Rajasthani language

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For other uses, see Rajasthani (disambiguation).
Native to India, Pakistan
Region Rajasthan and areas of neighbouring Indian states; also spoken in some areas of Sindh and Punjab provinces in Pakistan
Native speakers
18-19 million (2001)[1]
Census results conflate some speakers with Hindi.[2]
Early forms
Old Gujarati
  • Rajasthani
Language codes
ISO 639-2 raj
ISO 639-3 raj
Glottolog raja1256[4]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

Rajasthani (Devanagari: राजस्थानी) refers to a group of Indo-Aryan languages spoken primarily in the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh in India. There are also Rajasthani-speakers in the Pakistani provinces of Sindh and Punjab.[5] Rajasthani languages are distinct from neighbouring related languages such as Punjabi and Hindi, though due to apparent similarities and political reasons, they are sometimes conflated with the latter. Rajasthani is one of the two major language strains descended from Old Gujarati, AKA Maru-Gujar or Maruwani, the other being modern Gujarati.


Rajasthani has a rich tradition of literature aging approximately 1500 years. Ancient astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta of Bhinmal (town in Jalore, Rajasthan) composed Brahsfut Siddhanta. In 779 A.D., Udhyotan Suri wrote Kuvalaya Mala partly in Prakrit & partly in Aprabransh.[6] Old Gujarati or Maru-Gurjar or Maruwani or Gujjar Bhakha (1100–1500 AD), ancestor of Gujarati and Rajasthani, was spoken by the Gurjars in Gujarat and Rajasthan.[7] Texts of this era display characteristic Gujarati features such as direct/oblique noun forms, post-positions, and auxiliary verbs. It had three genders as Gujarati does today. During the medieval period, the literary language split away from Gujarati.

By around 1300 CE a fairly standardised form of this language emerged. While generally known as Old Gujarati, some scholars prefer the name of Old Western Rajasthani, based on the argument that Gujarati and Rajasthani were not distinct at the time. Also factoring into this preference was the belief that modern Rajasthani sporadically expressed a neuter gender, based on the incorrect conclusion that the [ũ] that came to be pronounced in some areas for masculine [o] after a nasal consonant was analogous to Gujarati's neuter [ũ]. A formal grammar of the precursor to this language was written by Jain monk and eminent scholar Hemachandra Suri in the reign of Solanki king Siddharaj Jayasinh of Anhilwara (Patan). Maharana Kumbha wrote "Sangeet Raj", a book on musicology and a treatise on Jai Deva’s Geet Govinda.[6]


The Rajasthani languages belong to the Western Indo-Aryan language family. However, they are controversially conflated with the Hindi languages of the Central-Zone in the Indian national census, among other places. The varieties of the Rajasthani language are:[8]

  • Rajasthani Standard: the common lingua franca of Rajasthani people and is spoken by over 18 million people (2001) in different parts of Rajasthan.[9] It has to be taken into consideration, however, that some speakers of Standard Rajasthani are conflated with Hindi speakers in the census.
  • Marwari: the most spoken Rajasthani language with approximately 45 to 50 million speakers situated in the historic Marwar region of western Rajasthan. The 2001 census, however, records only 15 million speakers. Like Standard Rajasthani, many Marwari speakers are conflated with Hindi speakers in the census.
  • Malvi: approximately 10 million speakers in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Dhundhari: approximately 8 million speakers in the Dhundhar region of Rajasthan.
  • Harauti: approximately 4 million speakers in the Hadoti region of Rajasthan.
  • Mewari: approximately 5 million speakers in the Mewar region of Rajasthan.
  • Mewati: approximately 645,000 speakers in the Mewat region, comprising Haryana and Rajasthan.
  • Shekhawati: approximately 3 million speakers in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan.
  • Bagri: approximately 1.4 million speakers in northern Rajasthan and northwestern Haryana. There are also speakers situated in southern Punjab.
  • Nimadi: approximately 2.2 million speakers in the Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
  • Other Rajasthani languages are Dhatki, Godwari, Gujari, Gurgula, Goaria and Lambadi.

Geographical distribution[edit]

Rajasthani Art & Culture

Most of the Rajasthani languages are chiefly spoken in the state of Rajasthan but are also spoken in Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab. Rajasthani languages are also spoken in the Bahawalpur and Multan sectors of the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Tharparkar district of Sindh. It merges with Riasti and Saraiki in Bahawalpur and Multan areas, respectively. It comes in contact with Sindhi from Dera Rahim Yar Khan through Sukkur and Ummerkot. Many linguists (Shackle, 1976 and Gusain, 2000) agree that it shares many phonological (implosives), morphological (future tense marker and negation) and syntactic features with Riasti and Saraiki. A distribution of the geographical area can be found in 'Linguistic Survey of India' by George A. Grierson.

