Urdu speakers

Samar Abbas abbas at IOPB.RES.IN
Fri Dec 4 17:27:49 UTC 1998

My replies to the post are given at the appropriate places below:

> On Thu, 3 Dec 1998, Ruth Laila Schmidt wrote:
> I am reluctant to get into this debate, however it needs to be pointed out
> that most scholars, including most (but not all) South Asian scholars of
> Urdu have accepted an Indo-Aryan pedigree for all of the following:
> (1) Zabaan-e-Dehlavi (the precursor of Zabaan-e-Urdu), spoken in Delhi
> under the Delhi Sultanate (1211 to 1504), carried to the Deccan and spoken
> there as Dakhini, and surviving today as Kaarkhandaari Urdu;

 Zaban-e-Urdu actually developed in the camps of the armies of Mahmud of
Ghazni. Zaban-e-Delhavi is derived from this Zaban-e-Urdu. The
Ghaznavid Urdu is an amlagam of Persian, Arabic and Turkic.

> (2) Zabaan-e-Urdu-e-Mu'alla (its successor), developing in Delhi after the
> shifting of the Mughal Court there in 1648, and differing from
> Zabaan-e-Dehlavi in having more influence from the dialect of Agra, where
> the court was formerly;

This is correct. It was denoted -e-Mu'alla to differentiate it from the
Ghaznavid original Urdu, which is denoted only `Zaban-e-Urdu'.

> (3) Modern Urdu as standardized by the poets, written first in Delhi and
> later also in Lucknow, and first mentioned as "Urdu" in a couplet written
> by the poet Mushhafi (1750-1824), dated to ca. 1776.

The first mention of `Zaban-e-Urdu' is in reference to the language
of the camps of Mahmud of Ghazni. The first poet was Masud, who lived
during the Ghaznavid era.

> Khari Boli is the speech on which the Zabaan-e-Dehlavi is based, and after
> the shifting of the Mughal Court to Delhi it survived as a sort of country
> cousin of Zabaan-e-Dehlavi. Standard Urdu has abandoned many Khari Boli
> forms.

This is the older view propagated by the Sanskrit-centric Brahmanical
fundamentalist scholars. As per this view,
     Sanskrit -> Prakrit -> Apabrahmsa -> Khari Boli -> Urdu.
These same linguists also claimed that Tamil, Greek, and English were
degraded forms of Sanskrit. These same people have claimed that :

 1. "Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple" [cf. Oak's book]
 2. "Qutb Minar is a Hindu temple"
 3. "Shakespeare and Homer copied Sanskrit texts"
 4. "Aryans did not invade India, but were created by Brahma in the
     Punjab" etc.etc.

Fortunately, these lunacies have now been discarded by serios indologists.
It is thus accepted that Tamil is a Dravidian langauge, and that Urdu is
not a degraded form of Sanskrit. Sanskrit was created in 500 BC by Panini
et al and did not exist before that.

> The identification of Urdu as Indo-Aryan is based on analysis of its
> grammar (verbs, nouns, pronouns, postpositions) and its core vocabulary, as
> contained in texts.

It would be so if it were derived from Persian via the route
      Persian -> Indo-Persian -> Urdu
or if it were a hybrid langauge; it could still be classed as
Indo-Iranian even in this case. This fact has been misused by Hindu
fundamentalist linguists to claim that Urdu is derived from Sanskrit.

> Modern Urdu is indeed quite Persianized (and
> Arabicized), but this was a gradual process.

Urdu originally had only Perso-Arabo-Turkic words. It was the language of
the Ghaznavid camp, where only Iranian, Turkish and Arab warrioirs were
present. Khari Boli was not spoken in Afghanistan. How could they have
adopted Khari Boli, which nobody there would have known? Also Khari Boli
was not the literary language of India at the time; it was (mainly)
Sanskrit. These Ghazis would obviously not have learned Sanskrit.

> The poems of Amir Khusrau
> (1236-1324), which are usually considered the first Urdu texts, are not
> heavily Persianized.

 In fact the first Urdu poet is Masud who died a century after the death
of Mahmud of Ghazni [ `Alberuni's India', transl. Sachau vol.II p.258 ].
Sachau refers to him as `the Dante of Urdu'.

