Hindi (Devanagari: हिन्दी, IAST/ISO 15919: Hindī), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: मानक हिन्दी, IAST/ISO 15919: Mānak Hindī), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in India. Hindi has been described as a standardised and Sanskritised register of the Hindustani language, which itself is based primarily on the Khariboli dialect of Delhi and neighbouring areas of Northern India. Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, is one of the two official languages of the Government of India, along with the English language. It is an official language of 9 states and 3 Union Territories and additional official language of 3 states. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of the Republic of India.
Hindi is the lingua franca of the Hindi belt and to a lesser extent other parts of India (usually in a simplified or pidginised variety such as Bazaar Hindustani or Haflong Hindi). Outside India, several other languages are recognised officially as "Hindi" but do not refer to the Standard Hindi language described here and instead descend from other dialects, such as Awadhi and Bhojpuri. Such languages include Fiji Hindi, which is official in Fiji, and Caribbean Hindustani, which is spoken in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname. Apart from the script and formal vocabulary, standard Hindi is mutually intelligible with standard Urdu, another recognised register of Hindustani as both share a common colloquial base.
As a linguistic variety, Hindi is the fourth most-spoken first language in the world, after Mandarin, Spanish and English. Hindi alongside Urdu as Hindustani is the third most-spoken language in the world, after Mandarin and English.
The term Hindī originally was used to refer to inhabitants of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. It was borrowed from Classical Persian هندی Hindī (Iranian Persian pronunciation: Hendi), meaning "of or belonging to Hind (India)" (hence, "Indian").
The terms "Hindi" and "Hindu" trace back to Old Persian which derived these names from the Sanskrit name Sindhu (सिन्धु ), referring to the river Indus. The Greek cognates of the same terms are "Indus" (for the river) and "India" (for the land of the river).
Like other Indo-Aryan languages, Hindi is a direct descendant of an early form of Vedic Sanskrit, through Sauraseni Prakrit and Śauraseni Apabhraṃśa (from Sanskrit apabhraṃśa "corrupt"), which emerged in the 7th century CE.
The sound changes that characterized the transition from Middle Indo-Aryan to Hindi are:
After the arrival of Islamic administrative rule in northern India, Old Hindi acquired many loanwords from Persian, as well as Arabic, which led to the development of Hindustani. In the 18th century, an intensively Persianised version of Hindustani emerged and came to be called Urdu. The growing importance of Hindustani in colonial India and the association of Urdu with Muslims prompted Hindus to develop a Sanskritised version of Hindustani, leading to the formation of Modern Standard Hindi a century after the creation of Urdu.
Before the standardisation of Hindi on the Delhi dialect, various dialects and languages of the Hindi belt attained prominence through literary standardisation, such as Avadhi and Braj Bhasha. Early Hindi literature came about in the 12th and 13th centuries CE. This body of work included the early epics such as renditions of the Dhola Maru in the Marwari of Marwar, the Prithviraj Raso in the Braj Bhasha of Braj, and the works of Amir Khusrow in the dialect of Delhi.
Modern Standard Hindi is based on the Delhi dialect, the vernacular of Delhi and the surrounding region, which came to replace earlier prestige dialects such as Awadhi, Maithili (sometimes regarded as separate from the Hindi dialect continuum) and Braj. Urdu – considered another form of Hindustani – acquired linguistic prestige in the latter part of the Mughal period (1800s), and underwent significant Persian influence. Modern Hindi and its literary tradition evolved towards the end of the 18th century. John Gilchrist was principally known for his study of the Hindustani language, which was adopted as the lingua franca of northern India (including what is now present-day Pakistan) by British colonists and indigenous people. He compiled and authored An English-Hindustani Dictionary, A Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language, The Oriental Linguist, and many more. His lexicon of Hindustani was published in the Perso-Arabic script, Nāgarī script, and in Roman transliteration. He is also known for his role in the foundation of University College London and for endowing the Gilchrist Educational Trust. In the late 19th century, a movement to further develop Hindi as a standardised form of Hindustani separate from Urdu took form. In 1881, Bihar accepted Hindi as its sole official language, replacing Urdu, and thus became the first state of India to adopt Hindi.
After independence, the government of India instituted the following conventions:[original research?]
