1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sindhi and Lahnda

SINDHI (properly Sindhī, the language of Sindh, i.e. Sind) AND LAHNDA (properly Lahndā or Lahindā, western, or Lahndē-dī bōlī, the language of the west), two closely connected forms of speech belonging, together with Kashmiri (q.v.), to the N.W. group of the outer band of Indo-Aryan languages. In the following pages it will be assumed that the reader is familiar with the main facts stated in the articles Indo-Aryan Languages and Prakrit.

In 1901 Sindhi (including Kachchhī) was spoken by 3,494,971 people, and Lahnda by 3,337,917,—the former in Sind and Cutch, and the latter in the W. Punjab and adjoining tracts (for further details on this point see the article Lahnda). The parent Prakrit, from which Lahnda is sprung, must once have extended over the greater part of the Punjab, but, as explained under Indo-Aryan Languages, the population of the Midland expanded so as to cover the E. and centre of that province, and the language (Panjabi) now there spoken is a mixed one, Midland in its main characteristics, but showing more and more traces of its old Lahnda basis as we go W. The wave of Midland progress exhausted itself in the barren tract of the west-central Punjab, and W. of about the seventy-third degree of E. longitude Lahnda holds decisive sway. The facts are very much the same with regard to the mixed language of Rajputana. Here the expansion of the Midland language was stopped by the desert, beyond which lies Sindhi. Lahnda and Sindhi, the W. outposts of Indo-Aryan speech, have accordingly for centuries occupied a peculiarly isolated position, and have in many respects struck out common lines of independent growth. This process was aided by the presence of Piśāca languages (see Indo-Aryan Languages). In early times there were Piśāca colonies along the Indus, right down to its delta, and both Sindhi and Lahnda have borrowed many peculiarities from their dialects.

Sindhi is directly derived from the Vrācaḍa Apabhraṁśa Prakrit (see Prakrit). The name of the Apabhraṁśa from which Lahnda is derived is not known, but it must have been closely allied to Vrācaḍa. Sindhi has one important dialect, Kachchhī, spoken in Cutch. Here the language has come into contact with Gujarati and is somewhat mixed with that form of speech. For the dialects of Lahnda, and the various names under which that language is known, see the article Lahnda.

Owing to their geographical position both Sind and the W. Punjab were early subject to Mahommedan inroads. The bulk of the population is Mussulman, and their languages make free use of words borrowed from Persian and (through Persian) from Arabic. The written character employed for Lahnda is usually that modification of the Persian alphabet which has been adopted for Hindostani. The same is the case for Sindhi, except that further modifications have been introduced to represent special sounds. In both languages, Hindus also employ a script akin to the well-known Nagari alphabet (see Sanskrit). It is the same as the “Laṇḍā” (a word distinct from “Lahndā”) or “clipped” character current all over the Punjab and is very imperfect, being seldom legible to any one except its original writer, and not always so to him.

Phonetics.[1]—The phonetic system of both languages in most respects resembles that of other Indo-Aryan vernaculars. Space will not allow us to do more than draw attention to the main points of difference. In other Indo-Aryan languages a final short vowel is generally elided. This rule is also followed in Lahnda, but the genius of Sindhi requires every word to end in a vowel, and hence these short vowels are still retained. Thus, Skr. naras, a man, Pr. narō, Ap. naru, L. nar, but S. narᵘ. In Sindhi these final short vowels are, as in Kashmiri, very lightly pronounced, so that they are hardly audible to a person unacquainted with the language. They are therefore printed in these pages as small letters above the line. In the cognate Kashmiri a short i or u affects by epenthesis the pronunciation of a preceding vowel, just as in English the silent vowel e added to “mar” changes its pronunciation to “mare.” So, in Kashmiri, marᵘ is pronounced mor. Lahnda, especially when dropping the final short vowel, has similar epenthetic changes. Thus chōhar(u), a boy, becomes chōhur; shāhar(u), a city, becomes first shāhur and then, further, shåhur (å like the a in “all”); while chōhar(i), a girl, becomes chōhir. The oblique singular (see below) of chōhur is chōhar, for chohar(a) with a final a instead of a final u, and hence the vowel of the second syllable is unchanged. Similarly, the oblique form of shåhur is shāhar, while the oblique form of chōhir is still chōhir, because it also originally ended in i. Similar epenthetic changes have not been noted in Sindhi. In that language and in Lahnda the short vowel i, when preceded or followed by h, or at the end of a word, is pronounced as a short e. Thus S. kiharō, of what kind, and S. mihitⁱ, a mosque, are respectively pronounced kehaṛō and mehetᵉ. When i is so pronounced, it will be written as e or in the following pages.

