Awadhi (IPA: [əʋ.ɖʱiː]; अवधी; 𑂃𑂫𑂡𑂲) is an Eastern Hindi language of the Indo-Aryan branch spoken in northern India. It is primarily spoken in the Awadh region of present day Uttar Pradesh, India. The name Awadh is connected to Ayodhya, the ancient town, which is regarded as the homeland of Śrī Rāma. It was, along with Braj Bhasha, used widely as a literary vehicle before being ousted by Hindustani in the 19th century.
|अवधी • 𑂃𑂫𑂡𑂲|
'Awadhi' written in Kaithi (top) and Devanagari (bottom) scripts.
|Native to||India and Nepal|
|38.5 million in India (2011)|
501,752 in Nepal (2011 census)
Official language in
|Fiji (as the Fiji Hindi dialect)|
Nepal (as a national regional language)
From a linguistic point-of-view, Awadhi is a distinct language that has its own grammar. In sociopolitical contexts, however, Awadhi is viewed simply as a style or spoken variety of Hindi and is not used as a medium of instruction in any institution, though its literary heritage is included as a part of Hindi literature. Awadhi is generally viewed as a rural tongue yet people in urban areas tend to speak a mixed form of Awadhi with Standard Hindi.
Alternative names of Awadhi include Baiswāri (after the subregion of Baiswara), as well as the sometimes ambiguous Pūrbī, literally meaning "eastern", and Kōsalī (named after the ancient Kosala Kingdom).
Awadhi is predominantly spoken in the Awadh region encompassing central Uttar Pradesh along with lower portion of Ganga-Yamuna doab. On the west, it is bounded by Western Hindi, viz., Kannauji and Bundeli, while on its East there is the Bihari dialect Bhojpuri. On the north, it is bounded by the country of Nepal while on its south it is bounded by Bagheli which shares a great resemblance with Awadhi.
The districts of Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Lucknow, Unnao and Fatehpur form the western portions of the Awadhi speaking area. The central districts include Barabanki, Rae Bareli, Amethi and Baharich. The eastern parts include districts of Faizabad, Allahabad, Kaushambi, Gonda, Basti, Sultanpur, Ambedkar Nagar and Pratapgarh. It is also spoken in some parts of Mirzapur and Jaunpur districts.
It's spoken mainly in Bheri zone: Banke and Bardia districts; Lumbini zone: Kapilvastu, Nawalparasi, and Rupandehi districts; Mahakali zone: Kanchanpur district; Rapti zone: Dang district; Seti zone: Kailali district.
Outside South AsiaEdit
A language influenced by Awadhi (as well as other languages) is also spoken as a lingua franca for Indians in Fiji, referred as Fiji Hindi. According to Ethnologue, it is a type of Awadhi influenced by Bhojpuri and is also classified as Eastern-Hindi.  Another language influenced by Awadhi (and Bhojpuri) is Caribbean Hindustani, spoken by Indians in the Caribbean countries of Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana. The Hindustani that is spoken in South Africa and Mauritius is also partially influenced by Awadhi. These forms of Awadhi are also spoken by the diaspora in North America, Europe, and Oceania.
Awadhi is an Indo-European language and belongs to the Indo-Aryan sub-group of Indo-Iranian language family. Within the Indo-Aryan dialect continuum, it falls under East-Central zone of languages and often recognised as Eastern-Hindi. It’s generally believed that an older form of Ardhamagadhi, which agreed partly with Sauraseni and partly with Magadhi Prakrit, could be the basis of Awadhi.
