Some Aspects of Phonological and Grammatical Convergence of Dakkhini and Telegu
Khateeb S.Mustafa

1.0.  Introduction

Dakkhini is the form of speech current in Delhi since 1300 A.D.  It is the descendant of New-Indo-Aryan dialects spoken in and around Delhi and is considered as the earliest ancestral predecessor of what is known as the contemporary `Hindi-Urdu'.

The dialect moved to Deccan along with the troops of `Alau'd dī Khiljī in the year 1295 A.D.  However, its proper development took place after shifting the capital from Delhi to Dēvgiri (now Daulatabad) by MoHammad Bin Tughlaq in the year 1327 A.D.  It is in Deccan that the dialect received, among others, the name `Dakkhini'1.  here it flourished and developed independently.  It was patronized by a number of Kings (Bahmani, `Adil Shahi and QutbShahi).  It was accorded the office status.  It was also cultivated as a literary vehicle and during 14th to 17th centuries it produced a great deal of literature.  A few important works of this period are: M'rāju'l `Āshiqīn by Hazrat Khawāja Bandā Nawāz (1322-1423 A.D.), Padam Rao Kadam Rao (1460-1462 A.D.) by Nizāmī Bīdarī, Sabras (1635 A.D.) by Mullā Wajhī, Kalimātu' 1 Haqāiq (1582 A.D.) by Shāh Burhānu'd dīn Jānam (1479-1583 A.D.), Gulshan-e `Ishq (1657 A.D.) by Mullā NuSrati (d. 1674 A.D.), Nauras (1596 A.D.)  By Ibrāhīm `Ādil Shāh II, Kulliyāt-e MoHammed Qulī QuTb Shāh (1616 A.D.) by MoHammed Qulī QuTb Shāh etc.  However, with the annexation of Deccan by Aurangazeb in the last quarter of the 17th century, Dakkhini lost its status and ceased to be a literay vehicle.  In subsequent years, it remained only as a spoken dialect in Deccan which it continues even to-day.

As is evident from the above statement, Dakkhini has been in vogue in Deccan since several centuries.  It has spread to far off places and ramified into almost all the regions of the native languages of Deccan viz., Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, giving rise to a contact situation in the linguistic areas of each of these languages.  Consequently, Dakkhini acquired a number of features of these languages and also diffused (or transferred) many of its traits to these languages.  These features, on either side, became `habitualized and established' and produced `different structural types'.  Thus, Dakkhini is a source as well as a recipient of interference; so too the afore-mentioned Dravidian languages.

Owing to its contact with different Dravidian languages in different areas, the current form of Dakkhini has ceased to be a homogeneous variety.  To-day, we may recognize at least three different varieties such as Andhra Dakkhini, Kannada Dakkhini, and Tamil Dakkhini based upon the area of the Dravidian language in which it is spoken.  Within Andhra Dakkhini a cleavage is noticed between the dialect spoken in Rayalseema and that spoken in Telengana (especially Hyderabad dialect) due to some historical and cultural reasons.  The present paper takes note of a few features (on phonological and grammatical levels) of Dakkhini (spoken in Rayalseema area) which it has acquired from Telugu.  These features amply serve as an evidence of convergence of one system towards the other.  Whatever necessary a comparison is drawn from standard Urdu.

The phenomenon of convergence is governed by the internal as well as external factors.  Internal factors are strictly based on the structure of the languages and may be designated otherwise as structural factors.  In other words, here the interference is interpreted only in terms of linguistic data.  On the other hand, external factors are non-structural and `include individual traits of bilingual speakers, circumstances in the speech situation (the bilinguality of interlocutors, emotional involvement of the speakers etc.,) and the socio-cultural context of the language contact in which social value, purism and similar considerations are operative.  The elemet of time, the length of contact may also be at play' (Weinreich 1968, p. 66-67).  However, our aim in the present paper is to consider neither of these factors but to set forth the existing convergence manifested in the form of certain features.

The present paper is both interesting and important in the sense that it brings to light a few findings which to a long way to show how two genetically divergent systems tend to converge towards each other when they get closer.

