Linguistic history of India
Ancient India. Recorded history in ancient India began with Harappa ( BC) in the Indus River valley and later with the arrival of the Aryan Vedic culture from BC onward. Feb 12, · Prakrit (Sanskrit prak?ta ???????, the past participle of ??????, meaning "original, natural, artless, normal, ordinary, usual", i.e. "vernacular", in contrast to samskrta "excellently made",  both adjectives elliptically referring to vak "speech") is the broad family of Indic languages and dialects spoken in ancient India.
However the presence of the Indus script suggests that a spoken and written language or languages existed during this age. Nothing more than this, can be said about the language spoken during the Indus valley civilization. In contrast the speech of the people during the Gangetic valley civilization is preserved in the religious texts, secular treaties and the inscriptions issued by the rulers of that time.
In constructing the picture of language spoken in ancient India, Sanskrit, the language closer to many European languages come first. This is followed by its offshoot languages such as Pali and Prakrit. There are languages that came out of Prakrit and are currently spoken in India. However, south India was totally unconnected with the language of the north i.
Here Tamil language developed both in spoken and written form and have its own distinct history. Aryan spoke a simpler tongue, more akin to classical Sanskrit. It was during the time of grammarian Panini 4th century B. In all probability, Panini based his work on the languages as it was spoken in the North-West of India. His work Asthadhyayi, pre-supposes the work of many earlier grammarians. It was from the time of Panini onwards that the language was calledSamskarta, perfected or refined. Sankskrit was the lingua franca of the priestly class, and it gradually became the language of the governing class as well.
The earliest surviving Sanskrit poetry is that of the Buddhist writer Ashvaghosa who lived in the Ist century A. He composed the Buddha-Charitra in a comparatively simple classical style. The first important dynasty to use Sanskrit was that of the Sakas of Ujjain.
The Girnar inscription of Rudradaman, dated A. It was during the Gupta period that ornate Sanskrit prose was developed. The chief writers in this style were Dandin, Subandhu and Bana. With classical Sanskrit increasingly becoming the language of Brahmins and the learned few and is use restricted to certain occasions such as issuing of proclamations and during the performance of Vedic ceremonies, much simpler language called Pali and Prakritdeveloped that was spoken by the masses.
In fact Buddhataught in Magadhi, a local variation of Prakrit, to reach more people. Chronologically Pali is the first Sanskrit language and Prakrit appeared later on. Even the meaning of the word 'Pali' underwent changes in the course of time.
There are also non-canonical literatures in Pali. The earliest works in Pali literature relates to the Jataka stories. The book Milinda Panda is the most important one. The classical works Depavamsa and Mahavamsa, the two great chronicles of Ceylon were written in Pali. Prakrit - Ancient Indian Language In the towns and villages a popular form of Sanskrit, known as Prakrit, was spoken with local variations.
The chief western variety was how to announce a high school football game Shuraseni and the eastern variety, Magadhi. From the earliest times to the first century A. Most inscriptions of pre-Gupta time are in Prakritused for official pronouncements. Ashoka left behind 30 inscriptions in Prakrit. Magadhi language Even in literature Prakrit came to be used particularly in plays. Sanskrit drama characters were made to speak in formalized Prakrit of various dialects.
The women and humbler characters of the plays spoke in Prakrit. Some plays are composed exclusively in Prakrit and are technically called Jatakas. A few of secular literary works were written in Prakrit. The secular aspect of Prakrit language is reflected in texts such as the GathaSaptasati of Hala, one of the Satavahana rulers.
This book consists of stanzas about love how to dominate a man in a relationship the varied phases of rural life. Apart from secular literature Prakrit was exclusively used as the speech of the Hinayana Buddhism. It was used for religious literature like the Jaina canonical works. The narrative literature and epic poems are fairly extensive in Prakrit. The most noteworthy among them are the Brihatkatha of Gunadhya composed in Paisachi dialect and Sethubandha of Pravarasena.
The first writer to make use of Prakrit wasAsvaghosa in his work the Buddha-Charitra. The others who followed the example were Bhasa 3rd century A. Prakrithas linguistic importance since it is illustrative of the linguistic evolution from Prakrit to Apabhramsa and finally to a new regional languages of India. Apabhramsa - Ancient Indian Language Apabhramsa meaning falling down was a corrupt form of Prakrit dialect.
