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The Formation of The Marathi Language

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The Formation of The Marathi Language
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Item Code: IDD549
Author: Jules Bloch
Publisher: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd
Language: English
Edition: 1970
ISBN: 9788120823228
Pages: 430
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 8.8" X 5.7"
weight of the book: 635 gms

The present work had been published in French, under the title La formation de la langue marathe, in 1920, by Jules Bloch. It immediately got a great success and the edition was soon out of print. The Marathi language had since long been described in several grammars. An elaborate dictionary of this language had been published at Bombay as early as in 1831 by T. Molesworth assisted by George and Thomas Candy. A second edition of the same, revised and enlarged by J. T. Molesworth, appeared in 1857. This work was very comprehensive and careful and till now remains authoritative. In the Linguistic Survey of India, the chapter dealing with the Marathi language, prepared by Sten Konow, had been published in 1905. Much material for a comparative grammar of the Indo-Aryan languages of India had already been collected. But the work of Jules Bloch was the first systematical undertaking to coordinate all the data and to understand the evolution from Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsa to Old—Marathi and from the Old—Marathi to the modern one.

Jules Bloch had been specially equipped to undertake such a task. After getting a general training in Indo-European linguistics with linguists like Antoine Meillet and indologists like Sylvain Levi, he had been appointed in 1908 as a member of Ecole francaise d’Extréme—Orient. In this capacity he studied in India both in the field of dravidology and in the field of Marathi. Marathi has been sometimes in the past considered as dravida. That was wrong from the linguistic point of view, but, as Marathi has developed in contact with neighbouring Telugu and Kannada, it has been influenced, at Least in its vocabulary, by these Dravidian language. Jules Bloch conducted his studies in Tamil and dravidology for a fuller knowledge of Indian linguistics and not only in connexion with his Marathi studies, but his double competence in Indo- Aryan and Dravidian languages, enabled him to properly place the Marathi language in its whole environment.

The special Marathi studies of Jules Bloch had been done at Poona in close contact with scholars like Ramkrishna Gopal Bhandarkar. The fruit has been this book. Later, Jules Bloch produced two other books: L’Indo—aryen du Veda aux temps moderns (Paris, 1934) and Structure grammaticale des langues dravidiennes (Paris, 1946). Both have been translated into English. The first one, Indo-Aryan from the Vedas to modern times, has been largely revised by Jules Bloch himself and translated by Dr. Alfred Master (Paris, Adrien Maisonneuve, 1965). The other one The Grammatical Structure of Dravidian languages has been translated in English by Dr. Ramkrishna Ganesh Harshe and published by Dr. S. M. Katre for the Deccan College, Poona.

The need for the translation of the oldest—one e,i.e. on the formation of Marathi, from French into English, was therefore greatly felt by Indian students who rarely have a proficiency in Western languages other than English. Dr. Dev Raj Chanana undertook the translation with full competence and devotion. He had just completed the task when his premature and sudden death snatched him from his family, his friends and the Held of indology itself.

Thanks to our common friend Shambhu Datt Sharma, who kindly took care of the printing, the book is now at the disposal of the scholars.

Copies of the original text were very rare and wanted. Now, in the present English version, this historical work is available again just half a century after its first publication.



It is my very sad duty to write a. few lines by way of a preface to this book. My husband, Dr. Dev Raj Ghanana, who most painstakingly translated this book by Mr. Jules Bloch, passed away in May 1968, soon after finishing this work.

I am extremely grateful to Prof Jean Filliozat, Chaire de Langues et Litteratures de 1’ inde, College de France, Paris, my husband’s guide and mentor, for writing the Foreword to the book. I have no words to thank Mr. Shambhu Datt Sharma, a research-student of Dr. Dev Raj Ghanana, for his invaluable help in getting the book printed. My thanks are also elm: to Dr. Romila Thapar, Reader in History, University of Delhi Mrs. R. A. Menon, Reader in Economics, University of Delhi, and Dr. L. Rai for their valuable help at various stages.

My thanks also to Madame Bloch and Madame Caillat of France.

About the Book:

The Present work is the English rendering of La formation de la Langue Marathe - a well-known work by Jules Bloch. The Original French version was the first systematic undertaking to coordinate data on Marathi language, - tracing its evolution and development through various stages - from Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apabhramsa. Jules Bloch was expert in Dravidian languages, specially Tamil and had studied Indo-Aryan languages. He was therefore competent to undertake the study of Marathi language and place it in its whole environment. It is not surprising that the results of his studies stand challenged even half a century after the Publication of his work.

The English version needs no apology. It owes its origin to the long-felt need of Indian scholars who rarely know a Western language other than English. The work is a faithful representation of the original and is sure to meet the demands of the reader. While it benefits the reader it stands as the lasting monument to the writer who passed away soon after finishing the work.



$ I . Not one of the Indo-European languages, currently spoken in India, seems to go back to any language greatly different from Sanskrit, made known to us by the Vedic and Classical texts. To write the history of any one of them, Marathi for example, therefore amounts essentially to show as to how the alterations undergone, during the course of history, by the linguistic system of Sanskrit have resulted in the constitution of firstly the various dialects of the Middle Indian, and subsequently of this modern language itself.