2.0.  Phonological level :

2.1. Presence of phonemes /N/ and /L/ :

            Many retroflex sounds such as /T Th D Dh  R/ are accommodated in the phonemic inventory of Urdu, barring of course, the phonemes /N and L/ (the unaspirated retroflex nasal and retroflex lateral respectively).  Further, homorganic clusters such as /NT NTH ND NDH/ are all absent in Urdu owing to the absence of phonemic /N/ (though it may occur as an allophone phonetically).  But these sounds (with others) show their presence in the phonemic inventory of both Dakkhini and Telugu.  Further all the homorganic clusters with these sounds are also possible.



            /raN/                            `widow'

            /lƏNNa/                        `to quarrel'

            /sUND/                         `truck of an elephant'

            /ƏNT/                           `a transplantable wing of a plant'

/L/ occurs geminated inter-vocalically.  It may also form a cluster with /N/:

            /kəLla/                          `roasted (

            /UNLa/                          `cause to pour'

            /dhƏNLa/                       `search'

Telugu :

            /N/ : / naNemu/              `coin'

            /raNi/                             `queen'

            /eNDa/                           `sun-shine'

            /tINDi/                            `food'

            /L/ : / khaLi/                    `empty'

            /niLLu/                            `water'

            /oLLu/                             `body'

2.2. /c/ changing into /s/ :  In Telugu, stem final c in verbal stems such as /pIlUc-/ `to call' /nIlUc-/ `to stop or stand' /gelUc-/ `to win' /kƏrUc-/ `to bite' etc., change into /s/ with the verbal suffixes beginning with t, such as /-tu/ `present participle suffix', /-t-/ `tense-mode-suffix', /-te/ `conditional suffix'.  The phenomenon may be illustrated as follows:

            /pIlUc-t-anu/     =          /pIlustanu/         `I (habituall) call/ I shall call'

            /pIlUc-t-aru/      =          pIlUstaru/         `they ( (habitually)

                                                                        call/they ( will call'

            /pIlUc-tu/          =          pIlUstu/            `calling'

            /pilUc-te/          =          pIlIste/              `If [I {m.f.), you (,

                                                                        we (m.f.), you (, they

                                                                        (m.f.) call or

                                                                        `If (he, she, it) calls'  

            A corresponding situation is noticed in Dakkhini Urdu.  Thus, before the verbal suffixes beginning with /-t/, the final /-c/ of verbal stems changes into /-s/:

            /puc-/ `to ask'                /puc-t-a/            =          /pusta/

            `I (, you ( or he would have asked

            /bec-/ `to sell' /bee-t-i/ = /besti/

            `I (sg.fl.), you (sg.fl.) or she would have sold'

            /muc-/ `to close' /muc-t-e/ = /muste/

            `we (m.f.), you (, they (m.f.) would have closed'

            In standard Urdu, however, the stem final /-c/ does not change into /-s/ before the imperfect participle suffix /-t-/:

            /khĩc-/   `to pull'  /khic-t-a/          =          /khicta/ `pulling'

            /bec-/    `to sell' /bec-t-i/             =          /becti/   `selling (sg.fl)'

            /noc-/    `to prick'/noc-t-e/           =          nocte/   `pricking ('

2.3.  Diphthongization : Telugu and Dakkhini are parallel to each other with respect to the quality of vowel sequences which may be transcribed as /Əi/ and /Əu/.  In both of them, these sounds possess the same articulatory features and distinctly diphthongal in nature.  Thus, in the case of /Əi/, the tongue commences with a fairly mid-central, unrounded position (a variety of Ə) and moves rapidly forward to a closed position (a variety of I): similarly, in the case of u/ the tongue starts in the same position and moves backwards to a closed position (a variety of u) in both Telugu and Dakkhini.  The following examples illustrate the point:

            Dakkhini                                 Telugu

i/       : isa/              `like this'           idu/   `five'

             /pƏise/             `money (pl.)      /rƏitu/   `peasant' `agriculturist'

            /bUlƏi/              `called (sg.fl.)'   /pƏi/   `above, on'

/Əu/:    ulad/          `progeny'           /ƏuƏdhƏmu/ `medicine'

            /cƏuda/        `forteen'         /cƏuka/ `cheap'

          /sƏu/             `hundred'  

            A corresponding situation, however, is not noticed in standard Urdu with respect to the quality of /Əi/ and /Əu/.  Here these diphthongized vowel sequences tend to be monophthongized into /e/ (a fairly open, lower-mid, front, unrounded phonetically long vowel) respectively.  The following comparison of the same items of standard Urdu and Dakkhini will clarify the point.

