Sunday, March 23, 2014

Indian Languages - Hindi

The British Raj used the term 'Hindoostani' interchangeably for two languages, Hindi and Urdu, with Hindi spoken by the Hindus and Urdu spoken by the Muslims. In post-Independent India, Standard Hindi was selected as the Official Language, incorporating much of the Khariboli dialect spoken by those living in the region surrounding Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. While this dialect included Urdu words, the script adopted for Standard Hindi was Devnagari.
In a multi-lingual country whose diversity is often jokingly described as 'a different language or dialect every few miles', it was bound to be difficult to implement one language as the national language of India. Hence, English was included as an additional language for official purposes.
Hindi is spoken as a mother-tongue by 180 million people, and as a second language by 300 million people. It has 11 vowels and 35 consonants. Those consonants borrowed from languages like Persian, English and Arabic, are denoted with a dot. Some of the most famous writers and poets in the Hindi language include Kabir, Goswami Tulsidas, Munshi Premchand, Maithili Sharan Gupt, Jaishankar Prasad and more recently, Nirmal Verma. Hindi classes are available in many cities across India and there are also proficiency exams in the language.
Source for numbers data: Central Hindi Directorate (Department of Higher Education)

An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's July 2012 Issue.

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