OVERVIEW OF THE GUJARATI LANGUAGE
Gujarati is spoken primarily in the state of Gujarat, located in the westernmost region of India, bordering Pakistan and the Arabian Sea. From 1858 to 1947 the British Crown ruled over the Indian subcontinent. In 1947 India gained independence, at which time the Bombay State was formed, comprising an area that housed two primary linguistic groups: Marathi-speaking and Gujarati-speaking.
Due to tensions between the two linguistic groups and demands for sovereignty by both parties, the Bombay State was divided into two parts in May 1960: the Gujarat State and the Maharashtra State. Bombay remained a part of the Maharashtra State and was renamed Mumbai in the 1990s. In 1965, violence broke out between India and Pakistan concerning the disputed area Rann of Kachchh. An international tribunal had to be consulted to establish a peaceful agreement between the two countries, with the result that nine-tenths of the Rann of Kachchh territory was awarded to India and the remaining one-tenth to Pakistan.
Gujarat faced new problems in 1985, when a series of Muslim-Hindu riots erupted, resulting in a period of violence that lasted nearly half a year. Since then, Muslim-Hindu tensions have continued to periodically erupt in violence. Today, the majority of the Gujarat State’s population practices Hinduism, with followers of Islam comprising the next most significant religious minority in the state. As a result of the Gujarat State’s coastal location, the Gujarati language has acquired a variety of foreign influences since its initial development, including Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, and Persian that has greatly influenced the language’s development.
Gujarat is an Indo-Aryan language, and like the other languages of the northern two-thirds of India, the Gujarati language is descended from Sanskrit, and is thus a member of the Indo-European language family. Gujarati is one of the twenty-two official languages of India, and also one of the fourteen regional languages of India.
NOTE: National vs. Official Language
National Language: Every country of the world has a National language that is given prominence over other languages that may be spoken inside that country. In most countries such as the USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy etc the overwhelming percentage of the population speaks the national language and that is the one the government uses for official correspondence with international organizations such as the UN and other countries
Official Language: Some countries of the world are divided into regions called states or provinces where there may be people speaking an altogether different language from the national language This is particularly for countries like India, China, Africa, etc. For example, Hindi is the National language of India, but within the state of Gujarat, Gujarati is the primary language spoken and it has been granted Official language status for conducting its business. In total, there are 22 official languages in India, and these are spoken on a regional basis in different states within the country of India.
Gujarati Linguistic Features
Syllabic stress in Gujarati, while barely perceptible, generally falls on the first syllable
Varying slightly depending on the dialect, Gujarati has approximately 9 vowels and 32 consonants. The distribution of consonants includes: 20 stops, 3 fricatives, 3 nasals, 5 liquids and glides. Like Hindi, and unlike English, there are two features of linguistic contrast in Gujarati phonology that are unique to the Indo-Aryan languages among the Indo-European languages.
1) The first is the contrast between aspirated and non-aspirated consonant. Aspirated consonants are those produced with an audible expulsion of breath. The non-aspirated consonants are pronounced by suppressing the expulsion of breath when the consonant is released. Gujarati distinguishes unaspirated ‘ka’ and ‘ta’ from aspirated ‘kha’ and ‘tha’.
2) The second is between dental and retroflex consonants. For example, ta and da from t. and d. In dental consonants the tongue touches the upper front teeth, whereas with the retroflex consonants the tip of the tongue is curled upwards against the palate, and when the tongue is released from this position it gives the Indian retroflex sound. The nearest approximations in English to these distinctions are the dental-like ‘t’ which is sometimes heard in the pronunciation of the word ‘eighth’, and the retroflex-like ‘t’ in ‘true’ and the dental-like ‘d’ in ‘breadth’, and the retroflex-like ‘d’ in ‘drum’.
Nominal: Some nouns and adjectives are inflected while others are invariable. Inflected adjectives agree in case, gender and number with the nouns they qualify.
a) gender: masculine, neuter, feminine. b) number: singular, plural. The plural marker b) number: singular, plural. The plural marker is -o.
c) case: nominative, oblique, vocative.
pronouns: personal, demonstrative, interrogative, relative, indefinite.
compounds: Gujarati uses compound words formed by combination of adjectives and nouns i.e., adjective-noun, noun-adjective, noun-noun, adjective-adjective.
Gujarati Script, Orthography and Lexicon
The Gujarati alphabet consists of 47 letters. The Gujarati script which is also derived from Nagari Writing system like most of the other Indian languages. The Gujarati script is called Abugida, which is used for writing Gujarati as well as Kutchi. The major script differentiation in Gujarati from Devnagari is the absence of horizontal line running above the letters. Gujarati with other related languages like Kutchi can be written in Arabic as well Persian Scripts, which is still carried out by natives in Kutch district of Gujarat. Gujarati was the mother tongue of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the “father of India”, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the “iron man of India”. Gandhi played a major role to bring about India’s Independence from British rule. He promoted the Principles of Non-violence way of fighting for Civic rights have also influenced many political movements around the world.
A Few Little Known Facts About the Gujarati Language Culture
Gujarat is a flourishing state with cultural diversity. It is vibrant with its true colors of rich heritage and cultural traditions. Dating back to its history with the Harappan civilization, the state becomes a confluence of many religions – Hinduism, Islam, Jainism and Buddhism. The Gujarati culture assimilates arts, beliefs, customs, traditions, institutions, inventions, language, technology and values.
As Gujarat stands as ‘Heart of India’, Multiculturalism is traced in Gujarat. Shared cultural background making people feel on home ground and more comfortable with other people from their own culture. Culture shock, unlike other countries, is therefore, a missing point that makes people more confident and energetic as they stand for a challenge in global scenario. It has a special significance in Indian Political History as it is a birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi and the main influence to the people of Gujarat with his system of nonviolence movement. Festivals and fairs, arts and crafts, folk dances, music, cuisine and lifestyles form a major cultural background of the people who belong to Gujarat. The customs and beliefs make the culture more homely and truly blended with values and moral characteristics.
Gujarat is the safest state in India. It’s crime rate is 8.2 which is the least in India even after considering 2002communal riots. Gujarat has seventeen airports, which makes it the state with highest number of operating airports in India. Gujarat has the highest number of vegetarian people compared to any other state in India? The richest city in India is Surat; ahead of Bangalore and Madras, with an average annual household income of Rs.450,000. according to the report of The National Council of Applied Economic Research.
A Touch of Gujarati Literature
How little it takes to break the human heart!
A word half spoken;
A word unspoken;
How little it takes to bleed the heart!
The lightning flash of a teeny smile;
How little it takes to please that heart!
And how little it takes to break it!
How little it takes to please the human heart!
And how little it takes to break it!