                        Urdu                Dakkhini

/e/ :                  /esa/                /Əisa/                `like this'

                        /pesa/               /pƏisa/              `money'

                        /kesa/               /kƏisa/              `how, in which manner'  

/Ə/        :           /Əlad/               /Əulad/              `progeny'

                        /cƏda/              /cƏuda/             `forteen'

                        /sƏ/                  /sƏu/                `hundred'          

3.0.  Grammatical level :

3.1. Absence of /ne/ construction : Telugu and Dakkhini go parallel to each other with the virtual absence of constructions with /ne/.  As a consequence, the transitive verb (past) always agrees with the subject.

Telugu :           /waDu  mamIDi  kayi  tInna-Du             `he ate mango'

                        /ame  mamIDi kayi tInIn-di/                 `she ate mango'

Dakkhini:        /Une am khaya/                                   `he ate mango'

                        /Une am khƏi/                                   `she ate mango'  

            Urdu, on the other hand, always makes use of constructions with the agentive particle /ne/.  Consequently, the finite verb always concords with the gender of the subject:

            /lƏrke   ne am khaya/                `the boy ate the mango'

            /lƏrki    ne am khaya/                `the girl ate the mango'  

3.2. Echo-word formation : Echo-word formation is a very common and productive phenomenon in Telugu as well as Dakkhini.  In both of them the echo syllable is generally /gi-/.  Quantitatively, the vowel of the echo-syllable is long, if the radicle vowel of a word is long and it is short, if the latter is short.  A few illustrative examples are given below:

Telugu :           /Illu       gllu/                 `house etc.'

                        /uru      giru/                 `village etc.'

                        /cenu    ginu/                'field etc.'

Dakkhini:         /sadi     gidi/                 `marriage etc.'

                        /gali      gili/                  `abuse etc.'

                        /gUnad gInad/               `foundation etc.'

The echo syllable in Urdu is by /w-/:

                        /khana  wana/               `food etc.'

                        /qƏlƏm wƏlƏm/            `pen etc.'

                        /kam     wam/               `work etc.'  

            From the above examples, it is clear that there is no parallelism between Dakkhini and Urdu in echo-formation.

3.3.  Lexicon : The vocabulary of a language, considerably more loosely structured than its phonemics and grammar is beyond question, the domain of borrowing par excellence (Weinreich 1968, p.56.). Dakkhini exhibits the phenomenon of convergence more evidently with respect to the lexicon.  Numerous items of Dakkhini have to be traced back to the borrowings from Telugu.  A majority of the forms have undergone phonetic adoptation while a few are used intact.  They are dealt with briefly as follows:

3.3.1.        Onomatopoeia:  Onomatopes may be defined as the set of words in a language which may have some relation with the sounds etc., that they represent.  They are used to imitate certain sounds, mental and physical feelings etc., (Bhaskaran 1967, pp. 12,22).

The study of an onomatopoeia in Dakkhini shows that most of the forms have been borrowed from Telugu.  To illustrate the point, a few of them are given below:

            Telugu             Dakkhini

            /u/                    /u/                    `yes'

            /bhƏg/              /bhƏg/              `noise of something catching fire'

            /bhUs/              /bhUs/              `hissing noise of a snake'

            /gUsagUsa/       /gUzgUz/          `talk in whisper'

            /kIl kIla/            /khIlkhIl/            `to laugh with the noise                                                             /kIl kIla/'

            /sƏlƏsƏla/        /sƏlsƏl/            `noise of boiling water'

3.3.2. Other Lexicon:

            A number of items of Telugu pertaining to the daily life have also crept into the vocabulary of Dakkhini.  Below are given a few examples:

Telugu             Dakkhini        

/wƏdDi/         /wƏDdi/       `interest (on money)'

/kUpPa/            /kUppa/           `a pile (N) (as that of paddy etc.)

