Turkic Languages: Their Contribution in the Development of Hindustani by K. Gajendra Singh SignUp
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Turkic Languages: Their Contribution
in the Development of Hindustani
by K. Gajendra Singh Bookmark and Share
 


The term Hindustan has been used consciously so as to include Pakistan in it, by which name the Sub-continent was known before its partition in 1947. This paper concentrates mainly on languages as spoken by the masses, with their natural variations and not so much the written and the literary forms. We will consider the two major languages, Hindi and Urdu, which are widely spoken in Hindustan, although claims have been made that Urdu evolved out of Hindi and that Hindi is only Urdu written inDevanagari script. But the fact of the matter is that both Urdu and Hindi have evolved from the same colloquial base of Hindustani which was the lingua franca of Hindustan till its partition. As the well- known scholar and outspoken historian Khushwant Singh says, since then the Indians have made Hindi moreSanskritized and Pakistanis Urdu more Persianized, with the result that it is difficult for a common man to understand either Hindi or Urdu, specially their Radio and TV broadcasts. However, in spite of politically motivated and necessary corrective measures which new ruling elites usher in to change the complexion of the official language, if not the language itself, as has happened both in India as well as in Pakistan, the lingua-franca spoken by the common man in Hindustan, specially those who are illiterate or semi-literate has not changed that much since 1947. The best proof of this is the language employed in Hindustani films made in Bombay (India) which really represents the spoken language of the masses in most of India, and which also remains equally popular in Pakistan. Whenever the film language became too Sanskritized, the films have not been very popular. At the same time, when a film on 'Razia' (a Turkish Queen of Delhi) utilized too Persianized Urdu, its lack of popularity could in some ways be attributed to the difficulty of the masses in understanding it. Hindustani with its vast vocabulary, form and literary variety provides the lyric and dialogue writer all the richness, elegance and nuances to express himself. Incidentally, according to Encyclopedia Britannica (1990 Edition), more than 35 million Indians declared Urdu as their mother-tongue while in Pakistan the number was less than one- fifth i.e. 6.7 million. (The compilation is old and estimates conservative.) Various forms of Hindustani are spoken or understood by over 70% of Indian population. The Bombay films have played a major role in spreading Hindustani in non-Hindi/Urdu speaking areas of South India and North-East. 

The name Hindustani written as Hindoostanee was coined by an Englishman, Mr. J. B. Gilchrist (1759-1841), who was the first President of the Fort Christian College, Calcutta which trained British Civil Servants for service in India. Mr. Gilchrist also wrote a dictionary of Hindustani and its grammar. As mentioned earlier, from Hindustani have emerged two literary languages, Hindi in Devanagari script with literary and vocabulary borrowings from Sanskrit and Urdu in modified Arabic script with borrowings from Persian. Hindustani is much older form than Hindi or Urdu and many times it referred rather to the region and not so much to the race or religion. As a matter of fact before the advent of Muslims and others in India, the languages spoken in Hindustan were known as various Bhashas or Bakhas. Hindustani evolved out of a score of dialects which are inter-related among themselves and to it. Some of these dialects and languages are Hindi, Khariboli, Brij Bhasha, Awadhi, Bagheli, Chhatisgari, Bundeli, Kanauji, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Gujari, Rajsthani and when it was spoken in South it was known as Deccani That these languages are dialects of Hindi as claimed by some is not strictly true. Brij Bhasha was an important literary medium in 15th to 17th century. Both Brij Bhasha and many other dialects are genetically of different Prakritic origin than Khariboli. All earlier Hindi literature is in dialects other than Khariboli which became standardised and popular by the end of the 17th century and language of literature only in 19th century. Brij Bhasha continued as a medium of poetry till late 19th century. Thus, strictly speaking, the language of modern Hindi literature is different from that employed in earlier period. The same can be said about the Urdu which came to be written in the present form from 19th century onwards, although Urdu poetry flourished much earlier. 

One of the earlier writers of Hindustani was Amir Khusarao (1253-1325) a remarkable scholar of Persian and Arabic but of Turkish origin. He is claimed both by the Hindi as well as Urdu protagonists. His dictionary, Khaliq-bari, in verse, of, Persian, Arabic and Hindi words helped spread Persian and Arabic words and development of Hindustani. In recent times, writers like Premchand have been claimed both by Hindi protagonists as well as Urdu spokesmen. The only difference was that the same writer wrote some times in modified Arabic (Persian) script and some times in Devanagari script. In this paper we would use the word Hindustani to include Hindi, Urdu and the other forms like Khariboli, Hindi, etc. 

