Prakrit (also transliterated as Pracrit) (Sanskrit: prākṛta प्राकृत (from pra-kṛti प्रकृति): according to one interpretation, "original, natural, artless, normal, ordinary, usual", interpreted as indicating the "vernacular", in contrast to the literary and religious [orthodoxy] of saṃskṛtā; both adjectives elliptically referring to vāk "speech"; according to another interpretation, "derived from an original", i.e. derived from Sanskrit refers to the broad family of the Indic languages and dialects spoken in ancient India. The earliest extant usage of Prakrit is the corpus of inscriptions of Asoka, emperor of Northern India. While the various Prakrit languages are associated with different patron dynasties, with different religions and different literary traditions, none of them were at any time an informal "mother tongue" in any area of India.

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