The Ocean of Refinement
خان، إنشالله. دریای لطافت. اورنگ آباد: انجومن ترقى اردو، ١٩٣۵، ۴١٨ص

Khan, Inshallah. Daryaʼe Lutafat. Aurangabad: Anjuman-i Taraqqi-yi Urdu, 1935, 418pp.


The Ocean of Refinement

دریای لطافت

Darya-yi Latafat (spelt also Daryaʼe Lutafat) or The Ocean of Refinement was composed by Sayyid Inshallah Khan in 1802, the eighth and last chapter being written by Mirza Muhammad Qatil on the topic of rhetoric and prosody. 

Though written in Persian, it attempts to discover and prescribe a criterion of eloquence for Urdu. As such, it constitutes an evaluative account of the Urdu speech habits of the social groups of the Mughal Empire at that time. It quotes extensively from the spoken Urdu of various classes of people resident in the cities of Delhi and Lucknow. 

However, any perusal of its richness of everyday detail must take into consideration that it frames its accounts by multiple binary distinctions each of which privileges the first term over the second: the speech habits of Delhi, because of the city’s geographical centrality and consequent mixture of every ethnicity which gives rise to a representative linguistic admixture, makes its Urdu superior to that of Lucknow as well as to that of other non-urban geographical margins. 

The speech of the educated elite is considered superior to that of the ignorant masses; that of men superior to that of women; that of Muslims above that of Hindus; and that of the courtesans of Delhi higher than that of the courtesans of Lucknow. 

Prashant Keshavmurthy
Keshavmurthy, Prashant. '"English abstract of 'The Ocean of Refinement'". Translated by Prashant Keshavmurthy. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 32. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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