The general perception is that Hindustani and its earlier forms evolved out of interaction, since 11th century AD, between Muslim invaders, rulers, traders and religious men and others who had come and settled in Hindustan from the north-west and the local Indian population. Persian was then the language brought by sophisticated Muslim ruling elite from abroad, which was used for administration, courtly intercourse, etc. Thus the main interaction was between Persian and the Apbhramsa variation of Prakrit in North and West India, in particular the Suraseni variety spoken around Delhi and later with the Dravidian languages in Deccan, out of which Hindustani evolved and developed slowly and unevenly. Many of the books on the evolution and development of Hindustani were written by the Englishmen in 18th/ 19th century, who learnt and used it for administration as officers of the East India Company and the British Empire. It is doubtful if any of them knew Turkish as by the time they arrived on the scene, the pre-ponderence of Persian during the latter stages of Mughal empire was well established, although some Turkish was still taught in some Medrasas and households. Persian and Arabic continued to be taught at universities and schools during the British rule. Therefore, no credit at all except for some vocabulary is given to Turkish languages in the history of development of Urdu, Hindi or Hindustani. It is, of course, conceded that the word Urdu (Ordu in Turkish) itself is of Turkish origin and it means army or military establishment, which was inducted into Persian by 9l -Khanid historians and accepted in India by Sayyed ruler Khizr Khan for use by his army and the Court, under the Timurid influence. By 17th century, during the Mughal rule, the term, Urdu was generally applied to the imperial camp. The language Urdu/Lashkar Bhasha/Hindustani perhaps started developing seriously as a means of communication from end-12th century AD between the incoming Muslim rulers, soldiers, traders etc. and local population, for use in administration, for trading with native shop-keepers, in harems, where women and attendants were mostly of Hindustani origin. While Turks yielded to Persian words in matters of administration, poetry and social intercourse, they retained many Turkish words for military titles, weapons, military commands and organizations. Turkish derivations also exist in the hunt and hunting, also in terms expressing relationships and conduct in court among the ruling classes. We must not overlook the role played by Sufi saints in spreading Islam among the masses by using the new evolving Hindustani. Even today, tombs of Sufi saints are revered equally among Hindus. The objective of the paper is to advance the view that the Turkic languages apart from vocabulary, have contributed much more than is acknowledged, both in the basic structure as well as in the development of Hindustani languages. 

The vast stretch of area comprising Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, north-west Hindustan, Anatolian Turkey, Northern Iraq etc. has seen intermingling of various races, cultures and languages throughout history. At least since the days of Mauryan Empire in India (4th century BC) many rulers with their capital in Hindustan had Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia in their domains. Therefore, the language of these rulers and their religion spread into Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eastern Iran. Mauryan Emperor Ashoka and others sent Buddhist preachers up to Central Asia and many of the tribes there became Buddhists. Turkic and Indo-Aryan tribes like Sakas, Kushanas, when they settled on India's borders and inside it also adopted languages and religions of Hindustan. They also adopted Indian scripts which were also transferred to Central Asia, specially Eastern Turkistan. The way for exchanges was well-known, through the valley of Kabul river, Peshawar, Jalalabad and through well known routes to Tarim basin. As a matter of fact this area provided links for commercial, cultural and political exchanges between China on one hand and India, Central Asia and Western Asia on the other, where intermingling of people with diverse culture, race, ethnicity, religion such as Indians, Turks and others took place. In this area, Buddhist stupas and shrines, a large number of Buddhist writings in Prakrit and writings in Sanskrit as well as in local languages of Central Asia, in Indian scripts like Brahmi and Devanagari have been discovered, apart from a large number of secular documents, written on wooden tablets, leather, paper and silk. There are also translations from Sanskrit in Kharosti script. Translations include astronomical and medicinal subjects. Documents discovered in 10th & 11th century from Turfan region which can be seen in Berlin cover subjects like medicines & calendar based on Indian sources. Of course, the Turkish in these documents is quite different from the present day Turkic languages (Uighur and Cagtai group) spoken in Eastern Turkistan i.e Kazakhstan, Kyrghystan, Uzbekistan and the Sinkiang region of China. As many philosophical, spiritual and religious terms of Bhudhism and even Hinduism did not exist, they were inducted from Pali & Sanskrit into Turkish. Thus Turkish acquired many words of Pali and Sanskrit origin, some of which have even gone into other languages; Ratan becoming Ardhani is an example. An example how words change is illustrated from the Buddhist word Dhyan (meditation), which became Jhan in Chinese and Zen in Japanese. 

