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GOJRI AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH RAJASTHANI, ETC.
J. C. Sharma, Ph.D.
1. AN OVERVIEW
Grierson classifies Gojri as a dialect of Rajasthani and observes that it is closer to Mewati and that it shows resemblance to Mewari. This paper briefly attempts to reconsider this classification. The paper examines some of the shared innovations and retentions of the linguistic features between Gojri and other Indo-Aryan languages. The paper suggests that the geographical contiguity and borrowing from the neighboring languages affect the phonological change, leading to the shared phonological development. This reinforces the commonly held view that phonological features change faster than the morphological features.
Gojri is spoken in an area socio-culturally dominated by Urdu and is surrounded by the speakers of Western Pahari dialects such as Punchi (a dialect of Lahndi), Dogri, Panjabi, Kashmiri (a language of Dardic group), etc., and cannot be free from their influence. The language shares many phonological features with Panjabi and other related dialects, but, on the other hand, it also shares some morphological features exclusively with the Rajasthani dialects. Therefore, it is suggested that the classification based on a single criterion, so far followed by many scholars in cluding Grierson, is misleading and hence cannot be justified. For a better classification of this language we need to take into account all the grammatical features of the language.
According to the 1971 Census, Gojri is spoken by 3,30,485 speakers in the Jammu and Kashmir state of India. It is the third largest spoken language in the state after Kashmiri and Dogri. According to the local sources, however, people claim that this language is spoken by a larger group of people in the state. Besides, this language is also spoken by several thousands of people in Himachal Pradesh as well as by a section of people in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Gujjars, the native speakers of Gojri, are semi-nomad people and are found in all the districts of Jammu and Kashmir except Ladakh. The Linguistic Survey of India (LSI) of Grierson has been the basis for the classification of Gojri as a dialect of Rajasthani in the census reports.
It is quite interesting to note that a large number of inhabitants of Jammu and Kashmir speak a variety of languages claimed to be closer to Rajasthani, even though these languages are spoken in areas geographically far away from Rajasthan. This seems to be true to a great extent. This makes one believe that at some point of time these people must have been in contact with the Rajasthani speakers. It is, therefore, necessary for us to understand the historical context of the Gujjars, before we examine their linguistic details.
The earliest known reference to these people occurs in Sriharshacharita, a work of the early part of the seventh century A.D. According to Grierson (1916):
Gurjars, the ancestors of the present Gujars, probably entered India together with Hunas and other marauding tribes in about the sixth century A.D. and that some of their fighting men became recognized as Rajputs. As may be expected, Gujar herdsmen (as distinct from the fighting Gujars who became Rajputs) are found in greatest number in the North-West of India from the Indus to Ganges. Wherever they settled in the plains they have abandoned their own language but as we enter the lower hills, we invariably come upon a dialect locally known as Gujari. The further we go into these sparsely populated hills, the more independent do we find this Gujari and less influenced by its surroundings. At length when we get into the wild hill country of Swat and Kashmir, we find the nomad Gujars, here called Gujurs (i.e. cowherds), or Ajirs (i.e. shepherds) still pursuing their original pastoral avocations and still speaking the descendant of the language that their ancestors brought with them from Mewat. But this shows traces of its long journey. It contains old phrases and idioms of the Hindustani of the Jamna Valley, which were picked up en route and carried to the distant hills of Dardistan.
T. Burrow (1955) also holds the view that Gurjars do not appear in Indian history before the sixth century A.D. and they play a dominant role in the north up to the tenth century A.D. Tessitori, along with Grierson, further claims a close relationship between Marwari and Gujarati. He states:
Rajputana and Gujarata were populated by the same Aryan tribe, i.e., the Gujars, who migrated from Sapadalaksha in the northwest of India into the northeastern Rajasthan and thence gradually spread westwards into Gujarat imposing their language over the whole tract covered by their immigration. The same theory also accounts for the agreement between Rajasthani and languages of the Himalayas, which Grierson has grouped together under the general name of Pahari.
Thus, some similarities of Rajasthani with Pahari languages may be ascribed to the influence of the language of the Gujjars on their speech.
Earlier, Graham Bailey (1908) has also pointed out some similarities between Pahari languages and Rajasthani:
It is in Chameali and Kului and Simla dialects and also in Gujari and the Sasi dialects that we notice that interesting similarity to Rajasthani which points to some very close historical connection in bygone centuries. There is a need to explore the connection of Rajasthani with the languages scattered in the Himalayan regions, to know whether it is due to migration or by accident.
