In our new series this year, Language of the Month, we are looking at twelve of the world’s nearly 6000 fascinating languages, one each month. Join us on this trip around the globe and discover facts, trivia and insider information about some awesome languages!
Language family: Indo-Aryan (part of the Indo-European family)
Number of speakers: 322 million
Writing system: Devanagari
Official language in: India
HISTORY OF THE LANGUAGE
Hindi is India’s lingua franca and one of the country’s 22 official languages. (This number does not even come close to how many regional languages are actually spoken in the country. According to some estimates there are 122 major languages and 1599 other languages. Although some could be regarded as dialects, it’s still impressive!)
Hindi has a long history, and when I say long, I mean nearly 28 centuries long. Its early form originated from Vedic Sanskrit in the 7th century AD, but modern Hindi only emerged in the 18th century, based on a dialect spoken in Delhi.
Linguistically Hindi is very similar to Urdu, another Indo-Aryan language, and their spoken versions are actually mutually intelligible. Their vocabulary is very close, although Hindi uses more Sanskrit words and Urdu shows more Arabic and Persian influence.
While we are on the topic of influence, unsurprisingly, Hindi uses a lot of English words, such as “doctor”, “hospital”, “station” or “football”, just to name a few. Similarly, English borrowed a lot from Hindi, for example: “jungle”, “mogul”, “shampoo”, “bangle” and even “avatar”.
Hello! नमस्ते (namaste)
My name is… मेरा नाम … है (merā nām … hai)
Yes जी हाँ (jī hān)
No जी नहीं (jī nahīn)
Thank you धन्यवाद (dhanyavād)
DID YOU KNOW…?
- The name Hindi comes from a Persian word and it means “the land of the Indus river”.
- India is not the only place where Hindi is spoken. You can find Hindi speakers in Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Nepal.
- If you find English spelling confusing, Hindi is the language for you! It’s easy to learn to read Hindi as every word is pronounced exactly as it is written.
- Hindi uses the so-called Devanagari script and has 47 characters (compare it to the 26 letters in English!).
- There are no articles in Hindi, so there is no need to worry about learning when to use “the” and “a”.
- The language has its own day, Hindi Divas. This is celebrated on 14 September to commemorate the day in 1949 when Hindi was adopted as an official language of the Republic of India.
- Just like in many other languages, Hindi nouns can take two genders: feminine and masculine, however, in this language even adjectives and verbs are conjugated differently depending on the gender.
- The first book published in Hindi is considered to be “Prem Sagar” or “Ocean of Love” from 1805 which is a translation of a book on the legends of Krishna.
We hope you liked this short introduction to the Hindi language. If you have any questions about Hindi or translations in general, or have a translation request, don’t hesitate to get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 01223 356 733.