It is believed to have originated in the north-west and travelled along with the migrant people who settled in central and western India. Stray poems dealing with morals maxims ethics religious discourses and legends were commonly written in Apabhramsa.
In the Apabhramsa, the meter doha was adopted as powerful form of expression of religious and philosophical thoughts. Among the Jains literature the voluminous texts on the life and activities of Jaina heroes were written in Apabhramsa.
Evidence shows that there are a body of literature in Tamil that has unbroken continuity for over 20 centuries. The first period of Tamil literature is associated with the Sangam Era. Tamil tradition refers of three literary Academic Sangams which met at Madurai.
Tolkappiyam is the earliest surviving book in Tamil was compiled during second Tamil Sangam. It is a work on Tamil grammar literature tradition and sociology. Tolkapiyam lays down grammatical rules governing the literary compositions. This book is the fountain of all literary conventions in Tamil literature.
It was written by Tolkappiyar along with eleven other scholars. The poets of the third Sangam wrote Ettuthogai eight anthologies. These anthologies contain well over 2, poems ascribed to more than authors.
The other major collection of the Sangamperiod is the What does a phlebotomist get paid of ten dyle, which are long poems. Thirukural is the Bible of Tamil landand consists of series of metrical proverbs and many aspects of life and religion. Two books Silappadikaram the Jewelled anklet and Manimekali are of poetry having long poems.
The book Manimekali abounds in fine poetry and its dramatic element is of master class. This book also gives us glimpses of the development of fine art in the Sangam age. They are attributed to poet Ilangoadigal and Sattanar of Madurai.
Both the books belong to the early centuries of the Christian era. The age of the Sangam literature was religious but stranger to the Bhakti cult. The chief quality of the Sangam works is their adherence to as water freezes what happens and literary conventions.
Prior to the imperial Pallavas many Tamil works were written like Kural. Kural is one of the most important forms of classical Tamil poetry. It is a very short what is a fabric poster form, exactly in 2 lines, the first line consisting of 4 words and the second line consisting of 3. Kuralwas written by Thirulluvarand what was the language of ancient india translated to many languages.
In the later period the Tamil writings of the Alvars and Nayanmars were quite distinct. Both of them were written somewhere in the 5th or the 6th century A. The origin of the other languages of India has occurred during the early medieval period but the root of most of them has Sanskrit, pali and Prakrit.
Some of the languages have developed from the dialects of these original languages. Currently, there are over languages and 66 different scripts in India. Home » Ancient India. Ancient India.
The languages of India are divided into various language families , of which the Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian languages are the most widely spoken. There are also many languages belonging to unrelated language families such as Austroasiatic and Sino-Tibetan , spoken by smaller groups. Proto-Indo-Aryan is a proto-language hypothesized to have been the direct ancestor of all Indo-Aryan languages.
Vedic Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas , a large collection of hymns , incantations , and religio-philosophical discussions which form the earliest religious texts in India and the basis for much of the Hindu religion. Modern linguists consider the metrical hymns of the Rigveda to be the earliest. The hymns preserved in the Rigveda were preserved by oral tradition alone over several centuries before the introduction of writing , the oldest aryan language among them predating the introduction of Brahmi by as much as a millennium.
The end of the Vedic period is marked by the composition of the Upanishads , which form the concluding part of the Vedic corpus in the traditional compilations, dated to roughly BCE. It is around this time that Sanskrit began the transition from a first language to a second language of religion and learning, marking the beginning of Classical India. It is essentially a prescriptive grammar , i. Knowledge of Sanskrit was a marker of social class and educational attainment.
Vedic Sanskrit and Classical or "Paninian" Sanskrit, while broadly similar, are separate  varieties, which differ in a number of points of phonology , vocabulary , and grammar. Some modern scholars include all Middle Indo-Aryan languages under the rubric of "Prakrits", while others emphasise the independent development of these languages, often separated from the history of Sanskrit by wide divisions of caste , religion , and geography.
The Prakrits became literary languages, generally patronized by kings identified with the kshatriya caste. The earliest inscriptions in Prakrit are those of Ashoka , emperor of the Maurya Empire , and while the various Prakrit languages are associated with different patron dynasties, with different religions and different literary traditions. In Sanskrit drama , kings speak in Prakrit when addressing women or servants, in contrast to the Sanskrit used in reciting more formal poetic monologues.
