The Hindi Language

Hindi, as recognized by the Constitution of India, is the official language (in addition to English) of the Republic of India, and the common second language of Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, Guyana and Surinam.

Origins of the language and its deep relationship with Sanskrit:

Sanskrit, one of the most ancient spoken and written languages in the world and one of the earliest members of the Indo-European language family, is the primary source of Hindi. Hindi, like Sanskrit, is written in the Dev Naagari script, which is common to several other Indian languages as well. Much of the vocabulary of Hindi comes from Sanskrit, though Hindi also has a special relationship with Urdu, their grammar and much of their vocabulary being identical.

Differences / Similarities between Urdu and Hindi:

Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, is pretty much the same language as Hindi. In some cases it is also spoken about as Hindi-Urdu language. Differences, however, exist, mostly in vocabulary, primarily because of it being spoken in different countries. Since Urdu is spoken in an Islamic country, it has borrowed many words from Arabic and Persian, and thus it has an Arabic hue, whereas Hindi would rather use Sanskrit words. Writing system presents another difference, in that Hindi uses the Dev Naagari script, while Urdu uses a modified version of the Arabic script (or rather the script used by Persians). Urdu is written from right to left, opposed to Hindi which, like English, is written from left to right.

Where it is spoken:

Hindi is spoken as a mother tongue by about 40 percent of the Indian population, mainly in the area known as the Hindi belt. In addition to being the official language of the Indian Union, it is also the official language of the Union Territory of Delhi and the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Outside of India, Hindi is spoken in Nepal, South Africa, Mauritius, U.K., U.S., Yemen, Uganda, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore and United Arab Emirates. Such a wide distribution makes Hindi among the 10 (some sources claim 5) most spoken languages in the world.

Dialects of the language and where they are spoken:

Hindi has more than ten variations. One of the most important dialects is Khariboli (also known as Khadiboli or Khari dialect), which is spoken in Western Uttar Pradesh. Another dialect is Bambaiya Hindi (also Mumbaiyya), a slang form of Hindi/Urdu which is spoken primarily in Bombay (Mumbai). A third important dialect is Brajbhasa, spoken in the region of Braj. Among the other variations of Hindi are Kanauji, Bundeli, Bagheli, Chhattisgarhi (Lahariya or Khalwahi), Hariyanvi (Bangaru or Jatu), Bhaya, Chamari and Ghera Gowli.

World Hindi Conference:

Geographically, Hindi-speaking people are scattered all over the world. The last seven World Hindi Conferences have been held at Nagpur in 1975, Port Louis in 1976, New Delhi in 1983, Port Louis in 1993, Port of Spain in 1996, London in 1999 and Paramaribo, Surinam in 2003. The 8th World Hindi Conference was inaugurated at the United Nations headquarters on 13th July, 2007.

Hindi Grammar and Vocabulary:

Hindi grammar differs from English grammar in many ways. All Hindi nouns are either masculine or feminine. For example, many (not all) Hindi adjectives change according to the gender of the noun they are linked to. Hindi verbs change to indicate gender of their subjects. Hindi language uses postpositions (which come after nouns), rather than prepositions (which come before nouns). English speakers will also notice that there are neither definite nor indefinite articles in the Hindi language.

English words borrowed from Hindi:

Many words were assimilated into English when India was the colony of Britain. Most are formally recognized by scholars as borrowed from Hindi while there are disputes about a few. Following are some of the words borrowed from Hindi and its parent language(s).

‘Bazaar’ – Market, street lined with shops
‘Bungalow’ – Spacious house
‘Coolie’ (cooly) – Unskilled laborer, normally porters in India
‘Guru’ – Teacher / Guide / Mentor
‘Khaki’ - Sturdy cloth of this color (light olive brown to moderate or light yellowish brown) 
‘Loot’ - To pillage, spoil
‘Pundit’ - A learned person, source of opinion

Other facts about Hindi:

* The script being phonetic, Hindi, unlike English, is pronounced as it is written and thus, comparatively easy to learn. 
* There are 33 consonants and 11 vowels in Hindi. Additionally, there are also many conjunct consonants.
* All Hindi letters have at least a partial bar at the top, which connects to the other letters in a word. There are no uppercase or lowercase forms for Hindi letters. 
* Hindi's popularity has been boosted by Bollywood, the Hindi film industry. These movies are now starting to have an international appeal (largely aided by the huge Indian diaspora abroad) and have broken into the western markets as well.
* A survey in 1997 found that 66% of all Indians can speak Hindi, and 77% of the Indians regard Hindi as "one language across the nation".

Links of Interest

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