Languages of Gujarat

About

Gujarat has a colorful profile. The land is fertile, beautiful and prosperous on the coastline from Kutch in the West to Daman in South, the hill line from Aravali in the East to the Western hills with lush green forests, large and small rivers as well the plains in the middle. The rivers and reservoirs, farms and fields, villages and towns, suburbs and cities, markets and industries, temples and complexes add to its physical prosperity and unfold the prosperity of its historic basis. Number of historic monuments, religious places, industrial complexes and educational institutions glorify the cultural pride of Gujarat. It reminds us of great traditions of Lord Krishna to Mahatma Gandhi.

Many legends, tales and stories of bravery and generosity, efficiency and imagination, prosperity and charity, Penance and Sacrifice, knowledge and devotion are spread in the air and atmosphere of Gujarat. The hardwork and civilized approach of the people of Gujarat are evident at the coast of Dandi in South Gujarat where Gandhiji accomplished the salt satyagarh, at Somnath on the coast of Saurashtra where the echoes of eternal tranquility is heard, history and religion are the way of life at Pavagadh or Girnar, business booms at the markets of Ahmedabad and Surat, folk-life rules the streets of Jamnagar and Bhuj, water of life flows in Narmada and Mahi and greenery plays with the wind in forest of Dang and Gir.

The journey through the width and breadth of Gujarat is not merely a physical tour of the land, it is a treat with its people. A treat, which gives an opportunity to know them in real sense, which would arouse feeling of proud and poetic welcome to the distinguished land.

Gujarat unfolds its magic in abundance. With the largest coastline in the country Gujarat has got countless quiet, scenic, reclusive beach pockets where the sea lovers can have a heyday. For wildlife enthusiasts and naturalists, Gujarat offers a fascinating variety of species in Sasan Gir sanctuary and other places. For the devote pilgrims, Gujarat is a source of plentiful faith and devotion Palitana, Somnath, Dwarka and many other pilgrim spots attract lacs of disciples every year. For those who want to go for a quiet holiday in the hills, saputara offers a world class option. Monument of Ahmedabad are living example of one of the finest architectural works. Gujarat’s rich tradition of textile and handicraft, are unique styles developed as culmination of hundred of years of experience.

Gujarati Language

Gujarati (also know as Gojarati or Gujerati) is a language spoken by natives in ‘Gujarat’ a western state of India. The name of the language is derived from the Gurjar/Gujar community people who said to have settled from the time of Lord Krishna. Gujarati is official language of the State of Gujarat, India and one of the 22 official languages recognized by the Government of India. From some estimates, it is spoken by almost 46 million people in the world, giving it the rank of 23rd most spoken language in the world. Though most of 46 million are residents of India, speakers of Gujarati can be found in various parts of the world; for instance 150,000 in Uganda, 250,000 in Tanzania, 50,000 in Kenya as well as 100,000 in Pakistan where it is a minority language. A large number of native speakers of Gujarati can also be found in North America as well as in United Kingdom.

Hindi and Punjabi are considered its closest relatives; it is relatively simple to learn. Though a bit forceful in nature, it is still a flowing language. It has a small vocabulary, which makes it dependent on Sanskrit to express complex metaphysical and scientific disquisitions. The beauty of the language lies in its simplicity of less complex and few conjugations of its verbs than that of found in English, Sanskrit. The majority of characters are taken from Sanskrit with some modifications, the most obvious being the omission of the top line of letters.

Dialects

As with most languages in India, the language takes on a different form every 50 kilometers. There are regional dialects which differ in some minor, slightly different from original language. Some of them are listed below along with subdivisions.

> Standard Gujarati – Saurashtra Standard, Nagari, Bombay Gujarati, Patnuli

> Gamadia – Gramya, Surati, Anawla, Brathela, Eastern Broach Gujarati, Charotari, Patidari, Vadodari, Ahmedabad Gamadia, Patani

> Parsi

> Kathiyawadi – Jhalawadi, Sorathi, Holadi, Gohilwadi, Bhavnagari

> Kharwa

> Kakari

> Tarimuki – Ghisadi

History of Gujarati Language

Earliest literature in the language survives in oral tradition and is traced to two stalwarts, the Krishna devotee and great egalitarian Narasinha Mehta (later a source of inspiration to Mahatma Gandhi) dated to be in the 17th century. The story of Narsinha Mehta himself was composed as a long narrative ballad by Premananda, accorded the title “maha-kavi” or great poet by modern historians of the language. His date is perhaps late 17th century. Other than this a large number of poets flourished during what is now characterised as the bhakti or devotional movement in Hinduism, a movement of the masses to liberate the religion from entrenched priesthood.

Premananda was a “vyakhyan-kar”, a travelling story teller, who narrated his subject in song form and then perhaps elaborated on the lines in prose. His style was so fluent that the long poems running into hundreds of lines were memorised by the people and are still sung during the morning routines. In this sense the oral tradition of the much more ancient Vedas was clearly continuing in India till late. Premananda’s famous poetry-stories deal with epic themes couched in stories of mythical kings, and the puranas. He also wrote a drama based on Narasinh Mehta’s life capturing his simplicity and his disregard for worldly divisions of caste and class.

The Gujarati spoken today takes considerable vocabulary from Persian due to more than five centuries of the rule of Sultan kings who were Muslim. These words occur mostly in reference to worldly and secular matters. The other elements of the language however draw quite a lot on native tribes of the specific region, as listed below under Dialects. Modern exploration into Gujarat and its language is credited to British administrator Forbes. During the nineteenth century at a time when the British rule was more consolidatory and progressive this gentleman explored much of the previous thousand years of the history of the land and compiled a large number of manuscripts. The learned body devoted to Gujarati language is named after him, Farbas Gujarati Sabha with headquarters in Mumbai.

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