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About Gujarati Language

Gujarati (ગુજરાતી Gujǎrātī?) is an Indo-Aryan language, and part of the greater Indo-European language family. It is native to the Indian state of Gujarat, and is its chief language, as well as of the adjacent union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

There are about 46.1 million speakers of Gujarati worldwide, making it the 26th most spoken native language in the world. Along with Romany and Sindhi, it is among the most western of Indo-Aryan languages. 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."

History

Gujarati (also having been variously spelled as Gujerati, Gujarathi, Guzratee, Guujaratee, Gujrathi, and Gujerathi) is a modern Indo-Aryan language evolved from Sanskrit. The traditional practice is to differentiate the IA languages on the basis of three historical stages:

  • Old IA (Vedic and Classical Sanskrit)
  • Middle IA (various Prakrits and Apabhramshas)
  • New IA (modern languages such as Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, etc.)

Another view accords successive family, tree splits, in which Gujarati is assumed to have separated from other IA languages in four stages:

  • IA languages split into Northern, Eastern, and Western divisions based on the innovate characteristics such as stops becoming voiced in the Northern (Skt. danta "tooth" > Punj. dānd) and dental and retroflex sibilants merging with the palatal in the Eastern (Skt. sandhya "evening" > Beng. śājh).
  • Western, into Central and Southern.
  • Central, in Gujarati/Rajasthani, Western Hindi, and Punjabi/Lahanda/Sindhi, on the basis of innovation of auxiliary verbs and postpositions in Gujarati/Rajasthani.
  • Gujarati/Rajasthani into Gujarati and Rajasthani through development of such characteristics as auxiliary ch- and the possessive marker -n- during the 15th century.

The principal changes from Sanskrit are the following:

  • Phonological
  • Loss of phonemic length for vowels
  • Change of consonant clusters to geminate and then to single consonants (with compensatory vowel length)

Demographics and distribution

Of the approximately 46 million speakers of Gujarati, roughly 45.5 million reside in India, 150,000 in Uganda, 250,000 in Tanzania, 50,000 in Kenya and roughly 100,000 in Pakistan. There is also a large Gujarati community in Mumbai, India.

The United Kingdom has 300,000 speakers, many of them situated in the London areas of Wembley, Harrow and Newham and in Leicester, Coventry and Bradford. A considerable population exists in North America as well. A portion of these numbers consists of East African Gujaratis who, under increasing discrimination and policies of Africanisation in their newly-independent resident countries (especially Uganda, where Idi Amin expelled 50,000 Asians for not participating in the local cultures or allowing Asian women to marry African men though Asian men did marry African women), were left with uncertain futures and citizenships. Most, with British passports, settled in the UK.

Besides being spoken by the Gujarati people, non-Gujarati residents of and migrants to the state of Gujarat also count as speakers, among them the Kutchis (as a literary language), the Parsis (adopted as a mother tongue), and Hindu Sindhi refugees from Pakistan.

Official status

Gujarati is one of the twenty-two official languages and fourteen regional languages of India. It is officially recognized in the state of Gujarat, India.

Writing system

Similar to other Nāgarī writing systems, the Gujarati script is an abugida. It is used to write the Gujarati and Kutchi languages. It is a variant of Devanāgarī script differentiated by the loss of the characteristic horizontal line running above the letters and by a small number of modifications in the remaining characters.

Gujarati and closely related languages, including Kutchi, can be written in the Arabic or Persian scripts. This is traditionally done by many in Gujarat's Kutch district.

Grammar

Gujarati is a head-final, or left-branching language. Adjectives precede nouns, direct objects come before verbs, and there are postpositions. The word order of Gujarati is SOV, and there are three genders and two numbers. There are no definite or indefinite articles. A verb is expressed with its verbal root followed by suffixes marking aspect and agreement in what is called a main form, with a possible proceeding auxiliary form derived from to be, marking tense and mood, and also showing agreement. Causatives (up to double) and passives have morphological basis'.

 

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