Official status[edit]

As recently as 1873, westerners like Samuel H. Kellogg, who possessed enough knowledge of the Indian vernaculars to revise the Hindi translation of the Bible and to write Hindi Vyakaran, a well-received grammar, considered the dialects of Rajasthani only as a subgroup of western Hindi. In 1908 George Abraham Grierson for the first time considered the dialects jointly under the name of Rajasthani.

Today, both India's national academy of letters, the Sahitya Akademi, and its University Grants Commission recognize Rajasthani as a distinct language, and it is taught as such in both Jodhpur's Jai Narain Vyas University and Udaipur's Mohanlal Sukhadia University. The state Board of Secondary Education included Rajasthani in its course of studies, and it has been an optional subject since 1973. National recognition has lagged, however.

In 2003 the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly passed a unanimous resolution to insert recognition of Rajasthani into the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. “Twelve years have passed, but there has absolutely been no forward movement,” Suresh Khandelwal, a senior member of the Rajasthani Bhasha Manyata Samiti, lamented at a New Delhi press conference during his announcement of the pressure group's planned all-day sit-in in New Delhi in May 2015.[10] All 25 Members of Parliament elected from Rajasthan state[10] as well as Rajasthan's Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje Scindia,[11] have also voiced support for official recognition of the language.

Rajasthani still lacks a comprehensive reference grammar and a contemporary corpus-based dictionary, but a descriptive grammar is said to be in preparation.

Writing system[edit]

In India, Rajasthani is written in the Devanagari script, an abugida which is written from left to right. Besides, Muriya script was in use for business purposes only. In Pakistan, where Rajasthani is considered a minor language,[12] a variant of the Sindhi script is used to write Rajasthani dialects.[13][14]

Salient features[edit]

In common with most other Indo-Iranian languages, the basic sentence typology is subject–object–verb. On a lexical level, Rajasthani has perhaps a 50 to 65 percent overlap with Hindi, based on a comparison of a 210-word Swadesh list. Most pronouns and interrogative words differ from Hindi, but the language does have several regular correspondences with, and phonetic transformations from, Hindi. The /s/ in Hindi is often realized as /h/ in Rajasthani — for example, the word ‘gold’ is /sona/ (सोना) in Hindi and /hono/ (होनो) in the Marwari dialect of Rajasthani. Furthermore, there are a number of vowel substitutions, and the Hindi /l/ sound (ल) is often realized in Rajasthani as /ll/ (ळ).


Rajasthani has 10 vowels and 31 consonants. Three lexical tones: Low, Mid, High (Gusain 2000). Three implosives (b, d, g). Abundance of Front Open Vowel (e.g., javɛ, Khavɛ..)

Front Central Back
Close i ɪ u ʊ
Mid e o
ɛ ə ɔ
Open ɑ
Bilabial Labio-
Retroflex Post-alv./
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɳ
Plosive p



Fricative s ʃ ɦ
Tap or Flap ɾ ɽ
Approximant ʋ l ɭ [15] j


Rajasthani has two numbers and two genders with three cases. Postpositions are of two categories, inflexional and derivational. Derivational postpositions are mostly omitted in actual discourse.[16]


