Hindi – a Language Known and Unknown

Vanya Gancheva


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India is the seventh largest and the second most populated country in the world, as well as the largest country in South Asia. The Constitution

of India officially recognizes 22 state languages (Assamese, Oriya, Urdu, Kannada, Kashmiri, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Hindi, Nepali, Konkani, Manipuri, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri). Hindi was officially promulgated a state

(official) language on January 26, 1965. It is spoken by more than 480,000,000 people throughout India (the so-called “Hindi-speaking

area of India” comprises the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Delhi) and many other countries in the world (Bangladesh, Botswana, Great Britain, Guyana, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Nepal, Singapore, the Philippines, Fiji,

South Africa etc).


Hindi belongs to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. Its literature dates back to the 11th century and can be divided into three periods: early (11th – 15th century), middle (15th – 18th century) and modern (18th century onwards). In terms of phonetics and grammar, the different dialects of Hindi divide into “Western” and “Eastern” Hindi. The borderline between them passes through the city of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. The main dialects of Western Hindi, which  are spoken in the western part of Uttar Pradesh and in the central parts of Madhya Pradesh, are: 1. Bangaru (Haryani); 2. Khadi boli; 3. Braj; 4. Kannauji; 5. Bundeli. The dialects of Eastern Hindi are collectively called Bihari Hindi. Modern Hindi is derived from the most popular of the western dialects – Khadi Boli – which is also the base of Hindustani and literary Urdu. Like Sanskrit and Marathi, Hindi is written in the Devnagari script which has 44 letters. The vocabulary of Hindi is composed of own Hindi words and loan-words (Sanskrit words, other Indian non-Aryan words, i.e. Dravidian or Munda words, and foreign loan-words, i.e. Iranian, Turk, Arabian, Portuguese, French, and mostly English words). Modern colloquial Hindi is full of English loan-words which have been so deeply imbedded in the mind of the Indians that very often they prefer to use English words instead of Hindi words.