History of the Hindi Language
This is a quick summary of the history of the Hindi language, from readily-available information on the Web. Sources for the material on this page can be found at the end of the article.
Hindi is the third most widely-spoken language in the world (after English and Mandarin): an estimated 500-600 million people speak the language. A direct descendant of Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha, Hindi belongs to the Indo-Aryan group of languages, a subset of the Indo-European family. It has been influenced and enriched by Persian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portuguese, and English. Hindi is broadly identical with Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, and is closely related to Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati. A good knowledge of Hindi is therefore likely to be useful to anyone having an interest in the countries of South Asia or in the numerous South Asian communities of the world.
There are no particular difficulties in the study of the language. Hindi inherited its writing system from Sanskrit. The script, Devanagari, is extremely logical and therefore straightforward and easy to learn. Pronunciation is easy because, unlike English, letters are always pronounced exactly the same way. It can be used for both exact and rational reasoning and the expressive form suited for poetry and songs.
The general appearance of the Devanagari script is that of letters ‘hanging from a line’. This ‘line’, also found in many other South Asian scripts, is actually a part of most of the letters and is drawn as the writing proceeds. The script has no capital letters.
Amongst its interesting features is a three-tier level of honorifics, allowing great subtlety in adjusting the level of communication to suit ‘formal’, ‘familiar’ and ‘intimate’ conversational contexts. Thus, the polite communicating of gratitude, etc, is an intrinsic part of the language itself and does not rely solely on separate words for ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
Hindi is the official language of the Republic of India, and the common second language of Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, Guyana and Surinam.