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मैथिली भाषा

Maithili is a member of the Eastern Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family with affinities linking it to Magahi and Bhojpuri – all three of which date back to Magadhi Prakrit and Magadhi Apabhramsa during the earlier period. Very little is known about the history and origin of Maithili due to lack of written records, the earliest of which date back only to the 8th century AD. For a considerably long period, Sanskrit was used by the scholars of Mithila to write creative and argumentative prose and poetry, whereas use of Maithili was limited to informal domains and among the local folk.

The name ‘Maithili’ occurs in Sanskritic texts as well but not always for the language but either as a seat of learning or as the daughter of King Janaka of the Ramayana epic as he ruled the Kingdom of Mithila. The language was also known as Methli, Maitli, Maithili, Tirahutia, Bihari, Tirhuti, Touritiana, and Tirhutia – sometimes taking the cue from its writing system ‘Tirhuta’ (also known as ‘Mithilakshara’).

Ethnologue (http://www.ethnologue.com/show_iso639.asp?code=mai) describes Maithili in several places, the summary of which can be presented here:

Code: ISO 639-2:  Mai

[MKP] India. 22,000,000 in India (1981). 2,260,000 (1993 Johnstone), 11% of the population in Nepal (1985); Population total both countries 24,191,900. Alternate names: MAITLI, MAITILI, METHLI, TIRAHUTIA, BIHARI, TIRHUTI, TIRHUTIA, APABHRAMSA. Dialects: STANDARD MAITHILI, SOUTHERN STANDARD MAITHILI, EASTERN MAITHILI (KHOTTA, KORTHA), WESTERN MAITHILI, JOLAHA, CENTRAL COLLOQUIAL MAITHILI (SOTIPURA), KISAN, DEHATI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bihari. In Nepal, spoken in Dhanusa District, Janakpur Zone, eastern Terai. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bihari. Dialects: BANTAR, BAREI, BARMELI, KAWAR, KISAN, KYABRAT, MAKRANA, MUSAR, SADRI, TATI. 25% to 50% literate. Hindu, Muslim.

The language name appears in the earliest records of the Census in 1891 as well as in George Abraham Grierson’s monumental multi-volume treatise titled ‘Linguistic Survey of India’ (1903-28).

Maithili is a member of the Eastern Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family with affinities linking it to Magahi and Bhojpuri – all three of which date back to Magadhi Prakrit and Magadhi Apabhramsa during earlier period. Very little is known about the history and origin of Maithili due to lack of written records, the earliest of which date back only to the 8th century AD. For a considerably long period, Sanskrit was used by the scholars of Mithila to write creative and argumentative prose and poetry, whereas use of Maithili was limited to informal domains and among the local folk.

The name ‘Maithili’ occurs in Sanskritic texts as well but not always for the language but either as a seat of learning or as the daughter of King Janaka of the Ramayana epic as he ruled the Kingdom of Mithila. The language was also known as Methli, Maitli, Maitili, Tirahutia, Bihari, Tirhuti, Touritiana, and Tirhutia – sometimes taking the cue from its writing system ‘Tirhuta’ (also known as ‘Mithilakshara’).

Ethnologue (http://www.ethnologue.com/show_iso639.asp?code=mai) describes Maithili in several places, the summary of which can be presented here:

Code: ISO 639-2:  mai

[MKP] India. 22,000,000 in India (1981). 2,260,000 (1993 Johnstone), 11% of the population in Nepal (1985); Population total both countries 24,191,900. Alternate names: MAITLI, MAITILI, METHLI, TIRAHUTIA, BIHARI, TIRHUTI, TIRHUTIA, APABHRAMSA. Dialects: STANDARD MAITHILI, SOUTHERN STANDARD MAITHILI, EASTERN MAITHILI (KHOTTA, KORTHA), WESTERN MAITHILI, JOLAHA, CENTRAL COLLOQUIAL MAITHILI (SOTIPURA), KISAN, DEHATI. Classification: Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bihari. In Nepal, spoken in Dhanusa District, Janakpur Zone, eastern Terai. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Eastern zone, Bihari. Dialects: BANTAR, BAREI, BARMELI, KAWAR, KISAN, KYABRAT, MAKRANA, MUSAR, SADRI, TATI. 25% to 50% literate. Hindu, Muslim.

The language name appears in the earliest records of the Census in 1891 as well as in George Abraham Grierson’s monumental multi-volume treatise titled ‘Linguistic Survey of India’ (1903-28). Besides this, Grierson’s Maithili Grammar (1927) and Maithili Orthography (1927) and Subhadra Jha’s The Foundation of Maithili (1958) are early resources on this language for those who may be interested. In the more recent times, Ramawtar Yadav’s A Reference Grammar of Maithili (1996) describes the language in detail.