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Spoken in India
Region Maharashtra, Gujarat
Total speakers 2.5 million
Language family Indo-European
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 variously:
khn – Khandeshi
ahr – Ahirani
dhn – Dhanki

The Khandeshi languages form a small subgroup within the Indo-Aryan languages, wedged between the territory of Bhili and that of Marathi. It consists of Khandeshi proper (spoken in Maharashtra, ISO 639-3 khn, 1.6 million speakers), Dhanki (spoken in Gujarat, dhn, 140,000 speakers) and Ahirani (spoken in Maharashtra and Gujarat, ahr, 10000000 (10 million) speakers).


Dilemma of Ahirani & Khandeshi Views of Dr. Ramesh Sitaram Suryawanshi on Ahirani and Khandeshi are explained in detail in his linguistic study of Ahirani. His books published on linguistic study of Ahirani dialect are 1) “Ahirani Bhasha Vaidnynik Abhyasa” which is linguistic study of Ahirani. It explains the grammar formation of words, formation of sentences of Ahirani. Another book named “Ahirani- shabdkosh” . It is first dictionary of Ahirani dialect which contains near about ten thousand words which lexicographically arranged. Third book on Ahirani is “Aharani Mhani Ani Wakprachar” mean sayings and proverbs in Ahirani dialect. It contains one thousand sayings and four thousand proverbs with the illustration of their meaning. All these books were published by Akshaya Prakashan, Pune in 1997. His fourth book is “ Khandeshatil Krishak Jivan Sachitra Kosha” mean a pictorial dictionary of words used by the farmers in Khandesh. It is book with pictures of the tools used by the farmers. All tools and it’s parts are labeled with local names – in Ahirani dialect. It is published by Maharashtra State Governments Sahitya Ani Sanskriti Mandal, Mumbai, in 2000. It is uploaded on net by digital library of India under the barcode 999999901412000. Dr. Ramesh suryawanshi explains Ahirani and Khandeshi in detail. His explanation is elaborated in this article. Ahirani or Khandeshi is spoken in Khandesh. Khandesh is old name of area which covers todays Jalgaon, Dhulia ,Nandurbar and part of Nasik and Aurangabad districts. Originally Ahirani is spoken by the Ahiras. Ahiras are shepherds. They were with their cows, sheep’s, goats and bedfellows in the grassy land of Khandesh as previously it was named as Khandav Van. Khandesh was old district of Bombay Presidency. Kahan mean dry grass or grass land. Khan mean pure. Khan mean large ditch. Khandesh is area in surrounded by of Satpuda, Ajanta, Chandwad ranges, and Waghur river. This big basin, ditch, was grass land, useful for cattle. It is basin of Tapi and Narbada rivers. Ahirani is cast based name of the dialect and Khandeshi is region based name of the dialect. When Ahiras arrived in Khandesh with their cattle they settled in Khandesh. They were large in number. Mean while they indulged in various social roles. People around them tried to imitate their dialect, while speaking with them. Lewa, Wani, Bhill, Pardeshi all these castes have their own dialect yet they started speaking mixed Ahirani ( Ahirani affected by their dialect). Such process was in Khandesh territory. People speak the dialect in Khandesh was known by others as Khandeshi. In Khandesh the dialect spoken by the Ahiras was known as Ahirani. Ahirani is caste based name. And Khandeshi is region based name . Khandeshi is large concept which merges Ahirani in its stomach. Socially Khandeshi is classified in Ahirani, Bhilli, Pardeshi, Lewa –Patidar, in such sub dialects. Chalisgaon, Dhulia is hypocenter of Ahirani. Chandwadi is spoken around Chandwad hills, Nandubari is spoken around Nandurbar , Jamnerior Tawadi is spoken around Jamner tehsil, Taptangi is spoken by the side of Tapi, Tapti river. Dongarangi is spoken by the side of forest Ajanta hills. All these are region based names for Khandeshi sub dialects. All are regional categories. Ahirani, Gujari, Bhilau, Maharau, Lewa, Purbhi all are social ( cast based ) categories of Khandeshi. Some say Bhanabai poetess is not Ahirani but she is Lewa . But Lewa and Ahirani are wrapped in Khandeshi. So Khandeshi is the term or concept that merges all disputes. It is wide concept. Region based concept. Ahirani is today spoken in the Jalgaon, Nandurbar, Dhule and Nashik (Baglan, Malegaon and Kalwan tehsils) districts of Maharashtra, India. It is further divided into dialects, such as Chalisgaon, Malegaon and Dhule group. Borrowing & bending the words from Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati, Ahirani has created its own words which are never found in these languages. Ahirani is basically in colloquial form and uses the Devanagari script for its writing. Bahinabai Chaudhari is well known poet in Ahirani, the study of her literature is studied and included in Marathi language.But the language in her poems is different from Ahirani which is spoken in the abovesaid areas.

