Rajasthani Language

Lakhan Gusain lgusain at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 5 09:59:28 UTC 2005

Dear List Members,

The language of Rajasthan is Rajasthani that is a language of Indo-Aryan
family. It is spoken by around eighty million persons in Rajasthan and other
states of India, and has eight dialects: Bagri, Shekhawati, Mewati,
Dhundhari, Harauti, Marwari, Mewari, and Wagri.
It is derived from Apabhramsa, with all its linguistic and orthographical
peculiarities. But, Rajasthani as a language of literature suffered a great
set back during the British period. Today hundreds of poets and writers are
writing in Rajasthani.  Folk literature in Rajasthani is varied and rich and
consists of songs, tales, sayings, riddles and folk-plays.
Rajasthani has a vast literature written in various genres starting from
1000 AD. In the past, the language spoken in Rajasthan was regarded as a
dialect of western Hindi (Kellogg, 1873). George Abraham Grierson (1908) was
the first scholar who gave the nomenclature ‘Rajasthani’ to the language,
which was earlier known through its various dialects. Today, however,
National Academy of Letters and University Grants Commission recognize it as
a distinct language. It is also taught as such in the Universities of
Jodhpur and Udaipur. The Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education included
Rajasthani in the course of studies and it has been an optional subject
since 1973. Since 1947, several movements have been going on in Rajasthan
for its recognition, but unfortunately it is still considered a ‘dialect’ of
Hindi. Recently, the Rajasthan Government has recognized it as a state
language, but still, there is a long way for Rajasthani language to go. The
reason is it lacks a comprehensive reference grammar and latest dictionary
prepared based on a thorough linguistic survey of Rajasthan.
The history of Rajasthani grammar is a history of confusion generated by
presuppositions and biases about the grammatical structure of the language
by almost all scholars dealing with it. And the amazing thing about this
confusion is that it has persisted till today partly due to one-sided
emphasis on the cognitive structure of the language and partly due to the
over-shadowing influence of Kellogg and Grierson. The successive generations
of scholars, who have dealt with Rajasthani have never questioned the
exhaustiveness and the accuracy of descriptions of the earlier works, and as
a result, have consistently failed to come to grips with the details of its
linguistic structure in any realistic way.
The direct consequence of this discussion is that it renders the validity of
the methodology and approach involved in the so-called linguistic histories
of modern Indo-Aryan languages seriously questionable. One would like to
believe that modern standard languages of India are descendents of the
languages of literature written in those areas in the past, but it is
equally plausible that they are the result of convergence of some sort going
on over considerable periods of time.
Now, to enhance the further knowledge about Rajasthani Language, research
work is going on at CRS on the grammar of Rajasthani and its all eight
dialects. The grammars of its dialects have already been published and the
work on A Reference Grammar of Rajasthani is in progress, likely to be
finished by August 2005.
Besides, work on A pedagogical Grammar of Rajasthani is also going on so as
to make it available to the learners. Hopefully, this will be finished by
July 2005.  A Bibliography of Rajasthani has been prepared for scholars
working on Rajasthani and its other aspects.
If you have further reference of other/latest work in Rajasthani language or
its dialects, please send us the detailed information via email
<crs at bastigiri.org>and we will be thankful to you. Or you can directly send
an email to Dr. Lakhan Gusain <email: lgusain at hotmail.com >, Department of
Asian Languages and Cultures, 3511 Frieze Building, The University of
Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1285, USA.


Lakhan Gusain

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