Hindi got its name from the Persian word Hind, meaning 'land of the Indus River'. Persian speaking Turks who invaded Punjab and Gangetic plains in the early 11th century named the language of the region Hindi, 'language of the land of the Indus River'.
Nearly 425 million people speak Hindi as a first language and around 120 million as a second language.
Here's the alphabet and how to pronounce it.
Modern Hindi is written in Devanagari script, which is made of two Sanskrit words: Deva, meaning ‘God’ and Nagari, meaning ‘of urban origin’. Devanagari has its origin in Brahmi script. Writings in Brahmi script from across the Indian subcontinent date back to the 5th century BC. More than ten Indian languages have evolved from Brahmi.
The standard Hindi alphabet, as agreed by the Government of India, has 11 vowels and 35 consonants. However, the traditional Hindi alphabet is considered to be made of 13 vowels and 33 consonants. The letters अं [am] and अः [ah] are counted as vowels in traditional Hindi and as consonants in standard Hindi. It also includes two letters ड़ [rr] and ढ़ [rh] which are counted as consonants in the standard official Hindi alphabet. In popular and traditional teachings, three extra consonants are used. They are called conjuncts and are a combination of two consonants. This happens when successive consonants with no vowel between them physically join together, for example: क्ष [ksh] is a combination of क and ष, [k] and [sh] त्र [tr] is a combination of त and र, [t] and [r] ज्ञ [jna] or [gya] is a combination of ज and ञ, [j] and [n]
In some words, written vowels change their form in order to join up with consonants. - With ‘aa’: ा - का [kaa] is a combination of क + आ (k + aa). The characterा is added to the right. - With ‘i’: ि – कि [ki] is a combination of क + इ (k + i). The character ि is added to the left and above. - With ‘ee’:ी – की [kee] is a combination of क+ ई (k + ee). The character ी is added to the right and above. - With ‘u’: ु – कु [ku] is a combination of क + उ (k + u). The character ु is added below. - With ‘oo’: ू - कू [koo] is a combination of क + ऊ (k + oo). The character ू is added below. - With ‘ae’: े – के [kae] is a combination of क + ए (k + ae). The character े is added above. - With ‘aae’: ै – कै [kaae] is a combination of क + ऐ (k + aae). The character ै is added above. - With ‘o’: ो – को [ko] is a combination of क + ओ (k + o). The character ो is added to the right and above. - With ‘au’: ौ – कौ [kau] is a combination of क+ औ (k + au). The character ौ is added to the right and above. - With ‘ri’: ृ – कृ [kri] is a combination of क +ऋ (k + ri). The character ृ is added below. For example, BBC is a combination of three vowels and three consonants in Hindi: ब [b]+ ई [ee] - ब [b]+ ई [ee] - स [c]+ ई [ee] So, instead of writing it बईबईसई, BBC would be written as बीबीसी, using the character ी. Similarly, the word radio would be a combination of three sets of vowels and consonants, for example: र [r] + ए [ae] + ड[d] + इ[i] + ओ [o] So, instead of writing it रएडइओ, it would be written as रेडियो using the characters े, ि and ोे.
The horizontal line on top of letters plays an important role in Hindi. Words formed by different letters are joined by this line, as in कलम, [kalam], pen, which is made of three consonant letters,क [k],ल [l] andम [m]. All letters have this line except for two consonants:ध [dh] and भ [bh].
24 out of the 36 consonants contain a vertical right stroke, for example ख [kh], घ [gh], ण [n]. Its purpose is to mark a full stop. But nowadays, a normal full stop is frequently used to end a sentence.
One dot above letters is used for nasal sounds, as in बंदर[bandar], which means monkey. This dot is called बिन्दु[bindu], which means point in English. Two dots are used to the right of letters. The sound is [ah], as is अतः [atah] meaning therefore. This double dot is called विसर्ग [visarg] in Hindi.
Although when transcribed phonetically into English, some Hindi letters look similar, they actually sound different. For instance, द sounds like the [th] in 'this, that' but थ sounds like the [th] in 'think'.
When giving an email or website address, the conventions are usually given in English apart from one: . (full stop) This is a special character and is a simple vertical right strole used at the end of a sentence. The name of this character is पूर्ण विराम[poorna viram], which means full stop.
