Hindi

The language

Hindi is an Indo-Aryan language principally spoken in North and Central India. It is understood in other parts of India, as well as in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. As a first language, modern Hindi is the fourth most spoken language in the world after Mandarin, Spanish and English. It is the native language of 425 million speakers.

the Taj Mahal, on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra.

The dialects

Although there are many regional varieties of spoken Hindi, it is the common language that unifies the many languages of India. Urdu is the sister language to Hindi; only the scripts are different. However, Urdu has more loanwords from Arabic and Persian than Hindi, while Hindi has more borrowings from Sanskrit.

The script

Since the 11th century AD Hindi has been written with the Devanagari alphabet. Each letter represents a single consonant or vowel, and there is a horizontal bar at the top of each letter. Sentences are separated by vertical lines.

Translation

When translating from Hindi to English, the word count remains almost the same.

India’s languages

There are 22 major languages in India and over 720 dialects. English, or ‘Hinglish’, is a second official language spoken across the country. Apart from Hindi and English, some states have their own official languages, such as Gujarati in Gujarat. Most belong to two main linguistic families: the Indo-Aryan languages spoken by 75% of the population and the Dravidian languages spoken by 20% of the population. The main languages in South India, including Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, are languages from the Dravidian family.