On 14 September 1949, the Constituent Assembly of India adopted Hindi written in the Devanagari script as the official language of the Republic of India replacing Urdu's previous usage in British India. To this end, several stalwarts rallied and lobbied pan-India in favour of Hindi, most notably Beohar Rajendra Simha along with Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Kaka Kalelkar, Maithili Sharan Gupt and Seth Govind Das who even debated in Parliament on this issue. As such, on the 50th birthday of Beohar Rajendra Simha on 14 September 1949, the efforts came to fruition following the adoption of Hindi as the official language. Now, it is celebrated as Hindi Day.
Part XVII of the Indian Constitution deals with the official language of the Indian Commonwealth. Under Article 343, the official languages of the Union has been prescribed, which includes Hindi in Devanagari script and English:
(1) The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.
(2) Notwithstanding anything in clause (1), for a period of fifteen years from the commencement of this Constitution, the English language shall continue to be used for all the official purposes of the Union for which it was being used immediately before such commencement: Provided that the President may, during the said period, by order authorise the use of the Hindi language in addition to the English language and of the Devanagari form of numerals in addition to the international form of Indian numerals for any of the official purposes of the Union.
It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.
It was envisioned that Hindi would become the sole working language of the Union Government by 1965 (per directives in Article 344 (2) and Article 351), with state governments being free to function in the language of their own choice. However, widespread resistance to the imposition of Hindi on non-native speakers, especially in South India (such as the those in Tamil Nadu) led to the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1963, which provided for the continued use of English indefinitely for all official purposes, although the constitutional directive for the Union Government to encourage the spread of Hindi was retained and has strongly influenced its policies.
Article 344 (2b) stipulates that official language commission shall be constituted every ten years to recommend steps for progressive use of Hindi language and imposing restrictions on the use of the English language by the union government. In practice, the official language commissions are constantly endeavouring to promote Hindi but not imposing restrictions on English in official use by the union government.
At the state level, Hindi is the official language of the following Indian states: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. It acts as an additional official language of West Bengal in blocks and sub-divisions with more than 10% of the population speaking Hindi. Each may also designate a "co-official language"; in Uttar Pradesh, for instance, depending on the political formation in power, this language is generally Urdu. Similarly, Hindi is accorded the status of official language in the following Union Territories: National Capital Territory, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
National language status for Hindi is a long-debated theme. In 2010, the Gujarat High Court clarified that Hindi is not the national language of India because the constitution does not mention it as such.
Outside Asia, the Awadhi language (an Eastern Hindi dialect) with influence from Bhojpuri, Bihari languages, Fijian and English is spoken in Fiji. It is an official language in Fiji as per the 1997 Constitution of Fiji, where it referred to it as "Hindustani", however in the 2013 Constitution of Fiji, it is simply called "Fiji Hindi". It is spoken by 380,000 people in Fiji.
Hindi is a protected langue in South Africa. According to the Constitution of South Africa, the Pan South African Language Board must promote and ensure respect for Hindi along with other languages.
In Northeast India a pidgin known as Haflong Hindi has developed as a lingua franca for the people living in Haflong, Assam who speak other languages natively. In Arunachal Pradesh, Hindi emerged as a lingua franca among locals who speak over 50 dialects natively.
Hindi is quite easy to understand for many Pakistanis, who speak Urdu, which, like Hindi, is a standard register of the Hindustani language; additionally, Indian media are widely viewed in Pakistan.
Hindi is also spoken by a large population of Madheshis (people having roots in north-India but have migrated to Nepal over hundreds of years) of Nepal. Apart from this, Hindi is spoken by the large Indian diaspora which hails from, or has its origin from the "Hindi Belt" of India. A substantially large North Indian diaspora lives in countries like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, South Africa, Fiji and Mauritius, where it is natively spoken at home and among their own Hindustani-speaking communities. Outside India, Hindi speakers are 8 million in Nepal; 863,077 in United States of America; 450,170 in Mauritius; 380,000 in Fiji; 250,292 in South Africa; 150,000 in Suriname; 100,000 in Uganda; 45,800 in United Kingdom; 20,000 in New Zealand; 20,000 in Germany; 26,000 in Trinidad and Tobago; 3,000 in Singapore.
Linguistically, Hindi and Urdu are two registers of the same language and are mutually intelligible. Hindi is written in the Devanagari script and contains more Sanskrit-derived words than Urdu, whereas Urdu is written in the Perso-Arabic script and uses more Arabic and Persian loanwords than does Hindi. However, both share a core vocabulary of native Prakrit and Sanskrit-derived words, with large numbers of Arabic and Persian loanwords. Because of this, as well as the fact that the two registers share an identical grammar, a consensus of linguists consider them to be two standardised forms of the same language, Hindustani or Hindi-Urdu. Hindi is the most commonly used official language in India. Urdu is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan and is one of 22 official languages of India, also having official status in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Delhi.
