Eye Behavior While Reading Words of Sanskrit and Urdu Origin in Hindi

Hindi and Urdu are two branches of the same language sometimes known as Hindustani. They are divided by orthography and geography but when spoken are sometimes indistinguishable. Both have contributed loanwords that have now been completely assimilated into the language. The question of how the eye behaves during Hindi reading when it encounters Urdu loanwords has not been focused on extensively in prior research. The main purpose of this thesis is to document the eye behavior during reading Sanskrit-based words and Urdu loanwords in Hindi. We place fifteen word pairs consisting of one target Hindi Sanskrit-based word and its Urdu loanword equivalent in different sentences. Native Hindi speakers participate to read Hindi sentences containing either Urdu loanwords or the Sanskrit root word in Hindi. To quantify the differences in reading Hindi and Urdu loanwords in Devanagari (Hindi script) sentences we use an eye tracking methodology, which is used to measure eye movements of a participant during reading. We discover very distinctive eye behavior during reading of Urdu loanwords in comparison to reading Hindi Sanskrit-based words. Analysis also shows an interaction in eye behavior due to language and frequency.

Thesis Author: Tahira Carroll

Year Completed: 2017

Thesis Chair: Deryle Lonsdale


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