Although the influence of the Turkic languages on Indian languages began in all seriousness from 11th century AD onwards to which we will come to later, various Turkic tribes began their interaction with Hindustan much earlier than that. After the collapse of Mauryan Empire in 3rd century BC, a number of Central Asian Turkic tribes, known as Sakas in India and Scythians in West, came to Hindustan and settled down there. Sakas were actually forced towards Hindustan by Central Asian tribes, Yueh-chih, who also later entered Hindustan. Sakas ruled from Mathura (South East of Delhi) and their well-known Kings in 1st century BC were Rajuvala and Sodasa. They then shifted west to Rajasthan and Malwa. Yueh-chih's chief, Kujula-kara Kadphises conquered North India in 1st century AD. He was succeeded by his son Vima, after whom came famous Kanishka. Kanishka's tribe is known as Khushanas in Indian history. Their kingdom based with Peshawar as capital extended as far as Sanchi in Central India and Varanasi in East and also included large parts of Central Asia. Not surprisingly, administrative and political terms from north and west India influenced similar terms in Central Asia. Kushanas became Budhists and Kanishka spread this religion in Central Asia and elsewhere. Other major tribe which entered later in 6th Century AD were Huns, a branch of Hephthalis or white Huns, whose first king came to be known as Toramana in early 6th century and whose son Mihirakula was a patron of Shavism, a branch of Hinduism. It has been said that these and other tribes which had come earlier moved into Western and Central India i.e. in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Western Madhya Pradesh, especially after the break-up of the Gupta Empire. Many historians claim that by virtue of their valor and other qualities, these tribes were able to get themselves incorporated into the hierarchy of the Hindu caste system i.e. Khatriyas and are known as Rajputs (sons of Kings). It is no wonder that the Mongols and other Turkic speaking people were able to form relationships with Rajputs so very easily. It is possible that some words of Turkic languages might have been then absorbed in dialects or languages spoken in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Central India, where these tribes settled. A common word is 'kara' which in Turkish means 'black' and used for the same color in West India and as 'Kala' in the rest of the country. It is a moot point whether the word 'bai' which is written in Turkish as 'baci' and pronounced as 'baji' which means sister or elder woman has persisted from those days. But it was in areas of Rajasthan and nearby, closer to Delhi where the seeds for the development of Hindustani languages were sown. 

After the expansion of Islam into Iran this religion soon spread to Central Asia. The Turks as they advanced towards Anatolia and Hindustan via Iran and Afghanistan were also Islamised. Being a simple but hardy people from the Eurasian steppes, where life was austere and without frills, once the Turks acquired kingdoms, they also acquired along with it symbols and ways of culture and civilization, including the use of more sophisticated Persian (and Arabic), the language of the people they conquered. (To begin with Omayands had also taken over Byzantine system lock stock and barrel in Damascus). It is noteworthy that except in Central Asia, which remains the home of Turks and Anatolia i.e. Republic of Turkey (and Azeri areas), in most of the other areas they ruled, the Turks adopted the language of the ruled, albeit they introduced some of their own vocabulary and influenced the grammar of the language of their subjects. 

In the medieval history of Hindustan, the Turkic tribes played a major role among the Muslim conquers and rulers who came and made India their home. The Turkic raids began in the first half of 11th century starting with Sabuktgin and the process of establishment of their kingdoms in North & West of Hindustan started from late 12th century. Although Sindh was conquered by the Arabs, soon after the establishment of the Abbassid Khalifate in 8th Century AD, this played directly only a marginal role in influencing the culture and civilisation of Hindustan. It is interesting that in Malayalam (language of Kerala), Hindustani is known as Tuluk Bhasha and the word Tulukan used for Muslims and Tulukachi for Muslim woman. The languages spoken by the people of Turkey is called Tuluk Bhasha. This is interesting because the relations between the Kerala coast and the Arab world predate Islam and there has been constant interaction between the Malabar coast of Kerala and the Arab world but still the word for a Muslim is Tulukan. 

The impact and embedding of Islam and Islamic and Turkish culture into Hindustan took place during the Turco-Afghan period of India's history from end-12th century to early l6th century (and continued during the Mughal period). Even if some of the Sultans and rulers claimed Arabic or Afghan descent, the majority of the elite consisted of people of Turkic & Turanian origins ( not many of these tribes and individuals came from the Rumi Seljuk or Ottoman territories.) Many of them came as simple soldiers and some period chieftains. From the very early days of the Islamic history (second half of Abbassid period), many non-Turkish kings and Sultans maintained Turkish households of slaves brought over from Central Asia which provided them loyal soldiers and military leaders. Many of them rose by hard work and merit and reached the top ranks of the ruling elite and King makers. Some even became Sultans. 

