World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Magahi language

Article Id: WHEBN0000804898
Reproduction Date:

Title: Magahi language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Languages of India, Magadhi Prakrit, Maithili language, Nepali language, Punjabi language
Collection: Bihari Languages, Eastern Indo-Aryan Languages, Hindi Languages, Languages of India
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Magahi language

मगही magahī
Native to India and Nepal
Native speakers
14 million  (2001 census)[1]
Census results conflate some speakers with Hindi.[2]
Early forms
Magadhi Prakrit
  • Magadhi
Devanagari, Kaithi
Language codes
ISO 639-2 mag
ISO 639-3 mag
Glottolog maga1260[3]

The Magahi language (Devanagari: मगही; also known as Magadhi, मगधी) is a language spoken in India and Nepal. In Nepal it is known as ancient Nepali. Magadhi Prakrit was the ancestor of Magadhi, from which the latter's name derives. The ancestral language, Magadhi Prakrit, is believed to be the language spoken by the Buddha, and the language of the ancient kingdom of Magadha. Magadhi is closely related to Bhojpuri and Maithili, and these languages are sometimes referred to as a single language, Bihari. These languages, together with several other related languages, are known as the Bihari languages, which form a sub-group of the Eastern Zone of Indo-Aryan languages. Magadhi has approximately 18 million speakers.

It is a dialect of the old languages from which Hindi originated. It has a very rich and old tradition of folk songs and stories. It is spoken in eight districts in Bihar, three in Jharkhand, and has some speakers in Malda, West Bengal.

Though the number of speakers in Magadhi is large, it has not been constitutionally recognized in India. Even in Bihar, Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters since Magadhi and Hindi are inter-changeable.[4] Magadhi was legally absorbed under Hindi in the 1961 Census.[5]


  • History 1
  • Magadhi speech area 2
  • Speakers of Magadhi 3
  • Scripts and literary tradition 4
    • Weekdays 4.1
    • Fruits and vegetables 4.2
    • Family relations 4.3
    • Spoken trends 4.4
  • Phonology 5
  • Morphology 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The ancestor of Magadhi, from which its name derives, Magadhi Prakrit, was created in the Indian subcontinent, in a region spanning what is now India and Nepal. These regions were part of the ancient kingdom of Magadha, the core of which was the area of Bihar south of the Ganges. It is believed to be the language spoken by Gautama Buddha . It was the official language of the Mauryan court, and the edicts of Ashoka were composed in it.[6]

The name Magahi is directly derived from the name Magadhi Prakrit, and the educated speakers of Magahi prefer to call it Magadhi rather than Magahi.[7]

Grammarian Kachchayano wrote of the importance of Magadhi:[8]

There is a language which is the root (of all languages); men and Brahmans spoke it at the commencement of the kalpa, who never before uttered a human accent, and even the supreme Buddhas spoke it: it is Magadhi.

The development of the Magadhi language into its current form is unknown. However, language scholars have come to a conclusion that Magadhi, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Bengali, Assamese and Oriya originated from Magadhi-Prakrit/Ardh-Magadhi during the 8th to 11th centuries AD. These different dialects differentiated themselves and took their own course of growth and development. But it is not certain when exactly it took place. It was probably such an unidentified period during which modern Indian languages begin to take modern shape. By the end of the 12th century, the development of Apabhramsa reached its climax. Gujrathi, Marathi, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, Maithili, etc. took a definite shape in their literary writings in the beginning of the 14th century. The distinct shape of Magadhi can be seen in the Dohakosha written by Sidh-Sarahapa and Sidh-Kauhapa. Magadhi had a setback due to the transition period of Magadha administration.[9] Traditionally, strolling bards recite long epic poems in this dialect, and it was because of this that the word 'Magadhi' came to mean 'a bard'. Kaithi is the script generally used for it. The pronunciation in Magahi is not as broad as in Maithili and there are a number of verbal forms for each person.[10] Historically, Magahi had no famous written literature. There are many popular songs throughout the area in which the language is spoken, and strolling bards recite various long epic poems which are known more or less over the whole of Northern India. In Magahi spoken area folk singers sing a good number of ballads. Introduction of Urdu meant a setback to local languages as its Persian script was alien to local people.

