Deccani Language

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Khalilullah Butshikan - From Dohras (Songs) 40 and 42 from the Kitab-i Nauras (Book of Nine Essence - 2013.284 - Cleveland Museum of Art.jpg
A folio from the Kitab i Nauras, a collection of Deccani poetry attributed to the Adil Shahi king Ibrahim Adil Shah II (16th-17th centuries)
Native toIndia
RegionDeccan (Marathwada region of Maharashtra, Khandesh region of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Hyderabad-Karnataka, Telangana, Southern and Central part of Andhra Pradesh and Northern part of Tamil Nadu; also significant minority speakers found in the states of Goa and Kerala)
EthnicityDeccani People
Perso-Arabic (Urdu alphabet), other
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Deccani (also known as Deccani Urdu[2] and Deccani Hindi)[3][4][5] or Dakni, Dakhni, Dakhini, Dakkhani and Dakkani (دکنی, dekanī or dakhanī), is a variety of Hindustani spoken in the Deccan region of India and the native language of the Deccani people. Commonly associated with Urdu, the historical language was a predecessor to and influenced modern day Urdu and Hindi. The modern variety spoken today however, is heavily influenced by Standard Urdu.[6] It arose as a language of the Bahmani and later Deccan sultanates, ca. 1300 AD, as trade and migration from the north introduced Hindustani to Southern India. It differs from Hindustani because of the strong influence of Marathi, Telugu and Kannada spoken in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.


Deccani is spoken in the Deccan region of India. In the early 14th century, the north Indian language spoken in Delhi and its neighbourhood, then called Hindavi or Dehlavi, travelled south along with the Muslim governors, soldiers and common people that went to settle in Deccan. It flourished there, not only as a spoken language, but also a literary language up to the end of the 17th century. It was called Deccani by the northerners even though there were no major differences from the north Indian variety except for the influences and borrowings from the local vernaculars.[7]

Being a literary language Deccani adopted the Perso-Arabic script for writing the language. After the Aurangzeb's conquest of Deccan, the northerners came into contact with Deccani, and imported the practice of writing in the Perso-Arabic script, which eventually became the standard practice for Urdu all over the Indian subcontinent.[8]

Deccani was the lingua franca of the Muslims of Deccan, chiefly living in Hyderabad state (including the regions ceded to the British by Nizams), and the Mysore state. Deccani, mainly spoken by the native Muslims living in these areas, can be divided into 2 classes:

Areas where Hindustani (Khariboli) are spoken vs. Deccani

North Deccani is spoken in Andhra Pradesh, areas of former Hyderabad State, mainly Hyderabad City, Telangana (mainly Nizamabad city), Marathwada (cities of Aurangabad and Nanded), Hyderabad-Karnataka (Kalaburagi, Bidar and Raichur in present day Karnataka), minority native Goan Konkani Muslims in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka with some variation of Nawayath, and Goan Muslim dialect in Goa.

South Deccani is spoken along Central Karnataka, Bangalore, Southern and Central Andhra Pradesh (Vijayawada, Kurnool, Kadapa, Guntur, Nellore, etc.), and also spoken by a few muslims in North and Central Tamil Nadu (Chennai, Vellore, Ambur, Salem, Trichy, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Villupuram, Thiruvannamalai) and scattered also in South Tamil Nadu. However, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of the muslims in Tamil Nadu speak only Tamil as their mother tongue. This form of Deccani is interlaced with the native language words of the respective regions. These were the areas under the Mysore and Carnatic sultanates. This is also the form of Deccani spoken by the minor Deccani Muslim community of Kerala.[citation needed]

Furthermore there is more prevalent Deccani version of Urdu in the Coastal region of Karnataka. This dialect which is very closely related to Deccani Urdu is spoken by largely Muslims in South Canara (from Mangalore up till Kumta in Uttara karnataka). They call it simply Urdu because there hasn't been a categorisation yet. This takes the number of languages spoken by Muslims in this region to 3 i.e. Deccani Urdu, Beary bashe and Nawayathi.


The Khariboli Hindavi from Delhi was introduced in the Deccan region during Alauddin Khalji invasion in between 1295 AD to 1316 AD[citation needed]. It became more popular in the Deccan plateau during and after Muhammad bin Tughluq shifted the Sultanate capital from Delhi, making the city of Daulatabad the new capital in 1327 AD. As a revolt against the Sultanate, the Bahmani Sultanate was formed in 1347 AD with Daulatabad as its sultanate capital. This was later moved to Gulbargah and once again, in 1430, to Bidar, The Bahmani Sultanate lasted for about 150 years, expanding to almost the entire Deccan Plateau (which was then named as Deccan). This shifting of power, moving of capitals, expansion of sultanate collectively propagated the Delhi Hindavi, which came to be known as Deccani and received patronage from its rulers. It was also known through other names like Hinduastani, Zaban Hinduastani, Dehalvi and Hindawi. The Sufis were the earliest to use Deccani in its written form. The earliest available manuscript on record is Kadam Rao Padam Rao a Masnavi of Fakhruddin Nizami, written during 1421–1434 AD.[9]

When the Mughals took over Deccan, many notable personalities, both secular and religious, settled in the Deccan and spread the language across borders that now form parts of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa. One such poet of Mughal region was Wali Deccani (1667–1707), the first established poet to have composed Ghazals and compiled a divan (a collection of ghazals where the entire alphabet is used at least once as the last letter to define the rhyme pattern).