Hindi is written in the Devanagari script, an abugida. Devanagari consists of 11 vowels and 33 consonants and is written from left to right. Unlike for Sanskrit, Devanagari is not entirely phonetic for Hindi, especially failing to mark schwa dropping in spoken Standard Hindi.
Traditionally, Hindi words are divided into five principal categories according to their etymology:
Hindi has naturally inherited a large portion of its vocabulary from Śaurasenī Prākṛt, in the form of tadbhava words. This process usually involves compensatory lengthening of vowels preceding consonant clusters in Prakrit, e.g. Sanskrit tīkṣṇa > Prakrit tikkha > Hindi tīkhā.
Much of Modern Standard Hindi's vocabulary is borrowed from Sanskrit as tatsam borrowings, especially in technical and academic fields. The formal Hindi standard, from which much of the Persian, Arabic and English vocabulary has been replaced by neologisms compounding tatsam words, is called Śuddh Hindi (pure Hindi), and is viewed as a more prestigious dialect over other more colloquial forms of Hindi.
Excessive use of tatsam words sometimes creates problems for native speakers. They may have Sanskrit consonant clusters which do not exist in native Hindi, causing difficulties in pronunciation.
As a part of the process of Sanskritization, new words are coined using Sanskrit components to be used as replacements for supposedly foreign vocabulary. Usually these neologisms are calques of English words already adopted into spoken Hindi. Some terms such as dūrbhāṣ "telephone", literally "far-speech" and dūrdarśan "television", literally "far-sight" have even gained some currency in formal Hindi in the place of the English borrowings (ṭeli)fon and ṭīvī.
Hindi also features significant Persian influence, standardised from spoken Hindustani.[page needed] Early borrowings, beginning in the mid-12th century, were specific to Islam (e.g. Muhammad, islām) and so Persian was simply an intermediary for Arabic. Later, under the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire, Persian became the primary administrative language in the Hindi heartland. Persian borrowings reached a heyday in the 17th century, pervading all aspects of life. Even grammatical constructs, namely the izafat, were assimilated into Hindi.
Post-Partition the Indian government advocated for a policy of Sanskritization leading to a marginalisation of the Persian element in Hindi. However, many Persian words (e.g. muśkil "difficult", bas "enough", havā "air", x(a)yāl "thought") have remained entrenched in Modern Standard Hindi, and a larger amount are still used in Urdu poetry written in the Devanagari script.
Medieval Hindi literature is marked by the influence of Bhakti movement and the composition of long, epic poems. It was primarily written in other varieties of Hindi, particularly Avadhi and Braj Bhasha, but to a degree also in Delhavi, the basis for Modern Standard Hindi. During the British Raj, Hindustani became the prestige dialect.
Chandrakanta, written by Devaki Nandan Khatri in 1888, is considered the first authentic work of prose in modern Hindi. The person who brought realism in the Hindi prose literature was Munshi Premchand, who is considered as the most revered figure in the world of Hindi fiction and progressive movement. Literary, or Sāhityik, Hindi was popularised by the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Bhartendu Harishchandra and others. The rising numbers of newspapers and magazines made Hindustani popular with the educated people.
The Dvivedī Yug ("Age of Dwivedi") in Hindi literature lasted from 1900 to 1918. It is named after Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, who played a major role in establishing Modern Standard Hindi in poetry and broadening the acceptable subjects of Hindi poetry from the traditional ones of religion and romantic love.
In the 20th century, Hindi literature saw a romantic upsurge. This is known as Chāyāvād (shadow-ism) and the literary figures belonging to this school are known as Chāyāvādī. Jaishankar Prasad, Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', Mahadevi Varma and Sumitranandan Pant, are the four major Chāyāvādī poets.
Uttar Ādhunik is the post-modernist period of Hindi literature, marked by a questioning of early trends that copied the West as well as the excessive ornamentation of the Chāyāvādī movement, and by a return to simple language and natural themes.
Hindi literature, music, and film have all been disseminated via the internet. In 2015, Google reported a 94% increase in Hindi-content consumption year-on-year, adding that 21% of users in India prefer content in Hindi. Many Hindi newspapers also offer digital editions.
The following is a sample text in High Hindi, of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations):