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Awadhi language

अवधी • 𑂃𑂫𑂡𑂲
Word Awadhi.png
'Awadhi' written in Kaithi (top) and Devanagari (bottom) scripts.
Native toIndia and Nepal
RegionAwadh (India)
Terai (Nepal)
Native speakers
38.5 million in India (2011)[1]
501,752 in Nepal (2011 census)[2]
  • Pardesi
  • Mirzapuri
  • Gangapari
  • Uttari
Kaithi (historical)
Official status
Official language in
 Fiji (as the Fiji Hindi dialect)
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-2awa
ISO 639-3awa
Awadhi bhasha.png
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Awadhi (IPA: [əʋ.ɖʱiː]; अवधी; 𑂃𑂫𑂡𑂲) is an Eastern Hindi language of the Indo-Aryan branch spoken in northern India.[4][5] It is primarily spoken in the Awadh region of present day Uttar Pradesh, India.[4] 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.[6]

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 region of Baiswara),[7] as well as the sometimes ambiguous Pūrbī, literally meaning "eastern", and Kōsalī (named after Kosala).[8]

Geographic distribution

In India

Awadhi is predominantly spoken in the Awadh region encompassing central Uttar Pradesh along with lower portion of Ganga-Yamuna doab.[9][10] On the west, it's bounded by Western Hindi, viz., Kannauji and Bundeli, while on its East there is the Bihari dialect Bhojpuri. On the north, it's bounded by country of Nepal while on it's south it's bounded by Bagheli which shares a great resemblance with Awadhi.[11]

The districts of Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Lucknow, Unnao and Fatehpur form the western portions of 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.[10]

Awadhi speaking districts in Uttar Pradesh, India.

In Nepal

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.[12]

Outside South Asia

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. [13]


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 recognized 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.[14][15]

Linguistic classification of Awadhi language.

Awadhi has many features that separates it from the neighboring 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.[6]

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.[14]


Several important literary works were composed in the language,[16][17] namely:

Queen Nagamati talks to her parrot, Padmavat, c1750

Popular culture

The 1961 movie, Gunga Jumna had featured Awadhi being spoken by the characters in a neutralized form. In the 2001 Bollywood movie Lagaan, a neutralised form of Awadhi language was used to make it understandable to the masses.[20][21] The 2009 Bollywood movie Dev.D featured an Awadhi song 'Paayaliya' composed by Amit Trivedi.[22] In the television series Yudh, Amitabh Bachchan spoke parts of his dialogue in Awadhi which received critical acclaim from Hindustan times.[23]

Sample phrases

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।

See also


  1. ^ "Statement 1: Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2011" (PDF). Office of the Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  2. ^ []
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Awadhi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ a b Evolution of Awadhi (a Branch of Hindi). p. 1.
  5. ^ Linguistic Survery Of India Specimens Of The Eastern Hindi Language Vol.6. p. 1.
  6. ^ a b Evolution Of Awadhi. p. 6.
  7. ^ Linguistic Survery Of India Specimens Of The Eastern Hindi Language Vol.6. p. 10.
  8. ^ Saksena 1937, p. 1.
  9. ^ Evolution of Awadhi (a Branch of Hindi). pp. 1–2.
  10. ^ a b Linguistic Survey Of India Vol. 6. pp. 9–10.
  11. ^ Saxena, Baburam. Evolution of Awadhi. pp. 2–5.
  12. ^ "Awadhi". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Fiji Hindi". Ethnologue. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  14. ^ a b Linguistic Survery Of India Specimens Of The Eastern Hindi Language Vol.6. p. 2.
  15. ^ Patterns of Regional Geography: Indian perspective. p. 127.
  16. ^ Saxena, Baburam. Evolution of Awadhi (a Branch of Hindi). pp. 11–12.
  17. ^ Grierson. Indo-Aryan Family. Mediate Group. Specimens of the Eastern Hindī Language. pp. 12–13.
  18. ^ "Historical dictionary of Medieval India".
  19. ^ "Columbia University".
  20. ^ ", Movies: Exclusive!!! Aamir Khan on the sets of Lagaan". Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  21. ^ "'Lagaan: Just perfect' - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Making music, from Aamir to Dev D". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  23. ^ "Yudh review: Amitabh Bachchan's show limps back to sluggish pace - Hindustan Times". 2 August 2014. Retrieved 16 September 2018.


  • Saksena, Baburam (1937). Evolution of Awadhi : (a branch of Hindi). Allahabad: The Indian Press.

External links