Indo-Aryan languages

Indo-Aryan languages
or Indic languages

Major subgroup of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family.

Indo-Aryan languages are spoken by more than 800 million people, principally in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The Old Indo-Aryan period is represented by Sanskrit. Middle Indo-Aryan (с 600 BC–AD 1000) consists principally of the Prakrit dialects, including Pali. Modern Indo-Aryan speech is largely a single dialect continuum spread over an undivided geographical space, so demarcations between languages and dialects are somewhat artificial. Complicating the situation are competing distinctions between languages with an old literary tradition, local language identification by native speakers (as in censuses), supraregional languages such as Modern Standard Hindi and Urdu, and labels introduced by linguists, particularly those of George Abraham Grierson. In the centre of the Indo-Aryan speech area (the "Hindi zone"), covering northern India and extending south as far as Madhya Pradesh, the most common language of administration and education is Modern Standard Hindi. Important regional languages in the northern Indian plain are Haryanvi, Kauravi, Braj, Awadhi, Chhattisgarhi, Bhojpuri, Magahi, and Maithili. Regional languages in Rajasthan include Marwari, Dhundhari, Harauti, and Malvi. In the Himalayan foothills of Himachal Pradesh are Grierson's Pahari languages. Surrounding the Hindi zone, the most significant languages are, moving clockwise, Nepali (East Pahari), Assamese, Bengali, Oriya, Marathi, Gujarati, Sindhi, the speech of southern, northwestern, and northern Punjab province in Pakistan (called West Punjabi or Lahnda by Grierson), Punjabi, and Dogri. In Jammu and Kashmir and the far north of Pakistan are the Dardic languages; the most important are Kashmiri, Kohistani, Shina, and Khowar. The Nuristani languages of northwestern Afghanistan are sometimes considered a separate branch of Indo-Iranian. Sinhalese (spoken in Sri Lanka), Divehi (spoken in the Maldive Islands), and Romany are also Indo-Aryan languages.

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also called  Indic languages 

      subgroup of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family, spoken in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

      Linguists generally assign the Indo-Aryan languages to three major periods: Old, Middle, and New Indo-Aryan. These periods are linguistic, not strictly chronological. Old Indo-Aryan includes different dialects and linguistic states referred to in common as Sanskrit. The most archaic Old Indo-Aryan is that of sacred texts called Vedas (Veda). Classical Sanskrit is the name given to the literary language that represents a polished form of various dialects. The late Vedic dialect described by the grammarian Pāṇini (c. 6th century BC) is also commonly called Classical Sanskrit. Middle Indo-Aryan includes both the dialects of inscriptions from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD and literary languages. Apabhraṃśa dialects represent the latest stage of Middle Indo-Aryan development. Though all Middle Indo-Aryan languages are included under the name Prākrit, it is customary to speak of the Prākrits as excluding Apabhraṃśa.

      New Indo-Aryan is represented by such modern vernaculars as Hindi and Bengali (Bengali language), which began to emerge from about the 10th century AD. These too have earlier and later stages, culminating in the present-day languages.

      New Indo-Aryan languages accounted for about 490,000,000 speakers in India, or approximately 74 percent of the population in the early 1980s. Considering the approximately 85,000,000 Bengali speakers in Bangladesh, approximately 63,000,000 speakers accounted for by Punjabi and Sindhi in Pakistan, and 11,000,000 Sinhalese (Sinhala) speakers in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), the total number of New Indo-Aryan speakers is well over 650,000,000. According to the latest Indian census, there are 547 mother tongues of the Indo-Aryan group in use within the bounds of postpartition (1947) India. Some of these are dialects that are used by few speakers; others are official state languages having 30,000,000 or 50,000,000 speakers. The major groups of New Indo-Aryan languages are given in the table Modern (New) Indo-Aryan Languages. Structurally and historically, Hindi and Urdu are one, although they are now official languages of different countries written in different alphabets. The term hindī (also hindvī) is known from as early as the 13th century. The term zabān-e-urdū “language of the imperial camp” came into use in about the 17th century. In the south, Urdu was used by Muslim conquerors of the 14th century.

 Many of the languages in the table—> are official state languages, the media of education up to the university level and of official transactions. Hindi, written in the Devanāgarī script, is the co-official language (with English) of the Republic of India and is used as a lingua franca throughout North India. It has varieties according to the mother tongue of the area; e.g., Bombay Hindi and Calcutta Hindi. Each of the major state languages has several other dialects in addition to the standard dialect adopted for official purposes. Including the various dialects down to the village level, it can be said that a chain of communication stretches across North India such that each dialect forms a link with each adjacent dialect. On the level of official languages this is not so: a Gujarati (Gujarati language) speaker will not readily understand colloquial Bengali.

Historical survey of the Indo-Aryan languages
      The points noted above regarding Indo-Aryan migration make it difficult to determine the domain of Proto-Indo-Aryan, the ancestral language of all the known Indo-Aryan tongues, if indeed there was any such single region. All that can be said with certainty is that the Indo-Aryans on the subcontinent first occupied the area comprising most of present-day Punjab (both West and East), Haryana, and the Upper Doab (Ganges–Yamuna interfluve) of Uttar Pradesh. The structure of Proto-Indo-Aryan must have been close to that of early Vedic, with dialectal variations.

Old Indo-Aryan
      The most archaic Sanskrit is that of the Vedas, of which there are four major text groups called Saṃhitās: the Rigveda, Atharvaveda, Sāmaveda, and Yajurveda. The Yajurveda is in turn divided into two main branches, the White (Śukla) Yajurveda and the Black (Krishna) Yajurveda. The Rigveda, Atharvaveda, and Sāmaveda are purely metrical texts mainly used by priests in their ritual. The texts of the Black Yajurveda contain both verses used in ritual sacrifice (called mantras) and prose sections that are explanatory in nature, giving mythological explanations of sacrifices and objects used in them, together with etymologies (derivations of words). These sections are known as Brāhmaṇa portions. Each Veda also has a particular Brāhmaṇa connected with it. The early Vedic texts are pre-Buddhistic; a plausible date accepted for the composition of the Rigveda is between 1200 and 1000 BC, though the exact chronology of these early texts is difficult to establish. The prose passages of Brāhmaṇas and of the early sūtra (aphoristic texts) period may be called late Vedic. Also of the late Vedic period is the grammarian Pāṇini, author of a treatise called Aṣṭādhyāyī, who makes a distinction between the language of sacred texts (chandas) and the usual language of communication (bhāṣā).

      Epic Sanskrit is so called because it is represented principally in the two epics, Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa. In the latter the term saṃskṛta “formed, polished” is encountered, probably for the first time with reference to the language. The date of composition for the core of early Epic Sanskrit is considered to be in the centuries just preceding the Christian era.

      Classical Sanskrit is the language of the major poetic works (kāvya), drama (nāṭaka), tales such as the Hitopadeśa and Pañca-tantra, and technical treatises on grammar, philosophy, and ritual. It was used not only by the poet Kālidāsa and his predecessors Bhāsa, a dramatist, and Aśvaghoṣa, a Buddhist author, in the first centuries AD but was also continued long after Sanskrit was a commonly used mother tongue; indeed, Sanskrit is a language of learned treatises and commentaries to this day. It is also used as a lingua franca among paṇḍits (Brahmin scholars) from different areas of India.

      Linguistic developments can be traced from the early Vedic of the Rigveda through the later Saṃhitās on to the late Vedic of Brāhmaṇa prose and sūtras, culminating in the language described by Pāṇini, which is tantamount to Classical Sanskrit. For example, the nominative plural form ending in -āsas (devāsas “gods”) was already less frequent than -ās in the Rigveda and continued to lose ground later; in Brāhmaṇa, -ās (e.g., devās) is the normal form. There are numerous other changes evident. For example, the instrumental singular form of -a-stems ends both in -ā and -ena (a pronoun ending) in the Rigveda, with the latter form predominating; thus, vīryā “heroic might” appears once, and vīryeṇa occurs ten times (from vīrya- “heroic might, act”). In later Vedic -ena is the usual ending. All the early Vedic forms are expressly classed as belonging to the sacred language (chandas) by Pāṇini.

      The verb also shows chronological differences. For example, the 1st person plural ending -masi (e.g., bharāmasi “we bear”) predominates over -mas in Rigvedic but not in the Atharvaveda; -mas becomes the normal ending later. Early Vedic distinguishes between the aorist, imperfect, and perfect tenses. The aorist is commonly used to refer to an action that has recently taken place; the imperfect is a narrative tense referring to actions accomplished in the distant past. The perfect form of the verb originally denoted, as in Greek, a state reached; e.g., bi-bhāy-a “is afraid” (root bhī). From earliest Vedic, however, this was not always the use of the perfect. Although the grammarian Pāṇini distinguished between the three tenses noted (he said the perfect is used to denote an action beyond one's ken), the perfect and imperfect both came to be used as narrative tenses.