Some of the prominent names of Turkish rulers in Hindustan are Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Gori, Kutubuddin Aybak, Iltutmish, Balban, and of course, Khiljis (known as Halach, in Turkish kh becomes h) and Tughlaks. According to some estimates, the Turks comprised up to 60% or more of the ruling elite during the medieval period of Indian history. It should also be noted that Timurid King, Babar, founder of the Mughal dynasty, was a Cagtai Turk and wrote his Babarname in Ca tai and not in Persian. So did his sons Humayun and Kamran write poet in Turkish. However, by the time of Akbar's reign the percentage of Turkish chieftains in the ruling elite had been reduced to one-fourth. It was a conscious political decision, as Turks and specially Mongols, nomad by life style, are more independent by nature and believe in equality and freedom. The Turanian/Mongolian concept of rulership is vested in the family and not in an individual. Humayun and Akbar had great trouble in subduing and disciplining their Turanian/Mongol origin nobles. Preference was given to Persians, Afghans & converts. 

It has been rightly claimed by many scholars in South India that a considerable process of development and even preservation of Hindustani took place in Deccan where it came to be known as Deccani, although the seeds of the birth of the language had been sown in North India from where it was taken to Deccan by Muslims conquers starting with Turkish Khilji (Halac) rulers and later Tughlak (again Turkish) rulers; Muhammed Tughlak even shifted his capital to the South for some time. Later a large number of kingdoms by Turkic tribes, in which they formed a fairly large proportion of the elite, were established in South India, i.e Bijapur, Golcunda, etc. When Allaudin Khilji conquered Deccan, the appointed Turks as chiefs for each villa e to look after its security, safety and administration. Most of them called their relatives to assist them. Thus both in the beginning of the evolution of Hindustani in the North and later in its further development in Deccan, a majority of the elite was of Turkic origin who while using Persian for administration must have used Turkish at inter-personal level and thus helped continue evolution of Hindustani in its various forms. The Deccani period also saw influx into Hindustani of not only Dravadian words but also its influence on its grammar and syntax and vice versa. We might even say that the Deccani period probably saved Hindustani from becoming totally Persianised as perhaps happened to it at many places in North India. 

It has been estimated that Hindustani and Turkish have thousands of words in common, mostly from Persian and Arabic, Some estimates put them around three to four thousand, with over five to six hundred words of Turkish origin in Hindustani. The comparison is basically with the Republic of Turkey's Turkish (of Oguz family), which since 1930s has been purged of many Arabic and Persian words. Perhaps the number of common words between Hindustani and Turkish as spoken in East, i.e. Uzbekistan and East (Uighur and Cagtai family) could, perhaps, be more. Some examples of Turkish words in Hindustani are: Top, Tamancha, Barood, Nishan, Chaku, Bahadur, Begum, Bulak, Chadar, Chhatri, Chakachak, chikin (embroidery), Chamcha, Chechek, Dag, Surma, Bavarchi, Khazanchi, Bakshi (accountant), Coolie, Kanat, Kiyma, Kulcha, Korma, Kotwal, Daroga, Koka, Kenchi, Naukar, etc. Obviously, the number of Turkish words in Hindustani is not as large as that of Persian and Arabic, because, the latter was the language of the Holy Koran (although Seljuk Turk rulers in Asia Minor and Iran had discouraged use of Arabic except for religion), which exercised influence over all believers and the former was the language of administration and aristocracy. I presume studies on the influence of Turkish on the Persian language and Arabic, have been done. 