In Prakrit almost the only consonants which had survived were double letters, and in most of the Indo-Aryan vernaculars these have been simplified, the preceding vowel being lengthened in compensation. Thus, Ap. kammu, a work, Hindostani, kām. In Panjabi and Lahnda the double consonant is generally retained, as in kamm, but in Sindhi, while the double consonant is simplified, the vowel, as in the Piśāca languages, remains short; thus, kamᵘ. This nonlengthening of the vowel in such cases is typical of Sindhi, words like S. āgᵉ, fire, from Ap. aggi, being quite exceptional. It even happens that an original long vowel coming before a conjunct consonant is shortened when the conjunct is simplified. Thus, Skr. tūryam, S. turī, a trumpet.

In Sindhi, as in Piśāca, a sibilant is liable to be changed into h. Thus, Skr. māṁsaṁ, S. māsᵘ or māhᵘ, flesh; Skr. dēśas, S. dēsᵘ or dēhᵘ, a country. In L. the s is generally, but not always, preserved. As in most Indo-Aryan languages a medial becomes the hard ; thus, S. juṛaṇᵘ, to join; L. ghōṛā, a horse. As in the Piśāca languages, there is great confusion between cerebrals and dentals. There was the same tendency in Vracaḍa Apabhraṁśa, and it is more common in Sindhi than in Lahnda. Thus, Skr. tāmrakas, S. ṭ̄āmō, copper; Skr. daṇḍas, S. ḍ̄aṇḍᵘ, a staff. Moreover, in Sindhi, t and d become regularly cerebralized before r, as in Ap. putru, S. puṭrᵘ, a son; Ap. drākhā, S. ḍrākhᵃ, a vine. The cerebral l does not appear in Sindhi, but it has survived from Prakrit in Lahnda, being subject to the same rules as in Marathi (q.v.). When l represents a Prakrit single l, it becomes , but if it represents a Prakrit ll, it remains a simple dental l. It may be remarked that the same rule seems to have applied in the Prakrit spoken by the Piśācas.

Sindhi has a series of strengthened consonants—, , ḍ̄, and . They are pronounced “with a certain stress in prolonging and somewhat strengthening the contact of the closed organ, as if one tried to double the sound at the beginning of a word.” They often, but not always, represent an original double letter. Thus, Ap. laggau, S. laḡō, applied; Ap. garuau, S. ḡarō, heavy, but S. garō, mangy; Ap. vijjā S. vij̄ā, science; L. jaṭ ,S. j̄aṭᵘ, a Jat; Ap. vaḍḍau, S. vaḍō, great; Ap. ḍōliā, S. ḍ̄ōlī, a sedan-chair; Ap. dubbalu, S. ḍ̄ab̄alᵘ, weak; S. bābō, a father, but b̄āb̄ō, a father's brother.

Declension.—Both languages have lost the neuter gender, all nouns being either masculine or feminine. The rules for distinguishing gender are much as in Hindostani. As in other Indo-Aryan languages, nouns may be either strong or weak, the strong forms being derived from nouns with the pleonastic Sanskrit suffix ka (see Hindostani and Marathi), In Sindhi a masculine weak form in corresponds to the strong one in ō, and feminine weak forms in and to a strong one in i. In Lahnda weak forms have dropped the final short vowel, and the strong forms end in ā (masc.) and ī (fem.).

As explained in the articles above referred to, almost the only old case that has survived throughout the declension of both languages is the general oblique. This is used for any oblique case, the particular case required being as a rule further defined by the help of a postposition. The general oblique case, without any denning postposition, is specially employed for the case of the agent. There are also examples of the survival of the old locative and of the old ablative. Thus S. mathᵘ, top, loc. mathᵉ, on the top; L. Ambī, at Amb; L. vēlā, time, rōṭī-dē vēlē, at the time of food; L. jangil, for jangali, in the forest. This locative is of regular occurrence in the case of Sindhi weak masculine nouns in . For the old ablative, we have S. gharᵘ, L. ghar, a house, abl. S. gharō̃, L. gharā̃, and so others. The locative termination can be referred to the Ap. locative termination -hi or -hī, and the ablative ā̃ or ō̃ to the Ap. -hã or -hŭ. The nominative plural, and the general oblique case of both numbers are formed as in the following examples:—

Singular. Plural.