/gUTTa/           /gUTTa/           `a hillock, moun'

/biDu/               /biR/                `barren land'

/bUTTi/            /bUTTi/            `basket'

Verbs :

            /pogƏDu/          /pogƏr-/            `to praise'

            /vodƏru-/          /vƏdƏr-/           `to prattle (to make an idle talk)

            These items cannot be etymologically traced to Urdu.

3.4. Gender distinction in plural :

            In Urdu, the plural form of verb maintains a distinction between masculine and feminine with the addition of different suffixes.           

            /lƏRke  gIr-e/                `the boys fell'

            /lƏRkI-y gIr-i/               `the girls fell'

            In both, Telugu and Dakkhi, thoug a distinction is maintained in singular form of verb, there is no contrast in the plural:

Telugu :  /Əbbayi   pƏDda-Du/              `the boy fell'

              /Əmmayi pƏDin-di/                 `the girl fell'

              /ƏbbayIlu  pƏDda-ru/              `the boys fell'

              /ƏmmayIlu  pƏDda-ru/            `the girls fell'

Dakkhini: /bƏcca  gIr-ya/                       `the boy fell'

                 /bƏcci   gIr-i/                        `the girl fell'

                 /bƏcce  gIr-e/                       `the boys fell'

                 /bƏcc gIr-e/                        `the girls fell'

3.5. Habitual present-cum-future :

              In Telugu and Dakkhini, a single tense form is used to express an action taking place habitually or in future.  In other words, a single construction denotes both habitual present and future actions:

          Telugu                             Dakkhini

/nenu  pota-nu                            /mƏi     ja-t-u/               `I ( (habitually)

                                                                                    go/ I will go'

/waDu/ pota-Du/           /Une     ja-t-Əe/             `he (rem.) (habitually)

                                                                                    goes/ he will go'

/ame  pot-Un-di/            /Une     ja-t-ye/              `she (rem.) (habitually)

                                                                                    goes/ she will go'

          In Urdu, a parallel situation is not noticed.  The habitual and future actions are expressed by two different constructions:

          Habitual present               Future

/mƐ    ja-ta-hu `I (            /mƐ      ja-u-ga/

                        habitually go'     `I (sg. ml.) will go'

/wo    ja-t-a-hƐ /            `he (rem.)         /wo ja-e-gA/ `he (rem.)

                        habitually goes'              will go'

/wo    ja-t-i hƐ/  `she (rem.),       /wo ja-e-gi  `she (rem.)

                        habitually goes'              will go'

3.6. Cardinals:

          The most interesting example of convergence is, perhaps, offered by the cardinals which Dakkhini uses.  Barring the numerals from one to twenty and the multiples of ten (which are almost similar to those of Hindi-Urdu), others are formed by the summation of units and are thus analytical.  A linking affix /po/ (which, in fact, a post-position meaning `on, upon') is, however, infixed between the preceding and the following member.

e.g.    /bis po car/                      `twenty four'

          /saT po aT/                     `sixty eight' etc.

          Telugu has approximately the same system except for the linking affix:

          /IrƏwƏI   nalUgu/                         `twenty four'

          /ƏrƏwƏI  enImIdi/                        `sixty eight' etc.

          In Urdu, the system tends to be synthetic with the units and the multiples of ten fused together:

          /cƏ bis/                                       `twenty four'

          RsƏT/                                      `sixty eight' etc.

3.7.Particle /le/ :

          In Telugu /le/ (sg.) and (leNDi) (pl.), which are similar in meaning to English phrase `of course' are added to a declarative sentence or sentence with oddu.  They indicate a sort of assurance given by the speaker to the hearer (Subramanyam 1974, p.173).

/waDu repu potaDu le/              `of course, he will go tomorrow

                                                            (non-hon. or sg.)'

/rastan leNDi/                                       `of course, [I (shall write

                                                            (hon. or pl.].