Hindustani has surprising similarity in Grammar and Syntax structure with Turkish, though origins of both the languages are from different language families. For example, normally both in Hindustani and in Turkish first comes the subject, then the object etc. and finally the verb, i.e. SOV order unless emphasis is to be given, with somewhat similar stem endings. There are considerable resemblances in the declensions of the verb in Turkish and Hindustani. But, Turkish has only one gender while Hindustani has two. As I know soma Arabic, I can say that there appears no similarity at all between Hindustani and Arabic syntax and grammar. I know little Sanskrit or Persian grammar, but both languages belong to the same family of Indo-Iranian group and my feeling is that their syntax is also closer to Hindustani. While Persian like Turkish has one gender, Sanskrit has three, i.e. male, female and neuter. Sanskrit also allows more flexibility in the placing of subject, object, etc. It may be admitted that human beings while evolving speech patterns did not have much choice in shuffling subject, object, verb, etc. Still that Sanskrit/Persian syntax is somewhat similar to Turkish, is a somewhat strange coincidence, the latter belonging to the Ural-Altay group of languages. With Hindustani the similarity is further accentuated. It may also be noted that the areas from where Turkish and Indo-European languages emerged in Central Asia were not far from each other. Some similarities with Sanskrit are: dvihyrdaya (carrying two hearts, pregnant), in Turkish "iki canli" means, the same, two lives. In Hindi/Sanskrit, we have Chitrakar (painter), Murtikar. In Turkish we have "Sanatkar" (Artist), Curetkar (courageous). Sun in Sarhskrit/Hindi is Dinesha, while in Turkish it is "Gunes." First segment in both "din" and "gun" means day - perhaps linked with sunrise in cold climate. We may also note that the syntax of Germanic languages is quite different from Sanskrit and Persian, which are supposed to belong to the same family of Indo-European languages. We may now look at more similarities between Hindustani and Turkish. (Please note that in Turkish C is pronounced as J and C as Ch, G is silent when placed between vowels, which it accentuates. H: stands for Hindustani and T: for Turkish.) 

There are no articles or declensions in Turkish or Hindustani; the relationship of the words are expressed through 'case endings' as well as post-positions. (It would be interesting to study if Turkish helped speedy change-over from declensions to post-positions from Apbhramsh to Hindustani). The infinite noun functions as nominative and as indefinite. The accusative has thus two forms: the definite (with accusative ending) and the indefinite (the same as the nominative). Thus, "call a girl" - H: "ek larki bulao" T: "bir kiz çagir" but "call my servant", H: "mere naukar ko bulao"- T: "Benim hizmetciyi çagir". The word order in Turkish and Hindustani is same (This is also so in the following examples). 

The genitive comes before the agent e.g. 'the son of the teacher' T: 'ustanin oglu' H: 'ustad ka beta'. The genitive also expresses possession: 'whose house is this?' T. "Bu ev kimindir?", H: 'Woh ghar kiska hai?'. If a noun is in present, it goes into the genitive. It must therefore be constructed as: 'the man(he) has a house', T: "Adamin bir evi var", H: "Adami ka ek ghar hai". Also 'to have' as incidental possession is similarly expressed: "I have a book", T: 'Ben de bir kitab var', H: 'mere pas ek kitab hai'. The ablative is also used to express the comparative case: 'the elephant is larger than the horse' T: 'Fil attan buyuktur', H: 'Hathi ghore se bara hai'. For emphasis both languages use the Arabic adverb 'ziada' - for more. 'In addition it can be rendered as in T: 'daha' or in H: 'bhi'. The adjective is before the active or passive voice and does not change except in the case of (in H) adjectives ending with a. "The/a good girl, T: "iyi kiz", H: Achhi lardki". The adjective can be strengthened in both languages through simple repetition as well as through the adverb "very much " T:( pek çok); H:( bahut).In H:' Ahista ahista' (slowly), T:' yavas yavas'. Quickly becomes, T: "çabuk çabuk", H: 'Jaldi Jaldi'( not used in Arabic and Sanskrit perhaps). Sometimes alliteration is used, for example, H: 'ulta multa' mixed up. The alliterations are found especially in the passive or active voice (substantive) e.g.;. H: "kitab mitab" - books and suchlike and "bartan wartan"- dishes and suchlike, "Hara bhara"(Green), "Chota mota"(small). In Turkish, 'kötu mötu' (so-so), 'çocuk mocuk' (children etc), 'tabak mabak', (plates and suchlike). Popular in both languages are doubled substantives: Turn by turn or "again and again", becomes in T: "dizi dizi" and in H: 'bari bari'. 