The first success for spreading Hindi occurred in Bihar in 1881, when Hindi displaced Urdu as the official language of the province. In this struggle between competing Hindi and Urdu, the potential claims of the three large mother tongues in the region - Magahi, Bhojpuri and Maithili were ignored. After independence, Hindi was again given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950.[11]

Magadhi speech area

Magahi folk singers

Magadhi is spoken in the area which formed the core of the ancient kingdom of Magadha - the modern districts of Patna, Nalanda, Gaya, Jehanabad, Arwal, Aurangabad, Lakhisarai, Sheikhpura and Nawada. Magahi is bounded on the north by the various forms of Maithili spoken in Tirhut across the Ganga. On the west it is bounded by the Bhojpuri, On the northeast it is bounded by Maithili and Angika. The total geographical area covered by Magahi is much larger today.[7] A blend of Magahi and Bengali known as Kharostha (Khortha) is spoken by non-tribal populace in North Chotanagpur division of Jharkhand which comprises districts of Bokaro, Chatra, Dhanbad, Giridih, Hazaribagh, Koderma and Ramgarh. Khortha language is often regarded as the rough dialectal variant of Bengali and it serves as the medium of communication between the tribals and non-tribals in North Chotanagpur division of Jharkhand.

Speakers of Magadhi

The number of Magadhi speakers is difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban Magahi region, most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language. The uneducated and the rural population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language. People of Southern Bihar and Northern Jharkhand are mostly speakers of Magadhi language.[7] Current estimates indicate approximately 18 million Magadhi speakers.

Scripts and literary tradition

Magadhi is generally written using Devanagari script. A later-developed script of Magadhi is Kaithi.[10] There have been efforts by scholars in the Magahi area to explore and identify a literary tradition for Magadhi. Magadhi has a rich tradition of folk literature, and in modern times there have been various activities in the publication of literary writing. Magahi Parishad was established in Patna in 1952, which was renamed Bihar Magahi Mandal. Magadhi, a journal, was started at the same time, which was renamed Bihan, meaning "tomorrow" or the coming dawn. This time magadhi is published by akhil bhartiya magahi bhasa sammelan. it is headed by Kavi Yogesh,[12] who lead Magahi movement. Another very famous monthly journal was started by Magahi Academy, Gaya edited by Dr. Ram Prasad Singh, a well-known writer.He also got Sahitya Academy Award for his contribution. He is famous writer of thirty-five books, commonly known as 'Magahi Ke Bhartendu'. Dr. Ram Prasad Singh Sahitya Puraskar has been awarded every year on his birthday (10 July) to renowned writers of Hindi & Folk literature. Nalanda Open University offers various courses on Magahi.[13]


English Magahi/Magadhi मगही/मगधि Hindi Urdu
Sunday Eitwaar एतवार Ravivwaar Eitwaar
Monday Somaar सोमIर Somwaar Peer
Tuesday Mangal मंगल Mangalwaar Mangal
Wednesday Budhh बुध Buddhwaar Budhh
Thursday Barashpat/Bife बृहस्पत/बिफे Guruwaar/Brihaspatiwar Jumeraat
Friday Sookar/Sook शुक्रवार Shukrawaar Jumma
Saturday Sunicher शनिचर Shaniwaar Hafta

Fruits and vegetables

English Magahi/Magadhi मगहि/मगधि English Magahi/Magadhi मगहि/मगधि
Mango Aam आम Apple Seo सेव
Orange Narangi/Santola /Kewla नारंगी/संतोला/केवला Lemon Lemu लेमू
Grapefruit; pomelo Mausmi/ मौसमी Papaya Papita पपीता
Guava Amrud अमरुद Melon Jaamun जामुन
Sweet Potato Shataalu शतालु Pomegranate Anāra/Bidānā अनार/बिदाना
Grape Angoor अंगूर Custard apple Shareefā शरीफा
Banana Keraa/Kēlā केरा/केला Lytchee Litchi लीच्ची
Tomato Tamaatar टमाटर Jackfruit Katahar कटहर
Jack Fruit Bhuikatahar भुईकटहर Watermelon Tarabūjā तरबूजा
Muskmelon kharabūjā/Lālmi खरबूजा/लालमी

Family relations

English Magahi/Magadhi मगहि/मगधि
Father Baabuji / PitaJee बाबूजी / पिताजी
Mother Maiya / Maay मईया / माय
Sister Bahin / Didi दीदी / बहिन
Brother Bhaai / Bhaiya भाई / भईया
Grandfather Baaba / Daada बाबा / दादा
Grandmother Mama / Daadi मामा / दादी
Sister-in-law Bhaujai / Bhauji भौजाइ / भौजी

Spoken trends

Addition of “Waa” or “eeya” to nouns and sometimes verbs

For male nouns:
In Hindi with Magahi/Magadhi style – “सलमनवा के पास एगो मोटरसाइकिल है”
In true Magahi/Magadhi language - “सलमनवा के एगो मोटरसाइकिल हई”
English translation – Salman has a motorcycle.
English in Magahi/Magadhi style – Salmanwa has a motorcycle.

