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This article is about the language. For other uses, see Hindi (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Hindu, Hindko, or Hindki.
Hindi devnagari.png
"Hindi" in Devanagari script
Pronunciation Template:IPnn vA-hi
Region India
Native speakers
551.4 million[1][2][3] (2001)
L1: 422 million[1][2][4][5][6]
L2: 98.2 million[1][2]
L3: 31.2 million[1][2]
Early forms
Standard forms
Devanagari Braille
Signed Hindi
Official status
Official language in
Regulated by Central Hindi Directorate[8]
Language codes
ISO 639-1 hi
ISO 639-2 hin
ISO 639-3 hin
Linguist list
Glottolog hind1269[9]
Linguasphere 59-AAF-qf
Language region maps of India.svg
States and union territories of India by the most commonly spoken first language.[10][a]

Hindi (Devanagari: हिन्दी, IAST: Hindī), is an Indo-Aryan language, one of the official languages of India, and the first language of the majority of the populace in the Hindi Belt.[11] Outside India, Hindi is an official language in Fiji,[12] and is spoken in significant numbers in Mauritius, South Africa, Suriname, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.[13][14][15][14] Modern Standard Hindi is the standardised and Sanskritised register of Hindi.

Hindi is the fourth most-spoken first language in the world, after Mandarin, Spanish, and English.[16] As of 2001, Hindi has more than 551.4 million speakers in India alone, or 54% of India's population. More than 422 million Hindi speakers are native and 129 million are second or third language speakers.[17][1][18][2]

Official status[edit]

Part XVII of the Indian Constitution deals with Official Language. Under Article 343, official language of the Union has been prescribed, which includes Hindi in Devanagari script.

Article 343 of the Indian constitution states

(1) The official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script. The form of numerals to be used for the official purposes of the Union shall be the international form of Indian numerals.[19]

Article 351 of the Indian constitution states

It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.[19]

It was envisioned that Hindi would become the sole working language of the Union Government by 1965 (per directives in Article 344 (2) and Article 351),[20] with state governments being free to function in the language of their own choice. However, widespread resistance to the imposition of Hindi on non-native speakers, especially in South India (such as the those in Tamil Nadu), Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, led to the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1963, which provided for the continued use of English indefinitely for all official purposes, although the constitutional directive for the Union Government to encourage the spread of Hindi was retained and has strongly influenced its policies.[21][citation needed]

At the state level, Hindi is the official language of the following Indian states: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Each may also designate a "co-official language"; in Uttar Pradesh, for instance, depending on the political formation in power, this language is generally Urdu. Similarly, Hindi is accorded the status of official language in the following Union Territories: Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, National Capital Territory.

National-language status for Hindi is a long-debated theme. An Indian court clarified that Hindi is not the national language of India because the constitution does not mention it as such.[22]

Outside India[edit]

Outside Asia, Hindi is an official language in Fiji as per the 1997 Constitution of Fiji,[23] where it referred to it as "Hindustani", however in the 2013 Constitution of Fiji, it is simply called "Hindi".[24]

Hindi is also spoken by a large population of Madheshis (people having roots in north-India but have migrated to Nepal over hundreds of years) of Nepal. Hindi is quite easy to understand for some Pakistanis, who speak Urdu, which, like Hindi, is part of Hindustani. Apart from this, Hindi is spoken by the large Indian diaspora which hails from, or has its origin from the "Hindi Belt" of India. A substantially large Indian diaspora lives in countries like The United States, United Kingdom, The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and few other countries, where it is natively spoken at home and among their own communities. Outside India, Hindi speakers are 100,000 in the United States; 485,170 in Mauritius; 250,292 in South Africa; 232,760 in Yemen; 107,000 in Uganda; 3,000 in Singapore; 8 million in Nepal; 20,000 in New Zealand; 20,000 in Germany.