Distributive are also thus expressed: "each man", T: "bir bir (or tek tek) adam," H: "ek ek adami", the interrogative further contains the meaning of the indefinite: "whoever", T: "kim kim", H: "jo jo". With number it is, T: "iki defa" H: "do dafa" (twice); 40 doors, in H: "Chalis darwaza", T: kirk kapi. In both languages numbers are preferably expressed without 'and/or' e.g. 'five or ten', H: panch das, T: bes on. Post positions are characteristic in both languages; 'for the dog' in H: 'kutte ke vaste', T: 'köpek için'; and towards the house', H: 'ghar ke taraf', T: 'evin tarafina'. As mentioned earlier, the verb is always found at the end of the sentence. The normal sentence structure SOV is illustrated as follows: 'I give this thick book with pleasure to that good child', T: ben sevincle, o iyi çocuga bu kalin kitabi veriyorum, H: 'main khushi se us ache bacche ko yeh moti kitab deta hun'. In Turkish, verbs are often used with a Substantive or Participle e.g. 'etmek' to make and 'olmak' to be, in H: 'karna'- to do, and 'hona' -being. For 'search' T: 'telaÿ etmek', H: 'talas karna'. Or 'be present', T: 'dahil olmak' H: 'dakhil hona'. Factual verbs are also similarly constructed. H: 'bana' (made), 'banana' (make), 'banwana' (have it made); in T: 'Yapmak' (make), 'yaptirmak' (have it made), ;yapilmak' (to bo made); H: 'Badalna' (to change oneself), 'badlana' (changing), badalwana (to have it changed) becomes in T: 'degismek' (to change onself), 'degistirmek' (to change) and 'degistirtmek (to have it changed). 

Indirect speech is made direct 'tell him to come here', H: 'Idhar ao usko bolo', T: 'buraya gelsin diye ona söyleyin'. The verb root ending - ip in Turkish and the simple verb root in Hindustani attached to the principal verb show the order of occurrence of an event. For example, 'they saw the thief and held him fast', H: 'chor ko dekh umon ne usko pakra', T: 'Hirsizi group yakaladilar'. The constructed verbal form (in Turkish)- arak and (Hindustani)-kar, -arke serves in the rendering of Subordinate or dependant clauses - 'in which, during' e.g. 'taking a vessel, he went to the well' H: 'bartan lekar kuan par gaya, T: 'Canak alarak kuyuya gitti'. Also common adverbial expressions such as 'he came running', T: 'Kosarak geldi', H: 'daurkar aya'. As in Turkish the twice repeated verb root plus e shows repeated or continuous action, as does the twice repeated verb of the present participle, H: 'main tairte tairte thak gaya', T: 'Yuze yuze yoruldum'. Both languages have a number of vowel compositions, (in Hindustani) as when the root as well as the (in Turkish) root plus a are set together with the declenated infinitive e.g. 'to be able to speak' T: 'konusabilmek', H: 'bol sakna', 'he began to say' H: 'woh bolne laga', T: 'Söylemege basladi'. Some similarities in idiomatic expressions are: the showing of suffering is pointed out through the expression of 'eating'- e.g. H: 'lakri or mar khana'; T: 'Sopa yemek' – to eat the stick - to get a beating. Endure suffering or to grieve, becomes in T: 'Gam yemek', H: 'gham khana'. (Note: Many of the above mentioned examples have been taken from a 1955 article by Otto Spies on the subject - the only paper on the subject I have come across since I published my earlier paper on 1.6.1994.) 

The examples quoted above on the similarities of syntax, vocabulary, etc. Between Turkish and Hindustani are based on comparison with the Ottoman and the present- day Turkish i.e. Oguz branch as spoken in the Republic of Turkey. Syntax etc. of Turkish is quite similar to Eastern Turkish i.e. Uighur branch although there are variations. But certainly the Eastern Turkish must be closer to Hindustani as most of the Turkic tribes who came to Hindustan belonged to that area. It may also be mentioned that of the common words in Turkish and Hindustani, whether of Turkish origin or otherwise, 20% have quite different meanings and nuances when used in Hindustani. This, of course is, true of even languages which have developed and evolved in separate regions and are influenced by the environment and other factors and become quite different from the original. Even in Turkic countries, the same words have different meaning e.g. in Turkey or say in Sinkiang, Kazakhstan or Kyrghystan. It is for this reason that the Turkic governments have set up Commissions consisting of scholars from Turkic speaking countries of Central Asia, Turkey and Azerbaijan to prepare a comparative dictionary and grammar. (last such attempt was made by Mahmud AI Kashghari in the 11th century AD.) The newly independent countries in Central Asia feel that they must harmonize the syntax, grammar and vocabulary of their languages. This has been the objective of many get-togethers of Turkic people, scholars and academicians, which have started taking place. Perhaps some Sanskrit, Hindustani and Persian scholars could also join and discover further resemblance between Turkish and Hindustani languages. 