      There are also future forms of Vedic, formed with suffixes (-iṣya and -sya) and used from earliest times. A future form, composed of an agent noun of the type kart- “doer” and followed, except in the 3rd person, by forms of the verb as “be” (e.g., kartāsmi [kartā asmi] “I will do”), was recognized as in common use by Pāṇini but is rare in early Vedic.

      Early Vedic had a category that went out of use by the late Vedic period of Brāhmaṇas—the injunctive, which was formally a form with secondary endings lacking the augment, a prefixed vowel. The injunctive could be used to denote a general truth. A general truth can also be signified by the subjunctive, which is characterized by the vowel a affixed to the present, aorist, or perfect stem. Later Vedic retained the injunctive only in negative commands of the type mā vadhīs “do not slay.” The subjunctive also diminished slowly until it was no longer used; for Pāṇini the subjunctive belonged to sacred literature. The functions of the subjunctive were taken over by the form called optative (and the future form).

      Noun forms incorporated into the verb system are numerous in early Vedic. Rigvedic has forms with affixes ya and tva functioning as future passive participles (gerundives); e.g., vāc-ya- “to be said,” kar-tva- “to be performed, done.” The Atharvaveda has, additionally, forms with -(i)tavya (hiṃs-itavya- “to be injured”) and -anīya (upa-jīv-anīya- “to be subsisted upon”). By late Vedic, the type with tva had been eliminated; Pāṇini recognized as normal the types kārya-, kartavya-, karaṇīya- “to be done.” In Indo-Aryan, from earliest Vedic down to New Indo-Aryan, forms called absolutives (or gerunds) are used to denote the previous of two or more actions performed (usually) by one agent: “having done . . . he did”; for example, pibā niṣadya “sit down (niṣadya “having sat down”) and drink.” Rigvedic uses tvī, tvā, tvāya, (t)ya to form absolutives, but these were later reduced to two: tvā with a simple verb or one compounded with the negative particle, and ya with a verb compounded with a preverb (a preposition-like form).

      Early Vedic also uses various case forms of action nouns in the capacity of infinitives; e.g., dative singular -tave (dā-tave “to give”), genitive singular -tos (dā-tos), both from a noun in -tu, which also supplies the accusative ending -tum (dā-tum). There are other types in early Vedic, but the nouns in -tu are important; in late Vedic the accusative -tum and the genitive -tos (construed with īś or śak “be able, can”) became the norm. According to Pāṇini, forms in -tum and dative singular forms of action nouns are equivalent variants: bhok-tuṃ gacchati/ bhojanāya gacchati “He is going out to eat.”

      That some forms fell into disuse in the course of Indo-Aryan is natural; the above represent both chronological and dialectal modifications. Such change was recognized by Indian grammarians; e.g., Patañjali, of the mid-2nd century BC, noted that perfect forms of the type ca-kr-a “you did, have done” (2nd person plural) were not in use at his time; instead, a nominal (adjective) form kṛ-ta-vant-as was used, consisting of the past passive participle kṛ-ta- and an adjectival suffix -vant. Indian grammarians also recognized the existence of different dialects. Pāṇini noted forms used by northerners (udīcya) and easterners (prācya), as well as various dialectal uses described by grammarians who preceded him.

      Earlier documents also afford evidence for dialect variation; e.g., the early Vedic of the Rigveda is a dialect in which the Indo-European l sound was for the most part replaced by rprā “fill,” pūr-ṇa- “full.” This change accords with Iranian; e.g., Avestan pərəna “full.” These forms contrast with Latin plenus and Gothic fulls, with l. Other dialects kept l and r distinct. There are also doublets that have both r and l in words with Indo-European r: rohita-/lohita- “red.” The variant with l can be assumed to belong to an eastern dialect. This variance accords with Middle Indo-Aryan evidence and the fact that such l forms become more numerous in the tenth book (maṇḍala) of the Rigveda, which is demonstrably more recent than the most ancient parts of the Rigveda and dates from a time when the Indo-Aryans had progressed farther east than their original location on the subcontinent. The development of retroflex ḷ- and ḷh- sounds (produced by curling the tip of the tongue upward toward the hard palate) from the retroflex sounds of (nīḷa- “nest” from nīḍa-) and ḍh when occurring between vowels is another feature characteristic of some dialects, including the major dialect of the Rigveda.

      Classical Sanskrit represents a development of one or more such early Old Indo-Aryan dialects. At this state, the archaisms noted above have been eliminated. Moreover, the accentual system of Classical Sanskrit is not the same as that of Vedic, which had a system of pitches; vowels had low, high, or circumflex (first rising, then falling) pitch, and the particular vowel of a word that received high pitch could not be predicted. In Classical Sanskrit, on the other hand, the accent was probably predictable. If the next to the last vowel was long, it received the accent; if not, the vowel preceding it was accented. The Vedic system survived at least to the time of Pāṇini, who described it fully and did not restrict it to sacred language.

      For all this simplification, Classical Sanskrit is considerably more complex than Middle Indo-Aryan. In addition to the vowels a, i, and u (in both long and short varieties), it has and used as vowels. Consonant clusters occur freely, except in word final position, and the system of sound modification conditioned by the context, called sandhi, is fully operative. Moreover, in its grammatical system Classical Sanskrit maintains the dual number, seven cases in addition to the vocative form (which marks the one addressed), and a complex set of alternations. For example, to the nominative singular form agni-s “fire,” correspond the genitive singular agne-s “of fire” the nominative plural agnay-as “fires,” and the instrumental plural agni-bhis “with fires,” with differing vowels in the second syllable. There are also separate sets of nominal (noun) and pronominal (pronoun) endings. Some nouns and adjectives inflect as pronouns; e.g., ekasmai, dative singular masculine-neuter of eka- “one.”

      The verb system of Classical Sanskrit also maintains complex alternations. In the present tense of the type bhav-a-ti “becomes, is,” the stem (bhav-a-) remains unchanged throughout the paradigm except for lengthening of the -a- to -ā- before v and m. But other verbs have vowel alternation; e.g., as-mi “I am,” s-mas “we are”; e-mi “I go,” i-mas “we go”; juhomi “I pour,” juhumas “we pour.” A distinction is observed between active and mediopassive endings: jan-ay-a-ti “engenders” with the active ending -ti, but jā-ya-te “is born” with the mediopassive ending -te. (Mediopassive verb forms are used for the passive, reflexive, and other meanings.)

      Classical Sanskrit also has a rich system of nominal and verbal derivatives. Compound words are of the following kinds: copulative (dvandva) compounds such as mātāpitarau “mother and father” (also elliptic pitarau “parents”); the type like tat-puruṣa- “his man,” in which the first member is equivalent to a case other than nominative; the type like bahu-vrīhi “much-rice,” in which the object denoted is other than that of any of the members of the compound (bahur vrīhir yasya “He who has much rice”); and adverbial compounds (avyayībhāa) of the type upāgni (upa-agni) “near the fire.” In addition, there are derivatives with affixes -tara- and -tama, such as priya-tara- “very dear” and priya-tama- “most dear” from the adjective priya-. Pronouns have derivatives equivalent to case forms; e.g., tatra “there,” yatra “where,” and kutra “where?” are equivalent to locative forms such as tasmin, yasmin, and kasmin. These can also be used without a noun.

      Among the derivative verbal systems are the causative and the desiderative (“desire to”); the former has an affix -ay- (gam-ay-a-ti “makes to go,” kār-ay-a-ti “has do”) or, after roots in -a, -pay- (sthā-pay-a-ti “sets in place”). The desiderative is formed with -sa- and reduplication (repetition of a part of the root)—dī-dṛk-ṣa-te “desires to see” (root dṛś). The desiderative also has an agent noun in -udī-dṛk-ṣ-u “who wishes to see.”

Middle Indo-Aryan
      The Sanskrit word prākṛta, whence the term Prākrit (Prākrit languages), is a derivative from prakṛti- “original, nature.” Grammarians of the Prākrits generally consider the original from which they derive to be the Sanskrit language as described by grammarians going back to Pāṇini. Most modern scholars consider prākṛta to refer to the “natural” languages, the vernaculars, as opposed to Sanskrit, the polished language of literature and the educated (śiṣṭa). There is also linguistic evidence to support this view. Several forms in the Prākrits are found in Vedic but not in Classical Sanskrit. As Classical Sanskrit is not directly derivable from any single Vedic (Veda) dialect, so the Prākrits cannot be said to derive directly from Classical Sanskrit.

