development of Hindi/Urdu

Frances Pritchett fp7 at
Mon May 29 14:27:51 UTC 1995

On this topic a good general overview is C. Shackle and R. Snell, 
*Hindi and Urdu Since 1800:  A Common Reader* (London:  SOAS, 1990).  It 
has brief historical and linguistic accounts, followed by illustrative 
examples (with notes and glossaries).

The vocabulary problem is also considerable:  Hindii, Hindavii, Rextah 
are all old names that have at times been used for what we now would call 
Urdu.  KhaRii bolii suggests the grammar, Hindustani a modern spoken form 
of this grammar.  Sometimes "Bhaakhaa" and even "Braj Bhaakhaa" are used 
very confusingly by early sources to refer not just to the modern Braj 
but to, in effect, "the colloquial speech of North India."  Then of 
course there is "Dakhini."  "Gujri" and other occasional terms occur as 
well.  Then elements of this terminological mishmash are often used 
selectively to make arguments that are naive or tendentious or both...

Even modern uses of the terms "Hindi" and "Urdu" are often somewhat 
ambiguous:  do they refer only or chiefly to script differences, or do 
they also invoke vocabulary choices--which are shifting and subjective in 
extent and definition anyway?  In spoken language, is there any 
conceptual room left for a "Hindustani" middle ground?  What do we call 
the (spoken) language of the "Hindi film" industry?  So many "Hindi" film 
songs have been written by popular Urdu poets...

On the literary-historical side even more than the linguistic, we need to 
ask what a term like "Hindii" or "Bhaakhaa" in each particular instance 
is actually referring to.  And of course sometimes it's almost 
impossible to tell.  (So what else is new...?)

Wishing everyone a good summer,
Fran Pritchett

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