hindi can be represented in this way:

Early Sanskrit
Prakrits (6th cent BCE-4th cent AD)
Apabhranshas (6th cent AD to 12th cent AD)
Modern North Indian languages (12 cent AD- )

Note that composition in Prakrits and Apabhranshas continued after
they ceased to be spoken languages.

You can find 12-13th century works in a language that  can only be
called Hindi. However the transition from Apbhransha to Hindi is
gradual, thus you can go back further. The word "Hindi" (i.e. the 
language of Hind) was coined by Muslims in 13th century.

Bengali, Gujrati, Marathi similarly can be considered to have
come into existence around 10-13th cent. AD.

Note that Hindi (or Punjabi or Bengali) is not directly derived
from Sanskrit, but through Prakrit/Apabhransha chain. Many Persian
word have entered Hindi, but Persian (Farsi) did not affect the
evolution of the basic structure or the basic set of words. 

Urdu is basically the Delhi-Meerut dialect of Hindi, with liberal
usage of Persian and Arabic words.

Even elementary school children learn verses written by authors
several centuries ago, as part of Hindi. One would have to be truly
insulated from the ordinary Indians (perhaps grown up in an Anglicised
atmosphere, which now is the case for some) to claim that Hindi is
only 100 years old.

Resources to convince you frined? Many. Try a good encyclopaedia or 
look up some books on history of languages.

Yashwant K. Malaiya


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