      The most archaic literary Prākrit is Pāli (Pāli language), the language of the Buddhist canon (c. 5th century BC) and of the later stories and commentaries of Theravāda Buddhism. Pāli represents essentially a western Middle Indo-Aryan dialect, though there are sufficient easternisms in the canon to have led some scholars to the view that the canon as it exists today is a recast of an original in an eastern dialect. To the Buddhist literature also belongs the Gāndhārī Dhammapada, the only literary text written in a dialect of the northwest. The Niya documents, official documents written in Prākrit dating from the 3rd century AD, also belong to the northwest. The earliest inscriptional Middle Indo-Aryan is that of the Aśokan inscriptions (3rd century BC). These are more or less full translations from original edicts issued in the language of the east (from the capital Pāṭaliputra in Magadha, modern Patna in Bihār) into the languages of the areas of Aśoka's kingdom. There are other Prākrit inscriptions up to the 4th century AD, and Sanskrit was not used inscriptionally until the first centuries AD. Literary Prākrits other than Pāli were also used in independent works and in dramas along with Sanskrit.

      According to Prākrit grammarians, Mahārāṣṭrī (“From the Mahārāshtra Country”) is the Prākrit par excellence. It is the language of kāvyas (epic poems) such as the Rāvaṇavaha (also called Setubandha) from no later than the 6th century AD. Mahārāṣṭrī is also the language of lyrics in Rājaśekhara's Karpūra-mañjarī (c. 900), the only extant drama written completely in Prākrit, and of verses recited by women in the classical drama of Kālidāsa and his successors, though not earlier. The literary dialect used for conversation among higher personages other than the king and his captains in the drama is Śaurasenī, while Māgadhī is used by lower personages.

      The language of the early Jaina canon, the final version of which was made in the 5th or 6th century AD, is called Ardhamāgadhī (“Half Māgadhī”); Jaina also used another literary dialect, called Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī in non-canonical works. The oldest poetic work in this is Vimala Sūri's Paumacariya (c. 3rd century). Of other Prākrit dialects mentioned by grammarians, Paiśācī (or Bhūta-Bhāṣā, both meaning “Language of Demons”) is noteworthy; it is said to be the language of the original Bṛhatkathā of Guṇāḍhya, source of the Sanskrit book of stories Kathā-saritsāgara.

      Buddhist works were also written using a language that has been called Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit (Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit language). Among these works is the Mahāvastu, the core of which is thought to date from the 2nd century BC. This language is a Middle Indo-Aryan dialect of indeterminate origin, which steadily became more Sanskritized in prose sections of later works.

      The most advanced stage of Middle Indo-Aryan, Apabhraṃśa, was also used as a literary language. That there was literary creation in Apabhraṃśa by the 6th century is clear from an inscription of King Dharasena II of Valabhī, in which the King praises his father as being adept in Sanskrit, Prākrit, and Apabhraṃśa composition. Moreover, in the fourth act of Kālidāsa's (Kālidāsa) drama Vikramorvaśīya there are Apabhraṃśa verses. Because Kālidāsa probably lived in the 3rd or 4th century, literary composition in Apabhraṃśa is earlier still, if these verses are legitimate. There is a great deal of later literature in Apabhraṃśa, for the most part Jaina works; e.g., Paumacariu of Svayambhū (8th–9th century), Harivaṃśa-purāṇa of Puṣpadanta (10th century), Sanatkumāra-cariu of Haribhadra (12th century).

      Middle Indo-Aryan is characterized generally by the reduction of the complexities seen in Old Indo-Aryan. The vowel system was reduced by the merger of (and ) sounds with vowels and the change of the diphthongs ai and au to the vowel sounds e and o; e.g., Pāli accha- “bear” (Sanskrit ṛkṣa-), iṇa- “debt” (Sanskrit ṛṇa-), uju- “straight” (Sanskrit ṛju-), pucchati “asks” (Sanskrit pṛcchati), mettī- “friendship” (Sanskrit maitrī-), orasa- “breast-born, legitimate” (Sanskrit aurasa-). Moreover, -aya- and -ava- commonly contracted to -e- and -o-; e.g., Pāli jeti “conquers” (Sanskrit jayati), odhi- “limit” (Sanskrit avadhi-). Final consonants were deleted, with the exception of -m, which developed to an -ṃ sound before which a vowel was shortened (Pāli bhāriyaṃ “wife”; Sanskrit bhāryām). Together with the trend toward replacing variable consonant stems by unchanging stems in -a-, this change had serious consequences for the grammar. Consonant stems steadily disappeared and were transformed to stems ending in a vowel; e.g., to Sanskrit śarad- “autumn,” sarit- “stream,” and sarpis- “butter” correspond the Pāli forms sarada-, saritā, and sappi-. Consonant clusters were also modified in Middle Indo-Aryan; e.g., Pāli khetta- “field” (corresponding to Sanskrit kṣetra-), Pāli dakkhiṇa- “right, south” (Sanskrit dakṣiṇa), aggi- “fire” (Sanskrit agni-), puṇṇa- “full” (Sanskrit pūrṇa), and taṇhā- “thrist” (Sanskrit ṭṛṣṇā-). The shortening of vowels before modified consonant clusters led to the use of short ĕ and ŏ sounds, which were unknown in Old Indo-Aryan; e.g., Pāli sĕmha- “phlegm” (Sanskrit śleṣman), ŏṭṭha- “lip” (Sanskrit oṣṭha-).

      The above phenomena are not restricted to Pāli; they are pan-Middle Indo-Aryan. Differences between Pāli and Aśokan and other Prākrits include the retention of voiceless stops (i.e., p, t, k) between vowels in Pāli and Aśokan dialects; other Middle Indo-Aryan dialects modify them. The extreme development appears in literary Māhārāṣṭrī, in which unaspirated stops (pronounced without an accompanying audible release, or pull of breath) other than retroflexes (ṭ, ḍ) and labials (p, b) were deleted, aspirated stops (pronounced with an audible puff of breath) were replaced by h, retroflexes (pronounced by curling the tongue upward toward the hard palate) became voiced, and labials were replaced by v; e.g., loa- “world” (Sanskrit loka-), loaṇa- “eye” (Sanskrit locana-), sāhā- “branch” (Sanskrit śākhā-), paḍhai “recites, reads” (Sanskrit paṭhati), and savaha- “curse” (Sanskrit śapatha-).

      Essentially on the same level are the dialects of Jaina texts, but in these a y glide prescribed by grammarians occurs when a consonant is elided: vayaṇa- “face” (Sanskrit vadana-); sayala- “whole” (Sanskrit sakala-). In Śaurasenī, on the other hand, voiceless stops (e.g., p, t, k) between vowels are voiced (e.g., become b, d, g, respectively); e.g., ido “hence” (Sanskrit ita); tadhā “thus” (Sanskrit tathā). Though Pāli and Aśokan are at an earlier level of development with respect to these changes, they share with the rest of the Middle Indo-Aryan dialects the replacement of voiced aspirated sounds between vowels by h: lahu- “light, unimportant” from laghu-; dahati “gives” (Sanskrit dadhāti). Similarly, they share the change of dy- to j: joti- “light, brilliance” (Pāli jotati “shines,” Sanskrit dyotate). Pāli and Aśokan, however, retain a y sound, changed to j in most other Prākrits; e.g., the pronoun ya- (feminine yā-), as in Sanskrit, opposed to ja-.

      The deletion of stop consonants noted above resulted in vowel sequences within words that were unknown to Old Indo-Aryan. Similarly, the extent of sandhi modification was restricted in Middle Indo-Aryan. The Middle Indo-Aryan vowels ī and ū do not change to y and v before dissimilar vowels in compounds; e.g., Māhārāṣṭrī rattīandhaa- “dark of night” (Sanskrit rātry-andhaka-). In addition, the first of two contiguous vowels in different words is subject to deletion; e.g., Pāli manas'icchasi (from manasā icchasi) “you wish in your mind.”

      In its grammatical system, Middle Indo-Aryan also reduced complexities. The dual number no longer exists as a separate category; for Sanskrit dvābhyām “by two,” Middle Indo-Aryan has dohi(), with the ending -hi() equivalent to the instrumental plural -bhis of Old Indo-Aryan. Among other changes is the replacement of the dative case by the genitive except in particular usages; e.g., the use of forms corresponding to the Old Indo-Aryan dative to denote a purpose.

      In Middle Indo-Aryan, nominal and pronominal forms are no longer strictly segregated; e.g., Aśokan vijitamhi “in the kingdom” (also vijite) has a pronominal ending equivalent to Sanskrit -smin.

