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The Spoken Languages of Delhi

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The Spoken Languages of Delhi
  • Courtesy: Chris Hands
  • Courtesy: Matt Corks
  • Courtesy: Sistak
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Truly Cosmopolitan

Delhi presently is very much a cosmopolitan city, but it wasn’t the same a century back; many people have descended from different parts of India and just call themselves “Dilliwallahs”. The majority of people come from neighbouring States of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh (UP). This fact plays a prominent role to play in the languages that are spoken in Delhi.

Although Hindi is the official language, it is never spoken in its pure form – Sanskrit. Wherever there resides a population of a particular state, there is a regional influence on their Hindi and it becomes twisted and moulded into a combination of the individual’s past and present. Most of the regional languages are derived from Hindi; it is not hard to pick out the similarities in all these languages.

At present, pure Hindi is only spoken in theatres and cultural centres. Although a waning language in westernized India, it has influenced many in the process and thus will always be a part of Delhi in all its varied forms.

The Beautiful Language of Urdu

At the time when the British obtained the seat of Delhi from the Mughals; Urdu was the the most important language of Delhi. Because of its popularity, Urdu has a huge role in Indian poetry, music and even the freedom movement. Post-Independence, it has now reduced to the alleys of Old Delhi and Nizamuddin. Urdu is a very romantic language but is slowly losing its touch between the masses because of its less usage in the present scenario. There are centres like Ghalib Academy that are trying to revive it by creating awareness in today’s society.

Punjabi at Heart

Punjabi is another very popular language of Delhi; It is spoken in widely populated areas of Delhi like Lajpat Nagar, Punjabi bagh and Tilak Nagar where there are refugee colonies existing since partition. There is another usage of Hindi i.e. Hinjabi which is the mixture of Hindi and Punjabi; it is spoken in almost all parts of Delhi. It is easier to speak and understand than pure Punjabi. Whether it is a salesman or a housewife, it is the language of the common and in a way; you can also say that it is the sweetest and the most loved language of Delhi. 

The Importance of the English Language

The English language came to Delhi in the Lutyens' era and became an inseparable part of Delhi just like the buildings constructed during this time. The English that the Delhiites speak has many origins. It has regional dialects and is influenced by both UK and US English because of the call centres and the English television channels. The majority of the population in Delhi understands English, though not everybody speaks it.

It is compulsory to learn in school and most of the time, it becomes an important part of one’s job; you would be amazed to find that even the uneducated beggars and street urchins speak in such English that is sometimes not even spoken by the middle class people. In times to come, English will become a more and more conspicuous part of Delhi.

Delhi has always been a seat of pride and hunger with the invasions by the different civilizations, Delhi’s language has been moulded and remoulded into its present form. It remains an ongoing process, even today.

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