The three Dramatic Prakrits — Sauraseni , Magadhi , Maharashtri , as well as Jain Prakrit each represent a distinct tradition of literature within the history of India.
Other Prakrits are reported in historical sources, but have no extant corpus e. Pali is the Middle Indo-Aryan language in which the Theravada Buddhist scriptures and commentaries are preserved. Pali is believed by the Theravada tradition to be the same language as Magadhi, but modern scholars believe this to be unlikely. Hindustani is right now the most spoken language in the Indian subcontinent and the fourth most spoken language in the world.
The development of Hindustani revolves around the various Hindi dialects originating mainly from Sauraseni Apabhramsha. Khadiboli also started to spread across North India as a vernacular form previously commonly known as Hindustani.
Amir Khusrow wrote poems in Khariboli and Brajbhasha and referred that language as Hindavi. During the Bhakti era, many poems were composed in Khariboli, Brajbhasa, and Awadhi. One such classic is Ramcharitmanas, written by Tulsidas in Awadhi. The establishment of British rule in the subcontinent saw the clear division of Hindi and Urdu registers.
This period also saw the rise of modern Hindi literature starting with Bharatendu Harishchandra. This period also shows further Sanskritization of the Hindi language in literature. Post-independence Hindi became the official language of the Central Government of India along with English. Urdu has been the national and official language of Pakistan as well as the lingua franca of the country. Outside the India, Hindustani is widely understood in other parts of the Indian subcontinent and also used as a lingua franca, and is the main language of Bollywood.
Marathi is one of several languages that further descend from Maharashtri Prakrit. A committee appointed by the Maharashtra State Government to get the Classical status for Marathi has claimed that Marathi existed at least years ago alongside Sanskrit as a sister language. Marathi gained prominence with the rise of the Maratha Empire beginning with the reign of Shivaji — Under him, the language used in administrative documents became less persianised. Carey's dictionary had fewer entries and Marathi words were in Devanagari.
Translations of the Bible were first books to be printed in Marathi. After Indian independence , Marathi was accorded the status of a scheduled language on the national level. In , the then Bombay state was reorganized which brought most Marathi and Gujarati speaking areas under one state.
Further re-organization of the Bombay state on 1 May , created the Marathi speaking Maharashtra and Gujarati speaking Gujarat state respectively. With state and cultural protection, Marathi made great strides by the s.
The Dravidian family of languages includes approximately 73 languages  that are mainly spoken in southern India and northeastern Sri Lanka , as well as certain areas in Pakistan , Nepal , Bangladesh , and eastern and central India , as well as in parts of southern Afghanistan , and overseas in other countries such as the United Kingdom , United States , Canada , Malaysia and Singapore.
The origins of the Dravidian languages, as well as their subsequent development and the period of their differentiation, are unclear, and the situation is not helped by the lack of comparative linguistic research into the Dravidian languages. Many linguists, however, tend to favor the theory that speakers of Dravidian languages spread southwards and eastwards through the Indian subcontinent , based on the fact that the southern Dravidian languages show some signs of contact with linguistic groups which the northern Dravidian languages do not.
Proto-Dravidian is thought to have differentiated into Proto-North Dravidian, Proto-Central Dravidian and Proto-South Dravidian around BCE, [ citation needed ] although some linguists have argued that the degree of differentiation between the sub-families points to an earlier split.
It was not until that Robert Caldwell published his Comparative grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian family of languages , which considerably expanded the Dravidian umbrella and established it as one of the major language groups of the world. The Dravidian Etymological Dictionary was published by T.
Burrow and M. The material evidence suggests that the speakers of Proto-Dravidian were the culture associated with the Neolithic complexes of South India. The earliest records in Old Tamil are short inscriptions from around the 6th century BCE in caves and on pottery. These inscriptions are written in a variant of the Brahmi script called Tamil Brahmi. These include a corpus of 2, poems collectively known as Sangam literature.
These poems are usually dated to between the 1st and 5th centuries CE,  which makes them the oldest extant body of secular literature in India. Old Tamil preserved some features of Proto-Dravidian, including the inventory of consonants,  the syllable structure,  and various grammatical features.
Old Tamil verbs also had a distinct negative conjugation e. Despite the significant amount of grammatical and syntactical change between Old, Middle and Modern Tamil, Tamil demonstrates grammatical continuity across these stages: many characteristics of the later stages of the language have their roots in features of Old Tamil. The evolution of Old Tamil into Middle Tamil, which is generally taken to have been completed by the 8th century,  was characterised by a number of phonological and grammatical changes.