      In the verb system, the contrast between active (-ti) and mediopassive (-te) endings was obliterated. Further, the Old Indo-Aryan distinction between aorist, imperfect, and perfect forms was eliminated. With few exceptions, the sigmatic aorist (an aorist form with s) provides the only productive preterite of early Middle Indo-Aryan: Aśokan ni-kkhamisu “they set out” (Sanskrit nir-a-kramiṣur). In later Prākrits verbally inflected preterites were generally eliminated; in their place was used the past participle. For example, in Śaurasenī devi uva-visa, mahārāo vi ā-ado “Sit down, my queen, the king also has arrived,” the past participle ā-ado (Sanskrit ā-gataḥ) agrees with mahā-rāo “king” (Sanskrit mahā-rājaḥ) in number and gender. If the verb is transitive, the participle agrees with the direct object, and the agent is denoted by an instrumental form: in Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī, teṇa vi savvaṃ siṭṭhaṃ “He has told everything,” teṇa “by him” denotes the agent, and siṭṭhaṃ “told” (Sanskrit śiṣṭam) agrees with the neuter singular form savvaṃ (Sanskrit sarvam). When no object is denoted, the verb is in the neuter singular. Old Indo-Aryan used both the participial construction and the finite verb; thus to Prākrit so vi teṇa samaṃ gao “He also went with him” could correspond Sanskrit so'pi tena saha gataḥ or so'pi tena sahāgamat (saha agamat). The Middle Indo-Aryan development eliminated the latter.

      Alternations of the Sanskrit type as-mi, s-mas were eliminated in Middle Indo-Aryan; the predominant type of present tense was formed from an unchanging vowel stem (Pāli e-ti, e-nti “go[es]”).

      Nominal forms of the verb system are of the same types as Old Indo-Aryan; e.g., the Pāli future passive participle kātabba- (Sanskrit kartavya-) “to be done,” Śaurasenī karaṇia; Ardhamāgadhī, Jaina Māhārāṣṭrī, and Māhārāṣṭrī karaṇijja- “to be done.” The infinitive is commonly formed on the present tense stem, not on the root, as in Old Indo-Aryan. Thus Pāli pappotum is formed on the present pappoti; Sanskrit prāptum is formed on the root prāp, present tense prāpnoti.

      Middle Indo-Aryan shows evidence of dialectal differentiation. The earliest documents that allow one to determine roughly the dialect distribution are Aśoka's inscriptions. These represent three major dialect areas: east, as in the inscriptions of Jaugaḍa, Dhauli, and Kālsī; west, in Girnār; and northwest, in Mānsehrā and Shāhbāzgaṛhī. Characteristic of the east dialect area is final -e, corresponding to -o in the west and -as in Sanskrit; in the east dialect area l also regularly corresponds to r of the west and of Sanskrit. Moreover, in the east dialect area there is a tendency to insert a vowel within consonant clusters, while in the west and northwest one of the consonants is assimilated to the other without an intervening vowel. For example, to Sanskrit rājñas “of the king” corresponds Girnār rañño, Shāhbāzgaṛhī raño, Jaugaḍa lājine. Northwest stands apart in retaining three spirant sounds, ś, ṣ, s, which merge to s elsewhere. Aśoka's eastern dialect, from the Magadha country, shows an s sound for Old Indo-Aryan ś, ṣ, s, rather than the ś sound typical of literary Māgadhī. Grammatical features also show dialectal variation; e.g., the Aśokan dative singular form is -āya in the western dialects (Girnār atthāya “for the purpose of”) but -āye in the east (Kālsī, Dhauli aṭṭhāye).

      As noted above, the most advanced development of Middle Indo-Aryan is seen in Apabhraṃśa. Sound changes that are typical of Apabhraṃśa include the replacement of the vowel sound a by u in final syllables; e.g., karahu “you do, make,” corresponding to karaha (karadha) in other Prākrits. From stems in -aya- develop forms in -au and nasalized - (nasalization is here indicated by a tilde): bhaḍārau “honored one, king” (Prākrit bhaṭṭārayo), haũ “I” (Aśokan haka). Nasalization also appears in environments in which earlier m occurred between vowels; e.g., gāũ “village” (from gāma, Sanskrit grāma). Numerous other sound changes are evident, among them the development of -s(s)- between vowels into h: tahŏ “of him” (from Prākrit tassa, Sanskrit tasya); hohinti “will be” (compare Pāli hossati). Apabhraṃśa contractions, such as -aya- changing to -a and -iya to -ī, foreshadow New Indo-Aryan, in which the development was extended; e.g., Apabhraṃśa pāṇiu “water” (Old Indo-Aryan pāniyam), Gujarati pāṇī, Hindi pānī.

      In other points Apabhraṃśa also presaged New Indo-Aryan. The interest of Apabhraṃśa lies in the fact that contracted forms presage the New Indo-Aryan opposition of masculine, neuter, and feminine nouns; thus, Apabhraṃśa -au, -aũ, -ī, Gujarati -o, -ũ, -ī (gayo, gayũ, gaī “went”), Hindi -ā, -ī (gayā, gaī). The case system of Apabhraṃśa is also at a more advanced level of disintegration than that of earlier Middle Indo-Aryan, with the instrumental and locative plurals being identical in form (-ahĩ or -ehĩ for -a-stems) and instrumental singular forms also being used as locatives.

      In the Apabhraṃśa verb system, present tense stems in -a predominate. Apabhraṃśa verb endings differ from those of other Prākrits. Most interesting is the 3rd person plural type kara-hĩ “they do,” which coexists with karanti. The form kara-hĩ, corresponding to the 3rd person singular kara-i “he does,” is formed on the model of the pair kara-ũ (1st person singular, “I do”) and kara-hũ (1st person plural, “we do”). Here again Apabhraṃśa comes close to New Indo-Aryan. Moreover, Apabhraṃśa has some causative formations that do not occur elsewhere in Middle Indo-Aryan but are known from New Indo-Aryan—bham-āḍa-i “causes to turn,” Gujarati bhamāṛe che “causes to turn round,” and pais-āra-i “causes to enter,” Gujarati pɛsāre che “causes to enter, to penetrate.”

      Also noteworthy are two syntactic usages that closely parallel those present in New Indo-Aryan. The present participle is used as a conditional; e.g., jai haũ mi teṇa sahũ tau karantu to kiṃ asamāhie sahũ marantu “Even if I had performed (karantu) ascetic acts with him, would I have died without mental concentration?” in which the participles karantu and marantu have the value of conditionals. In Sanskrit the conditionals a-kar-iṣya-m and a-mar-iṣya-m are used; but in speaking Gujarati a person would say jo hũ . . . karat . . . to marat, and Hindi would have the forms kartā . . . martā. The Apabhraṃśa gerundive in -iv(v)a or -ev(v)a can be used as an infinitive; e.g., pi-evae laggā “began to drink.” This is the Gujarati construction pi-vā lāgyo “began to drink,” in which pi-vā is an inflected form of pi-vũ, that is, a verbal noun (infinitive) corresponding etymologically to the Apabhraṃśa gerundive.

Influences on Middle Indo-Aryan
      In the mid-2nd century BC, the grammarian Patañjali explained that to speak faultlessly the language now called Sanskrit (as described by Pāṇini) one should imitate the correct speakers (called śiṣṭa “learned, educated”) of Āryāvarta (“Country of the Aryans”). Earlier, the grammarian Kātyāyana (c. 3rd–4th century BC) had noted that Pāṇini gave lists of verb roots in order that certain Middle Indo-Aryan forms not be accepted as having been correctly derived from a Sanskrit verb root. Moreover, Patañjali noted that one should study grammar in order to learn not to use incorrect words such as helayaḥ instead of herayaḥ (a phrase used in calling to people) or gāvī instead of gauḥ “cow”; gāvī is a Middle Indo-Aryan word. The observations of these grammarians are considered to lend support to the view that by the 6th or 5th century BC Sanskrit as a medium of learned conversation coexisted with Middle Indo-Aryan. Further, the Pāli canon records that the Buddha enjoined his followers to use the vernaculars in communicating his teachings, and the Jaina canon identifies Ardhamāgadhī as the language to be employed for communicating the teachings of Mahāvīra. Similarly, Aśoka used Middle Indo-Aryan, not Sanskrit, in the inscriptions he ordered written throughout his kingdom; Sanskrit does not appear on inscriptions until the early centuries AD (e.g., Rudravarman's inscription at Junagarh, c. AD 150). The coexistence of Old Indo-Aryan and Middle Indo-Aryan is to be accepted even for the time when the earliest Old Indo-Aryan texts were put to writing.

