From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Vallabha (1479-1531), the founder of the Pushtimarg sect which would come to patronize the first Brajabhakha poets.
Language family
  • Aryan
    • Indo-Aryan
      • Western Indic
        • Hinduki
Official status
Official language in

Hinduki (हिंदूकी, hindū kī, /ɦɪn.d̪uː.kiː/, lit. 'belonging to the Indians'), also known as Bhakha (भाखा, b῾āk῾ā, /bʱäː.kʰäː/), is a standardized language official in and predominately spoken in Jambu. It is classified as a Western Indic language. Hinduki is based on Brajabhakha, a Sanskritized literary language used in northern South Asia since the 15th century.

Brajabhakha experienced a surge of political and academic interest in the late 19th century after the Indian Revolt. During the Great War and the collapse of British rule in the northern half of the Indian subcontinent, the vernacular, already serving as a lingua franca in much of the Gangetic plains, was chosen as the official language of the new republic of Jambu.


The word 'Hinduki' (हिंदूकी) was first used by Sufi poet Daud in the 14th century to refer to the Avadhi language, in contrast with Persian and Persianized dialects found further west. Polish Dutch East India Company employee Joan Joshua Ketelaar, in his 1698 manual Instructie off Onderwijsinge der Hindoustanse en Persiaanse Talen, refers to the language of the indigenous population as hindū kī bolī, as opposed to the 'language of the Moors', hindūstan kī bolī.

Bhakha (भाखा) is a corruption of the Sanskrit word b῾aśa भाषा, meaning 'vernacular language'. Over time, 'bhakha' came to specifically refer to Brajabhakha.

The language can also be referred to by the term mad῾yadeśa kī bolī (lit. 'speech of the middle country'), first used by the Jain poet and merchant Banarasidas in his 17th-century Brajabhakha autobiography Ard῾akat῾ānaka ('half-a-tale'). Mad῾yadeśa can refer to the region of Brajbhumi, a cultural region of the northern plains, or northern India as a whole, Aryavarta.


Brajabhakha (ब्रजभाखा, /brəd͡ʒə.bʱäː.kʰäː/) emerged as a distinct dialect around 1580 at the end of the 16th century. It evolved from Apabhraṁsa, a term referring to medieval Indic dialects which evolved from Prakrit and eventually transformed into the modern Indic languages by the 16th century. The first poets to write in Brajabhakha were affiliated with the Krishna-centered Pushtimarg tradition, a sect established by saint and philosopher Vallabha. Nand Das is perhaps the most famous poet from this period; he translated the Sanskrit drama Prabodhacandrodaya into the language.

By 1600 A.D, Brajabhakha had become a prominent literary language of the northern plains. When spoken, it had developed a Sanskritized pronunciation, unlike the Persianized Dehlavi dialect increasingly used around the city of Delhi. Throughout the seventeenth century, Brajabhakha became associated with the cities of Gwailor and Mathura and was also introduced to the Mughal imperial court at Agra. This contrasted with the contemporary rise of Rekhta (रेख़ता, rextā or rek῾tā), a Persianized register of Apabhraṁsa centered on Delhi and Lahore. It was around 1700 A.D when Rekhta began displacing Persian in the Indus River Valley and Brajabhakha asserted its dominance in the Gangetic plains.

After the British began dramatically expanding their Indian territories in the late eighteenth century, Brajabhakha was gradually gaining the interest of the colonial government. In 1864, two years after the conclusion of the Indian Revolt, the language replaced Persian as the administration's primary working language in northern India under the name 'Hinduki'. Throughout the late 19th century, Hinduki became associated with indigenous nationalism. In the 1920s, national republicans viewed the language as a core component of the Aryavarta region's modern cultural identity.

In 1937, a Hinduki language reform movement began, standardizing orthography, morphology, and to an extent, phonology. Jambu made Hinduki the official language of the country in 1945, a year after it gained independence. The Sultanate of India to the west adopted a form of Rekhta.


Hinduki consists of 27 distinct phonemes, nineteen of them consonants and eight vowels. Overall, there are seven allophones.


