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10 Rahman Standard

10 Rahman Standard

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Published by omikhan123
Standardization of Urdu in 19th Century and its association with Indian Muslim Identity
Standardization of Urdu in 19th Century and its association with Indian Muslim Identity

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Published by: omikhan123 on Jun 08, 2012
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09/14/2013

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83
tariq rahman
Urdu and the Muslim Identity:Standardization of Urdu in the Eighteenthand Early Nineteenth Centuries
*
T
he standardization of
modern Urdu and Hindi is the process by  which they were given different identities. Here I look at this processonly for Urdu. This was done by indexing linguistic symbolsóscripts,allusions, idiom, rhetorical devices, formulaic expressionsówith a civi-lizational or cultural identity. Such devices associated this single lan-guage with different religious and ethnic identities in the minds of theirown users as well as others.This is not to say that languages are never associated with identi-ties. Classical Arabic, though used by Arab Muslims as well as Christiansfor formal functions, is mostly associated with Islam; Hebrew is associ-ated with the Israeli as well as the Jewish identity; Sanskrit is associated with Hinduism; and Latin with the Roman Catholic Church.The Muslim
é
lite ruling India during the thirteenth century usedPersian as the court language. However, when the British rulers re-placed Persian with the vernacular languages of Indiaóof which Urdu,called Hindustani by the British, was oneóin
1834,
the Muslim
é
lite hadalready adopted a deliberately Persianized form of the language whichfunctioned as an identity symbol for them (Rai
1984
,
248–50
). The nine-teenth and early twentieth centuries saw Urdu become more closely associated with Islam as religious literature proliferated and the PakistanMovement made it a symbol of Muslim identity (Rahman
2006
). In thesame way Hindi was separated from Urdu and identified ìas the lan- 
*
I thank Dr. Hanif Khalil, Lecturer in Pashto, National Institute of PakistanStudies, for assisting me in understanding the Pashto portions of the texts usedin this article. I also thank Dr. Jawad Hamadani, Assistant Professor of Persian atthe International Islamic University, Islamabad, for helping me with the transla-tion of some Persian texts.
 
 
84 The Annual of Urdu Studies, No. 25
guage of the Hindusî during the same period (Dalmia
1997
,
147–48
).The separation of Urdu from Hindi, which has been described indetail by Amrit Rai (
1984
,
226–84
), is contingent upon the script (Deva-nagari for Hindi, Perso-Arabic for Urdu); lexicon (borrowings from San-skrit for Hindi, Arabic and Persian for Urdu); and cultural references(Hindu history and beliefs for Hindi, Islamic history and ideology forUrdu). These language-planning processes led to the splitting of a lan-guage (Urdu-Hindi) into modern Persianized and Arabicized Urdu atone extreme and modern Sanskritized Hindi at the other. Between thetwo ends is a continuum that veers towards one end or the otheraccording to the speaker, occasion and environment. In between, how-ever, there is a widely understood spoken language which is calledUrdu-Hindi here. This article looks at how the process of standardiza-tion, carried out primarily by Muslim intellectuals, associated modernUrdu with Islamic culture in South Asia in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The same processes continued for both Urdu andHindi in the twentieth century but they have not been considered in thisarticle.
The Sanskritic-Vernacular Phase of the Ancestor of Urdu
For most of its history Urdu-Hindi has been full of words now asso-ciated with Sanskritic and vernacular roots. Let us look at the mostancient available texts. First, there are words in use at present in bothHindi and Urdu that are traceable to Sanskrit. Out of these, forty-three words of daily use are given by Amrit Rai (
59–63
). Among these are:
ā 
 j 
 (today),
ō 
(so),
ẖā 
(was),
ū 
(you),
ā 
(word; saying),
 p 
ūčẖ 
 
