Send an article  |  Print   |  ../file-system/small/pdf   |   RSS   |  


Hindi is the official language of the country India. It spoken as a first language by nearly 425 million people and as a second language by some 120 million more. Significant Hindi speech communities are also found in South Africa, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Yemen, and Uganda and many other countries.


Table of Contents



In 1931 linguist Sumit Kumar Chatterjee conducted a study in Calcutta (now Kolkata) detailing the use of a lingua franca that he called Bazaar Hindustani. It had minimal grammatical forms and a simplified basic vocabulary used by both Europeans and Indians who spoke such languages as Assamese, Bengali, Oriya, Tamil, and Hindi. In the early 21st century, what came to be known simply as Hindustani—a colloquial spoken language that, depending on geographic location, draws extensively from Hindi and Sanskrit or from Urdu and Persian—continued to be the lingua franca of Kolkata and other cosmopolitan and industrial cities that had drawn people from all parts of India. As Hindi originated in just such a multilingual situation centuries ago, so may urbanism instigate the development of an even richer lexicon and even more flexible syntactic devices.


Official status

The Indian constitution, adopted in 1950, declares Hindi shall be written in the Devanagari script and will be the official language of the Federal Government of India.



Literary Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, has been strongly influenced by Sanskrit. Its standard form is based on the Khari Boli dialect, found to the north and east of Delhi. Braj Bhasha, which was an important literary medium from the 15th to the 19th century, is often treated as a dialect of Hindi, as are Awadhi, Bagheli, Bhojpuri, Bundeli, Chhattisgarhi, Garhwali, Haryanawi, Kanauji, Kumayuni, Magahi, and Marwari. However, these so-called dialects of Hindi are more accurately described as regional languages of the “Hindi zone” or “belt,” an area that approximates the region of northern India, south through the state of Madhya Pradesh.


Words of Hindi

Words of Hindi is called as SHABD, and it is derived from various other languages .

1. Formal vocabulary borrowed from Sanskrit, de-Persianized, de-Arabicized.

2. Literary Hindi, or Hindi-Urdu, has 4 varieties: Hindi (High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, Literary Hindi, Standard Hindi); Urdu; Dakhini; Rekhta.

3. “Hindustani”, though not listed separately in India, refers here to the unofficial lingua franca of northwest India.

4. Has a lexical mixture in varying proportions of Hindi (vocabulary derived from Sanskrit) and Urdu (vocabulary derived from Persian or Arabic).


Regulatory body

The Central Hindi Directorate, a government agency with the mission of standardizing and modernizing Hindi, is moving the language closer to Sanskrit. Non-Hindi speakers, however, are pulling the language in another direction by using increasing numbers of English words and phrases and by simplifying the complex rules of subject-verb agreement found in standard Hindi. Notably, both groups are motivated by the same goal—to widen the scope of Hindi by making it more comprehensible to non-Hindi speakers.


Relationship with other languages

Hindi has a special relationship with Urdu: their grammar is virtually identical, and they have a substantial vocabulary in common. Hindi has many different styles and speech registers, appropriate in different contexts. At the most colloquial level it reflects more the common ground with Urdu, while in formal and official contexts a more Sanskritized style is found.


Number of speakers

About 330,0000 including other countries such as Bangladesh, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Canada, Djibouti, Germany, Kenya, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Yemen, Zambia.


Finding an exact number for Hindi is rather difficult. There are certain dialects of Hindi that are not mutually intelligible with others so even though they count themselves in this group, they probably shouldn’t. Then there is Urdu, which is completely intelligible to the average Hindi speaker, but Urdu speakers don’t like to be grouped with Hindi speakers even though they probably should be. This puts the number of speakers anywhere from 181 million to 422 million native speakers with another 155 million that speak it as a second language. Most of these people live in India and Pakistan.



Correct us and Correct yourself
Top of page