Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Academic Paper

Title: Urdu in Devanagari: Shifting orthographic practices and Muslim identity in Delhi
Paper URL:
Author: Rizwan Ahmad
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Qatar University
Linguistic Field: Anthropological Linguistics; Sociolinguistics; Writing Systems
Subject Language: Urdu
Subject LANGUAGE Family: Indo-European
Abstract: In sociolinguistics, Urdu and Hindi are considered to be textbook examples of digraphia - a linguistic situation in which varieties of the same language are written in different scripts. Urdu has traditionally been written in the Arabic script, whereas Hindi is written in Devanagari. Analyzing the recent orthographic practice of writing Urdu in Devanagari, this article challenges the traditional ideology that the choice of script is crucial in differentiating Urdu and Hindi. Based on written data, interviews, and ethnographic observations, I show that Muslims no longer view the Arabic script as a necessary element of Urdu, nor do they see Devanagari as completely antithetical to their identity. I demonstrate that using the strategies of phonetic and orthographic transliteration, Muslims are making Urdu-in-Devanagari different from Hindi, although the difference is much more subtle. My data further shows that the very structure of a writing system is in part socially constituted.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: Language in Society Vol. 40 (3) pp 259-284
Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page