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About Sindhi Language

Sindhi (Sindhi: سنڌي , Urdu: سندھی ,Devanagari script: सिन्धी, Sindhī) is the language of the Sindh region of what is now Pakistan. It is spoken by 24,410,910 people in Pakistan, and is also spoken in India by 2,535,485 speakers. It is the third most spoken language of Pakistan, and the official language of Sindh in Pakistan. It is also an official language of India. The government of Pakistan issues national identity cards to its citizens only in two languages, Sindhi and Urdu.

It is an Indo-Aryan language of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family, though it also shows signs of heavy Dravidian influence. Its main influence was thus a local version of spoken form of Sanskrit.

Most Sindhi speakers in Pakistan are concentrated in the Sindh province. The remaining speakers are found in India and amongst the Sindhi diaspora community which are scattered throughout the world. The Sindhi language has spread as the Hindu Sindhis left Sindh for India due to the Partition of India in 1947.

Geographical distribution

Sindhi is spoken in Sindh, southern Punjab, Balochistan, Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan (NWFP) in Pakistan. Sindhi is taught as a first language in the schools of Sindh and as a second language in Balochistan in Pakistan. It is also spoken in many states of India and Ulhasnagar near Mumbai is largest Sindhi enclave in India.

In India, especially in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and in many educational institutions Sindhi is taught either as the medium of instruction or as a subject.

Sindhi has a vast vocabulary and a very old literary tradition. This trend has made it a favourite of many writers and consequently a vast[citation needed] volume of literature and poetry have been written in Sindhi.

History

The immediate predecessor of Sindhi was an Apabhramsha Prakrit named Vrachada. Arab and Persian travellers, specifically Abu-Rayhan Biruni in his book 'Tahqiq ma lil-Hind', had declared that even before the advent of Islam in Sindh (711 A.D.), the language was prevalent in the region. It was not only widely spoken but written in three different scripts -- Ardhanagari, Saindhu and Malwari, all variations of Devanagari. Biruni has described many Sindhi words leading to the conclusion that the Sindhi language was widely spoken and rich in vocabulary in his time. After the Islamic invasion of India the Sindhi speaking area faced destruction of Hindu culture and Islamic influences became more dominant in language as well as other aspects of culture.

Sindhi was thus a very popular literary language between the 14th and 18th centuries in the already Islamic north India. This is when sufis such as Shah Abdul Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (as well as numerous others) narrated their theosophical poetry depicting the relationship between humans and the middle-eastern God of Arabs. During the British period, traders and common people—including Khojas and Memons -- were using Devanagari, Modi or Khudabadi Script (later known as Vanika script), without any vowels for writing Sindhi, while government employees used some kind of Arabic script.The Khudabadi script was invented by Khudabadi Sindhi Swarankar community. The members of the Swarnakar community, while residing in Khudabad, around 1550, felt it necessary to invent a very simple script so that they can send written messages to their relations, who were living far away from them in their own home towns. This necessity mothered the invention/creation of a new script. The new script had no vowels and to be written from left to right (like Sanskrit) and continued to be in use for very long period of time among Khudabadi Sindhi Swarankar. Due to its simplicity, the use of this script spread very quickly and got acceptance in other sindhi communities, for sending written communications. Even, The Education Department of Sindh, on advice of Directors of British East India Co., directed Hindu Sindhi Schools to employ Khudabadi Script for teaching. Because it was originated from Khudabad, it was called Khudabadi script and later on, was known as Vanika and Hatkai, because it was mainly used by traders and shopkeepers, till 1947. The Khudabadi Script could not survive because it had no vowels.

In 1849 the first English-Sindhi dictionary was written in the Devanagari script.

According to Islamic Sindhi tradition, the first translation of the Quran into Sindhi was made by in 270/883 by an Arab scholar. The first extant Sindhi translation was done by Akhund 'Azaz Allah Mutta'lawi (1160-124011747-1824) and first published in Gujrat in 1870. The first to appear in print was by Muhammad Siddiq (Lahore 1867).

Writing

Before the standardisation of Sindhi orthography, numerous forms of the Devanagari and Lunda (Laṇḍā) scripts were used for trading, both by Hindus and Ismaili Muslims. For literary and religious purposes, a modified form of Perso-Arabic known as Ab-ul-Hassan Sindhi and Gurmukhi (a subset of Laṇḍā) were used. Another two scripts, Khudawadi and Shikarpuri were attempts to reform the Landa script. During British rule in the late 19th century, an Arabic-based orthography was decreed standard, after much controversy, as the Devanagari script had also been considered. However, this script has since become accepted.

Arabic Script

In Pakistan, Sindhi is written in a variant of the Persian alphabet, which was adopted under the encouragement of the British when Sindh fell to them in the 19th century. It has a total of 52 letters, augmenting the Persian with digraphs and eighteen new letters, ڄ ,ٺ ,ٽ ,ٿ ,ڀ ,ٻ ,ڙ ,ڍ ,ڊ ,ڏ ,ڌ ,ڇ ,ڃ ,ڦ ,ڻ ,ڱ ,ڳ ,ڪ for sounds particular to Sindhi and other Indo-Aryan languages. Some letters that are distinguished in Arabic or Persian are homophones in Sindhi.

Devanagari Script

In India, the Devanagari script is also used to write Sindhi. A modern version was introduced by the government of India in 1948; however, it did not gain full acceptance, so both the Sindhi-Arabic and Devanagari scripts are used. In India a person may write a Sindhi language paper for a Civil Services Examination in either script.

Vocabulary

In addition to a stock of native words inherited from Sanskrit, Sindhi has borrowed numerous words of Arabic and Persian origin. In addition, Sindhi has borrowed from Sanskrit, English, and Hindi-Urdu. Today, Sindhi in Pakistan is heavily influenced by Urdu, with more borrowed Perso-Arabic elements, while Sindhi in India is influenced by Hindi, with more borrowed tatsam Sanskrit elements.

 

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