We will leave it to linguists and philologists to work out how Hindustani languages evolved and developed but to a layman it is clear that people learn or try to learn the ruler's language or of a dominating power. It is for this reason that we see the dominance of English and French in their former colonies and the lasting influence of these languages on the languages of the latter. And it is for this reason alone that English continues to dominate international communications, earlier because of the British influence and now on account of the USA. I believe that even when languages were imposed, it is not as such the movement of races, as claimed, but only of the powerful elites; military, political or economic. There were Copts and Berbers in North Africa when the Arabs came and Byzantine Christians when Turks entered Asia Minor. Turkey sent over 1.5 million Christians to Greece in 1920s out of a population of over 11 million, in exchange for Muslim Turks; this was after 6 centuries of Islamisation and Turkification. (Ironically, these included many thousand Christian Turks, who had come to Asia Minor earlier than the Muslim Turks and had remained Christians.) Moldova's Turks called Gagaoz are Christians. Thus the languages and religions of the ruled do not change quickly and continue to interact and affect each other. So was the case in Hindustan and elsewhere. 

According to linguists the evolution of Hindustani or any other language is a result of contact situation in which more than two languages interact on the basis of belonging to the ruler and the ruled. The socio-linguistic forces give power and prestige to the languages of the ruler with the result that it begins to exercise linguistic influence on the language of the ruled. First in the field of vocabulary and later on in some vulnerable areas of syntax. But linguistic resemblance, apart from common parentage, can also be based on geographical and physical proximity. Essentially different but geographically and physically proximate languages are often known to exhibit shared linguistic features. This probably explains similarities in Sanskrit and Turkish as these languages originated around Central Asia. This also explains the similarities between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages or Persian, Turkish and Hindustani. This feature was studied in detail by Mr. Emeneau, which led him to develop the concept of linguistic areas. Perhaps Central Asia, Anatolia, lran, Afghanistan and North Hindustan could be said to belong to overlapping linguistic areas, where languages belonging to different families have acquired common traits following interaction, as a result of which, this vast area shows shared linguistic features like word-order, reduplication, inter-relations, negations, compound words etc. This also explains similarities between Deccani Hindi and Telgu in certain areas of syntax. 

It is noteworthy that except for some inscriptions near Orhon river, which are in Turkish Rhunic script, which itself was derived from Aramaic (a fact contested by many experts), the mother script of Semitic languages, Turkish has been mostly written in the script of the ruled people. Brahmi, Kharoshti and Devanagri scripts, though not of the ruled, are perhaps the earliest of scripts used for writing Turkish as spoken by Uighur Turks in Eastern Turkistan. They were used in spite of many difficulties in expressing the Turkish vowels (not easier to write in Persian or Arabic script either) which do not exist in Hindustani languages. Brahmi script is of Indian origin; it might have been inspired by the Aramaic script, but is not related to it and was used widely in Hindustan even before the Buddhist era and was used by Mauryan King Ashoka for inscriptions in India and elsewhere. It was taken to Central Asia and other neighboring countries. Out of Brahmi have evolved most other North Indian scripts like Devanagari, Bengali, Gujarati etc. Apart from the modified Arabic script, the other scripts used for writing Turkish are Cyrillic, introduced by the Russians in what are now Central Asian Republics, although at one time it was written in the Latin script. This change-over to Cyrillic perhaps took place both because the Turkish Republic had adopted it in early 1930s and for reasons of state, i.e. maintaining a scriptal cohesiveness. The Russians wanted its citizens in Central Asia to use the same script as of the dominant Russian language for easy switch over. It has been alleged that during the Soviet days, differences in meanings of Turkish words in different republics were encouraged. Thus Turkic languages have evolved differently in Eastern Turkistan, i.e. Uzbekistan, Kyrghystan Kazakhstan etc. Sinkiang Turkish with reduced contacts has perhaps developed peculiarities of its own. To remedy the situation, the Government of Turkey has granted tens of thousands of scholarships to students and teachers from Turkic Republics. A large number of Turkish teachers have also gone to teach at schools and universities in these countries. Students coming from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrghystan, etc. take a few months before they can fully master the Turkish as spoken in the Turkish Republic. The Turkic Republics have considered the question of change over from the Cyrillic to the Latin script. Azerbaijan has already done so after adding three more alphabets to the script used by Turkey. Turkmenistan had decided to switch over to the Latin script with some modifications from 1st January 1995. Others have not decided yet. The choice is not easy as switch-over to Latin script while opening a window to Turkey and all that Turkey has done through translations and assimilation of knowledge from the West, would cut these Republics from their immediate past, written in the Cyrillic script. Switch over to the Arabic script would be a political decision, as it will make access to the Persian-Arab Islamic world easier. Those responsible for the decision for the change-over have to consider political, cultural, religious, economic and other ramifications. 

