How was the Hindi language spread?
India is a land rich in languages. Hundreds of languages and dialects co-exist, some of them spoken by only a few hundred people. While it’s not unusual for several different languages to be spoken in one country, India is fairly uncommon not only through the number of languages but also their diversity, as not all the languages belong to the same language group. About 78% of Indians speak a language belonging to the Indo-European language family, to which English also belongs. However, they do not belong to the same sub-group. The Indian languages are part of the Indo-Iranian languages, forming a subgroup called Indo-Aryan. The oldest Indo-Aryan language attested in India is Vedic Sanskrit, with texts dating to the 2nd-1st millennium BC transmitted orally before being set down in writing – for example, some of the sutras of the Rigveda, an important collection of Hindu hymns.
Let's now get more information on the Hindi language!
The Hindi Language
- Throughout the Moghul Empire and for many following and rival dynasties, Persian was the court language. However, when the British colonised India in the 18th through the 19th century, they were on the lookout for a widely-spoken language they could use for administration. Hindustani was widespread enough that it became the official language of the British Indian Empire, under the name of Urdu.
- Hindustani is still used as a vernacular and lingua franca in the northern and western regions of the Indian subcontinent.
- Today, we speak of Hindi if it is spoken in India and Urdu as the language of Pakistan – though, as we will see, there are some differences between the two.
Influence on the Hindi language
- The main outside influence on the Khariboli that later became Hindustani was Persian, through the administrators and soldiers of the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire. Most Arabic words in Hindustani come from Persian, which has a lot of Arabic loan words.
- Sanskrit and the Prakrit and Apabhramsha languages—the precursors of Hindi—are nominally and verbally inflected. In the nominal realm, the adjective agrees in number and gender with the noun that it qualifies. This is less the case for Hindi because it was greatly influenced by Persian, in which the adjective does not change as a result of a number change in the noun.
Ways to learn Hindi
- Till this point, you should be comfortable having a conversation in basic Hindi. It’s a good time to move towards grammar and correct your conceptions about sentence construction. You can use any good Hindi learning book for this or if you can find a tutor that will be great.
- Start practising some basic sentences in Hindi right away!: Learning a new set of alphabets/script is going to take time. Most of the foreigners or Hindi learners that I know had started with memorizing and understanding basic sentences in Hindi. Since you don’t know the Hindi script yet, write down the pronunciation of sentences in your mother tongue or the Roman script.
- Make use of subtitles for movies: Most Bollywood movies can be viewed with English subtitles. Because of the wonderful differences between Hindi and English in word order and usage, subtitles often convey meaning rather than being exact translations.
- The original Hindi is best: Hindi is different enough from English that often, there are many possible translations. If you look at more than one translation of Bollywood lyrics on Learn Basic Grammar: line, you may find they are hardly ever exactly the same and often even wildly different.
The further evolution of Hindi and Urdu is rather exciting. In some ways, they are drifting farther apart as India and Pakistan have their own unique cultures, both in terms of religion (India is primarily Hindu and Pakistan primarily Muslim) and other aspects.
Either way, the future of Hindi and Urdu will be an interesting one!
So as you see, learning to speak Hindi will mean getting to know a language with a long and literary past and an exciting, dynamic future.
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