Rajasthani language

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For other uses, see Rajasthani (disambiguation).
Native to India, Pakistan
Region Rajasthan and its adjacent areas in India, in some parts of Sindh and Punjab of Pakistan.
Native speakers
50 - 80 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 in the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh in India. It is also spoken in parts of the neighbouring provinces of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan.[5] The Rajasthani linguistic sphere is usually sectioned into four major language groups: Rajasthani, Marwari, Malvi, and Nimadi.[6] Each of these languages contains numerous dialects. Rajasthani is one of the two major language strains descended from Old Gujarati, AKA Maru-Gujar or Maruwani, the other being modern Gujarati.


Old Gujarati or Maru-Gurjar or Maruwani or Gujjar Bhakha (1100 AD–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, 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).


The Rajasthani language is a Western Indo-Aryan language although some classify it as a part of the Central Indo-Aryan family. Rajasthani group of languages consists of four major languages such as Rajasthani, Marwari, Malvi, and Nimari.

Geographical distribution[edit]

Rajasthani Art & Culture

Most of the Rajasthani dialects are chiefly spoken in the state of Rajasthan but are also spoken in Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab. Rajasthani is 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 (particularly Gusain, 2000b and Shackle, 1976) agree that it shares many phonological (implosives), morphological (future tense marker and negation) and syntactic features with Riasti and Saraiki. However, further inquiry is needed. A distribution of the geographical area can be found in 'Linguistic Survey of India' by George A. Grierson.

Languages and Dialects[edit]

Major varieties of Rajasthani languages are:[8]


Rajashthani Standard is the common lingua franca of Rajashthani people. It is spoken by 18 million people (2001).[9] Some of the Rajasthani speakers conflates with Hindi speakers in the census. If including the major dialects such as Dhundhari, Harauti, Mewati, Ahirwati, Jaipuri and other speakers included in the Hindi in census, the total estimated speakers of Rajasthani language will be around 30 - 35 million people.

Prominent dialects of this language are:

  • Dhundhari: About 1.8 million persons in Jaipur, Dausa, Tonk, Ajmer, Karauli and Sawai Madhopur districts of Rajasthan. It was first surveyed by G. Macliester who published
  • Harauti: About 2.5 million speakers in Kota, Bundi, Baran and Jhalawar districts of Rajasthan. It has a nominative marker /nE/ which is absent in other dialects of Rajasthani. It is the standard dialect for Harauti language.
  • Other major dialects are Kathaira, Rajawati, Chaurasi, Ajmeri, Nagarghari, Kishangarhi.
  • Mewati: About 645,291 speakers in Mewat region of Haryana(Gurgaon and Mewat districts) and adjoining Alwar district of Rajasthan.
  • Ahirwati: spoken in Mahendragarh and Rewari districts of Haryana.[10]
  • Jaipuri language was spoken by 15 million people in the Harauti , Mewati, Dhundhari region of Rajasthan.


It is estimated that 45 - 50 millions actual Marwari speakers. But some 15 million speakers (ca. 2001) is actually reported in the census. Many of the Marwari speakers conflates with Rajasthani, and Hindi speakers in the census. It is the largest language by number of speakers of the Rajasthani group of languages.[9]

Prominent dialects of this language are:

  • Bagri: About 1.4 million speakers in Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar districts of Rajasthan, Sirsa and Hissar districts of Haryana.It is spoken in Fazilka and in some villages of Mukatsar district of Punjab of India. Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar areas of Punjab of Pakistan.
  • Shekhawati: About 3 million speakers in Churu, Jhunjhunu and Sikar districts of Rajasthan.specimens of 15 varieties of Dhundhari spoken in the territory of the former state of Jaipur in 1898.
  • Wagdi: About 3–5 million speakers in Banswara, Dungarpur, Kushalgarh, and Pratapgarh districts of Rajasthan state of India.
  • Mewari spoken by about 5 million people.
  • Other major dialects are Dhatki, Godwari, Gujari, Gurgula, Lambadi, Gojri.


  • Malvi is spoken in the Malva region in Madhya Pradesh, India, with 10 million speakers. It is also known as Ujjaini, Malavi, Mallow, Malwada, Malwi.
  • The dialects of Malvi are Ujjaini (Ujjain, Indore, Dewas, Shajapur, Sehore districts), Rajawadi (Ratlam, Mandsaur,Neemuch districts), Umathwadi (Rajgarh district), and Sondhwadi (Jhalawar district).


  • Nimadi, spoken in the Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh and in Rajasthan. The districts which speak Nimadi are: Barwani,Khandwa, Khargone, Burhanpur, Bedia, sanawad and parts of Dhar, Harda and South Dewas districts. It is spoken by about 2.2 million people.

Official status[edit]

In the past, the language spoken in Rajasthan was regarded as a dialect of western Hindi (Kellogg, 1873). George Abraham Grierson (1908) was the first scholar who gave the designation 'Rajasthani' to the language, which was earlier known through its dialects. Today, however, Sahitya Akademi, National Academy of Letters and University Grants Commission recognise it as a distinct language. It is taught as such in the Universities of Jodhpur and Udaipur. The Board of Secondary Education, Rajasthan included Rajasthani in the course of studies and it has been an optional subject since 1973. Since 1947, several movements[which?] have been campaigning in Rajasthan for its recognition, but it is still considered a 'dialect' of Hindi.[by whom?] Recently,[when?] the Rajasthan Government has recognised it as a state language, but there is still a long way for the language to go towards national status.[original research?] It still lacks a comprehensive reference grammar and contemporary dictionary based on a thorough linguistic survey of Rajasthan.[citation needed] Currently an extensive descriptive grammar of Rajasthani is being recorded.[by whom?]

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,[11] a variant of the Sindhi script is used to write Rajasthani dialects.[12][13]

Salient features[edit]


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 [14] j


Rajasthani has two numbers and two genders with three cases. Postpositions are of two categories—inflexional and derivational. Derivational mostly omitted in actual discourse.[15]


  • 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).[16] 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.[17]

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. 1918. Linguistic Survey of India (Volume VIII, Part II). Calcutta: Government of India Press
  • 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. 2008. 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. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Rajasthani". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  5. ^ Census of India, 2001. Rajasthan. New Delhi: Government Press
  6. ^ "Languages of Rajasthan - Languages Spoken in Rajasthan - Local Languages of Rajasthan - Rajasthani Languages". www.bharatonline.com. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  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. ^ a b "Census of India: Abstract of speakers’ strength of languages and mother tongues –2001". www.censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 2015-09-27. 
  10. ^ District History
  11. ^ "Language policy, multilingualism and language vitality in Pakistan" (PDF). Quaid-i-Azam University. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  12. ^ "Goaria". Ethnologue. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  13. ^ "Dhatki". Ethnologue. Retrieved 9 August 2009. 
  14. ^ Masica (1991:97)
  15. ^ Gusain 2003
  16. ^ Dixon 1994.
  17. ^ "?" (PDF). 

External links[edit]