      Middle Indo-Aryan shows similar evidence of the influence of linguistically more advanced vernaculars on literary compositions. The Prākrits of elegant literary compositions must have been artificial, different in many respects from the vernaculars current at the time, though reflecting languages that were current at some former time. The Old Indo-Aryan and Middle Indo-Aryan stages, then, present a picture of concurrent vernaculars with dialects and literary languages influenced by the vernaculars; it is impossible to compartmentalize the different stages as beginning and ending at any definite date.

      The literary languages borrowed words and suffixes from earlier languages. There are Prākritisms (i.e., forms of earlier Prākrits) in Apabhraṃśa; e.g., the genitive singular ending -ssa instead of -hŏ and 2nd person plural verb forms terminating in -ha instead of -hu. All the literary Prākrits had recourse to Sanskrit as a source for borrowing words. Words that were incorporated into the Prākrits from Sanskrit with no change in form are called saṃskṛta-sama “identical with Sanskrit” (or tat-sama “identical with that”) and are contrasted with words termed saṃskṛta-bhava (tad-bhava) “whose origin is in Sanskrit”—that is, words that the grammarians can derive from Sanskrit by using certain rules. Another class of words, called deśya (or deśī) “belonging to the area, country,” includes items that the grammarians cannot derive easily from Sanskrit and that are supposed to have been in use in particular areas from early times.

      Many or most of the deśya words are indeed derivable from Sanskrit, but some are of Dravidian (Dravidian languages) origin; e.g., akka “sister” (Telugu akka), attā “father's sister” (Telugu atta), appa “father” (Telugu appa), ūra “village” (Telugu ūru), pulli “tiger” (Telugu puli). Borrowing from Dravidian occurred also at earlier times; the Dravidians originally occupied territory much farther north than they did in Middle Indo-Aryan times. The Ṛgveda has such words as kuṇḍa “pitcher, pot,” which is doubtless of Dravidian origin (Tamil kuṭam “pot”). Such borrowings become more numerous in later Sanskrit. It is not always certain that borrowing proceeded from Dravidian to Indo-Aryan, however, because Dravidian languages freely borrowed from Indo-Aryan. Thus, some scholars claim that Sanskrit kaṭu “sharp, pungent” is from Dravidian, but others claim that it is a Middle Indo-Aryan form deriving from an earlier *kṛt-u “cutting” (root kṛt). (An asterisk preceding a form indicates that it is not attested but has been reconstructed as a hypothetical form.) Whatever the judgment on any individual word, it is clear that Indo-Aryan did borrow from Dravidian, and this phenomenon is important in considering a group of sounds that sets Indo-Aryan apart from the rest of Indo-European—the retroflexes (retroflex). Without doubt the influence of Dravidian is to be considered as contributing to the extension of these sounds beyond their limited occurrence in inherited Indo-European items such as nīḍa “nest” (from *ni-sd-o), iṣ-ṭa “desired” (from *is-to), and stīr-ṇa “spread out” (from *st-no). The Munda languages (or, more generally, the Austro-Asiatic languages) are also a source of some borrowing into Indo-Aryan; e.g., Sanskrit jambāla “mud” (Santali jb).

      In the 8th century AD, the philosopher Kumārila mentioned not only Dravidian but also Persian and Greek as sources of foreign words. Such borrowing can be traced back to early times. In the 6th century BC Darius counted Gandhāra as a province of his kingdom, and Alexander the Great penetrated into northern India in the 4th century BC. From Iranian come words such as that meaning “inscription, writing, script”; in the northwest inscriptions of Aśoka the word is dipi (Old Persian dipi) and Sanskrit has lipi, the form in other Aśokan versions and in Pāli. Also from Persian is Sanskrit kṣatrapa “satrap”—Old Persian xšassa-pāvan-. Of Greek origin are such mathematical and astronomical terms as Sanskrit kendra “centre” (Greek kéntron), jāmitra “diameter” (diámetron), and horā “hour” (hora). Yavana “foreigner,” originally the Greek word for Ionian, is known from as early as the time of Pāṇini. Later, Arabic words such as taślī “trigon” came into Sanskrit.

The modern Indo-Aryan stage
 The division of the Indian subcontinent into linguistic states and even into countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India) is a recent phenomenon (see table—>). Even after independence from Britain was achieved and partition had taken place, Bombay state existed until it was split into Gujarāt and Mahārāshtra states in 1960. The division of Punjab into Punjab and Haryana states in 1966 occurred as a result of Punjabi agitation for a separate linguistic state. Before independence, under British rule (entrenched from the 18th century), there were princely states within dialect areas; under Mughal rule (16th–18th centuries), Persian was the language which was used by the court and by courts of justice and this practice continued in the latter function for a time under the British. Though Hindi–Urdu may have been a lingua franca, however, the great dialectal diversity of earlier times continued.

      Some of the modern Indo-Aryan languages have literary traditions reaching back centuries, with enough textual continuity to distinguish Old, Middle, and Modern Bengali, Gujarati, and so on. Bengali can trace its literature back to Old Bengali caryā-padas, late Buddhist verses thought to date from the 10th century; Gujarati literature dates from the 12th century (Śālibhadra's Bharateśvara-bāhubali-rāsa) and to a period when the area of western Rājasthān and Gujarāt are believed to have had a literary language in common, called Old Western Rajasthani. Jñāneśvara's commentary on the Bhagavadgītā in Old Marathi (Marāṭhī language) dates from the 13th century and early Maithili from the 14th century (Jyotīśvara's Varṇa-ratnākara), while Assamese literary work dates from the 14th and 15th centuries (Mādhava Kandalī's translation of the Rāmāyaṇa, Śaṅkaradeva's Vaiṣṇaviṭe works). Also of the 14th century are the Kashmiri poems of Lallā (Lallāvākyāni), and Nepali works have also been assigned to this epoch. The work of Jagannāth Dās in Old Oriya dates from the 15th century.

      Amīr Khosrow used the term hindvī in the 13th century, and he composed couplets that contained Hindi. In early times, however, other dialects were predominant in the midlands (Madhyadeśa) as literary media, especially Braj Bhasa (e.g., Sūrdās' Sūrsāgar, 16th century) and Awadhi (Rāmcaritmānas of Tulsīdās, 16th century). In the south, in Golconda (Andhra, near Hyderābād), Urdu poetry was seriously cultivated in the 17th century, and Urdu poets later came north to Delhi and Lucknow. Punjabi was used in Sikh works as early as the 16th century, and Sindhi (Sindhi language) was used in Ṣūfī (Islāmic) poetry of the 17th–19th centuries. In addition, there is evidence in late Middle Indo-Aryan works for the use of early New Indo-Aryan; e.g., provincial words and verses are cited.

      The creation of linguistic states has reinforced the use of certain standard dialects for communication within a state in official transactions, teaching, and on the radio. In addition, attempts are being made to evolve standardized technical vocabularies in these languages. Dialectal diversity has not ceased, however, resulting in much bilingualism; for example, a native speaker of Braj Bhasa uses Hindi (Hindi language) for communicating in large cities such as Delhi.

      Moreover, the attempt to establish a single national language other than English continues. This search has its origin in national and Hindu movements of the 19th century down to the time of Mahatma Gandhi, who promoted the use of a simplified Hindi–Urdu, called Hindustani. The constitution of India in 1947 stressed the use of Hindi, providing for it to be the official national language after a period of 15 years during which English would continue in use. When the time came, however, Hindi could not be declared the sole national language; English remains a co-official language. Though Hindi can claim to be the lingua franca of a large population in North India, other languages such as Bengali have long and great literary traditions—including the work of Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore—and equal status as intellectual languages, so that resistance to the imposition of Hindi exists. This resistance is even stronger in Dravidian-speaking southern India. The use of English as an official language entails problems, however, because with the use of state languages for education, the level of English competence is declining. Another danger faced is the agitation for more separate linguistic states, threatening India with linguistic fragmentation hearkening back to earlier days.

Characteristics of the modern Indo-Aryan languages
      The trends noted in Middle Indo-Aryan continue in New Indo-Aryan. The Middle Indo-Aryan vowel sequences ai and au were changed to single vowels during the development of New Indo-Aryan, final vowels were shortened and deleted, and and ḍh sounds between vowels were replaced by the sounds and ṛh. The noun cases were further reduced, and the introduction of nominal (noun) forms into the verb system became more pronounced.

      Literary languages tend to become somewhat removed from the usual standard colloquial. Literary, or High, Hindi, for example, tends to replace some of the Perso-Arabic vocabulary with Sanskritic items, whereas literary Urdu makes great use of Perso-Arabic words. The gap is formalized in Bengali, in which a distinction is made between the highly Sanskritic language Sadhu-Bhaṣa and the colloquial standard called Calit-Bhasa.

