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Languages of Gujarat

Gujarat is situated in the western coast of India. The principal language of Gujarat is Gujarati. However, there are a number of other languages that are spoken in Gujarat, such as Hindi, English and Sindi. Gujarati is known to be an Indo-Aryan language and is believed to be descended from Sanskrit. Some language scholars also say that this language is a part of a bigger Indo-European language family. This language is the chief language of Gujarat as well as of the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.

Gujarati is spoken by almost 46 million people worldwide. It is the 26th most spoken native language in the world. Gujarati is also considered as one of the most westernized Indo-Aryan languages. It was the mother tongue of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi i.e. Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah the 'Father of Pakistan' and also Sardar Vallbhbhai Patel,the 'The Iron Man of India.'

The evolution of Gujarati is classified into the following three historical stages:

 

Old Gujarati: Known as the ancestor of Gujarati and Rajasthani. It was spoken by the Gurjars of northern Gujarat and the western Rajasthan. While most scholars call it the old Gujarati, still many of them like to call it the old western Rajasthani. A formal grammar of this language was written by the Jain monk and an eminent scholar Hemachandra Suri in the reign of the Rajput King Siddharaj Jayasinh.

Middle Gujarati: It was developed during 1500 AD - 1800 AD. It was a split off from Rajasthani and developed some different types of phonemes.

Modern Gujarati: This type of language was developed during the eighteenth century and has been in use ever since. During the third quarter of the 19th century, a number of milestones were created for the language, which till then used to have verse as its dominant mode of literary compositions.

1. The early 1840s saw the first personal diary composition called 'Nityanondh'.
2. 1866 saw the first novel in Gujarati, 'Karan Ghelo'.
3. In the same year, the first autobiography in Gujarati was released.

Of the approximately 46 million speakers of Gujarati, roughly 45.5 million live in India, 150,000 live in Uganda, 250,000 in Tanzania, 50,000 in Kenya and around 10,000 in Pakistan. You may also find a large community of Gujarati speakers in Mumbai.

Gujarati is one of the 22 official languages in India. When in Gujarat, you will find that Gujarati also has large number of dialects. Many of these dialects have borrowed from and enriched by Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, English and Hindi.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/04

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