Interesting Facts About the Hindi Language
First published: Tuesday September 14th, 2021
Hindi (Devanagari: हिन्दी) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in northern India. It is one of the two official languages of India, along with English. Today is the National Hindi Day! It is my primary language, so I wanted to share some interesting facts about the language. Read more to find out!
Why do we celebrate Hindi Day?
Hindi Day (Hindi Diwas in Hindi) is celebrated every year on 14th September to mark the adaptation of Hindi as the official language of India by the Constituent Assembly in 1949. The decision was taken by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
1. Third Most Spoken Language
Hindi is the third most spoken language by total number of speakers with around 600 million people speaking it. It is the fourth largest language in terms of native speakers with approximately 350 million people speaking it natively.
2. Global Language
Hindi is no more an Indian language! It is spoken in many countries including Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, Mauritius and the Anglophonic countries of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa.
3. Indo-European Roots
Hindi belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. However, over time, the vocabulary of language has been influenced by other languages, including Arabic, English, Portuguese, Tamil and Malayalam. Hindi has inherited a large part of its vocabulary from Sanskrit and Prakrit (a medieval language derived from Sanskrit), along with influences from other Indo-Aryan and Iranian languages such as Awadhi, Braj Bhasha, Bengali and Persian.
Hindi is closely related to the Urdu language. These languages are one of the two registers of the Hindustani language.
4. Close-Knit Family
As already mentioned before, Hindi has many sister and daughter languages. Its closest sister is, perhaps, the Urdu. So close is their relation that one could not differentiate between them when spoken neutrally! Modern Standard Hindi is a Sanskriticised version of the Hindustani language, while the Modern Standard Urdu is a heavily Persianised version, with some traces of Turkish and Arabic.
Other close languages include but are not limited to Haryanvi, Rajasthani, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Maithili and Nepali. Many of these languages are sometimes even considered dialects of Hindi! Daughter languages include the Caribbean Hindustani, Fiji Hindi and the Romani languages.
5. Ancient Script
Hindi is written in the Devanagari script, an ancient left-to-right abugida, based on the more ancient Brahmi script. It was developed in ancient India from the 1st to the 4th century CE. It is the fourth most widely adopted writing system in the world, being used for over 120 languages!
The orthography of this script reflects the pronunciation of the language. It is written from left to right, has a strong preference for symmetrical rounded shapes within squared outlines and is recognisable by a horizontal line, known as a shirorekhā, that runs along the top of full letters. Each letter of the Hindi alphabet has its own independent and distinct sound. As a result, Hindi words are pronounced exactly as they are written, making it very easy to read. Almost every possible sound in the world can be written down in Hindi with the use of the alphabet. On the other hand, English needs supplementary symbols.
As shown in the previous image, it can also be written in the Nastaliq script. In this age of technology, people have started to write it in the Latin script as well. However, the Latin transliteration of Hindi is filled with inconsistencies. For example, फिर (meaning then) could be written as fir or phir.
6. Lender of Words
Hindi has lent a lot of words to the English language. Some notable English words of Hindi origin are avatar, bandana, bungalow, dinghy, guru, jungle, khaki, karma, loot, mantra, nirvana, punch, pyjamas, sorbet, shampoo, thug, typhoon and yoga.
7. Young Language
In terms of age, Hindi is relatively new. As already mentioned, Hindi is a register of the Hindustani language. Hindi and Urdu diverged only due to religious issues in British India. In 1881, Bihar replaced its official language from Urdu to Hindi, becoming the first Indian state to adopt Hindi.
8. Linguistic Features
Unlike the English, there are no articles in Hindi. One of the most interesting facts about Hindi is that every noun has its own gender, either masculine or feminine. Verbs and adjectives change as per gender. This is why Hindi is considered to be the one of toughest language to master.
9. Cause of Violence
The imposition of Hindi in the south Indian states has caused some violence. Upon gaining independence, it was decided that Hindi would become the sole official language of the nation. It caused huge protests and agitations in southern India, particularly in Tamil Nadu.
10. A Language in the Making
Rapid urbanisation coupled with the growth of the English language as the true 'Global Language', a new language is forming within the urban strata of India. It is called 'Hinglish', a hybrid language between Hindi and English. Keep in mind that it is not the same as the Indian English. Some popular examples includes
• Yeh Dil Maange More! (The heart wants more!), the Indian slogan for Pepsi
• She was bhunno-ing the masalas jub phone ki ghuntee bugee. (She was frying the spices when the phone rang.)
Now that you know these interesting facts about Hindi, why don't try learning it? It will be an enthralling adventure!