Urdu speakers

Samar Abbas abbas at IOPB.RES.IN
Fri Dec 4 21:56:02 UTC 1998

Dear Ruth Schmid

If you had read my reply to your post, you would have seen that I gave the
reference for the Ghaznavid origin of Urdu: `Alberuni's India', transl.
E.C.Sachau, vol.ii, p.253-258 clearly states that the origin of Urdu was
in the Ghaznavid camps.  Another good reference is A.Springer in
`Catalogue of the Arabic, Persian and Hindustani Manuscripts of the
libraries of the King of Oudh', Calcutta 1854 pp.405 ff he mentions the
works by Masud during the Ghaznavid era. The King of Oudh still had
manuscripts by Masud in his library. Some more comments are at the
appropriate places below. I have run out of time; so I guess there will
still be theories claiming a Khari Boli origin for Urdu and a Sioux origin
for American English (and maybe a Celtic origin for Norwegian).

On Fri, 4 Dec 1998, Ruth Laila Schmidt wrote:

> Dear Sama Abbas,
> Please give me the names of the texts in Zaban-e-Urdu written by Mahmud of
> Ghazi so that I may take a look at them. To the best of my knowledge the

Actually they were by Masud and not by Mahmud of Ghazni himself, as I had
stated earlier.

> only texts earlier than Amir Khusrau are Nath texts in Saddhukari. If texts

The earlier ones are largely lost. They existed in 1854 in the library of
the King of Oudh, but I don't know if they still exist in MS form. No
paper manuscript exists in India before the 12th century.

> by Mahmud of Ghazni exist, I suspect they would be in Persian, as this was
> the language used by the various Muslim conquerors until the end of the
> Mughal Empire. A Persian text does not prove than the language of Ghazni is
> the same as Old Urdu.

Yes, that is correct. But any non-standard Persian text could be taken
as a precursor of Urdu. If Old Urdu is derived from Persian, there would
be transitional phases. Such a phase exists in Indo-Persian. Many
texts exist in the Indo-Persian languages. Indo-Persian is like
Indo-Portuguese, the local dialect of Persian, and like American English.
( You can see the Ethnologue database I had suggested to you earlier
at www.sil.org/ethnologue where they estimate the number of Indo-Portugues
speakers as being 700. They could not get data for Indo-Persian though.)

Except that here Indo-Persian developed into a separate langauge, while
American did not (although some say it did). A gradual divergence can be
seen from Persian, as per the tree:

 Persian  -> Indo-Persian  -> Urdu

> We must have more than a reference to a name, as Zaban-e-Urdu mnerely means
> "language of the camp" and does not carry any linguistic information. In
> which text is this reference, and does the text supply any samples of the
> speech of "Zaban-e-Urdu"?

I suggest some materials on the Ghaznavid era (any material will do,
including the ones I have given above).

> The term "Sanskrit-centric Brahmanical fundamentalist scholars" could
> hardly be applied to scholars like Abdul Haq and Inshaullah Khan and many
> other serious scholars who have worked on Urdu. Please supply the names of
> the scholars whose work you rely on.

I do not resort to attacking persons by name; I use only facts. Personal
attacks are unfortunately too common in this field, which I will not
resort to. I think persons can always change their view as new data
emerges, which is the scientific viewpoint. Unfortunately nationalism,
dogma, etc. are more often behind the views propagated in this field.

> We cannot throw out the principles of historical linguistics before we even
> begin our analysis. Several hundred years of historical research on many

It is only in recent times that the Sanskrit origin of Urdu was proposed.
Several centuries of Urdu speakers saw their language as being derived
from Persian, etc. As you say, hundreds of years of historical research
should not be thrown out.

 You are coming close to what I am saying, and I know that intuitively you
feel that what I am saying is right. Unfortunately time does not permit me
to continue this thread. So let me stop here.


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