Like other Indo-Aryan languages, Hindi is considered to be a direct descendant of an early form of Sanskrit, through Sauraseni Prakrit and Śauraseni Apabhraṃśa. It has been influenced by Dravidian languages, Turkic languages, Persian, Arabic, Portuguese and English.[25] Hindi emerged as Apabhramsha (Sanskrit:अपभ्रंश; Corruption or corrupted speech), a degenerated form of Prakrit, in the 7th century A.D. By the 10th century A.D., it became stable. Bhojpuri, Braj Bhasa, Awadhi, Khari Boli etc. are the dialects of Hindi. The dialect of Hindustani on which Standard Hindi is based is Khariboli, the vernacular of Delhi and the surrounding western Uttar Pradesh and southern Uttarakhand. Urdu- literally meaning, "camp", as in "Zuban-i-Urud yi-Mualla" or "language of the exalted camp" (of the Mughals)- a dialect of Hindustani, acquired official linguistic prestige in the later Mughal period (1800s). In the late 19th century, the movement standardising a written language from Khariboli, for the Indian masses in North India, started to standardise Hindi as a separate language from Urdu, which was learnt by the Mughal elite. In 1881, Bihar accepted Hindi as its sole official language, replacing Urdu, and thus became the first state of India to adopt Hindi.

After independence, the government of India instituted the following conventions:[original research?]

  • standardisation of grammar: In 1954, the Government of India set up a committee to prepare a grammar of Hindi; The committee's report was released in 1958 as A Basic Grammar of Modern Hindi.
  • standardisation of the orthography, using the Devanagari script, by the Central Hindi Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Culture to bring about uniformity in writing, to improve the shape of some Devanagari characters, and introducing diacritics to express sounds from other languages.

The Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi as an official language of India on 14 September 1949. Now, it is celebrated as Hindi Diwas.

Linguistically, Hindi and Urdu are two registers of the same language.[26] Hindi is written in the Devanagari script and uses more Sanskrit words, whereas Urdu is written in the Perso-Arabic script and uses more Arabic and Persian words. Hindi is the most commonly used official language in India. Urdu is the only official language of Pakistan , and is one of the 22 official languages of India.


In India, 255 million people speak at least two languages and 87.5 million speak three or more languages. Hindi is the language of choice in India as a second or third language for non-Hindi speakers. Compared to English, Hindi has more native speakers, second language speakers, and total speakers. As of 2001, Hindi was the primary language of 422 million Indians, the second language for 98.2 million, and the third language for 31.2 million. This puts the total number of Hindi speakers in India to about 551.4 million. These figures are expected to have significantly increased as Hindi is further institutionally promoted and the data is from 2001 while the 2011 Census of India's linguistic data is yet to be released. English was the native language for only 230,000 Indians in 2001, with 86 million listed it as their second language and 39 million as their third language. This puts the total number of English speakers in India to about 125 million.[2]


Hindi is written in Devanagari script (देवनागरी लिपि devanāgarī lipi). Devanagari consists of 11 vowels and 33 consonants and is written from left to right. It is an abugida as well. The Government of India uses Hunterian transliteration as its official system of transliterating written Hindi into the Latin script. Various other systems also exist, such as IAST, ITRANS and ISO 15919.


Traditionally, Hindi words are divided into five principal categories according to their etymology:

  • Tatsama (तत्सम "same as that") words: These are words which are spelled the same in Hindi as in Sanskrit (except for the absence of final case inflections).[27] They include words inherited from Sanskrit via Prakrit which have survived without modification (e.g. Hindi नाम nām / Sanskrit नाम nāma, "name"; Hindi कर्म karm / Sanskrit कर्म karma, "deed, action; karma"),[28] as well as forms borrowed directly from Sanskrit in more modern times (e.g. प्रार्थना prārthanā, "prayer").[29] Pronunciation, however, conforms to Hindi norms and may differ from that of classical Sanskrit. Amongst nouns, the tatsam word could be the Sanskrit non-inflected word-stem, or it could be the nominative singular form in the Sanskrit nominal declension.
  • Ardhatatsama (अर्धतत्सम "semi-tatsama") words: Such words have typically undergone sound changes subsequent to being borrowed. (e.g. Hindi सूरज sūraj from Sanskrit सूर्य surya)
  • Tadbhava (तद्भव "born of that") words: These are words that are spelled differently from in Sanskrit but are derivable from a Sanskrit prototype by phonological rules (e.g. Sanskrit कर्म karma, "deed" becomes Pali कम्म kamma, and eventually Hindi काम kām, "work").[27]
  • Deshaj (देशज) words: These are words that were not borrowings but do not derive from attested Indo-Aryan words either. Belonging to this category are onomatopoetic words or ones borrowed from local non-Indo-Aryan languages.
  • Videshī (विदेशी "foreign") words: These include all loanwords purportedly from non-indigenous languages. The most frequent sources identified in this category have been Persian, Arabic, English and Portuguese. Examples are कमेटी kameṭī from English committee and Hindi साबुन sābun "soap" from Arabic].


