Documenting Hindi and Urdu Inscriptions in South Asia

Image of ancient Asian inscription.

This project invites students with a working familiarity of either the Arabic or Devanagari scripts to help collect records of Hindi-Urdu (H-U) inscriptions through collating references and requesting articles and other notices describing them.

Project description

Hindi-Urdu (H-U) was just one among the many vernacular languages that emerged in South Asia during the medieval period in a linguistic system dominated by Sanskrit and Persian. Beyond the courts, H-U functioned as a language of skilled trades, education, and commerce. Some catalogues document inscriptions in H-U preserved across the Indian subcontinent. This project seeks to collect records of as many H-U inscriptions as possible by collating references in these catalogues of Indian epigraphy and requesting through Delivery+ (UB's interlibrary loan system) articles and other notices describing them. This epigraphic approach will permit a more rigorous analysis of H-U’s varied linguistic forms and range of communicative functions than prior scholarly efforts that have relied solely upon literary texts preserved in ink on paper.

Students interested in assisting with this project do not need prior experience using Hindi or Urdu, but do need to possess working familiarity with either the Arabic or Devanagari scripts. Prof. Hakala enthusiastically supports students who seek to present their research at conferences, travel to South Asia, and/or author or co-author journal articles on this or related topics. Interested students may schedule a meeting to discuss this or other projects with Prof. Hakala by visiting

Project outcome

The specific outcomes of this project will be identified by the faculty mentor at the beginning of your collaboration. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Variable
Start time Fall, Spring, Summer
In-person, remote, or hybrid? Hybrid
Level of collaboration Variable
Benefits Academic Credit, Volunteer, Work Study, Salary/Stipend
Who is eligible Students must have completed the equivalent of at least 2 semesters of a South Asian language and/or enrolled in a course with Professor Hakala
Critical Language and Boren Scholarships

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Critical Language Scholarship and the Boren Scholarship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

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

The specific preparation activities for this project will be customized through discussions between you and your project mentor. Please be sure to ask them for the instructions to complete the required preparation activities.


Asian Studies and English