Deccani Urdu speaking areas by concentration

Deccani has plenty of Turkish evolved loanwords,[10] due to the fact that the ancestors of its people were of Mamluk origin, although most of the Deccani population of Karnataka has above 90 percentage of Indian genes.[11] It is similar to Dehlavi dialect in the influence from Persian, but differs because of the strong influence of Marathi, Telugu and Kannada spoken in the states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This language, which is often mistaken as a dialect of Urdu,[citation needed] has a rich and extensive literary heritage, the most important being Kitab-E-Navras - revered for its transcendence beyond secularism, and Kadam Rao Padam Rao.

Deccani and Urdu[edit]

Deccani, built on a base of Delhi Hindavi, influenced the development of Urdu (also known as Rekhta). This was achieved primarily through the continual interaction of Sufi poets, courtesans and public between the Deccan and the Mughal Courts and the Khadi Boli heartland. Hyderabad was the southernmost city of North India. Noteworthy are the contributions of Wali Dakhni (also known as Wali Aurangabadi and Wali Gujarati), a famous poet of Dakhni, who visited Delhi in 1700. He astonished the poets of Delhi with his ghazals. He drew wide applause from the Persian-speaking poets, some of whom, after listening to Wali, also adopted the language of the people, ‘Urdu’, as the medium of their poetic expressions. Prominent poets—Shah Hatem, Shah Abro and Mir Taqi Mir—were among his admirers.

At that time in Delhi, the court poets were composing in Persian and Arabic. For others, Braj and Awadhi were the languages of literary and religious expressions. The spoken language of all was Khadi Boli. When the poets listened to Wali in Dakhni language (which is also a variant of Khari Boli) they were struck by the fact that the spoken language of the people was capable of such rich literary expression. These events were important for they hastened the adoption of Urdu, in the early 18th century, as the language for literary and religious expression (in which Deccani played the role of a catalyst).[12]

Deccani and Hindi[edit]

Deccani in the Indo-European languages' family tree, is represented under Urdu, and is a Hindustani language.

Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay also maintained that it was Deccani that established the use of Khari Boli replacing Braj in the North. In fact, even the name Hindi for the language originated in the South. A Tamil, Kazi Mahamud Bahari, used the word Hindi for Deccani in the 17th century in his Sufi poem Man Lagan. Renaming Deccani as Hindi was probably a symbolic gesture by him to extend the geographical reach of this language.[12][better source needed]


Deccani is part of the Indo-Aryan grouping of the Indo-European languages. The Deccani language has puzzled linguists for years, and its specific classification is a confusing subject, it could be a direct descendant, or sister language of Urdu, or be a Persianization of the Marathi language. It was also declared as the National language of the former defunct Hyderabad State.[citation needed]

Geographic distribution[edit]

Most speakers of Deccani live in the Indian region known as the Deccan. They inhabit the regions comprising the erstwhile Muslim kingdoms in Deccan Plateau viz. portions of the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu, few muslims speak the Tamilized Deccani dialect as their language (though all are fluent in Tamil). They can be collectively be known as Deccani Muslims, and include subgroups like the Hyderabadi Muslims. In Tamil Nadu, the Urdu speakers are a not a subset of the Tamil Muslim community.


Other than the Northern Deccani, including Hyderabadi, and the Southern Deccani, dialects of Deccani include Savji bhasha i.e. the language of the Savji community in the Hubli, Dharwad, Gadag, Bijapur, Belgaum region.

Deccani Film Industry[edit]

The Deccani Film Industry is based in Hyderabad, India, and its movies are produced in Hyderabadi Urdu, a dialect of Deccani.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Dakhini (Urdu)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Khan, Abdul Jamil (2006). Urdu/Hindi: An Artificial Divide: African Heritage, Mesopotamian Roots, Indian Culture & Britiah Colonialism. Algora Publishing. ISBN 978-0-87586-438-9.
  3. ^ Azam, Kousar J. (9 August 2017). Languages and Literary Cultures in Hyderabad. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-351-39399-7.
  4. ^ Verma, Dinesh Chandra (1990). Social, Economic, and Cultural History of Bijapur. Idarah-i Adabiyat-i Delli. p. 141. Deccani Hindi is indebted for its development to the Muslim poets and writers chiefly belonging to the kingdom of Bijapur.
  5. ^ Arun, Vidya Bhaskar (1961). A Comparative Phonology of Hindi and Panjabi. Panjabi Sahitya Akademi. p. xii. The Deccani Hindi Poetry in its earlier phase was not so much Persianised as it became later.
  6. ^ Prakāśaṃ, Vennelakaṇṭi (2008). Encyclopaedia of the Linguistic Sciences: Issues and Theories. Allied Publishers. p. 186. ISBN 9788184242799.
  7. ^ Dua 2012, p. 383.
  8. ^ Dua 2012, pp. 383–384.
  9. ^ D. Balasubramanian Harsh K. Gupta, Aloka Parasher-Sen, (Editors); Nishat, Jameela (Author) (2000). Deccan heritage. Hyderabad: Universities Press. pp. 201–210. ISBN 9788173712852. Retrieved 5 December 2016.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  10. ^ InpaperMagazine, From (13 November 2011). "Language: Urdu and the borrowed words". DAWN.COM. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  11. ^ Rajkumar, Revathi; Kashyap, VK (19 August 2004). "Genetic structure of four socio-culturally diversified caste populations of southwest India and their affinity with related Indian and global groups". BMC Genetics. 5: 23. doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-23. ISSN 1471-2156. PMC 515297. PMID 15317657.
  12. ^ a b "Dakhni". Archived from the original on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2012.[better source needed]
  13. ^ Mumtaz, Roase. "Deccanwood: An Indian film industry taking on Bollywood". Retrieved 23 February 2018.


Further reading[edit]

  • Gricourt, Marguerite (2015). "Dakhinī Urdū". In Fleet, Kate; Krämer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John; Rowson, Everett (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Brill Online. ISSN 1873-9830.