“Derivation Of Substantives In Ahirani Dialect.”---Research paper by-Ramesh S. Suryawanshi,

                  Ahirani a dialect as spoken  in Jalgaon and Dhulia districts of Khandesh. It is also spoken in kalvean’Malegaon and Satana Tahsil of Nasik district and in some villages of Kannad and Soegaon Tahsils of Aurangabad district. It is almost a uniformed dialect except as spoken in Baglan Tahsil.
                  Ahirani is a term based on the name of the community of speakers called Ahirs. It is also referred as Khandeshi, the language of Khandesh. There are a few caste dialects spoken in this region by the people of various communities such as Wanis, Pardeshis,Dhangars, Bhills, Thakuras , Gujars, Hatakara, Pardhis, Tadvis and Muslims. All these people speak their own dialect at home but use Khandeshi for their daily communication outside their communities.
                   According to Census of India 1971 the number of people who declared Ahirani as their mother tongue is 3,63,780. The Standard Marathi (SM) and Ahirani(Ah) show considerable difference at various levels of structures. This indicates that the source and development of these two dialects are independent. Some of the peculiarities of Ahirani show closeness to Rajashthani and Gujarati.
                   The following is the modest attempt at explaining the derivation substantives in this dialect.
                   The stem in Ahirani dialect can be divided into two classes on the basis of their Structural peculiarities such as :-        

-Simple Stems.

                        -Complex Stems.

The simple stems are unanalysable roots; while complex stems are analysable and involve one of the processes of derivation composition and reduplication.

                   The derivation of complex stems in this dialect involves three processes such as :

q Prefixation. q Suffixation. q Change in the shape of the base morpheme.

 Accordingly the structure of a derivative stem may be represented as :-
                    Prefix  +  base
                                   base  +  suffix
                                   base    + internal change.

Both prefixes and suffixes are particles which have no independent existence as stem, even though they possess some semantic value. Thus the prefixes are a class of bound morphemes occurring only as stem –initial; while the suffixes are a class of bound morphemes occurring as stem-final. Ina suffixial derivative, the suffix is the grammatically dominant part; while in a prefixial derivative the root is grammatically dominant. In Ahirani the occurrence of prefixial derivatives is very limited and confined to borrowed words from standard Marathi. The suffixial derivatives are numerous and display a variety of structural peculiarities. The occurrence of derivatives obtained through internal change in the shape of base morpheme is extremely limited.

                 The following examples illustrate in detail the various patterns of derivative constructions of substantives


1) Pref. + Subst.m. -----à Subst.m.

    aap    +   ghall      --------     aapghaat       “accident”
    par     +    des     -------      pardes            “foreign country.       
    app    +    maan   -------- aapmaan          “ insult”

2) Pre. + Subst.f. -------à Subst.f.

    aaD    +    kaaThii  -------- Dkaathii          “Hinderance”
    paD     + Saayaa   -------- paDsaayaa      “shadow”

3) Pre. + Subst.n. ---à Subst.n.

     aap      +  yas      ------   aapyas       “failure”
     par       +  ghar    ------- parghar        “ other’s home”
     bad      +   nasiib ------ badnnsib      “ misfortune”


1) Verb + Suffix---à Subst.m. dekh + aavaa --- dekhaavaa “scene” per + aa ---- peraa “sowing” jhiir + aa ---- jhiraa “stream” puj + aarii --- pujaarii “priest”

2) Verb + Suf. -à Subst.f.