Nominative. Oblique. Nominative. Oblique.

Sindhi. Lahnda. Sindhi. Lahnda. Sindhi. Lahnda. Sindhi. Lahnda.

 Weak Noun—
 Masc. gharᵘ,
a house
ghar gharᵃ ghar gharᵃ ghar  gharanᵉ,
 Fem. j̄ibhᵃ,
 a tongue 
jibbh j̄ibhᵃ, jibbh j̄ibhū̃,
jibbhā̃  j̄ibhunᵉ,
Fem. āgᵉ,
agg āgᵉ agg āgeū̃ aggā̃  ãgeanᵉ,
 āgeā̃, āgiē̃
 Strong Noun— 
 Masc. ghōṛō,
a horse
ghōṛā ghōṛē ghōṛē ghōṛā ghōṛē  ghōṛanᵉ,
 ghōṛā̃, ghōṛē̃
 Fem. ghōṛī,
a mare
ghōṛī ghōṛiᵃ  ghōṛī ghōṛiū̃  ghōṛiā̃   ghōṛinᵉ,
 ghōṛiā̃, ghōṛiē̃ 

In Lahnda the final short vowel of the weak forms has been dropped, but in some cases the final u of the masculine and the final i of the feminine have been preserved by epenthesis, as explained under the head of phonetics. The origin of the nominative plural and of the various oblique forms is explained in the article Hindostani. In the same article is discussed the derivation of most of the postpositions employed to define the various oblique forms and to make real cases. There are as follows: S. khē, L. nū̃, to or for; S. khā̃, L. , from; S. , sandō, L. , of; S. mē̃, L. vic, in. It will be observed that the Lahnda forms are identical with those found in Panjabi. In both languages the accusative case is the same as the nominative, unless special definiteness is required, when, as usual in Indo-Aryan vernaculars, the dative is employed in its place. The agent case is the oblique form without any postposition. The S. khē is a corruption of Ap. kaahĩ, Skr. kr̥tē; and similarly khā̃ from Ap. kaahu, Skr. kr̥tāt. S. sandō, like the Rajasthani handō and the Kashmiri sandᵘ or handᵘ, is by origin the present participle of the verb substantive, gharᵃ-sandō, meaning literally “existing (in connexion) with the house,” hence “of the house.” We may compare the Bengali use of haïtē, on being, to mean “from.” All these postpositions are added to the oblique form. We thus get the declension of the strong masculine noun S. ghōṛō, L. ghōṛā, a horse, as shown in the next column. When there are optional methods of making the oblique form only one is given. The others can be employed in the same way.

As in most other Indo-Aryan vernaculars, the genitive is really a possessive adjective, and agrees with the person or thing possessed in gender, number and case, exactly as in Panjabi.

An adjective agrees with its qualified noun in gender, number and case. In Lahnda, as in Hindostani, the only adjectives which change in these respects are strong adjectives in ā. In Sindhi weak forms in also change the to or in the feminine. Thus, S. caņō, L. cangā, good, fem. S. caņī, L. cangī; S. nidharᵘ, helpless, fem. nidharᵉ or nidharᵃ. The plural and oblique forms are made as in the case of nouns. If a postposition is used with the noun it is not also used with the adjective. Thus, L. cangiā̃ ghōṛiā̃-dā, of good mares. Comparison is effected as in Hindostani by putting the noun with which comparison is made in the ablative case. Sometimes special postpositions are employed for this form of the ablative.

Case. Singular. Plural.

Sindhi. Lahnda. Sindhi. Lahnda.