      [Note: The forms of the words given below reflect actual pronunciation, rather than being transliterated versions of the standard orthographies. For New Indo-Aryan the symbols ə, pronounced as the a in English “sofa,” and a are used for the sounds earlier transcribed as a and ā, respectively; e.g., Gujarati karũ “I do” and māro “beat” are now written kərũ and maro. This practice permits certain contrasts to be made among sounds that are significant in the description of dialectal features. In Kashmiri words, a is short, opposed to ā.]

      Vowels in sequence contracted in early New Indo-Aryan; e.g., Old Indo-Aryan aśīti became Middle Indo-Aryan asīi, Hindi and Punjabi əssī, and Bengali aši “80.” Further, ai and au sounds changed to e and o, and to ũ, while iu developed into ī. The diphthongs ai and au were retained well into the New Indo-Aryan period and are still pronounced in some areas; e.g., Braj Bhasa kərəũ “I do,” kərəi “he does.” Middle Indo-Aryan -ḍ- and -ḍh developed into the flaps and ṛh; e.g., Prākrit sāḍiā “woman's garment,” Kashmiri, Lahnda, Hindi, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Bengali, Oriya saṛī “sari”; and Prākrit paḍh- “recite, read,” Sindhi pəṛh-əṇu, Lahnda pəṛh-əṇ, Hindi, Punjabi pəṛh-na, Gujarati pəṛh-vũ, Marathi pəṛh-ṇə “study.”

      Stress is not generally contrastive in New Indo-Aryan as it is, for example, in English (e.g., noun “éxport,” verb “expórt”), though different areas have different rules for placing major emphasis on a given syllable. For example, in Hindi, in which vowel length is pertinent, gilá “swallowed” has major stress on the last syllable, gīla “wet,” on the first. In Gujarati, on the other hand, vowel length is not pertinent; the stress position depends on which vowels occur in contiguous syllables and on the structure of the syllables, whether open or closed; e.g., júno “old,” but dukán “store.” In Bengali each syllable of a word receives about equal stress.

      The sounds that most clearly distinguish Indo-Aryan from the rest of Indo-European are the voiced aspirate stops (gh and the like, pronounced with an accompanying audible puff of breath) and the retroflexes ( and so on, pronounced by curling the tongue upward toward the hard palate). In the outlying New Indo-Aryan areas, however, the sound system is reduced. Sinhalese (Sinhalese language) has no aspirated stops, Assamese (Assamese language) has no retroflexes, and Kashmiri (Kashmiri language) has no voiced aspirates. The geographic position of these languages doubtless contributed to these losses: Sinhalese coexists with Tamil, Assamese is surrounded by Tibeto-Burman languages, and Kashmiri is on the border of the Iranian area.

      New Indo-Aryan shows evidence of early dialect distribution; this is discernible by considering sound changes proper to each group. The eastern group (Assamese, Bengali, Oriya) has three important changes. Long and short i and u merged; e.g., Assamese nila, Oriya niḷɔ (ɔ is similar to the o of “coffee” in some English dialects), Bengali nil “blue-black” but Sanskrit nīla; Assamese dhuli, Bengali dhulo, Oriya dhuḷi “dust” but Hindi dhūl and Sanskrit dhūli. The vowel sound a of Middle Indo-Aryan was replaced by ɔ in Bengali and Oriya and ɒ (similar to the o of “hot” in southern British English) in Assamese in initial position and open syllables; e.g., Bengali mɔron, Oriya mɔrɔn, Assamese mɒrɒn “death”; Sindhi, mərəno “mortal, death,” Sinhalese mərəṇə, Gujarati, Marathi mərəṇ (compare Sanskrit maraṇa-). Moreover, in this group a vowel is affected by the quality of the vowel in a following syllable. For example, in Bengali ami kori “I do,” the verb root has o followed by i in the next syllable, but tumi kɔro “you do” has an ɔ sound; similarly, ami kini “I buy” but tumi keno. As a result of vowel assimilation also, Assamese has an ɔ sound instead of ɒ representing Middle Indo-Aryan a: Assamese xɔhur, Bengali šošur “husband's father” (compare Hindi səsur, Prākrit sasura-, Sanskrit śvaśura-).

      Assamese and Bengali are set off from Oriya. In the former two, Middle Indo-Aryan and ḍh merge medially to (then ) with a subsequent development to r in Assamese; e.g., Oriya daṛhi, Bengali daṛi, Assamese dari “beard”; Hindi, Gujarati daṛhī, Prākrit dāḍhiā. Assamese is also distinguished from Bengali by several developments, among them the merger of Assamese retroflex sounds with dental sounds; e.g., Assamese ut “camel” but Bengali uṭ, Oriya oṭɔ, Sindhi uṭhu, Lahnda, Pahari uṭṭh, and so on. Assamese also has s for earlier c and ch sounds and a z sound for j and jh; e.g., Assamese kas “glass,” Bengali kac; Assamese azi “today,” Oriya aji, Bengali, Hindi aj. In addition, Assamese replaced an s sound initially by x and between vowels by hxɔhur.

      Particular sound changes also characterize languages of the northwest. In this group, an older voiceless stop (e.g., t) became voiced (e.g., became d) after a nasal sound; in other areas, the voiceless stop is retained: Kashmiri dand, Punjabi dənd, Sindhi ḍəndu “tooth” (the in Sindhi is an imploded stop; see below) but Assamese, Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi dãt, Sinhalese (Sinhalese language) dətə (Sanskrit danta-). Moreover, in the northwest group a voiced stop (e.g., d) preceded by a nasal was assimilated to the latter, resulting in two nasals, which were subsequently reduced to one in some areas; in the rest of New Indo-Aryan, the vowel preceding the nasal was nasalized. Thus, Kashmiri don “churning stick,” Sindhi ḍənu “tribute,” Punjabi dənn “fine,” Lahnda ḍənn “force,” Kumauni dan “roof” contrast with Assamese dãr “pole,” Bengali dãṛ “oar,” Hindi dãḍ “oppression, fine,” and others; all forms derive from Old Indo-Aryan daṇḍa- “stick, staff, club, royal power, fine, punishment.”

      In the sequence of a short vowel followed by two consonants, Pahari differs from the rest of the northwest group and agrees with the rest of New Indo-Aryan. In the northwest this sequence either remained unchanged or the cluster was simplified without lengthening of the vowel; other languages generally simplified the cluster and lengthened the vowel: Punjabi bhətt, Sindhi bhətu, Lahnda bhət, Kashmiri batɨ “cooked rice, food” but Nepali, Kumauni, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi bhat.

      Dardic (Dardic languages) occupies a special position. The sibilant sounds did not all merge here. For example, Kashmiri, a Dardic tongue, has šurah “16” with š rather than s, as in most other Indo-Aryan languages, and sat “7” with s. Further, voiced aspirated stops merged with unaspirated stops in Dardic; e.g., Kashmiri gur “horse” but Hindi ghoṛa; Kashmiri dɔd “milk” but Hindi dūdh.

      One major feature distinguishing Sindhi from the rest of the northwest group is the development of a series of imploded stops (also called suction stops and recursive stops), for b, ḍ, j, and g. Implosive stops also occur in the Sindhi vicinity; for example, Kacchi has imploded b. Another feature that distinguishes Sindhi from other northwest languages, including Kacchi, is the retention of the Middle Indo-Aryan final short vowels; e.g., Sindhi əkhi “eye” but Hindi ãkh (Middle Indo-Aryan akkhi-).

      Punjabi is distinguished from other members of the northwest group by its tonal system, having low (ˋ), mid (¯), and high (´) tones. Initial voiced aspirated stops of earlier Indo-Aryan appear in Punjabi as voiceless stops with low tone on the following vowel; e.g., Punjabi kòṛa but Hindi ghoṛa; Punjabi tàī “2 1/2” but Hindi ḍhaī. Non-initially, a voiced aspirate became unaspirated and the preceding vowel received high tone; thus, Punjabi dd “milk” but Hindi dūdh, and Punjabi láb “profit” but Hindi labh.

      Gujarati, Marathi, and Konkani in the west and southwest differ from the languages of the midlands in that, as in the east, there is no contrast between long and short i and u vowels. The i of Gujarati and Marathi vis “20” is pronounced like the ee of English “teeth,” the i of Gujarati iccha and Marathi iččha “wish” like the i of “pitch,” but such a difference is not contrastive, as it is in Hindi (gīla “wet”: gila “swallowed”). Gujarati has certain features that, in turn, set it apart from the other languages of this group. In addition to e and o sounds, it has the open vowels ɛ, ɔ; e.g., cɔthũ “fourth” (Middle Indo-Aryan cauttha), bɛs-vũ “to sit” (Middle Indo-Aryan baisai “sits”). Moreover, Gujarati has murmured vowels, generally developed from vowels followed by h; e.g., kɛh che “says” (h represents murmuring of the vowel), Old Gujarati kahai chai. Marathi and Konkani have two series of affricate sounds; e.g., č (pronounced as the ch in English “chat”; the equivalent of c in some other languages) and c (pronounced as the ts of “rats”).

