The world of no good

wanna have a fun life, travel, and see different cultures.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Intro to Lingo

Some claimed that hindi and urdu differ only in the alphabet used. The issue of writing systems is not a direct linguistic notion. Some linguists believe that the difference is really in vocabulary and (word order) - reference 2, while some others do believe there is not much of a difference. As far as i am concerned, I do not understand how any half decent linguist could say there is no vocabulary difference! One important thing to note is, no one (linguist) says that both are the exact same thing. Clearly there are population distributions that indicate against unifying the two. So, definitely they have to be called different dialects.

Once that is said, dating them with respect to each other should be possible. And in fact, as reference 1 shows there is a definite period of influence which brought about the creation of Urdu.

Now, for a little detour. Latin was spoken in mainland western europe during the Roman time. And over time the people in different countries slowly developed their own versions of Latin. These are called French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese.. (romance languages). What is important to note is that these languages are stil Latin, but after 2000 years!

Similarly, in India (dates are skipped - cos there is a huge controversy over it), northern India was said to be dominated (extremely roughly) by Sanskrit. Over time, different regions changed the language along different lines. So, what came out was gujarati, bengali, panjabi.. and in central and north-central India what came was the precursor to hindi (though, i would simply call it hindi).. So, basically, they became differnet dialects of Sanskrit. And after the major muslim influence during the mid 2nd millennium (2000) AD, Urdu came to life.

What is important is Sanskrit in its vedic form died (wasn't used in normal social situations) definitely before the end of the 1st millennium (1000) AD. So, if the muslim influence was in the mid 2nd millennium AD, then what was in central India and North-central India during the intervening period. It was Hindi/precursor to Hindi.

But, one important to note is that scripts aren't the important deciding factors to separate langauges (they have close to no basis). It is vocabulary, word order, pronunciations, ...

The same language/dialect can have two entirely different scripts (for example Sindhi). But, no language/dialect can have two sets of vocabulary, pronunciations (except over a very small set of words), and a single language/dialect definitely cannot have two word-orders. Such differences would force us to accept that we are dealing with two different languages/dialects.


Note: towards the end, I used the words dialect and language interchangeably, because these notions are very rough even in serious linguistic work, and no clear-cut definitions of these two ideas/words is possible.


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