Labial Dentialveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n (ɲ) ŋ
Stop voiceless p pʰ t tʰ ʈ ʈʰ t͡ʃ t͡ʃʰ k kʰ
voiced b bʰ d dʰ ɖ ɖʰ d͡ʒ d͡ʒʰ g gʰ
Fricative voiceless (f) s (ʃ) ɦ
voiced ʋ
Approximant l j
Rhotics r (ɽ ɽʰ)
  • /ɽ, ɽʰ/ can be considered an allophone of /ɖ ɖʰ/ appearing word-medially and word-finally.
  • /l/ is often realized as /r/ in the final syllable of a word. This creates a number of homophones; for example, the word cār चार means both 'four' and 'motion'. In other languages, the latter would usually be read cāl चाल.
  • [f] may appear as a realization of /pʰ/, particularly in loanwords.
  • [ʃ] is an allophone of /s/. It is usually only vocalized in the word śri श्री.
  • [ɲ] is an allophone of /n/, occurring word-medially.
  • [v] and [w] are allophones of /ʋ/.
  • [x] and [z], found in Perso-Arabic loanwords, are assimilated into /kʰ/ and /s/.
  • Aspirated consonants can be simplified to /ɦ/.

There are phonological rules that apply to words borrowed from Sanskrit - tatsamas and semi-tatsamas.

  • /kʂ/, /ʂ/ are often realized as /kʰ/ and sometimes /tʃ, tʃʰ/.
  • /d͡ʑ/ is realized as /gj/.
  • Retroflex /ɳ/ is assimilated into /n/.


Front Central Back
Close i ɪ u ʊ
Close-mid e o
Open-mid ɛ ə ɔ
Open ä
Diphthongs oi ia io ua ui eo ei (au ai)
  • /ə/ has several allophones, the most common being [ɐ] and [ʌ].
  • All vowels may be nasalized in appropriate environments.
  • /i/ may replace /a/ in a palatal environment.
  • Final /ai/ is interchangeable with /e/. These two are often nasalized.
  • Final /au/ is interchangeable with /o/.
  • Elision of initial a- following final -a in the previous word.
  • Simplification of a consonant leads to the lengthening of the preceding vowel. This may change the meaning of the word.
  • Unstressed vowels can be metathesized.
  • In Sanskrit loanwords, ऋ (often [ɾɪ]), a vocalic consonant and allophone of /r/, is treated as a vowel.


The vocabulary of Hinduki, and Indic languages as a whole, can be divided into five classes.

  • Tatsamas → literally 'that which is the same'; loanwords from Sanskrit that appear in their original form.
  • Semi-tatsamas → Words that were borrowed into Apabhraṁsa as tatsamas, but eventually underwent phonological change.
  • Tadbhavas → Words that have been directly inherited from Apabhraṁsa.
  • Desya → Vocabulary of non-Scythian origin, mainly derived from pre-Aryan indigenous and Dravidian languages.
  • Loanwords → Terms imported from foreign languages, most notably Persian, Arabic, Portuguese, English, and Dutch.

Much like Brajabhaka, Hinduki can possess the tatsama and tadbhava version of the same word. For example, the word for 'heart' can be the tabhava hiy हिय or the original tatsama form, hrdaya हृदय.


Hinduki uses the Devanagari script.

IPA /m/ /n/ /ɲ/ /ŋ/ /p pʰ/ /b bʰ/ /t tʰ/ /ʈ ʈʰ/ /d dʰ/ /ɖ ɖʰ/ /t͡ʃ t͡ʃʰ/ /d͡ʒ d͡ʒʰ/ /k kʰ/ /g gʰ/ /s/ /j/ /ʋ/ /l/ /r/ /ɦ/
Devanagari प फ ब भ त थ ट ठ द ध ड ढ च छ ज झ क ख ग घ
Roman m n ñ p b t d c j k g s y v l r h
dj j w
IPA /ɪ/ /i/ /ɛ/ /e/ /ə/ /ä/ /ɔ/ /o/ /ʊ/ /u/ /r/ /rː/
Roman i ī e ē a ā ō o u ū r
  • A nasal sound ( अनुस्वार, anusvāra) is represented by a dot above a letter (e.g ).
  • Aspiration (pʰ) is represented by a Greek rough breathing mark () after the consonant, though the addition of an h instead is widespread.
  • The orthographic changes djj and jy may be implemented when romanizing Hinduki in Dutch contexts.
  • /ŋ/ (ङ, ) is commonly represented with ng.
  • /ʃ/ is represented with ś.
  • j may replace y at the start of a word (e.g jamunā).
  • /ʋ/ (व) can be represented by either v or w.

See also