SV: interesting experience/Urdu/hindi

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Thu Aug 31 10:41:27 UTC 2000

Samar Abbas [SMTP:abbas at IOPB.RES.IN] skrev 1. september 2000 11:35:

> On Thu, 31 Aug 2000, Bharat Gupt wrote:
> > Urdu...grew out of the linguistic trends prevalent in India much before
> > Islamic invasion.
>  So here, we learn that Urdu existed prior to the advent of Muslims (712
> AD). But this is directly contradicted by the theory claiming hat Urdu
> formed at the end of the Mughal Empire (18th century) : -

Not at all. As as far as I can see, Dr. Bharat Gupt's description of the
development of Urdu is essentially correct: Urdu is rooted in older
Prakrits, but received influences from a number of other "invading"
languages. Which is a perfectly normal linguistic process, the world is
positively teeming with languages that have been through this sort of
development. The term "Urdu", BTW, comes from the Turkish word "Hordu"
(ever heard of the Golden Hord?), meaning military camp. So originally, it
was essentially the language of the barracks. The question then becomes:
When does urdu become "urdu"? When does the old Prakrit turn into a
distinct linguistic formation with a literature? The oldest Urdu literature
goes back to the 14th century and was produced in the Deccan. We must
assume that there was a "hatching period" before the first preserved
literature, so Dr. Gupt's description does not sound altogether
unreasonable, even if it is the "official version".  This does not mean,
however, that the Urdu of 14th century was exactly like the Urdu of the
18th century. Urdu, like other languages, develops. But it is also true
that the court language was Persian, the "French" of South Asia. (You may
want to compare the situation in Russia: Two hundred years ago, Russian
aristocrats hardly spoke Russian. Instead, they used French, the language
of culture and prestige!)

I am afraid that your critique of Bharat Gupt's Urdu history is not well
founded so far.

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr. art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo
Phone: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax 1:  +47 22 32 12 19
Fax 2:  +47 85 02 12 50 (InFax)
Email: lmfosse at

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