Monday, March 4, 2013

Language Profile: Awadhi

This week's language profile is on Awadhi, an Indo-Aryan language with 38.3 million native speakers. It is primarily spoken in India, and is closely related to Hindi, Urdu, and Bhojpuri

Rumi Darwaza gateway in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
is an example of Awadhi architecture.
Despite its large number of speakers, Awadhi is not officially recognized as a regional language of India. Most of its speakers reside in the Awadh region in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, though it is also spoken in parts of Nepal.

Awadhi is most often written using either Devanagari or Kaithi script, though some people occasionally use combination of both systems. Devanagari script is an abugida used to write Hindi, Gujarati, and Marathi, and is often known for its distinctive horizontal line across the top of top of the letters. Kaithi, on the other hand, is a script used only by the Kayastha caste, whose occupation is to record documents. 

Despite at one time being one of the most important literary dialects of the Hindustani language, Awadhi is rarely used for literary purposes in present times. Most literature in the area is composed using Hindi, which is often the second language of Awadhi speakers. The language was also influential in the dialects used in most Indian movies before 1990. Amitabh Bachchan, generally considered to be one of the greatest actors in the history of Indian cinema, used Awadhi in most of his films.