      There was clearly mutual influence of Indo-Aryan languages at an early time, together with movement of groups of speakers (compare the position of Pahari). Thus, while Punjabi səcc “true” is the expected form comparable to Middle Indo-Aryan sacca- (Old Indo-Aryan satya-), Hindi səc “true” does not represent the expected outcome. The item səc must come from the Punjabi area.

      Like Middle Indo-Aryan, New Indo-Aryan distinguishes only two numbers—singular and plural. Unlike Middle Indo-Aryan, the New Indo-Aryan languages differ in the degree to which gender distinctions are made. Three genders are retained in the west and southwest (Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani), and this is true also of Sinhalese. Unlike Gujarati, Marathi, and Konkani, in which every noun, whether it denotes an animate being or not, has a particular gender that is unpredictable, Sinhalese restricts masculine and feminine gender to animates and neuter to inanimates. The eastern group (Assamese, Bengali, Oriya) has no grammatical gender distinctions, and two genders are distinguished elsewhere.

      Over a large area of New Indo-Aryan the noun has only two cases—direct and oblique. A lack of distinction between direct and oblique cases in the plural is typical of several languages, including forms in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, and Bhojpuri. Direct forms are used independently, oblique forms before postpositions (words or word elements following a noun that function similarly to English prepositions) and other affixes; the combination of stem and postposition serves the function of inflected case forms of earlier Indo-Aryan. Thus, to denote an object (direct or indirect) Hindi uses the postposition ko, which occurs in direct object constructions normally only with nouns denoting animate beings; e.g., ləṛke-ko dekh-ta hɛ “He sees the boy,” ləṛke-ko miṭhaī do “Give a sweet to the boy.” Other postpositions are “in,” pər “on,” se “from, with, by means of.” A large group of postpositions are linked to the noun with the affix ka (oblique form ke, feminine ), which also is used to form adjectives (possessives); e.g., ləṛke-ke sath gəya “He went with the boy,” ləṛke-ke pas hɛ “The boy has it” (literally, “It is by the boy”). Many such postpositions represent old nominal (noun) forms. Other New Indo-Aryan languages have systems similar to that of Hindi, though the forms of the postpositions differ.

      Though the nominal (noun) system of Punjabi is very close to that of Hindi, it has separate ablative (indicating separation and source) and locative (indicating place) forms in the singular and plural, respectively, for nouns such as koṭha “house”; e.g., koṭhiõ “from the house,” koṭhĩ “in the houses.” Some languages have a fuller case system than that noted above; e.g., Bengali has a genitive singular ending, a genitive plural ending, and a locative case. Similarly, Kashmiri has nominative, dative, ablative, and agentive cases. Not all such case forms are inherited from Middle Indo-Aryan. In addition to case endings, these languages also use postpositions; e.g., Kashmiri garājas-andar “in the garage,” with -andar after the dative ending -as.

      Adjectives behave generally in the same way as nouns but have a syntactic restriction. In Hindi the possessive is in the oblique (non-nominative) form, as is the noun after which it occurs; but in the plural, only the noun has the oblique form. Further, the formation of comparatives and superlatives with derivative affixes has been eliminated. To a Sanskrit sentence such as ime amū-bhyaḥ āḍhya-tarāḥ “These (people) are richer than those,” in which the comparative āḍhya-tara occurs construed with the ablative form, corresponds a Hindi sentence ye un-se əmīr h, in which no comparative affix is used—literally, “These are rich from (i.e., in comparison with) those.” Comparable constructions with a postposition meaning “from” occur elsewhere in New Indo-Aryan.

      The pronominal system of New Indo-Aryan formally resembles the Middle Indo-Aryan stage more than its noun system. For example, Gujarati “I,” m “I” (agentive), əme “we” (also agentive) are directly comparable to Apabhraṃśa haũ, maĩ, amhaĩ. The number distinctions of the Middle Indo-Aryan pronoun have been replaced, however, by distinctions of familiarity and politeness. For example, Hindi and Bengali have a three-way distinction—Hindi ap, Bengali apni “you” are polite or honorific forms; Hindi tum, Bengali tumi are informal forms; and Hindi , Bengali tui are used only for inferiors and small children. (Hindi and Bengali differ, however, in the plural forms of these.) In Gujarati, on the other hand, tūIndo-Aryan languages is a very familiar pronoun, whereas təme is used generally, covering the approximate domains of Hindi ap and tum; ap, if used, strikes the hearer as fawning. Marathi has a similar system. Southwestern languages also make a distinction in the 1st person plural between inclusive and exclusive, the exclusive excluding the person spoken to. In the form of the relative pronoun and the 3rd person pronoun, languages differ in the degree to which gender distinctions are made, thus contrasting with Old and Middle Indo-Aryan, in which these forms had three genders. For example, Marathi has masculine, feminine, and neuter for the relative pronoun, while Bengali has animate and inanimate.

      New Indo-Aryan languages differ in the degree to which finite verb forms have been replaced by nominal (noun) forms. In Bengali a contrast is made between continuous or actual present (English “be . . . -ing”) and non-continuous or habitual present; e.g., ami kaj kor-i “I work” (literally, “I do work”), with the ending -i, contrasts with ami kaj kor-ch-i “I am working,” in which ch intervenes between the root and the ending. Hindi has a similar contrast but uses nominal forms; e.g., mkam kar-ta hũ “I work,” mkam kər rəh-a hũ “I am working.” Both contain the finite form of the auxiliary; but kər-ta and rəh-a are nominal forms, the latter the past of rəh-“stay.” Gujarati has both types, the present tense using finite verb forms, the imperfect employing nominal forms; e.g., hũ kam kərũ chũ “I work, am working” and hũ kam kər-to hə-to “I was working, used to work.” Even in areas in which finite forms are not used in the present, they occur in the imperative forms and what may be called the subjunctive; e.g., Hindi tum kam kər-o “work,” məndər aũ “May I come in?”

      The person–number system of the New Indo-Aryan verb accords with the use of pronouns. For example, the forms ja-o, kər-o in Gujarati təme kyã jao cho “Where are you going?” and šũ kəro cho “What are you doing?” are historically plurals but are used with reference to one person addressed by the pronoun təme. Similarly, in Hindi, in which a person distinction is not made in the plural, ap kəhã ja rəhe h, ap kya kər rəhe h, equivalent in meaning to the Gujarati sentences, have the plural form rəhe h. Bengali has completely given up any number distinction in verb forms: ami/amra kori “I/we do.” In the 3rd person a distinction is made between ordinary and honorific: še (ordinary)/tini kɔren, plural tara/tãra kəren. Other languages (e.g., Hindi) also have honorific forms, for which the plural is used.

      In the formation of the future there are again regional differences. Some retain the future in -s- (Gujarati hũ kər-iš, 3rd person e kər-š-e) or -h- (e.g., eastern dialects of Braj Bhasa, cəlihəõ “I will go”). Characteristic of the Eastern languages and of Bihari (including Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili) is the suffix -b-; e.g., Bengali jabe “will go.” All of these are finite forms. On the other hand, in Hindi and adjoining areas, the future is inflected for gender.

      A similar contrast between the use of verbal and nominally inflected forms also appears in the past tense forms. The predominant pattern in New Indo-Aryan is that of Middle Indo-Aryan: forms are used that are etymologically participles.

      The New Indo-Aryan languages retain the passive and causative forms. The causative is conservative in retaining both the affixes that appear in Middle Indo-Aryan and vowel alternation. The passive is also formed by affixation in some areas. But many languages also have a compound formation involving the verb ja “go” and an auxiliary (h); e.g., Hindi yahã hindī bol-ī ja-t-ī h “Hindi is spoken here.”

      There are other auxiliaries, which, like h, can occur with any verb in the language; e.g., the verb “can,” Hindi sək-, Gujarati šək. A characteristic feature of New Indo-Aryan, however, is the use of certain verbs, variously called vector verbs or compound verbs, in restricted contexts and with particular semantics. For example, one can say mər gə-ya “He died,” bhūl gə-ya “He forgot,” bol uṭh-a “He blurted out” in Hindi, using the verbs ja “go” (masculine singular past gə-ya), uṭh “stand up.” This phenomenon is pan-Indo-Aryan and still requires investigation.

