Hindi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken mainly in India, and also in Nepal, Singapore and South Africa. There are about 600 million Hindi speakers worldwide, 342 million of whom are native speakers. In 2011 there were 596 million Hindi speakers in India, 1.3 million Hindi speakers in Nepal, 361,000 Hindi speakers in South Africa (in 2003), and 50,000 Hindi speakers in Singapore (in 2017).
Hindi is the main language used in the northern Indian states of Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar. It is spoken in much of north and central India alongside other languages such as Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi or Bengali. In other parts of India, as well as in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, Hindi is understood.
Hindi is spoken in the Bagmati, Janakpur and Narayani zones in the Terai lowlands of southern Nepal, and it is spoken in KwaZulu-Natal province in the east of South Africa.
Hindi is one of official languages of the government of India - the other offical language is English. Both languages are used in parliament, in the judiciary, in communications between the central government and state government, and for other official purposes.
Hindi is closely related to Urdu, the main language of Pakistan, which is written with the Arabic script. Linguists consider Standard Hindi and Standard Urdu to be different formal registers both derived from the Khari Boli dialect, which is also known as Hindustani. Apart from the difference in writing systems, the other main difference between Hindi and Urdu is that Hindi contains more vocabulary from Sanskrit, while Urdu contains more vocabulary from Persian. At an informal spoken level there are few significant differences between Urdu and Hindi and they could be considered varieties a single language.
Hindi first started to be used in writing during the 4th century AD. It was originally written with the Brahmi script but since the 11th century AD it has been written with the Devanāgarī alphabet. The first printed book in Hindi was John Gilchrist's Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language which was published in 1796.
How to write Devanagari letters:
[səbʱiː mənʊʃjõː koː ɡɔːɾəʋ ɔːr əd̪ʱɪkaːɾõ keː maːmleː mẽː dʒənmədʒaːt̪ sʋət̪ənt̪ɾət̪aː ɔːr səmaːnətaː pɾaːpt̪ hɛː. ʊnʱẽ bʊd̪ʱːɪ ɔːɾ ənt̪əɾaːt̪maː kiː d̪eːn pɾaːpt̪ hɛː ɔːɾ pəɾəspəɾ ʊnʱẽː bʱaːiːtʃaːɾeː keː bʱaːʋ seː bəɾt̪aːʋ kəɾnə tʃaːhɪeː]
Sabhī manuṣyōṁ kō gaurava aura adhikārōṁ kē māmalē mēṁ janmajāta svatantratā aura samānatā prāpta hai. Unhēṁ bud'dhi aura antarātmā kī dēna prāpta hai aura paraspara unhēṁ bhā'īcārē kē bhāva sē bartāva karanā cāhi'ē.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Thanks to Arvind Iyengar for providing the above sample text.
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Page last modified: 05.08.22
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