The history of Hindi. From Apabhramsha to early new vernacular

Start - End 
2020 - 2023 (ongoing)
Department of Languages and Cultures
Other institution(s) 
Pondicherry University (India), Dept. of Hindi



Histories of Hindi literature, including Acharya Shukla’s seminal work Hindi Sāhitya kā Itihās (1929), refer to Apabhraṃśa as the forerunner of India’s official language and its literature. Nevertheless, only a very small number of scholars (e.g. Namwar Singh, H.C. Bhayani) have worked on Apabhraṃśa language and literature. In fact, few universities and institutes – in India and worldwide – offer regular courses on Apabhraṃśa, limiting possibilities for young scholars to venture into this field. Existent studies moreover tend to study these texts from a distinct Religious Studies angle, since most of the available corpus of Apabhraṃśa literature is Jain narrative. Despite the fact that Apabhraṃśa and early vernacular languages such as Brajbhāṣā and Avadhī are considered part of two different realms – i.e. Apabhraṃśa from the premodern, along with Sanskrit and Prakrit, and the vernaculars from the modern – the similarities in literature are obvious: comparing the structure of Padmāvat to that of the standard Apabhraṃśa sandhibandha, it is obvious that there is a continuity in the development of literary genres from Apabhraṃśa into the vernacular.

The present project wants to see if to what degree this development is also reflected in the linguistic evolution from the literary language of Apabhraṃśa to the literary vernaculars, Brajbhāṣā and Avadhī. We will compare grammatical features of the three languages, making use of digital technologies (e.g. tagging of digitized texts), examining existent digitized texts (e.g. Rāmcaritmānas, Paümacariu for Apabhraṃśa) and digitizing new ones.