The discussion above clearly establishes that the Gujjars are immigrants to this place and they had lived with the Rajasthani speakers at some point of time in history. Besides, it may be noted that there is intermixture of features/elements in the various languages due to the contact established between them which makes it difficult to distinguish between the native elements and the borrowed ones. In this regard, some information about the pre-history of these people becomes essential. This may help in establishing the features retained by the language in comparison to their roots and the later innovations shared with the neighboring languages. In case of the lack of retention of features, either the view held about their immigration may be doubtful, or it may indicate a case of complete loss of the older forms of the language with which they had moved to their new place. For instance, the language of the Gujjars in the plain areas, such as Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, is not different from those surrounding them. Rather the Gjjars in these states share the language of the region of their present day habitat. The comparison of Gojri with the neighboring languages can provide a clue to its heritage and also help to determine the elements it shares with other languages.
By a detailed investigation in this regard we can know the features conserved and innovated in course of time in Gojri. This can also throw light on the extent of the influence of the neighboring languages and answer the question: can the influence of the neighboring languages be so great that the immigrant language changes so much that it may be grouped with the neighboring languages?
3. SHARED FEATURES
Gojri has a lot of linguistic peculiarities that it shares with other languages such as Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, and Pahari languages. The fact that all these languages belong to the Indo-Aryan family makes it difficult to determine the extent of the borrowed elements in the language. For the purpose of comparison, we take Panjabi, Kangri (a Western Pahari language), Rajasthani, and Hindi. We examine some of the major phonological and morphological features of these languages below.
3.1 SOME PHONOLOGICAL FEATURES
To examine the phonological similarities and differences of Gojri in relation to Rajasthani, Kangri, and Panjabi, we provide the phonemic inventories of these languages below.
3.1.4 Suprasegmental sounds
All the four languages: Gojri, Rajasthani, Panjabi, and Kangri have vowel nasalization /~/.
Gojri, Panjabi, and Kangri have high tone/´/, mid tone (unmarked) and low tone /` /, and Rajasthani has stress accent.
The phonemic inventories of these languages clearly show that Gojri shares more phonological features with Kangri and Panjabi than with Rajasthani.
3.2 Shared Phonological Innovations, Etc.
3.2.1 Short vowels
Gojri, along with Panjabi and Kangri, has preserved MIA (Middle Indo-Aryan) short vowels followed by double or long consonants, whereas, in many New-Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi and Rajasthani, the consonants have been simplified with compensatory lengthening of the preceding short vowel. The examples in Table 1 are illustrative. (Note: Sanskrit has been taken as the representative of OIA for the present purpose).
3.2.2 Consonant Change
In Gojri, as in most of the Indo-Aryan languages w of OIA changes to b in the initial position. This, however, has been retained in Panjabi. The examples in Table 2 are illustrative of this phenomenon.
3.2.3 Vowel Nasalisation
Another feature that Gojri and Panjabi share along with some other Eastern languages is that OIA long vowels followed by a nasal are realized as nasalized vowel in the final position with the subsequent loss of the OIA word final vowel. In Hindi, Rajasthani, etc. either the nasal is retained or the vowel is nasalized and followed by v.
The examples in Table 3 illustrate this point.
3.2.4 Consonant Voicing
In a sequence of vowel-nasal-consonant (VNC) the voiceless consonant following the nasal has changed to voiced consonants, i.e., OIA VNC (vl.) > VNC (vd.) in Gojri along with Panjabi, Kangri and other Western Pahari dialects whereas in other Indo- Aryan dialects such as Rajasthani and Hindi it has remained voiceless. The examples in Table 4 are illustrative.
Both in Gojri and Panjabi along with some related dialects the OIA and intermediate stage h in the medial and final position has been mostly changed to some tone and usually to high tone if follows a vowel. The examples in Table 5 are illustrative.
3.2.6 The Next Part
In the concluding part of this paper, to be published in the next issue (May 2002) of Language in India, I discuss the absence of voiced aspirates, the consonant clusters with the retention of oral vowels, etc., and the presence and absence of certain morphological and syntactic features that shed light on the possible classification of Gojri. Gojri is an interesting Indian linguistic phenomenon. The traces of a distant age, and the adoption of the features from the languages presently surrounding it, make it an interesting object of study in historical linguistics and sociolinguistics.
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J. C. Sharma, Ph.D.
Central Institute of Indian Languages
Mysore 570006, India