 Nominative  ghōṛō ghōṛā ghōṛā ghōṛē
 Accusative  ghōṛō ghōṛā ghōṛā ghōṛē
 Agent ghōṛē ghōṛē ghōṛā̃ ghōṛeā̃
 Dative ghōṛē-khē ghōṛē-nū̃ ghōṛanᵉ-khē ghōṛeā̃-nū̃
 Ablative ghōṛā̃,
ghōṛē-tō ghōṛaneā̃,
 Genitive ghōṛē-jō ghōṛē-dā ghōṛanᵉ-jō ghōṛeā̃-dā̃
 Locative ghōṛē-mē̃ ghōṛē-vic ghōṛanᵉ-mē̃ ghōṛeā̃-vic

The usual pronouns are as follows. In the Lahnda forms ä is pronounced as in German:—

I—S. ā̃ū̃, ā̃, mā̃ or mū̃; L. mä̃; obl. S. ā̃, mā̃, mū̃; L. mä̃. We—S. asī̃; L. assī̃; obl. S. asā̃; L. assā̃. Of me, my—S. mũhũ-jō; L. mērā. Of us, our—S. asā̃-jō; L. asāḍā.

Thou—S. L. tū̃; obl. S. ; L. tū̃, tä̃, tudh. You—S. tavhī̃, avhī̃; L. tussī̃; obl. S. tavhā̃, avhā̃; L. tussā̃. Of thee, thy—S. tũhũ-jō; L. tērā. Of you, your—S. tavhā̃-jō, avhā̃-jō; L. tusāḍā, tuhāḍā.

This, he, she, it—S. ; L. eh; obl. S. hinᵃ, inᵃ; L. is. These, they—S. ; L. eh, in; obl. S. hinᵉ, inᵉ; L. inhā̃.

That, he, she, it—S. ; L. oh; obl. S. hunᵃ, unᵃ; L. us. Those, they—S. ; L. oh, un; obi. S. hunᵉ, unᵉ; L. unhā̃.

That, he, she, it—S. ; obl. tãh. Those, they—S. ; obl. tanᵉ. We should expect corresponding forms for Lahnda, but they are not given in the grammars.

Self—S. pānᵃ; L. āpē. Own—S. pā̃hă-jō; L. āpṇā. Cf. Panjabi āp, Kashmiri pānᵃ.

Who—S. L. ; obl. S. jãh; L. jä̃; plur. nom. S. ; L. ; obl. S. janᵉ; L. jinhā̃.

Who?—S. kērᵘ; L. kaun; obl. S. kãh; L. kā̃; plur. nom. S. kērᵉ; L. kaun; obl. S. kanᵉ; L. kinhā̃.

What?—S. chā; L. ; obl. S. chā; L. kitt.

Any one—S. L. kōī; obl. S. kāhī̃; L. kähē.

The derivation of most of these forms can be gathered from the article Hindostani. Others, such as assī̃, tussī̃, pānᵃ, are borrowed from Piśāca.

The north-western group of Indo-Aryan vernaculars, Sindhi, Lahnda, and Kashmiri, are distinguished by the free use which they make of pronominal suffixes. In Kashmiri these are added only to verbs, but in the other two languages they are also added to nouns. These suffixes take the place of personal pronouns in various cases and are as follows:—

First Person. Second Person. Third Person.

Singular. Plural. Singular. Plural. Singular. Plural.

 Nom.  Other
 Nom.  Other
 Nom.  Other
 Nom.  Other
Nom.  Agent.  Other
Nom.  Agent.  Other

 Sindhi sᵉ  mᵉmā̃  sī̃ ū̃, hū̃
 (not as gen.) 
ē̃ vᵃ  None  ī̃ sᵉ  None  ū̃ nᵉ, nᵃ
 Lahnda  m m ī ī None s s None

All these suffixes are remnants of the full pronominal forms. In all cases they can be at once explained by a reference to the originals in Piśāca, rather than to those of other Indo-Aryan languages.[2] It will here be convenient to consider them only in connexion with nouns. In such cases they are usually in the genitive case. Thus, S. piu, a father; piumᵉ, my father; piuᵉ, thy father; piuvᵃ, your father; piusᵉ, his father; piunᵉ or piunᵃ, their father. There being in Sindhi no suffix of the genitive plural of the first personal pronoun, there is no compound for “our father.” For that, as in the beginning of the Lord's Prayer, we must employ the full expression, asā̃-jō piu. In Lahnda we have piū, a father; pium, my father; piūsē, our father; piūi, thy father; piūvē, your father; pius, his father; piūnē, their father. A junction vowel is often inserted between these suffixes and the main word to assist the pronunciation. Further examples will be found under the head of verbs.

