Monday, July 22, 2013

Language Profile: Rajasthani

Back in May, we did a profile on Marwari, a macrolanguage spoken in India and Pakistan. At the time, we mentioned that Marwari is occasionally classified as a subgroup of the Rajasthani languages, which we would be looking at in the future. Today is finally that day, so let's get started!

Rajasthani is mainly spoken in India's largest state of Rajasthan, as well as several bordering states in both India and Pakistan. It is thought to be a linguistic descendant of Old Gujarati. As with Marwari, it is a macrolanguage, basically a group of closely related languages. According to the Ethnologue, there are six main languages that belong to the Rajasthani group.

The Hawa Mahal or "Palace of the Winds"
in Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.
Bagri is spoken by about 5 million people in various districts of Rajasthan, and uses three tones: high, level, and low. Gade Lohar, also known by the name Loarki in Pakistan, is used by about 20,000 people who are mainly nomadic. Gujari has about 900,000 speakers and is spoken in both India and Pakistan.

Haroti, also known as Hadoti, boasts 4 million speakers and uses a nominative marker not found in other Rajasthani languages. Malvi has several dialects of its own, including the prestige dialect of Ujjaini, though a majority of people in the Malva region of Rajasthan also communicate using Hindi. Finally, Wagdi has about 2 million native speakers.

As with many other languages native to India and Pakistan, classification of Rajasthani and its many varieties is incredibly tricky. The macrolanguage is also considered by some to be a dialect of Hindi. However you classify these many languages or dialects, it is certainly interesting to see the linguistic diversity of the region.

Like Maithili, Marathi, and other languages native to India, Rajasthani is principally written in Devanagari script. In Pakistan, it is also occasionally written using a variety of Sindhi script. The language uses three tones, as well as 10 vowels and 31 consonants.