Middle Tamil also saw a significant increase in the Sanskritisation of Tamil. From the period of the Pallava dynasty onwards, a number of Sanskrit loan-words entered Tamil, particularly in relation to political, religious and philosophical concepts. Middle Tamil is attested in a large number of inscriptions, and in a significant body of secular and religious literature.
The Nannul remains the standard normative grammar for modern literary Tamil, which therefore continues to be based on Middle Tamil of the 13th century rather than on Modern Tamil. The negative conjugation of verbs, for example, has fallen out of use in Modern Tamil  — negation is, instead, expressed either morphologically [ clarification needed ] or syntactically. Contact with European languages also affected both written and spoken Tamil. Changes in written Tamil include the use of European-style punctuation and the use of consonant clusters that were not permitted in Middle Tamil.
The syntax of written Tamil has also changed, with the introduction of new aspectual auxiliaries and more complex sentence structures, and with the emergence of a more rigid word order that resembles the syntactic argument structure of English. Tamil literature has a rich and long literary tradition spanning more than two thousand years. The oldest extant works show signs of maturity indicating an even longer period of evolution.
Also, there have been notable contributions from European authors. The history of Tamil literature follows the history of Tamil Nadu , closely following the social and political trends of various periods. The secular nature of the early Sangam poetry gave way to works of religious and didactic nature during the Middle Ages. Jain and Buddhist authors during the medieval period and Muslim and European authors later, contributed to the growth of Tamil literature.
A revival of Tamil literature took place from the late 19th century when works of religious and philosophical nature were written in a style that made it easier for the common people to enjoy. Nationalist poets began to utilize the power of poetry in influencing the masses.
With the growth of literacy, Tamil prose began to blossom and mature. Short stories and novels began to appear. The popularity of Tamil Cinema has also provided opportunities for modern Tamil poets to emerge. Kannada is one of oldest languages in South India. The initial development of the Kannada language is similar to that of other south Indian languages.
By the time Halmidi shasana stone inscription Kannada had become an official language. During this era, language underwent a lot of changes as seen from the literary works of great poets of the era viz Pampa, Ranna, Ponna. Vijayanagar Empire which is called the Golden era in the history of medieval India saw a lot of development in all literary form of both Kannada and Telugu. During the ruling of the King Krishnadevaraya many wonderful works. Poet Kumaravyasa wrote Mahabharata in Kannada in a unique style called "shatpadi" six lines is a stanza of the poem.
This era also saw the origin of Dasa Sahitya, the Carnatic music. Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa wrote several songs praising Lord Krishna. This gave a new dimension to Kannada literature.
Badami cliff shilashaasana of Pulakeshin I is an example of a Sanskrit inscription in Hale Kannada script. Examples of early Sanskrit-Kannada bilingual copper plate inscriptions tamarashaasana are the Tumbula inscriptions of the Western Ganga Dynasty dated AD   The earliest full-length Kannada tamarashaasana in Old Kannada script early 8th century belongs to Alupa King Aluvarasa II from Belmannu, South Kanara district and displays the double crested fish, his royal emblem.
Telugu is hypothesised to have originated from a reconstructed Proto-Dravidian language. It is a highly Sanskritised language; as Telugu scholar C.
P Brown states in page of his book A Grammar of the Telugu language : "if we ever make any real progress in the language the student will require the aid of the Sanskrit Dictionary".
English translation of one inscription as reads: "Gift of the slab by venerable Midikilayakha". From CE, we begin to find traces of Telugu in inscriptions and literature, it is possible to broadly define four stages in the linguistic history of the Telugu language:. The first inscription that is entirely in Telugu corresponds to the second phase of Telugu history. This inscription, dated , was found in the districts of Kadapa and Kurnool and is attributed to the Renati Cholas , who broke with the prevailing practice of using Prakrit and began writing royal proclamations in the local language.
During the next fifty years, Telugu inscriptions appeared in Anantapuram and other neighboring regions. The earliest dated Telugu inscription from coastal Andhra Pradesh comes from about Around the same time, the Chalukya kings of Telangana also began using Telugu for inscriptions.
One of the oldest Telugu stone inscriptions containing literature was the line inscription dated between and found on a hillock known as Bommalagutta in Kurikyala village of Karimnagar district , Telangana.