(ask),
 ye 
 (this),
ā 
ẖ 
(hand).These basic words of the language in their historical forms (
Apa- bhransa 
) are given in texts dating back to the eighth century, i.e., abouttwo centuries before the Muslims entered the plains of the Punjab from Afghanistan. These dates, however, are uncertain as the actual texts which are available now were probably transcribed by copyists fromoral narratives.Let us, therefore, look at a text written by a Muslim in the Perso- Arabic script about six hundred years ago. This is
Ma 
ṡ 
nav 
ī 
Kadam R 
āʾō 
 Padam R 
āʾō 
by Fakhruíd-D
ī
n Ni
ā
m
ī
written between
825
and
839
 
 ah
/
1430–1435
 
ce
(J
ā
lib
ī
 
1973
,
16
).
1
This is a lengthy text with
1032
 
she 
ʿ 
rs 
. The
1
The copy used by the author has no date. The date of the writing of this
 
Tariq Rahman • 85
language of this work is not Persianized or Arabicized. According to Jamil J
ā
lib
ī
: ìNearly twelve thousand words have been used and out of them only about one hundred and twenty-five are Arabic and Persianî(
ibid 
.
,
36
).
2
The rest of the diction belongs to what J
ā
lib
ī
calls the Hindutradition (Hindvi
riv 
ā 
 yat 
) (
ibid 
.,
37
). However, the basic syntax of thelanguage and part of the diction is still part of both Urdu and Hindi.However, it is closer to the Hindi end of the spectrum and, therefore,may be less intelligible to non-specialist speakers of Urdu than those of Hindi. The following words are still used in Hindi:
ā 
sht 
ī 
(ease),
ut 
ā 
val 
 (quick, one who wants results quickly),
uttar 
(answer),
akk 
ẖ 
ar 
(word),
bint 
ī 
 
(request),
 patr 
(paper),
 pr 
ī 
(love),
 purs 
(man),
ā 
(woman),
 p 
ū 
 (son),
turat 
(immediate),
 jug 
(world),
č 
amatk 
ā 
(miracle),
sabd 
(word),
gi 
ā 
(wisdom),
lab 
(profit),
ā 
(month, meat),
ū 
rak 
ẖ 
(foot, igno-rant),
nar 
(hell).The first few lines are as follows:
Gus 
āʾī 
n tuh 
īñ 
 
ē 
k duna jag ad 
ā 
Bar 
ō 
bar duna jag tuh 
īñ 
dain 
ā 
ā 
Ak 
ā 
s un 
č 
a p 
ā 
ā 
l d 
ẖ 
art 
ī 
ū 
ī 
 Jah 
āñ 
ku 
čẖ 
nak 
ōʾī 
tah 
āñ 
hai tuh 
īñ 
 (
ibid 
.
,
 
65
)O lord! You are the only support of both worldsCorrectly speaking You are the one who gives sustenance to both worlds You are the heaven and the lower part of the world Where there is no one; there you exist.
Out of these twenty-two words, six are not intelligible to non-spe-cialist speakers of Urdu
.
Hindi speakers may, however, understand
ā 
ā 
(sky) as well as
 p 
ā 
ā 
(lower part of the world). The verb
ē 
ā 
(togive) in
ē 
ā 
ā 
(one who gives) is intelligible to both Urdu- andHindi-speakers but the suffix-
ā 
is not used in modern Urdu in thismeaning.This sample of the language of the Deccan during the early part of the fifteenth century (
1421–1435
) as evidenced by 
Kadam R 
āʾō 
Padam 
āʾō 
 
is far less intelligible and far more Sanskritized than the sentencesof Urdu found attributed to the saints in their
malf 
ūā 
and
ta 
ẕ 
kiras 
asquoted by many historians of Urdu (Ghan
ī
 
1929
; Ghan
ī
 
1930
; Sh
ē
r
ā
n
ī
 [
1930]
). Thus, while it is not clear how people actually spoke, it can be
 work
1021
/
1612
-
13
is given by Blumhardt (
1905
,
2
).
2
 All translations, unless otherwise indicated, are by the present author.
 

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