Awadhi has many features that separates it from the neighbouring Western Hindi and Bihari vernaculars. In Awadhi, nouns are generally both short and long whereas Western Hindi has generally short while Bihari generally employs longer and long forms. The gender is rigorously maintained in Western Hindi, Awadhi is little loose yet largely preserved while Bihari is highly attenuated. In regards to postpositions, Awadhi is distinguished from Western Hindi by the absence of agentive postposition in the former agreeing with Bihari dialects. The accusative-dative postposition in Awadhi is /kaː/ or /kə/ while Western Hindi has /koː/ or /kɔː/ and Bihari has /keː/. The locative postposition in both Bihari and Western Hindi is /mẽː/ while Awadhi has /maː/. The pronouns in Awadhi have /toːɾ-/, /moːɾ-/ as personal genitives while /teːɾ-/, /meːɾ-/ in Western Hindi. The oblique of /ɦəmaːɾ/ is /ɦəmɾeː/ in Awadhi while /ɦəmaːɾeː/ in Western Hindi whereas /ɦəmrən'kæ/ in Bihari.
Another defining characteristic of Awadhi is the affix /-ɪs/ as in /dɪɦɪs/, /maːɾɪs/ etc. The neighbouring Bhojpuri has the distinctive (i) /laː/ enclitic in present tense (ii) /-l/ in past tense (iii) dative postposition /-laː/ which separates it from Awadhi language.
The 1961 film, Gunga Jumna had featured Awadhi being spoken by the characters in a neutralised form. In the 2001 film Lagaan, a neutralised form of Awadhi language was used to make it understandable to the masses. The 2009 film Dev.D featured an Awadhi song 'Paayaliya' composed by Amit Trivedi. In the television series Yudh, Amitabh Bachchan spoke parts of his dialogue in Awadhi which received critical acclaim from the Hindustan Times.. Awadhi is also spoken by the residents of Ayodhya and other minor characters in the 1986 Ramanand Sagar's television series Ramayan.
The Awadhi language comes with its own dialectal variations. For instance, in western regions the auxiliary /hʌiː/ is used while in central and eastern parts /ʌhʌiː/ is used.
The following examples are taken from Baburam Saxena's Evolution of Awadhi, and alternative versions are also provided to exhibit dialectal variations.
|English||Awadhi (IPA)||Awadhi (Devanagari)|
|Who were there?||ɦʊãː koː or kəʊn ɾəɦəĩ||हुआँ को (कउन) रहें?|
|alt. ɦʊãː keː or kəʊn ɾəɦəin||alt. हुआँ के/कउन रहेन?|
|This boy is fine in seeing and hearing.||ɪʊ lʌɾɪkaː d̪eːkʰʌiː sʊnʌiː mə ʈʰiːk hʌiː||इउ लरिका देखई सुनई म ठीक है।|
|alt. ɪ lʌɾɪkaː d̪eːkʰʌiː sʊnʌiː mə ʈʰiːk ʌhʌiː||alt. इ लरिका देखई सुनई म ठीक अहै।|
|(She) said, let (me) eat a little and give a little to this one too.||kʌɦɪn laːoː t̪ʰoːɽaː kʰaːɪ leːiː t̪ʰoːɽaː jʌhu kɘ d̪ʌɪ d̪eːiː||कहिन, लाओ थोड़ा खाई लेई, थोड़ा यहु का दै देई।|
|alt. kʌɦɪn lyaːvː t̪ʰoːɽaː kʰaːɪ leːiː raːçi keː jʌnhu kɘ d̪ʌɪ d̪eːiː||alt. कहिन, ल्याव थोड़ा खाई लेई, रचि के एन्हुं के दै देई।|
|Those who go will be beaten.||d͡ʒoː d͡ʒʌɪɦʌĩ soː maːrʊ̥ kʰʌɪɦʌĩ||जो जइहैं सो मारउ खइहैं।|
|alt. d͡ʒèː d͡ʒʌɪɦʌĩ soː maːr kʰʌɪɦʌĩ||alt. जे जइहैं सो मार खइहैं।|
|Do not shoot at the birds.||cɪɾʌɪjʌn pʌɾ chʌrːaː nə cʌlaːoː||चिरइयन पर छर्रा न चलाओ।|
|alt. cɪɾʌɪjʌn peː chʌrːaː jin cʌlaːwː||alt. चिरइयन पे छर्रा जिन चलाव।|
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