Much of Modern Standard Hindi's vocabulary is derived from Sanskrit, either as tatsama or tadbhava, especially in technical and academic field. The Hindi standard, from which much of the Persian, Arabic and English vocabulary has been purged and replaced by neologisms compounding tatsam words, is called Shuddha Hindi (pure Hindi), and is viewed as a more prestigious dialect over other more colloquial forms of Hindi.

Excessive use of tatsama words creates problems for native speakers. They may have Sanskrit consonant clusters which do not exist in native Hindi. The educated middle class of India may be able to pronounce such words, but others have difficulty. Persian and Arabic vocabulary given 'authentic' pronunciations cause similar difficulty.

Persian and Arabic[edit]

Hindi also features significant Persian influence, standardised from spoken Hindustani.[30][page needed] Many have come to take the place of tatsama vocabulary, such as दरवाज़ा darvāzā "door" (tatsama द्वारा dvārā), and many more are used alongside tatsama words.

Arabic also shows influence in Hindi, often via Persian but sometimes directly.[31]



Main article: Hindi literature

Hindi literature is broadly divided into four prominent forms or styles, being Bhakti (devotional – Kabir, Raskhan); Shringar (beauty – Keshav, Bihari); Virgatha (extolling brave warriors); and Adhunik (modern).

Medieval Hindi literature is marked by the influence of Bhakti movement and the composition of long, epic poems. It was primarily written in other varieties of Hindi, particularly Avadhi and Braj Bhasha, but also in Khariboli. During the British Raj, Hindustani became the prestige dialect. Hindustani with heavily Sanskritised vocabulary or Sahityik Hindi (Literary Hindi) was popularised by the writings of Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Bhartendu Harishchandra and others. The rising numbers of newspapers and magazines made Hindustani popular with the educated people.

Chandrakanta, written by Devaki Nandan Khatri in 1888, is considered the first authentic work of prose in modern Hindi.[32] The person who brought realism in the Hindi prose literature was Munshi Premchand, who is considered as the most revered figure in the world of Hindi fiction and progressive movement.

The Dwivedi Yug ("Age of Dwivedi") in Hindi literature lasted from 1900 to 1918. It is named after Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, who played a major role in establishing the Modern Hindi language in poetry and broadening the acceptable subjects of Hindi poetry from the traditional ones of religion and romantic love.

In the 20th century, Hindi literature saw a romantic upsurge. This is known as Chhayavaad (shadowism) and the literary figures belonging to this school are known as Chhayavaadi. Jaishankar Prasad, Suryakant Tripathi 'Nirala', Mahadevi Varma and Sumitranandan Pant, are the four major Chhayavaadi poets.

Uttar Adhunik is the post-modernist period of Hindi literature, marked by a questioning of early trends that copied the West as well as the excessive ornamentation of the Chhayavaadi movement, and by a return to simple language and natural themes.


The Hindi Wikipedia was the first Indic-language wiki to reach 100,000 articles.

Sample text[edit]

The following is a sample text in High Hindi, of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations):