          Correspondingly, Dakkhini too abundantly make use of /particles /le/ (non-hon. or sg.) and lyo/ (hon. or pl.):

/tu  jata  le  sƏb/          `of course, you ( may go tomorrow'

/liktu lyo/                       `of course, I shall write (hon. or pl.)'  

3.8. Relative participle constructions:

          The relative clause in Urdu is always formed with relative pronouns like /jo, jIs, jIn/ etc., which generally precede the clause:

          /jo  admi  aya/                  `the man who came'

          /jo kItab mƐne dekhi/        `the book which I saw'

          /jIs ne ap se kƏha/           `the person who told you'

          In Dakkhini, the situation is different with the absence of relative pronouns of Urdu.  Instead, it makes use of a relative participle marker /-so/.  The structure of the construction is as follows: /finite verb + -so/.

e.g.,   :    /aya-so Ədmi/             `the man who came'

              /molya-so kitab/           `the book which [sg. ml.,

                                                            you (sg. ml.) or he] bought'

          An exactly corresponding situation is noticed in Telugu.  It uses the markers like Ina (past relative participle), -e (present relative participle) etc., to the verbal base:

          /cepp-Ina  mƏnƏi/           `the man who told/

                                                  `the man (some one) told '

          /cepp-e  mƏnƏi/             `the man who tellS/the man

                                                            (some one) tells  

3.9.  Reduplication of negative past participle :

          Both Telugu and Dakkhini correspond with each other with respect to the reduplication of negative past participle:

Telugu :

          /tInƏka tInƏka roTTe tINTe,      ƏrƏgƏneƏrƏgƏledu     

          `having not eaten (for a long time), when (some one ate roti, it did not digest at all'.


          /khananako  khananako  roTi khƏe to, hƏzƏmic hoi ni/

          /khananako  khananako  roTi khƏe to, hƏzƏmic hoi ni/

          a similar construction does not occur in Urdu.

3.10.  Reported speech:

          The general pattern of reported speech in Urdu is similar to that of English.  That is, the reporting and the reported sentences are conjoined by the complimentizer /kI/ `that' with the former preceding the /kI/ while the later following it.

          /Us ne kƏ ha  kI  vo  jae  ga/        `he told that he would go'

          In Dakkhini and Telugu the situation is different.  Dakkhini, surprisingly, makes use of a quotative particle /kƏrko/' which is the past adverbial participle of /kƏr-/ `do.  Further, the order of the reporting and the reported sentences is exactly reverse of the pattern of Urdu with the quotative /kƏrko/ `having done' functioning as a conjunctive between the two sentences:

          /Une  jatu  kƏrko  bolya/  `he told that he would go'

          A closer look reveals that the quotative /kƏrko/ of Dakkhini has its equivalence in Telugu /Əni/ (the past adverbial participle of / nu/ `tell').  This has the same functions as the Dakkhini /kƏrko/.

          /waDu potan-Əni  ceppe-Du/        `he told that he would go'  

3.11.   Sentences with no copula:

Telugu abounds in the use of equational sentences which do not have copula.

              /Idi pUstƏkƏmu/         `this (is a ) book'

              /na peru babu/         `my name (is) Babu'

              /waDu ma Əbbyi/        `he (is) my son'

              Dakkhini equally makes use of such sentences:

              /ye kya/                      `what (is) this?'

              /ye kItab/                    `this (is a) book'

              /Une mera bhƏ i/         `he (is) my brother'  

4.0.  Conclusion:

              On account of its centuries old contact with Telugu, Dakkhini manifests a variety of features which happen to be the elements of convergence.  A detailed discussion of these is out of the scope of this paper.  To sum up-relativization, habitual-present-cum-future tense, cardinal system, reduplication, pattern of reported speech, absence of constructions with ne are but a few important instances of convergence on grammatical level.

              The present paper is based on the data of Dakkhini spoken in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh collected by the author himself coupled with his native-like knowledge of Telugu.  


1.       It was also known as Gujri (in Gujrat), Hindi, Hindwi, Zaban-e-Hindustani, Musalmani and Turka mata.  


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