Gujarati, mainly spoken in Gujarat, is one of the official languages of India. Read on to know about its history, literature and writing style.
Gujarati, a part of the great Indo-European language family, is an Indo-Aryan language. It is one of the 22 official languages and 14 regional languages of India. The language is simple and easy to learn. On everyday basis, Gujarati language is concise, simple and well adapted for social and domestic purposes. Gujarati is the 26th most spoken native language in the world, with 46.1 million speakers worldwide. Gujarati was the first language of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the "father of India", Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the "father of Pakistan," and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, "the iron man of India." It is spoken in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The history of the language can be traced back to 12th century CE and can be divided into three periods:
- The Old Period (10th-14th cent.): During this period, Parsis learned Sanskrit. Many of their religious texts were translated into Sanskrit from the Middle Persian versions. After that when Gujarat came under Muslim influence, Arabic and Persian was studied. Sanskrit studies declined and Parsis readily took to the Persian language. It was during this time, when Avestan and Pahlavi texts were translated into Gujarati with the use of existing Sanskrit translations.
- The Middle Period (15th-17th cent.): Persian and later Urdu became the court language during this period and exerted a great influence on Gujarati. Gujarati was locally used by the Parsis in the villages of Surat. They translated religious texts into Gujarati, which had traces of Sanskrit, Persian and local dialects.
- Modern Period (after 17th cent.): Traditions of British Romanticism and styles sneaked into literature. This period saw the westernization of Gujarati. This was the period when British were spreading and establishing themselves in India. Parsis readily took to English and started using some of its structural peculiarities, which led to the westernization of not only Gujarati, but also other local languages. The modern Gujarati having consonant final words was developed in this period. The end of 19th century saw quite a few milestones for the Gujarati language, which are states below.
- 1840 - Personal diary composition: Nityanondh, Durgaram Mahetaji.
- 1851 - First essay: Narmada Shankar Lalshankar Dave.
- 1866 - First novel: Nandashankar Mehta.
- 1866 - First autobiography: Narmada Shankar Lalshankar Dave.
Abugida is the Gujarati script, used for writing Gujarati as well as Kutchi. The major difference from Devnagari is the absence of horizontal line running above the letters. Gujarati can be written in Arabic as well Persian Scripts that is still carried out by natives in Kutch district of Gujarat.
There are regional dialects which differ slightly from the original language. The language differs in their form every 50 kilometers. Some of them are given below
- Standard Gujarati – Saurashtra Standard, Nagari, Bombay Gujarati, Patnuli
- Gamadia – Gramya, Surati, Anawla, Brathela, Eastern Broach Gujarati, Charotari, Patidari, Vadodari, Ahmedabad Gamadia, Patani
- Kathiyawadi – Jhalawadi, Sorathi, Holadi, Gohilwadi, Bhavnagari
- Tarimuki – Ghisadi