अनुच्छेद 1 (एक) सभी मनुष्यों को गौरव और अधिकारों के विषय में जन्मजात स्वतन्त्रता और समानता प्राप्त हैं। उन्हें बुद्धि और अन्तरात्मा की देन प्राप्त है और परस्पर उन्हें भाईचारे के भाव से बर्ताव करना चाहिए।
Transliteration (IAST)
Anucched 1 (ek) – Sabhī manuṣyõ ko gaurav aur adhikārõ ke viṣay mẽ janmajāt svatantratā aur samāntā prāpt hai. Unhẽ buddhi aur antarātmā kī den prāpt hai aur paraspar unhẽ bhāīcāre ke bhāv se bartāv karnā cāhie.
Transcription (IPA)
[ənʊtʃʰːeːd̪ eːk | səbʱiː mənʊʃjõː koː ɡɔːɾəʋ ɔːr əd̪ʱɪkaːɾõ keː maːmleː mẽː dʒənmədʒaːt̪ sʋət̪ənt̪ɾət̪aː ɔːr səmaːntaː pɾaːpt̪ hɛː ‖ ʊnʱẽ bʊd̪ʱːɪ ɔːɾ ənt̪əɾaːt̪maː kiː d̪eːn pɾaːpt̪ hɛː ɔːɾ pəɾəspəɾ ʊnʱẽː bʱaːiːtʃaːɾeː keː bʱaːʋ seː bəɾt̪aːʋ kəɾnə tʃaːhɪeː ‖]
Gloss (word-to-word)
Article 1 (one) All human-beings to dignity and rights' matter in from-birth freedom and equality acquired is. Them to reason and conscience's endowment acquired is and always them to brotherhood's spirit with behaviour to do should.
Translation (grammatical)
Article 1 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.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e S, Rukmini. "Sanskrit and English: there's no competition". 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Indiaspeak: English is our 2nd language - Times of India". 
  3. ^ "Is Hindi making a comeback in India after years of pursuit of English?". 
  4. ^ ORGI. "Census of India: Comparative speaker's strength of Scheduled Languages-1971, 1981, 1991 and 2001". 
  5. ^ "BBC - Languages - Hindi - A Guide to Hindi - 10 facts about the Hindi language". 
  6. ^ "Hindi language". 
  7. ^ a b Hindustani (2005). Keith Brown, ed. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4. 
  8. ^ "Central Hindi Directorate: Introduction". 
  9. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Hindi". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  10. ^ "Report of the Commissioner for linguistic minorities: 50th report (July 2012 to June 2013)" (PDF). Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "Report of the Commissioner for linguistic minorities: 50th report (July 2012 to June 2013)" (PDF). Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  12. ^ रिपब्लिक ऑफ फीजी का संविधान (Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, the Hindi version)
  13. ^ "Sequence of events with reference to official language of the Union". Archived from 8 the original Check |url= value (help) on 2 August 2011. [dead link]
  14. ^ a b [1]
  15. ^ Barz, Richard K. (1 June 1980). "The cultural significance of Hindi in Mauritius". 3 (1): 1–13. doi:10.1080/00856408008722995 – via Taylor and Francis+NEJM. 
  16. ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin. Asterisks mark the 2010 estimates for the top dozen languages.
  17. ^ As per the 2001 Census. 551,416,518 divided by 1,028,737,436 equals 54%. Figures for Hindi and India's total population in the next two references.
  18. ^ "Census of India : India at a glance / Population". 
  19. ^ a b "Constitution of India". Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  20. ^ "Rajbhasha" (PDF) (in Hindi and English). india.gov.in. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGES ACT, 1963 (AS AMENDED, 1967) (Act No. 19 of 1963)". Department of Official Language. Retrieved 9 June 2016. [dead link]
  22. ^ "Hindi, not a national language: Court". The Hindu. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2014. 
  23. ^ "Section 4 of Fiji Constitution". servat.unibe.ch. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  24. ^ "Fiji Government Online Portal - Constitution". 
  25. ^ "Origin of Hindi :: Central Hindi Directorate". 
  26. ^ "Hindi and Urdu are classified as literary registers of the same language". 
  27. ^ a b Masica, p. 65
  28. ^ Masica, p. 66
  29. ^ Masica, p. 67
  30. ^ Kachru, Yamuna (2006). Hindi. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 9789027238122. 
  31. ^ D., S. "Arabic and Hindi". The Economist. The Economist. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  32. ^ "Stop outraging over Marathi – Hindi and English chauvinism is much worse in India". 
  1. ^ Some languages may be over- or underrepresented as the census data used is at the state-level. For example, while Urdu has 52 million speakers (2001), in no state is it a majority as the language itself is primarily limited to Indian Muslims.



  • McGregor, R.S. (1993), Oxford Hindi–English Dictionary (2004 ed.), Oxford University Press, USA .
  • John Thompson Platts (1884), A dictionary of Urdū, classical Hindī, and English (reprint ed.), LONDON: H. Milford, p. 1259, retrieved 6 July 2011 
  • Hardev Bahri (1989), Learners' Hindi-English dictionary, DELHI: Rajapala 
  • Academic Room Hindi Dictionary Mobile App developed in the Harvard Innovation Lab (iOS, Android and Blackberry)

Further reading[edit]

  • Bhatia, Tej K A History of the Hindi Grammatical Tradition. Leiden, Netherlands & New York, NY: E.J. Brill, 1987. ISBN 90-04-07924-6
  • Tiwari, Deepa, "[2]," The Hindi Stories. April 2015.
  • Gyani, Pandit, "[3]," Hindi Biography & History. September 2016.

External links[edit]