  • Rajasthani belongs to the languages that mix three types of case marking systems: nominative – accusative: transitive (A) and intransitive (S) subjects have similar case marking, different from that of transitive object (O); absolutive-ergative (S and O have similar marking, different from A), tripartite (A, S and O have different case marking). There is a general tendency existing in the languages with split nominal systems: the split is usually conditioned by the referents of the core NPs, the probability of ergative marking increasing from left to right in the following nominal hierarchy: first person pronouns – second person pronouns – demonstratives and third person pronouns – proper nouns – common nouns (human – animate – inanimate).[17] Rajasthani split case marking system partially follows this hierarchy:first and second person pronouns have similar A and S marking, the other pronouns and singular nouns are showing attrition of A/S opposition.
  • Agreement: 1. Rajasthani combines accusative/tripartite marking in nominal system with consistently ergative verbal concord: the verb agrees with both marked and unmarked O in number and gender (but not in person — contrast Braj). Another peculiar feature of Rajasthani is the split in verbal concord when the participial component of a predicate agrees with O-NP while the auxiliary verb might agree with A-NP. 2. Stative participle from transitive verbs may agree with the Agent. 3. Honorific agreement of feminine noun implies masculine plural form both in its modifiers and in the verb.
  • In Hindi and Punjabi only a few combinations of transitive verbs with their direct objects may form past participles modifying the Agent: one can say in Hindi:‘Hindii siikhaa aadmii’ – ‘a man who has learned Hindi’ or ‘saaRii baadhii auraat’ – ‘a woman in sari’, but *‘kitaab paRhaa aadmii ‘a man who has read a book’ is impossible. Semantic features of verbs whose perfective participles may be used as modifiers are described in (Dashchenko 1987). Rajasthani seems to have less constrains on this usage, compare bad in Hindi but normal in Rajasthani.
  • Rajasthani has retained an important feature of ergative syntax lost by the other representatives of Modern Western New Indo-Aryan (NIA), namely, the free omission of Agent NP from the perfective transitive clause.
  • Rajasthani is the only Western NIA language where the reflexes of Old Indo-Aryan synthetic passive have penetrated into the perfective domain.
  • Rajasthani as well as the other NIA languages shows deviations from Baker’s 'mirror principle', that requires the strict pairing of morphological and syntactic operations (Baker 1988). The general rule is that the 'second causative' formation implies a mediator in the argument structure. However, some factors block addition of an extra agent into the causative construction.
  • In the typical Indo-Aryan relative-correlative construction the modifying clause is usually marked by a member of the "J" set of relative pronouns, adverbs and other words, while the correlative in the main clause is identical with the remote demonstrative (except in Sindhi and in Dakhini). Gujarati and Marathi frequently delete the preposed "J" element. In Rajasthani the relative pronoun or adverb may also be deleted from the subordinate clause but – as distinct from the neighbouring NIA – relative pronoun or adverb may be used instead of correlative.
  • Relative pronoun 'jakau' may be used not only in relative/correlative constructions, but also in complex sentences with "cause/effect" relations.[18]

Prominent linguists[edit]

Linguists and their work and year: [Note: Works concerned only with linguistics, not with literature]

Works on Rajasthani grammar[edit]