  Actually Amir Khosrow was, along with Malik Muhammed Jaisi, one of the
first Hindustani writers. Their langauge conatains a higher proportion of
Prakrit, Vedic, Sanskrit, Dravidian etc. words, which they adopted into
the original Zaban-e-Urdu. This was an innovation at the time.

> The poets of the Delhi School of Urdu poetry  (Mir,
> Sauda etc.) wrote a somewhat less Persianized Urdu than those of the later
> Lucknow School.

  These were attempts to restore the language to its purity as it existed
in the Ghaznavid era, considered by many to have been a `golden age'.
There were also periods of Turkic, Arabic and `New Hindustani' influences.
It was just a question of fashion as to when Persian, Turkish, New
Hindustani or Arabic words were preferred.

> The elite of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire spoke Persian, and
> considered Zabaan-e-Urdu an Indian (Hindi, Hindavi) language.

Similarly the American English (considered by some to be a separate
langauge) was considered `American' and `degraded' by many Anglo-Saxon
settlers in New England (who encouraged the usage of `pure' English
English). That does not mean that American (English) is derived from
Sioux. Similarly Urdu is not derived from Khari Boli.

  American English vocabulary (and perhaps even certain forms of grammar
and phonology) is a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, German, French, Dutch etc.
with a minor admixture of Native Amerind words. That is because the bulk
of settlers were from Europe and looked towards Europe. Similarly the bulk
of Indo-Muslim settlers came from Iran, Turkestan and Arabestan. So they
naturally looked towards those nations for their heritage. A few converts
introduced the Prakritic words.

> Hindi and
> Hindavi are Persian words.

This in itself indicates that the language Hindi cannot be
Sanskrit-derived. The Indians call English `Angrez', but the English will
not start calling their language `Angrez' too. Similarly the Persians
referred to Urdu os `Hindi'(as you say), but Indo-Aryans will not start
referring to their langauges (Kanuaji, Braj etc. ) as Hindi. THis goes
against the Sanskritic origin of Hindi.

> Standard Hindi based on Khari Boli is a modern language which has been
> around for some two centuries.

This is correct, it is of modern origin only. It arose out of the
Hindustani Urdu spoken.

> Before being Sanskritized it was almost
> identical to Urdu, but without the Perso-Arabic vocabulary.

I agree that it was almost identical to Urdu, but not the `without the
Perso-Arabic vocabulary'. Many Hindus learned Persian, etc. so they were
not unfamiliar with Perso-Arabic vocabulary. Even Khari Boli has 20 %
Perso-Arabic words, and some letter of the Maratha peshwas in Marathi have
up to 50 % Perso-Arabic words. Secondly, if it was without the
Perso-Arabic vocabulary, then there was obviously no connection with Urdu.

> Before the
> evolution of Standard Hindi, the literary languages for north Indian Hindus
> were Braj Bhasha, Avadhi and Rajasthani.

I agree fully with this, Hindi did not exist. Aslo `Rajastan' is a Persian
word and came into general use in the 18th century. So the pre-Islamic
inhabitants of Rajastan did not call themselves Rajastanis; this was the
gift of the Hindustanis.

> With best wishes,
> Ruth Schmidt

  The problem here is not the origin of Urdu, which I have clealry given
above, but the origin of Khari Boli. The origin of Khari Boli has, I fell
no relation to the origin of Urdu. I think that it is either a Prakrit or
is also a Sanskritised/Prakritised form of Hindustani. Whatever it may be,
it is of little importance. The Indo-Aryans themselves never patronized
this Khari Boli in the pre-Islamic era.

 Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that you are wrong. I am
just saying that many Europeans have been misled by the Hindu
fundamentalist indologists. In fact, I agree with you on many points. It
is now accepted that Qutb Minar and Taj Mahal were the creations of
Hindustanis, and it is now being realized that Urdu was also the creation
of Hindustanis too. I here only state that European indologists should
remove the biases that have been planted into Indology by certain
organizations, otherwise wrong things will continue to be said.

With best wishes,


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