It would appear that the Turkic rulers were much more statesmen-like and liberal in interaction with those whom they ruled. They did not insist on their language being imposed on the new subjects, notwithstanding the fact that the languages of some of the ruled were much more developed than Turkish. (For beautiful, like, love; for example, Turkish has very few synonymous, unlike say Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic, etc.) It has also been suggested that many Turkish rulers became Muslim for political and state-reasons. It automatically combined the powers of the Sultan and the Khalifa, thus making it easier to rule the domains. Of course, as regards Turkish expansion of Ottoman Empire and into Hindustan, being a Gazi provided great incentive and booty. Some have even raised doubts whether Ertugrul, father of Osman who established the Ottoman (Osmanli) dynasty in Asia Minor (Anatolia) was Muslim by birth. It has been suggested that he converted to Islam when he married the daughter of a powerful Islamic Sheikh to strengthen his position. But there is no conclusive proof for this, notwithstanding the fact that many Turks like Gagaoz and others have remained Christians. Some suggestions have been made recently (Prof. Julian Raby of Oxford has done a PhD thesis on this subject) that Fetih, the Conqueror of Constantinpole, seriously considered in 1450s embracing Orthodox Christianity, as Westwards the population was mostly Christian and even in Asia Minor a fairly large percentage of population might still have been Christian. lt was nearly 15% in as late as 1920s. The generosity of the Turkish rulers and their political wisdom and acumen is proved by the fact that they allowed people of other religions i.e. Christians, Jews, Armenians to have their own millets. As long as they paid their taxes, they were allowed to run their own affairs and even contribute to the economic well-being of the state. As regards Turkey, then known as Asia Minor, it was part of the Byzantine Empire and the Turkish blood (if one can measure it?) among the residents of the present day Turkey may not be more than 20%. It may be recalled that the Ottoman rulers themselves used the slave households system called Devsirme, through which, for hundreds of years, they recruited young non-Muslim Christian boys, mostly from Balkans. Out of them emerged the Janissary corps and high level military and civilian leaders, including grand veziers. Only one-third of grand veziers could claim Turkish descent. Barring a few, mothers of most of the Ottoman Sultans were non-Turkish, a large number of them Christians. The former were allowed to have their religious entourage and many Ottoman princes were brought up almost as Christians. These examples have been given to state that Empires did not change their religious, ethnic or linguistic character suddenly. There were long periods of interaction between various religions, races, languages and cultures, one affecting the other. No wonder, in Istanbul, Ankara and elsewhere in Turkey, many resemble the peoples of Balkans and Yugoslavia who dominated the Ottoman elite. In fact, anthropologists have counted more than 20 ethnic groups in Turkey. 

Similarly in India, once the Turks had decided to settle down, they started inter-mingling and inter-mixing. Allaudin Khilji and his sons married daughters of Hindu Kings and from the earliest period set an example. Hindus occupied positions of power in his court. The practice of marriages with families of Hindu Kings, especially in Rajasthan became very common after Mughal Emperor Akbar. Akbar and his descendents gave full honor and positions to their in-laws. Many of them were Mughal Commander-in-Chiefs and high officials. Accountants and many Veziers like Birbal were Hindus. If Mehmet, the Conqueror, thought of embracing Christianity, Akbar conversed with the sages of all religions, of which his populace consisted of and even evolved a new religion 'Din-e-Elahi'. In contrast, Aurangzeb following fanatic policies virtually destroyed the empire, built up by his forefathers. The inter-mixing and respect for others' languages, religions and culture co-existed with some equality and were able to influence each other. 

The objective of this paper is to start discussions and further research on the question of influence of Turkic languages on Hindustani languages, especially on Hindi and Urdu and their various forms. Except from late 18th century till first half of 20th century there was constant exchange and interaction between the peoples of Hindustan and Central Asia. (After India's independence, she was able to maintain cultural and other contacts with Turkic people in the former Soviet Union.) Now that, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, countries in Central Asia like Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrghystan, Kazakhastan, have become independent, more contacts and cultural and literary interaction can and should be established. The new era provides an opportunity not only to discover old historical and cultural relationships between the peoples of Hindustan and Turkic Republics and others, based on archives available in newly emerged Turkic Republics and elsewhere and those lying unutilized and unread in the Hindustan; but also to build on them further.   

(K Gajendra Singh, served as Indian Ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan in 1992-96. Prior to that, he served as ambassador to Jordan (during the 1990-91 Gulf war ), Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies.
E-Mail.gajendrak@hotmail.com)

11-May-2003
More by :  K. Gajendra Singh
 
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