In reality this design can be correctly and legitimately carried out only subject to important reservations. In the present state of available documentary evidence, none of the ancient Indo-European languages gives us a sure foot-hold for analysis. Even the most archaic Sanskrit texts have already got the traces of the mixture of important dialectal mixtures and subsequently the different speeches have always been subjected to the influence of Sanskrit, have reacted on one another and have, in their turn, contaminated Sanskrit itself. It is, therefore, but proper to examine first of all each of the known forms of Indo-Aryan and the value of documents representing them, in order to determine the extent to which the sources can be utilised for the study of Marathi.

$ 2. It has been often remarked that the chronological succession of the most ancient texts of Sanskrit corresponds to a progressive geographical extension of this language towards the East. It is but natural that in course of time one notices therein a considerable contribution made by new elements and dialectal mixtures; but the language of the Rgveda, so similar to ancient Iranian, and spoken at the borders of the Iranian world, in a domain comparatively so limited, is likely to have represented a definite and pure dialect, capable of serving as a solid base for linguistic comparison. But no such possibility exists.

By isolating the most recent parts such as the tenth Man-dala, by taking note of various editings and correcting the various rejuvenations of the text, one does end up with a basically unique language : but this language is traditional and composite (on all these points see Wachernagel, p. X-XXII ). Or, to put it in better terms, the editors of the Rgveda, as we have it, have partially adapted to their own dialects various religious texts composed in another dialect. Meillet, in his article, ‘Les consonnes intervocaliques en vedique’ (I. F., XXXI, p. 120 ff.) gives the following proofs in support of the above statement :

Firstly, the opening of the intervocalic aspirate sonant, constant in the Rgveda for the middle-occlusive *jh, is also found therein for bh, dh, notably in grammatical forms (First person plural Middle -mahe, Second person singular imperative-hi, etc.): but often ancient -bh and -dh arc preserved. This is so because the editors of the actual Rgveda have reintroduced in a large number of words the occlusion which had persisted in their dialects. They could not, however, touch the grammatical forms without seriously modifying the aspect of the religious language borrowed by them.

The distribution of r and l in Sanskrit is explained by a series of analogous adaptations. The dialect on which rests the Rgveda was a Western dialect, where as in Iranian every l got mixed up with r. Now the presence, in the most ancient parts of the available text, of words where l corresponds to an Indo-European l proves that the editors of this text have introduced therein several forms of their own dialects. It is in fact known that there has existed an Eastern dialect where l represented r or l. The number of adapations increases in course of time, the vocabulary of Sanskrit and of Middle Indian confronts us on this point with inextricable confusion.

Finally the grammar of the Rgveda itself carries the traces of contamination; the arbitrary use of the terminations of instrumental -ebhih and aih is explained by the conflict of two speeches, one tending to extend -ebhih to adjectives, then to nouns, as will be done later by Middle Indian, the other tending to maintain and even extend the termination -aih, as will be done by classical Sanskrit.

Vedic Sanskrit is, therefore, in its most authentic and most ancient form, a literary language and ac ommon language. This is all the more reason why classical Sanskrit must show these characteristics and lack the unity.



    The Sanskrit - The middle-Indian Inscriptions, Pali, Jaina texts, Northern Buddhist texts, Classical Prakrits (comparison with the Hindustani), General characteristics of middle-Indian; The modern-Indo-Aryan languages, Relationship with the middle-Indian group, The Apabhramsa, The Marathi




Alterations depending on the place of vowels in the word.
    Accent - Final Vowels ; As penultimate Syllables, Before the penultimate Syllable, As the initial Syllable, Inside the word
Prakrit Vowels in Contact, Insertion of y and v, Diphthongs, Contraction

Nasal Vowels

Chart of Marathi Vocalism

     Occulsives; Occulsives following a nasal, Aspiration and Deaspiration of occulasives, Other changes, Chart of Marathi occulsives, Gutturals, Paltatals and s arising from ch, ks; Old cerebrals, Treatment of r+dental; Spontaneous cerebralisation; Dentals; Labilas, Treatment of dental+v

Aspirate; Note on y

The word
    Phonemes in contact; Distant action: Vocalic Infection; Metathesis; anticipation of aspiration; dissimilation; Syllabic superposition. End and the beginning of word

Morphology. Generilities, Loss of dual

Declension, Stems, genders, case

Group: Direct case, oblique case in nouns terminating in consonants, in those terminating in a vowel

Traces of other old Terminations: instrumental, locative, ablative

Postpositions, sim, sathim, stav, tem, la, lagim, nem; Adjectives of belonging, called "genetive"

Relatives, Demonstratives, Interrogatives, etc., Personal pronouns


Conjugation, Strong and weak stems, Stem of present, Stems of Past-Participle, Causative, Potential, Passive

Inflexion, Old Tenses: Past of habitude (old present), Imperative, Modern creations: Future; Participial tenses; Present-conditional; Past; Tenses of obligation and Potential.

Impersonal Forms of the Verb. Present Participle; Past Participle; Participle of obligation, Future Participle, Composite tenses, Auxilliaries, Passive Periphrastic, Absolute Forms from Participles, Verbal noun and Infinitive

The Sentence. Nominal and Verbal sentences. Accord of the Adjective to the enlargement. Order of the words. Subordination,

Conclusion. Place of Marathi in the Indo-Aryan group

Appendix. Note on Certain Documents of Old Marathi

Etymological Index

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