For female nouns:
In Hindi with Magahi/Magadhi style – “रिमिया रिया सेनवा के बहन है”
In true Magahi/Magadhi language - “रिमिया रिया सेनवा के बहिन हई”
English translation – Rimi is the sister of Riya sen
English in Magahi/Magadhi style – Rimwa is the sister of Riya senwa.

In Hindi with Magahi/Magadhi style – “लठीया चला के तोर कपरवे फोर देंगे”
In true Magahi/Magadhi language - “लठीया चला के तोहर/तोर कपरवे फोर देम ”
English translation – (I'll) throw the baton and crack your skull
English in Magahi/Magadhi style – (I'll) throw the batowa and crack your skullwa.

In Hindi with Magahi/Magadhi style – “जानते हो, मोहना का बाप मर गया है”
In true Magahi/Magadhi language - “जानअ ह, मोहना के बाप / बाबूजी / बाबा /बावा मर् गेलथिन/गेलवा”
English translation – You know, Mohan's dad has died
English in Magahi/Magadhi style – You know, Mohanwa's dad has died

Apart from these all other females names and other nouns get "waa" in their ends.

Addition of "eeye" or "ey" in adverbs, adjectives and pronouns

In Hindi with Magahi/Magadhi style – हम बहुत नजदिके से आ रहें है
In true Magahi/Magadhi language – हम/हमनी बहुत नजदिके (बहुते नज़दीक)/भीरी से आवईत हिवअ/ आ रहली हे
English translation – We are coming from a very near place
English in Magahi/Magadhi style – We are coming from a very nearey place.

Within Magahi, one can find lot of variation while moving from one area to other, mainly end of the sentence is with a typical tone like Hiva, thau, hein etc. It is a rich language with lot of difference one can see while saying something with respect to elder or one with peer or younger. For example, there are two counterparts of Hindi "aap" in existence described in following sentences -

In Hindi—आप आज बाजार गये थे क्या?

In Magahi (To an elder) -- तूँ आज बजार गेलहु हल का?

In Magahi (To highly respected persons or teachers) -- अपने आज बजार गेलथिन हल का?

In Magahi (To an younger) -- तूँ आज बजार गेलहीं हल का?

Magahi is a language of the common people in area in and around Patna. It has few indigenous written literature, though a number of folk-tales and popular songs have been handed down for centuries from mouth to mouth and this remain main form of knowledge transfer in literature. Strolling bards also known by name “Bhad” recite long epic poems in this dialect, and sing verses in honor of the heroic achievements of legendary princes and brave men of ancient time like "Alha aur udal". But no manuscriptic text has been seen except that nowadays people have given it a book form.

One sample of folk song is given below.

Goar Gaura parvati
Sankar jee kariya
Maiya ge sankar jee ke ajbi rahaniya
Ho, Maiya ge Sankar jee ke ajbi rahaniya

गोर गौरा पारवती
शंकर जी करिया
मैया गे, शंकर जी के अज्बी रहनिया
हो, मैया गे शंकर जी के अज्बी रहनिया


Research work done in this field:

  • Dr Munishwar Jha - "Magadhi And Its Formation," Calcutta Sanskrit College Research Series, 1967, 256 pp
  • Dr Saryu Prasad - "A Descriptive Study of Magahi Phonology", Ph.D. thesis submitted to Patna University.
  • Dr A.C. Sinha (1966) - "Phonology and Morphology of Magahi Dialect", Ph.D. thesis submitted to University of Poona.


Research work done in this field: Dr A.C. Sinha (1966) - "Phonology and Morphology of Magahi Dialect", Ph.D. thesis submitted to University of Poona.

See also


  1. ^ Magadhi at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Magahi". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ "History of Indian Languages". Retrieved 2012-02-29. 
  5. ^ Verma, Mahandra K. "Linguistic Structure and Language Dynamics in South Asia". 
  6. ^ Basham A.L., The Wonder that was India, Picador, 2004, pp.394
  7. ^ a b c Jain Dhanesh, Cardona George, The Indo-Aryan Languages, pp449
  8. ^ P. 23 The legends and theories of the Buddhists compared with history and science ... By Robert Spence Hardy
  9. ^ Maitra Asim, Magahi Culture, Cosmo Publications, New Delhi (1983), pp. 64
  10. ^ a b "Maithili and Magahi". Retrieved 2011. 
  11. ^ Brass Paul R., The Politics of India Since Independence, Cambridge University Press, pp. 183
  12. ^ मृत्युंजय कुमार. "मागधी". Retrieved 2012-02-29. 
  13. ^ [2]

External links

  • Magahi - A Historical language
  • Jain Scriptures
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.