      The examples cited above also illustrate the normal word order in New Indo-Aryan languages: subject (including agential forms), object (with attributive adjectives preceding), verb (together with auxiliaries). Adverbials can precede the full sentence or occur after the subject, with slight differences in emphasis; e.g., Hindi mkəl aũga, or kəl maũga “I will come tomorrow (kəl).” Relative clauses normally precede correlatives: Hindi jo admī kəl tumhare ghər-mẽ tha vo kɔn hɛ “Who (kɔn) is the man (admī) who (jo) was in your house yesterday?” A notable exception to the normal final position for verbs occurs in Kashmiri, in which the verb usually occurs in second position after the subject; thus, to Hindi vo kha rəha hɛ “he is eating” corresponds Kashmiri su chu kavān with the auxiliary chu after the subject.

      The two most important sources of non-Indo-Aryan vocabulary in New Indo-Aryan are Persian (including Arabic items introduced through Persian), the court language of the Mughals, and English. The Perso-Arabic vocabulary permeates every aspect of New Indo-Aryan vocabulary, especially in the midlands (Uttar Pradesh through the Punjab). There are, of course, Hindi-Urdu (Urdu language) words proper to Islām: Hindi kuran “Qurʾān,” ʿīd (name of a holy day), nəmaz (certain prayers), məsjid “mosque,” as well as the word for “religion,” məźhəb. In addition, there are numerous Perso-Arabic military and administrative terms (kila “fort,” səvar “horseman,” ədalət “court of justice”); architectural and geographic terms (imarət “building,” məkan “house,” məhəl “palace,” duniya “world,” ilaka “province”); words having to do with learning and writing (kələm “pen,” kitab “book,” ədəb “literature, good manners”) and with apparel (jeb “pocket,” moja “socks,” rumal “handkerchief”) and anatomy (khūn “blood,” gərdən “neck,” dil “heart,” bazu “arm,” sər “head”). Indeed some of the most common vocabulary is of this origin: tārīkh “date,” vəkt “time,” sal “year,” həfta “week,” umər “age,” admī “man,” ɔrət “woman,” and others. Even the grammatical apparatus of postpositions and conjunctions reflects Perso-Arabic influence; e.g., -ke bad “after,” əgər “if,” məgər “but,” ya “or.”

      The colloquial language used by any Hindu or Muslim communicating in Hindi-Urdu will contain a large number of such words. There have been efforts to polarize the two, and at times champions of Indo-Aryan have tried to replace Perso-Arabic vocabulary with Sanskritic words. The style that tends toward eliminating all but the most common Perso-Arabic words may be called High Hindi, written in the Devanāgarī script, as opposed to High Urdu, which retains Perso-Arabic of long standing, uses Persian and Arabic for learned vocabulary and is written in the Perso-Arabic script.

      The influence of English as a source of borrowing still continues, and it is rare to hear a conversation on any technical subject among speakers of any Indian language in which English words are not liberally used. Among loanwords from English are names of conveyances such as Hindi rel-gaṛi “railroad-train” and ɛksī “taxi”; profession names such as injinīr “engineer,” jəj “judge,” ḍaktər “Western doctor,” pulis “police”; and terms of educational administration such as kaləj “college” and yunivərsiṭī “university.” English words are susceptible to replacement in India by Sanskritic ones as are those of Perso-Arabic origin.

      Of much lesser magnitude are New Indo-Aryan borrowings from other languages, among them Portuguese and Turkic. From the latter, the word urdū came to be used as the name of a language. From Portuguese come such Hindi words as ənənnas “pineapple,” paũ “(Western style) bread,” kəmīz “(Western) shirt,” kəmra “room,” and girja “(Christian) church.”

Writing systems
      Ancient India had two main scripts in which Indo-Aryan languages were written. Kharoṣṭi, used in the northwest, is of Aramaic origin and is written from right to left; Brāhmī, of North Semitic origin, is written from left to right and appears earliest on Aśokan inscriptions in areas other than the northwest. Most scripts of New Indo-Aryan are developments of the Brāhmī. The Devanāgarī (or simply Nāgarī), used for writing Sanskrit documents in North India, is the script of Hindī and Marāṭhī (Marāṭhī language) as well as Nepālī. Gujarātī (Gujarati language) uses a more cursive derivative. Devanāgarī also is used, mainly among Hindus, for Kashmirī (Kashmiri language), which has, in addition, a traditional script called Sarada, which is not now in common use. The Perso-Arabic script is used instead. Also usually written in Perso-Arabic are Urdū and Sindhī (for which the Devanāgarī also is used in schools in India), whereas Punjabi employs it in Pakistan as well as a particular script of its own, known as Gurmukhi (“From the Teacher's Mouth”) in the sacred writings of the Sikhs. In the east, the scripts used for Bengali and Assamese are closely related; and that of Oṛiyā, related to the other two, is highly cursive like that of neighbouring Dravidian languages. Such is also the case with Sinhalese.

      The traditional alphabets are both over-explicit and not clear enough with regard to accurate representation of the spoken word. As systems in which a consonant symbol with no other accessory symbol accompanying it stands for the syllable consisting of the consonant followed by short a, they require previous knowledge of items for correct interpretation; Hindī kərta is written ka-ra-tā in the Devanāgarī, and, to pronounce it properly, one must know that the word has only two syllables. Although Bengali (Bengali language) has only the spirant sound š, the alphabet has symbols for ś, ṣ, and s, as in Old Indo-Aryan; but verb forms such as kori and kəren are written ka-ri and ka-re-na, both with the same initial symbol. And, though syllabic was lost as early as Middle Indo-Aryan, the scripts have a separate symbol for this. Script reform has been suggested; it has even been proposed that all Indo-Aryan languages adopt a Latin (roman) alphabet with diacritics, but chances for this are poor. (See also alphabet. (alphabet))

George Cardona

Additional Reading

General works
Jules Bloch, L'Indo-aryen du veda aux temps modernes (1934; rev. Eng. trans., Indo-Aryan from the Vedas to Modern Times, 1965), a masterly survey of Indo-Aryan throughout its history; R.L. Turner, A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages (1966), an indispensable source in which Sanskrit word headings are given Middle Indo-Aryan forms and New Indo-Aryan cognates; M.B. Emeneau, “The Dialects of Old Indo-Aryan,” in Henrik Birnbaum and Jaan Puhvel (eds.), Ancient Indo-European Dialects, pp. 123–138 (1966), a good summary, with discussion of proposed theories and references; Suryakanta, A Practical Vedic Dictionary (1981).

Old Indo-Aryan
Thomas Burrow, The Sanskrit Language, new and rev. ed. (1973), a summary of the prehistory and history of Sanskrit, with references to Middle Indo-Aryan, which contains somewhat personal views but is valuable for its discussion of non-Aryan influences on Sanskrit; Louis Renou, Histoire de la langue sanskrite (1956), an insightful summary of the grammar, vocabulary, and style of different stages of Sanskrit, with text selections and translations; Manfred Mayrhofer, A Concise Etymological Sanskrit Dictionary, 4 vol. (1953–80), contains sober etymologies, full references, and a discussion of loanwords and words supposed to have been borrowed from Dravidian.

Middle Indo-Aryan
Richard Pischel, Grammatik der Prākrit-Sprachen (1900; Eng. trans., Comparative Grammar of the Prākrit Languages, 2nd ed., 1965), an encyclopaedic grammar of all the Prākrits except Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit and Pāli, which includes a good discussion of the different Prākrits in the introduction (now in need of updating); S.M. Katre, Prakrit Languages and Their Contribution to Indian Culture, 2nd ed. (1964), a general survey of the Prākrits, including Pāli; Ludwig Alsdorf, Apabhraṃśa-Studien, pp. 5–17, 20–37 (1937, reprinted 1966), important studies discussing noun and verb inflection.

Modern Indo-Aryan
John Beames, A Comparative Grammar of the Modern Aryan Languages: To Wit, Hindi, Panjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Marathi, Oṛiya, and Bangali, 3 vol. (1872–79, reprinted 1966); and A.F.R. Hoernle, A Comparative Grammar of the Gaudian Languages with Special Reference to the Eastern Hindi (1880, reprinted 1975), general comparative grammars of the New Indo-Aryan languages—though in need of modernization, still indispensable; George A. Grierson, On the Modern Indo-Aryan Vernaculars (1931), a reprint of two long articles, tracing the phonologic developments that led to New Indo-Aryan; S.K. Chatterjee, Indo-Aryan and Hindi, 2nd rev. ed. (1960), a series of lectures briefly tracing the history of Indo-Aryan, with particular emphasis on Hindi and its relation to other Indo-Aryan languages and on the general language problem in India.George Cardona

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Universalium. 2010.

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