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Prakrit languages
Sanskrit, the official form of the Old Indic language, could not remain stagnant, it had to develop somehow, and spoken forms of the language differed more and more from the canonical form. First Prakrits meant different colloquial dialects, but further they acquired literature forms, and many poems and other Old Indic works were written in them.

Prakrit history can be divided into 3 periods: the Early period, including Ashoka's inscriptions language; the Middle period, when Shauraseni, Magadhi, Maharashtri, Paishachi, different Jainist Prakrits were spoken in different regions of the country and on Ceylon; and the Late period with the Apabhransha language.

The usage of Prakrits was based on social status of people - in many classical works of Indian authors (Kalidasa, Bhasa and others) kings and nobles always speak classical Sanskrit, noble ladies use Shauraseni, ordinary people can speak only Magadhi, and peasant women signs their songs in Maharashtri. This language division was a part of the Indian caste system which penetrated into all aspects of human life of Indians.

Prakrit phonetics does not have sonant vowels and diphthongs; under the Dravidian influence syllables tend to end in a vowel only; single consonants could disappear between vowels. The morphology can be characterized by the further analytic processes, and both nominal and verbal systems were reduced greatly. Noun stems were all united in vowel stems. Dual number, medium voice, personal forms of the past tense were lost. All those trends prepared the emerging of new Indic languages - mainly analytic or agglutinative ones.

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