   ban    +  aavat   --- banaavat         “structure”
   khod   +  aai    --- khodaai            “work of dgging”
   uuD    +  ii       ---- uuDii            “ Jump”
   vaaDh  +  ii     ---- vaaDhii          “ small pot for ghee”

3) Verb + Suf. ---à Subst.n.

   aathar  +  un  ----- aathrun    “bed”
    haas   + uu  ------ haasuu       “smile”
    kuuT   + aar   ---- kuTaar        “cattle food”

4) Subst.m. + Suf. ---à Subst.m.

   sejaar    +   ii   ---- sejaarii      “  neighbour”
   daanD   +  uu  ---  daanDuu     “short stick”
   Dhiig      +  aaraa ---Dhigaaraa     “heap”

5)Subst.f. + Suf. --à Subst.m.

jaadu    +  gaar  --- jaadugaar  “magician
phauj    +  daar  --  phaujdaar  “Police Sub Inspector”
bhiik     +  aari—bhikaari      “beggar”
aakkal  +  vaan  --- aakkalvaan   “ wise”

6)Subs.n. + Suf. --à Subst.m.

     uun   +  haayaa ---uunhaayaa   “Summar”
       pakh  + oTi    ----- pakhoTi       “Young hen”
      saaL  +  daar ----- saaLdaar      “servent who is
                                                     apointed as yearly basis.

7)Cl(clitic form of) Subst. + Suf.-----Subst.m.

       navar   +  aa  ---- navaraa      “bridegroom”
       senD    +  aa  ----  senDaa      “head of tree”
       peT      +  aaraa – “big box      “big box”

8) Stem bd.(bound) base + Suf. --à Subst.m.

      saav   +  kaar   ----- saavkaar    “landlord”
      kaar    +  bhaarii  ----kaabhaarii  “ manager”
      kaar    + khaanaa ----kaarkhaanaa    “ factory”

9) + Suf. --àSubst.m. caT + kaa—caTkaa “glow” phat + kaa—phaTkaa “stroke” phan + kaaraa—phankaaraa “with anger.”

10)Adj. + Suf. ----à Subst.m. gaar + Thaa ---- gaarThaa “cold” Yaahir + naamaa—Jaahirnaamaa “ notification”

11)Subst.m. + Suf. à Subst. f. majur + ii --- majurii “wages” naag + in --- naagin “female cobra” dhol + kii --- DhoLkii “small drum”

12)Subst.f. + Suf. ----à Subst.f. sep + Tii ------ sepTii “tail”

    aag     +  tii  ------  aagtii      “fire”

thaap + Di ----- thapDi “slap”

13) Subst.n. + Suf. ---à Subst.f. nisaan + ii ----- nisaanii “ mark” piiTh + orii --- piThorii “a festival”

       biij         +     vaai  ----  bijvaai     “seeds”

14)Clitic form of Subst. + Suf. --à Subst.f. senD + ii ------ senDii “pigtail” porag + ii ----- poragii “girl” kuttra + ii ------ kuttrii “femal dog”

15) Stem bound root + Suf. ---à subst.f. Tic + kii --- Ticakii “ click”

    Piic  +  kii  -----  pickii        “ spitting”

16) Adj. + Suf. ---à Subst.f. band + ii—bandii “ prevention” LabaaD + ii ---- LabaaDi “falshood” Khus + ii --- khusii “concient”

17) Nu. + Suf. ---à Subst.f.

       paac    +  ii  ----paacii  “ ceremony performed on the fifth     
                                                      day   after birth.”

dahaa + vva ---- dahaavva “a ceremony performed

                                          on the tenth day after death”

paac + otri --- paacotri “ group of five things.”

18) Cl. Form of Nu. + Suf. ----à Subst.f.

     Ter    +   vii    ----- Tervii     “a ceremony performed on the
                                                13th day after death”

19) Adjunct. + Suf. -à Subst.f. saabaas + kii saabaaskii “praise”

20) Subst.m. + Suf. -à Subst.n. jiiv + an—jiivan “life” dev + ui ---devui “temple”

21) Subst.f. + Suf. -à Subst.n. raanD + ov --- raanDov “widow’’

22) Subst.n. + Suf. -à Subst.n. HaaD + uuk ---- haaDuuk “ bone” khaanD + uuk --- khaanDuuk “ piece” maap + aD --- maapaD “measure” sen + faDa ---- senfaDa “dung carrier”

23)Adj + Suf. -à Subst.n. Tanak + panaa—Tanakpanaa “ hardness” Var + Lyaang~ ----- varLyaang~ ‘ West” Khal + Lyaang~ ----KhaLLyaang~ “East”

24)Cl.form of Adj. + Suf.-à Subst.n. thoT + uuk—thoTuuk “short bit.”