Conjugation.—As in Marathi (q.v.) there are, in both languages, two conjugations, of which one (intransitive) has -a- and the other (transitive) -e- or -i- for its characteristic letter. The differences appear in the present participle and, in Sindhi, also in the conjunctive participle, the present subjunctive and imperative. The two latter are the only original synthetic tenses which have survived in Sindhi, but in Lahnda the old synthetic future is also in common use. Both languages have a passive voice formed by adding ij or īj to the root. This form is not employed for the past participle or for tenses derived from it. The following are the principal parts of the regular verb in each conjugation:—

First Conjugation. Second Conjugation.

Sindhi. Lahnda. Sindhi. Lahnda.

 Infinitive halaṇᵘ, halaṇ, to go. māraṇᵘ, māraṇ, to kill.
 Present participle halandō,  haldā, going. mārīndō,  mārēndō, killing.
 Past participle haliō, haleā, gone. māriō, māreā, killed.
 Conjunctive participle  hali, hali, having gone.  mārē, mārī, having killed 

It will be observed that, as in most other Indo-Aryan vernaculars, the past participle of the transitive verb is passive in signification. There is therefore no need of a past participle for the passive voice. The Sindhi present participle of the passive voice follows a different rule of formation, and, in Lahnda, it omits the letter j, thus S. māribō (Pr. māriavvac), L. mārīndā, being killed. In other respects the passive, S. mārijaṇᵘ, L. mārījaṇ, to be killed, is conjugated like a regular verb of the first conjugation. The passive is directly derived from the Outer Prakrit passive in -ijja-. The origin of the other forms is dealt with under Hindostani and Marathi.

The present subjunctive is the direct descendant of the old Prakrit (q.v.) present indicative. It is conjugated as follows:—

Singular. Plural.


 Person.  Sindhi and
 Sindhi.   Lahnda.   Sindhi.   Lahnda.   Sindhi.   Lahnda. 

1. halā̃ māriā̃ mārā̃ halū̃ māriū̃ mārū̃
2. halē̃ māriē̃ māriē̃ halō māriō mārō
3. halē māriē mārē halanᵉ halin mārinᵉ mārin

The imperative is formed very similarly. In Lahnda the future is mārēsā̃ (Pr. mārissaṁ), I shall kill, conjugated like mārā̃. The Sindhi future is formed by adding the nominative pronominal suffixes to the present participle. It will be remembered that there are no nominative suffixes of the third person. For that person, therefore, the simple participle is employed. There are slight euphonic changes of the termination of the participle in the other persons. Thus, halandō, he will go; halandusᵉ, I shall go; and so on.

The past tense is formed from the past participle, with pronominal suffixes added in both languages. As in the transitive verb the past participle is passive in signification, the subject (see article Hindostani) must be put in the agent case, and the participle agrees in gender and number with the direct object, or, if the object is put in the dative case instead of the accusative, is treated impersonally in the masculine. Examples of this tense are:—

Intransitive verb—S. haliō, L. haleā, he went; S. L. halī, she went; S. haliu-sᵉ, L. haleu-m, I (masc.) went; S. halia-sᵉ, L. haliu-m, I (fem.) went, and so on.

Transitive verb—S. māriō, L. māreā, he was killed ; S. L. mārī, she was killed; S. māriu-mᵉ, L. māreu-m, he was killed by me, I killed him; S. māria-mᵉ, L. māriu-m, she was killed by me, I killed her; S. pātishāhᵃ sajī gālhᵉ būdhāī, the-whole matter (fem.) was-related (fem.) by-the-king (agent), the king related the whole matter; S. tāhᵉ-khē sāthᵃ chaḍiō, with-reference-to-her, by-the-caravan, it-was-abandoned (impersonal), i.e. the caravan abandoned her.

There are numerous compound tenses formed by conjugating the verb substantive with one or other of the participles. The usual forms of the present and past of this verb are as follows:—

Present, “I am,” &c. (com. gen.). Past, “I was,” &c. (masc.).

Singular. Plural. Singular. Plural.

