ORIGIN OF MEMONI LANGUAGE

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Memoni is a unwritten language which is spoken by ( in its different versions) by at least 2 to 5 million people. Technically the Memoni is a language of Memons  who are a minor linguistics  group, in Indian subcontinent that are  identified as mainstream Sunni Muslims and their ancestry can be traced back to 15th century Sindh, Indus valley region in a province of present day Pakistan.   There are many other group such as some  Ismaili and Khoja,  brach of Shi'a Islam,  who also speak the similar language which is identify as  kutchi  language. There is quite possible familiar version of Memoni may be spoken by some non-Muslim such as Hindus and Jains.   

We believe that Memoni is originated from Sindhi language.  As Memons began to  migrated to the neighboring regions Kutch, Khatiwar and Gujrat around 15th Century A.D., their language evolved into a mixture of Sindhi and Khojki, a dialect of Gujarati spoken in Kutch.    Memoni in sound (such as stress and intonation) is  very much like that of Sindhi, but the vocabulary is closer to that of Gujarati and Urdu.   At the same the Sindhi language also went through changes and most likely influenced by the Punjabi and Hindi (Rajasthani) languages.  This is why there are significant difference in Memoni and Sindhi.  The 17th century A.D. and onward, the Memons become very successful Muslim business community in Indian subcontinent and beyond.  They used excessively the Guajarati language in their written and oral communication.  

Until 1970ís Memons businesses in Pakistan kept their books, records and business documents in Guajarati.  Toward the end of 20th century Memoni further under went some changes in Pakistan and elsewhere due to Urdu and English influences.   Towards the end of 20th century, the  Urdu has been widely accepted and used as a Islamic language by the Muslims in the Indian subcontinent and eventually the English will be replaced by either Gujarati or Urdu.   

Memoni is falling into disuse and the younger generation is unlikely to learn it as their mother tongue for various reasons:

  1. Non-existence of language learning tools especially disappearance of Gujarati in Pakistan
  2. Many second generation parents do not know their mother tongue themselves
  3. Development of inferiority complex about their heritage by many Memons
  4. Fear of being discriminated or being ridiculed by some Urdu speaking

for further reading

Memon Community and Preservation of Identity by: Abdur Razzaq Thaplawala


contact: siddique@as-sidq.org

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