1) Verb ------à internal change. ukar ------ukir “dust or earth near mouse hole” utar -------utaaru “ passanger”

It will be seen from the above, the patterns of derivations in Khandeshi are not very different from the patterns observed in Standard Marathi. Since both the dialects belong to the same family of language i.e. Indo-Aryan. Derivational patterns show much identity. This study can extended to the other dialects of Marathi, that might produce extensive material for comparison of derivational process.

Abbreviations:- Adj. = Adjective bd. = bound. Cl.= clitic form. m. = masculine. Nu. = numerals. n.=neuter pre. = Prefix .. Subst. = Substantives suf. = suffix

Educated Khandeshis speak standard Marathi as well as Ahirani. Ahirani is losing its popularity among such people to standard Marathi but in rural areas, Ahirani dominates. 90 percent of the people staying in rural areas speak Ahirani.

The language is widely used among the goldsmith community. It is also known for its secret words, known only to the members of this community.

Example sentences in Ahirani

tini anderna zelnana

Ahirani Sentence bar she ka? Its Meaning
Tu Katha jai rhaina? means -> Where are you going?
Tu kay kari rhaina? means -> What are you doing?
Tuni kay randhel she? -> What you have cooked today?
Tun naav kay she? -> What is your name?
Tu Kay khad? -> What did you eat?
Kas kay chalu she? -> What's going on?
Tuna baap kay karas? -> What does your father do?
Kay mhani rhaina tu? -> What are you saying?
Tuna gavna naav kay she? -> What's your village's name?
Tu kothe jaI rhaina? -> Where are you going?
Ghar ma kon kon she? -> Who's at home? or who are all in your family?
Tuna ghar kothe she? -> Where is your home?
Jevan zaaya ka? -> Had your dinner?
Tule yed lagel she ka? -> Are you mad?
Chagi gaya ka tu? -> Have you gone mad?
Tu kasa she? -> How are you?
Tule sang na -> I told you
Hai mani Aander she -> She is my daughter
Hau mana Aandor she -> He is my son
Tu Kavay Yeshi? -> When you will be coming?
Tule ek kam sangas -> I suggest a work to you
Tuna Lagin vayel ye ka -> Are you married?
Kitla vajnat ate -> What's time now?
Konta gaonle jahi rhaina tu -> Which city you are going to?
Aatha ye -> Come here
Tatha jay -> Go there

Basically "Ahirani" language is very soft spoken as well to listen,peoples never hesitate to speak this language in their group as we consider "Matru Bhasha",Lata Mangeshkar sung songs in Ahirani,Ashaji,Hridaynath Mangeshkar as well Sane Guruji,bahinabai Choudhari and many more.

"Ahirani" (Ahi + rani) name suggest that its "Queen" of languages. It is "matru Bhasha" for khandeshi people, its very easy and funy language, Some Ahirani words, Hadya means - Crow, Kushtay means - Lock, Chidi means - Sparrow.


More linguistic study of Ahirani or Khandeshi is available in Dr. R.S.Suryawasnhi,s Four books on Ahirani- 1) Ahirani - Bhasha Vidnyanic Abhyas 2) Ahirani Shabdkosha 3) Ahirani Mhani ani Wakprachar Kosha - all three published by Akashya PrakashanPune in 1997 4) Khandeshatil Krushak Jivan Sachitra Kosha is published by Marathi Sahitya Sanskruti Mandal in 2002.

 Introduction clarifies the concept of Ahirani and Khandeshi.
It removes the confusion whether the poem or matter is Ahirani or Khandeshi-Giriraj Pawar

All the ahirani peoples who live in metro cities in india or foreign countries always prefer Ahirani as communication language for family and friend while talking on telephone.



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