  • Agrawal, K.C. 1964. Shekhawati boli ka varnatmak adhyayan. Lucknow: Lucknow University
  • Allen, W.S. 1957. Aspiration in the Harauti nominal. Oxford: Studies in Linguistics
  • Allen, W.S. 1957. Some phonological characteristics of Rajasthani. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 20:5–11
  • Allen, W.S. 1960. Notes on the Rajasthani Verb. Indian Linguistics, 21:1–13
  • Asopa, R.K. 1950. Marwari Vyakaran. Jaipur: Popular Prakashan
  • Bahl, K.C. 1972. On the present state of Modern Rajasthani Grammar. Jodhpur: Rajasthani Shodh Samsthan, Chaupasani (Rajasthani Prakirnak Prakashan Pushp, 5)
  • Bahl, K.C. 1980. aadhunik raajasthaani kaa sanracanaatamak vyaakaran . Jodhpur: Rajasthani Shodh Samsthan
  • Chatterji, S.K. 1948. Rajasthani Bhasha. Udaipur: Rajasthan Vidayapith
  • Grierson, George A. (1908). Linguistic Survey of India. Volume IX: Indo-Aryan family. Central group, Part 2, Specimens of the Rājasthāni and Gujarāti. Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, India. 
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 1994. Reflexives in Bagri. M.Phil. dissertation. New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 1999. A Descriptive Grammar of Bagri. Ph.D. dissertation. New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2000a. Limitations of Literacy in Bagri. Nicholas Ostler & Blair Rudes (eds.). Endangered Languages and Literacy. Proceedings of the Fourth FEL Conference. University of North Carolina, Charlotte, 21–24 September 2000
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2000b. Bagri. München: Lincom Europa (Languages of the World/Materials, 384)
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2001. Shekhawati. München: Lincom Europa (Languages of the World/Materials, 385)
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2002. Endangered Language: A Case Study of Sansiboli. M.S. Thirumalai(ed.). Language in India, Vol. 2:9
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2003. Mewati. München: Lincom Europa (Languages of the World/Materials, 386)
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2004. Marwari. München: Lincom Europa (Languages of the World/Materials, 427)
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2005. Mewari. München: Lincom Europa (Languages of the World/Materials, 431)
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2006. Dhundhari. München: Lincom Europa (Languages of the World/Materials, 435)
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 2007. Harauti. München: Lincom Europa (Languages of the World/Materials, 434)
  • Gusain, Lakhan. 20o8. Wagri. München: Lincom Europa (Languages of the World/Materials, 437)
  • Hook, Peter and Man Singh Mohabbat Singh Chauhan. 1986. Grammatical Capture in Rajasthani. Scott DeLancey and Russell Tomlin, (eds.), Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting of the Pacific Linguistics Conference. Eugene: Deptt. of Linguistics. 203-20
  • Hook, Peter and Man Singh Mohabbat Singh Chauhan.1988. The Perfective Adverb in Bhitrauti. Word 39:177-86
  • Hook, Peter and Man Singh Mohabbat Singh Chauhan. 1988. On the Functions and Origin of the Extended Verb in Southern Rajasthani. Gave.sa.naa 51:39–57
  • Khokhlova, Liudmila Viktorovna. in press. "Infringement of Morphological and Syntactic Operations' Pairing in "Second Causative" Formation (Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Rajasthani)." Indian Linguistics 64.
  • Khokhlova, Liudmila. 2001 Ergativity Attrition in the history of western New Indo-Aryan Languages (Panjabi, Gujarati, Rajasthani). In The Yearbook of South Asian Languages and Linguistics. Tokyo Symposium on South Asian Languages. Contact, Convergence and Typology. Edpp.158–184, ed. by P. Bhaskararao & K.V. Subbarao. New Delhi-London: Sage Publication
  • Lalas, S.R. 1962–78. Rajasthani Sabad Kol. 9 Volumes. Jodhpur: Rajasthani Shodh Samsthan
  • Macalister, George. 1898. A Dictionary of the Dialects Spoken in the State of Jeypore. 1st edition. Allahabad: Allahabad Mission Press
  • Magier, David S. 1983. Topics in the Grammar of Marwari. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California
  • Magier, David S. 1984. Transitivity and valence: Some lexical processes in Marwari. Berkeley Linguistic Society 10
  • Magier, David S. 1985. Case and Transitivity in Marwari. Arlene R.K. Zide, David Magier & Eric Schiller (eds.). Proceedings of the Conference on Participant Roles: South Asia and Adjacent Areas. An Ancillary Meeting of the CLS Regional Meeting, 25 April 1984, University of Chicago. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Linguistics Club. 149-59
  • Miltner, V. 1964. Old Gujarati, Middle Gujarati, and Middle Rajasthani sentence structure. Bharatiya Vidya 24:9–31
  • Sakaria, B. & B. Sakaria. 1977. Rajasthani-Hindi Shabda-Kosh. Jaipur: Panchsheel Prakashan
  • Shackle, Christopher (1976). The Saraiki Language of Central Pakistan: A Reference Grammar. London: School of Oriental and African Studies.
  • Shackle, Christopher (1977). "Saraiki: A Language Movement in Pakistan". Modern Asian Studies 11 (3): 279–403.
  • Smith, J.D. 1975. An Introduction to the Language of the Historical Documents from Rajasthan. Modern Asian Studies 9.4:433-64
  • Swami, N.D. 1960. Sankshipta Rajasthani Vyakaran. Bikaner: Rajasthani Research Institute
  • Swami, N.D. 1975. Rajasthani Vyakaran. Bikaner: Navyug
  • Tessitori, L.P. 1914-16. Notes on the Grammar of Old Western Rajasthani. Indian Antiquary:43-5

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rajasthani language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. ^ "Census of India: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues –2001". Censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Ernst Kausen, 2006. Die Klassifikation der indogermanischen Sprachen (Microsoft Word, 133 KB)
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Rajasthani". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  5. ^ Census of India, 2001. Rajasthan. New Delhi: Government Press
  6. ^ a b http://www.rajras.in/index.php/rajasthan-literature/
  7. ^ Ajay Mitra Shastri; R. K. Sharma; Devendra Handa (2005). Revealing India's past: recent trends in art and archaeology. Aryan Books International. p. 227. ISBN 8173052875, ISBN 978-81-7305-287-3. It is an established fact that during 10th–11th century...Interestingly the language was known as the Gujjar Bhakha.. 
  8. ^ Ethnologue.com: Ethnologue report for Rajasthani
  9. ^ "Census of India: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues –2001". www.censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  10. ^ a b Press Trust of India, "Sit-in for constitutional recognition of Rajasthani planned", 4 May 2015, The Economic Times. Accessed 22 April 2016.
  11. ^ Press Trust of India, "Vasundhara Raje flags off ‘Rajasthani language rath yatra’", 26 July 2015, The Economic Times. Accessed 22 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Language policy, multilingualism and language vitality in Pakistan" (PDF). Quaid-i-Azam University. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  13. ^ "Goaria". Ethnologue. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  14. ^ "Dhatki". Ethnologue. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  15. ^ Masica (1991:97)
  16. ^ Gusain 2003
  17. ^ Dixon 1994.
  18. ^ "?" (PDF). 

External links[edit]