 Person.   Sindhi.   Lahnda.   Sindhi.   Lahnda.   Sindhi.   Lahnda.   Sindhi.   Lahnda. 

1. āhiyā̃ hā̃ āhiyū̃ haī̃ hōsᵉ hāus huāsī̃ hāsē
2. āhē̃   hē̃ āhiyō huē̃ hāē̃ huaᵘ havē
3. āhē   āhinᵉ hin       hāin

The past has slightly different forms with a feminine subject. Sindhi examples of the compound tenses are halandō āhiyā̃, I am going; halandō hōsᵉ, I was going; haliō āhiyā̃, I have gone; and so on. The Lahnda tenses are made on the same principles.

We have seen the important part that pronominal suffixes play in the conjugation of the verb. But their use is not confined to the examples given above. Additional suffixes may be added to indicate the object, direct or remote. Thus, S. māriē̃, thou mayest kill; māriē̃-mᵉ, thou mayest kill me; māriō (he) was killed; māriā̃-ī̃ (for māriō-ī̃), (he) was killed by-him, he killed him; māriā̃-ī̃-mᵉ, it (impersonal)-was killed by-him with-reference-to-me, i.e. he killed me; dinā̃-ī̃-sᵉ, was-given by-him to-him, he gave to him.

Numerous verbs have irregular past participles, derived directly from the Prakrit past participles, instead of being made by adding -iō to the root. These must be learnt from the grammars. We may mention a few very common ones: S. karaṇᵘ, L. karaṇ, to do, to make, past participle S. kiō, kītō, L. kītā; S. ḍiaṇᵘ, L. ḍēaṇ, to give, past participle S. ḍinō, L. ḍittā; S. labhaṇᵘ, L. labbhaṇ, to be obtained, past participle S. ladhō, L. laddhā. The many compound verbs are formed much as in Hindostani, and must be learnt from the grammars.

Literature.—Sindhi and Lahnda possess no literature worthy of the name. Such as they have consists of translations from Arabic and Persian. There is, however, as usual in uncultivated dialects, in both languages a large stock of folk-songs—rude poems dealing with the popular traditions of the country. Some of these have been published in Colonel Sir Richard Temple's Legends of the Panjab (3 vols., Bombay, 1884-1900). The late Professor Trumpp published one text of some importance under the title of Sindhī Literature, the Dīvān of Abd-ul-Latīf, known by the name of Shāha jō Risālō (Leipzig, 1866).

Authorities.—G. A. Grierson, “Vrācaḍa and Sindhī,” in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1902), p. 47; G. Stack, Grammar and Dictionary (both Bombay, 1849); E. Trumpp, Grammar (London and Leipzig, 1872). This last is still the standard work on the language, although much of the philological portion is now out of date. It was the pioneer of the comparative study of the modern Indo-Aryan vernaculars. G. Shirt, Udharam Thavurdas and S. F. Mirza, Sindhi-English Dictionary (Karachi, 1879).

W. St Clair Tisdall's Simplified Punjabi Grammar (London, 1889) also deals, in an appendix, with Lahnda. E. O'Brien, Glossary of the Multani Language (1st ed., Lahore, 1881; 2nd ed., revised by J. Wilson and Hari Kishen Kaul, Lahore, 1903); T. Bomford, “Rough Notes on the Grammar of the Language spoken in the Western Panjab,” in Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. lxiv. (1895), pt. i. pp. 290 ff.; the same, “Pronominal Adjuncts in the Language spoken in the Western and Southern Parts of the Panjab,” ib. vol. lxvi. (1897), pt. i. pp. 146 ff.; A. Jukes, Dictionary of the Jatki or Western Panjabi Language (Lahore and London, 1900); J. Wilson, Grammar and Dictionary of Western Panjabi as spoken in the Shahpur District (Lahore, 1899).

For both languages the authorities quoted under the articles Indo-Aryan Languages and Prakrit may be consulted with advantage. Vol. viii. of the Linguistic Survey of India contains full particulars of both in great detail.

(G. A. Gr.)

  1. Abbreviations: Skr. = Sanskrit; Pr. = Prakrit; Ap. = Apabhraṁśa; L. = Lahnda; S. = Sindhi.
  2. See G. A. Grierson, The Piśāca Languages of North-Western India (London, 1906), pp. 44 ff.