Grammatical Divergence among Hindi and Urdu Scholars

Sign in Devanagari and Urdu script.

Get paid to help Korea-and US-based scholars study of the grammars of Hindi and Urdu! 

Project description

It is well known that Hindi and Urdu are mutually intelligible as spoken languages because they share what is often depicted as an identical grammar despite employing different writing systems. Although Hindi and Urdu do share a common grammatical system macroscopically, when examined in detail, this study shows at the micro-level that they demonstrate slightly different grammatical phenomena such as the use of infinitives, forms of agreement, ergativity, etc. This collaborative study, which draws data from a survey completed by “expert” Hindi and Urdu users (consisting of professors and Ph.D., M.Phil, M.A., and B.A. students based in India and Pakistan), seeks to:

  1. confirm the difference and similarities between the two languages;
  2. discover detailed linguistic aspects not covered in standard grammar books; and
  3. reconsider the normative values associated with usages that are considered “correct,” “incorrect,” or “permissible” in the ordinary speech and written forms of these languages.

Professor Taejin Koh of the Department of Hindi at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Associate Professor Walter Hakala of the Department of English and Asian Studies Program at the University at Buffalo are seeking a qualified and reliable undergraduate to enter data from these paper-based surveys into a spreadsheet. This is a PAID opportunity. 

Project outcome

The survey has been already administered and the data collected. However, it has not yet been analyzed due to a lack of funds and time for Professors Koh and Hakala to work together. By employing a UB undergraduate researcher to enter the paper-based surveys into a spreadsheet, this collaboration will confirm differences between practical language use and normative standards in Hindi and Urdu. Moreover, it can be used as a basis for understanding why Hindi and Urdu speakers may diverge in treating different sentence structures as standard even though they are believed to share the same grammars.
Dr. Koh and Dr. Hakala plan to prepare a co-authored article discussing the results of their research for submission to a scholarly journal. The projected date of submission is July 2023.
Dr. Koh plans to visit UB in February 2023 and work closely with the student employed for this project to analyze the data. We hope to establish closer individual and institutional ties between Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS) and the University at Buffalo. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment About a semester, 3-5 months
Start time Anytime
In-person, remote, or hybrid? Hybrid
Level of collaboration Individual student project
Benefits Academic credit, hourly wage (RF)
Who is eligible All undergraduate students who have the ability to read Hindi and Urdu in the Devanagari (देवनागरी) and Urdu (اردو) scripts, facility with spreadsheets (MS Excel or Google Sheets); time-management skills 

Core partners

Department of Hindi, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (South Korea)

Project mentor

Walter Hakala

Associate Professor

Asian Studies and English

315 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-3419


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

Must demonstrate basic proficiency in reading Hindi and Urdu in Devanagari and Urdu script in a preliminary meeting with Prof. Hakala. Please visit to schedule a meeting. 


Hindi, Urdu, India, Pakistan, Linguistics, Paid, Asian Studies, Comparative Literature, English, History, Computer Science