What is Hindi Language?

Hindi (Devanagari: हिन्दी, IAST: Hindī), or Modern Standard Hindi is a standardised and Sanskritised register of the Hindustani language. Hindi is an Indo-Germanic or Indo-European language. It is descended from Sanskrit and is considered part of the New Indo-Aryan subgroup. However, it was also influenced, especially in vocabulary, by various other languages including Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, and English.

Along with the English language, Hindi written in the Devanagari script is the official language of the Government of India.It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages of the Republic of India. However, it is not the national language of India because it was not prescribed as such in the Indian constitution.

Hindi is the lingua franca of the so-called Hindi belt in India. Outside India, it is an official language which is known as Fiji Hindi in Fiji, and is a recognised regional language in Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname.

Individually, as a linguistic variety, Hindi is the fourth most-spoken first language in the world, after Mandarin, Spanish and English. Alongside Urdu as Hindustani, it is the third most-spoken language in the world, after Mandarin and English.

Like other Indo-Aryan languages, Hindi is considered to be a direct descendant of an early form of Sanskrit, through Sauraseni Prakrit and Śauraseni Apabhraṃśa. It has been influenced by Dravidian languages, Turkic languages, Persian, Arabic, Portuguese and English Hindi emerged as Apabhramsha (Sanskrit: अपभ्रंश; corruption or corrupted speech), a vernacular form of Prakrit, in the 7th century A.D. Standard Hindi is based on the Khariboli dialect, the vernacular of Delhi and the surrounding region, which came to replace earlier prestige dialects such as Kannauji and Braj. Urdu – another form of Hindustani – acquired linguistic prestige in the later Mughal period (1800s), and underwent significant Persian influence. In the late 19th century, a movement to 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:

  • standardisation of grammar: In 1954, the Government of India set up a committee to prepare a grammar of Hindi; The committee's report was released in 1958 as A Basic Grammar of Modern Hindi.
  • standardisation of the orthography, using the Devanagari script, by the Central Hindi Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Culture to bring about uniformity in writing, to improve the shape of some Devanagari characters, and introducing diacritics to express sounds from other languages.

The Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi as an official language of India on 14 September 1949. Now, it is celebrated as Hindi Day