Magahi: Wikis

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Magadhi
मगही magahī
Spoken in India
Region Bihar in India
Total speakers 11,362,000
Language family Indo-European
Writing system Devanagari, Kaithi
Official status
Official language in Bihar state in India
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2 mag
ISO 639-3 mag

The Magahi language (मगही, also known as मगधी, Magadhi) is a language spoken in India. The ancestor of Magadhi, from which its name derives, Magadhi Prakrit, is believed to be the language spoken by the Buddha, and the language of the ancient kingdom of Magadha. Magadhi is closely related to Bhojpuri and Maithili and these languages are sometimes referred to as a single language, Bihari. These languages, together with several other related languages, are known as the Bihari languages, which form a sub-group of the Eastern Zone group of Indo-Aryan languages. Magadhi has approximately 13 million speakers.

It was once mistakenly thought to be a dialect of Hindi, but has been more recently shown to be descendant of and very similar to Eastern Group of Indic languages, along with Bengali, Assamese, and Oriya. It has a very rich and old tradition of folk songs and stories. It is spoken in 8 districts in Bihar, 3 in Jharkhand and has some speakers in Malda, West Bengal.

Though the number of speakers in Magadhi is large, it has not been constitutionally recognized in India. Even in Bihar, Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters[1] (although Maithili, a related language also spoken widely in Bihar, is an official language under the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India). Magahi was legally absorbed under the subordinate label of Hindi in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerments.[2]

Contents

History

The ancestor of Magadhi, from which its name derives, Magadhi Prakrit was spoken in the eastern Indian subcontinent, in a region spanning what is now eastern India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. These regions were part of the ancient kingdom of Magadha, the core of which was the area of Bihar south of the Ganges. It is believed to be the language spoken by Gautama Buddha. It was the official language of the Mauryan court, and the edicts of Ashoka were composed in it.[3]

The name Magahi is directly derived from the name Magadhi Prakrit and the educated speakers of Magahi prefer to call it Magadhi rather than Magahi.[4]

The development of Magadhi language into its current form is unknown. However the scholars of language have come to a definite conclusion that Magadhi, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Bengali, Assamese and Oriya originated from Magadhi-Prakrit/Ardh-Magadhi during 8th to 11th century A.D. These different dialects differentiated themselves and took their own course of growth and development. But it is not certain when exactly it took place. It was probably such an unidentified period during which modern Indian languages begin to take modern shape. By the end of twelveth century, the development of Apabhramsa reached its climax. Gujrathi, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Maithili etc. tool a definite shape in their literary writings in the beginning of the fourteenth century. The distinct shape of Magadhi can be seen in the Dohakosha written by Sidh-Sarahapa and Sidh-Kauhapa. Magadhi had a setback due to the transition period of Magadha administration.[5]

Even though the speakers of Magadhi are quite large, it has not been constitutionally recognized in India. Even in Bihar, Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters.[1] Magahi was legally absorbed under the subordinate label of HINDI in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerments.[2]

The first success for spreading Hindi occurred in Bihar in 1881, when Hindi displaced Urdu as the sole official language of the province. In this struggle between competing Hindi and Urdu, the potential claims of the three large mother tongues in the region - Magahi, Bhojpuri and Maithili were ignored. After independence Hindi was again given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950. [6]

Magadhi Speech Area

Magahi folk singers

Magadhi is spoken in the area which formed the core of the erstwhile ancient kingdom of Magadha - the modern districts of Patna, Nalanda, Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Sheikhpura and Nawada. The total geographical area covered by Magahi is much larger today.[4] It is also spoken in some areas of Hazaribagh, Giridih, Palamau, Munger and Bhagalpur, with some speakers in the Malda District of West Bengal. So Many speakers in Mumbai & Delhi

Speakers of Magadhi

The number of Magadhi speakers are difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban Magahi region most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The uneducated and the rural population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language. [4]Current estimates indicate approximately 18 million Magadhi speakers.

Scripts and literary tradition

Magadhi is generally written using Devanagari script. A later-developed script of Magadhi is Kaithi, which is almost extinct now.

There has been efforts by scholars in Magahi area to explore and identify a literary tradition for Magadhi. Magadhi has a rich tradition of folk literature and in modern times there have been various activities in the publication of literary writing. Magahi Parishad was established in Patna in 1952, which was renamed Bihar Magahi Mandal. Magadhi, a monthly journal was started at the same time, which was renamed Bihan, meaning "tomorrow" or the coming dawn.

Nalanda Open University offers various courses on Magahi[7].

Phonology

Research work done in this field: (1) Dr Saryu Prasad - "A Descriptive Study of Magahi Phonology", Ph.D. thesis submitted to Patna University. (2) Dr A.C. Sinha (1966) - "Phonology and Morphology of Magahi Dialect", Ph.D. thesis submitted to University of Poona.

Morphology

Research work done in this field: Dr A.C. Sinha (1966) - "Phonology and Morphology of Magahi Dialect", Ph.D. thesis submitted to University of Poona.

Syntax

References and footnotes

  1. ^ a b http://www.diehardindian.com/demogrph/moredemo/histlang.htm
  2. ^ a b Verma, Mahandra K.. "Language Endangerment and Indian languages : An exploration and a critique". Linguistic Structure and Language Dynamics in South Asia. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=tcfJY7kANo8C&pg=PA5&lpg=PA5&dq=awadhi+and+magahi+languages&source=web&ots=CXhEbrAUH5&sig=e3GeSyfuGmTbRXtRK-vT100cFAQ&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=10&ct=result#PPA3,M1.  
  3. ^ Bashan A.L., The Wonder that was India, Picador, 2004, pp.394
  4. ^ a b c Jain Dhanesh, Cardona George, The Indo-Aryan Languages, pp449
  5. ^ Maitra Asim, Magahi Culture, Cosmo Publications, New Delhi (1983), pp. 64
  6. ^ Brass Paul R., The Politics of India Since Independence, Cambridge University Press, pp. 183
  7. ^ http://www.nalandaopenuniversity.com/courses.html

See also

External links

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