Hindi is the second most spoken language in the world and is the official language of India. Hindi is also referred to as Hindi-Urdu, Standard Hindi, Modern Standard Hindi, and Literary Hindi. Roughly 300 million speak Hindi as native speakers and another 200 million speak Hindi as a second language.
Just like European languages, Hindi is written from left to right. It's fairly easy to read Hindi. In Hindi, unlike in European languages, words are written as they are pronounced because each character has a different sound. The other good news is that Hindi doesn't have articles (words for 'the' or 'a'). However, sentence structure is different from English. Verbs always go to the end of sentences in Hindi and auxiliary verbs go at the very end of a sentence. For example, you would say आप कैसे हैं [aap kaise hain] for How are you?, which, translated word for word becomes 'You how are'. Similarly, मैं अच्छा हूँ [main achchha hoon], I am fine becomes 'I fine am'. In Hindi, unlike in English, all nouns have genders, either masculine or feminine. Adjectives and verbs change according to gender. Learning the gender aspect of Hindi grammar is usually one of the most difficult steps in learning Hindi. For example, you would say वह अच्छा लड़का है [wah achchha larka hai] for He is a good boy but, वह अच्छी लड़की है [wahachchhilarkihai] for She is a good girl.
You'll find many familiar words in English which are either Hindi or of Hindi origin. For example guru, jungle, karma, yoga, bungalow, cheetah, looting, thug and avatar. On the other hand, Hindi also uses lots of English words. They are read and pronounced as they are in English, but are written in Hindi. For example, डॉक्टर is pronounced doctor and स्टेशन is pronounced station. Other English words that are used are hospital, railway, train, cycle, motor, bus, car, cricket, football, tennis, judge, court. Therefore, if you want to say That nice man is a tennis player/judge/doctor, you'll hear the English word within the sentence: [wah achchha aadmi tennis player/judge/doctor hai] वह अच्छा आदमी टेनिस प्लेयर/जज/डॉक्टर है.
In Hindi it's common to find long words created by combining several other words. For example, किम्कर्तव्यविमूढ़ [kimkartavyavimoorh] means confused, bewildered, indecisive and लौहपथगामिनी [lauhpathgamini] is a word created to mean train. It means 'a thing which travels on an iron path' and is a combination of three words, 'iron', 'path' and 'traveller'. But this word is only used in a funny sense, mostly in jokes, the Hindi word used for train is रेलगाड़ी [railgadi] , literally 'rail vehicle'. Here's a Hindi tongue twister: कच्चा पापड़-पक्का पापड़ [kachcha papad-pakka papad] Uncooked papadum-cooked papadum This tongue twister is popular in Hindi because it's very difficult to keep repeating over and over.
Jokes from the two characters Santa and Banta, are very popular in Hindi. Here are two of them: संताःकेला कितने में? फलवालाःएक रूपए. संताः 60 पैसे में दोगे? फलवालाःइतने में तो बस छिलका मिलेगा. संताःये लो 40 पैसे, मुझे बस केला चाहिए. [Santa: Kelaa kitne mein? Falwala: 1 rupaye. Santa: 60 paise mein doge? Falwala: Itne me to sirf kele kaa chhilkaa milegaa. Santa: Ye lo 40 paise, mujhe bas kelaa chahiye.] Santa: How much is a banana? Grocer: 1 rupee. Santa: Would you sell it for 60 paise? Grocer: You could only get the skin of the fruit for that price. Santa: Take 40 paise, just give me the banana, (and keep the skin). संताःपता है बचपन में मुझे एक बस ने धक्का मार दिया था. बंताःबाप रे, तू मर गया कि बचा? संताःयादनहीं, मैं तब केवल चार साल का था. [Santa: Patahai, bachpan mein mujhe ek bus ne dhakka maar diya tha. Banta: Baap re, tu mar gaya kibacha? Santa: Yaad nahi. main tab chaar saal ka tha.] Santa: I was hit by a bus when I was a child, you know. Banta: Oh my god, did you die or survive? Santa: I don't remember, I was only four then. Teacher-student jokes are also popular in Hindi. Here is one of them: टीचरः क्रिकेट मैच पर लेख लिखो. सब लिख रहे थे. मगर एक छात्र बैठा था. टीचरः क्यों बैठे हो? छात्रः लिख लिया. टीचरः क्या? छात्रः बारिश हो गई, मैच रद्द. [Teacher: Cricket match par lekh likho. Sab likh rahe the, magar ek student baitha tha Teacher: Kyon baithe ho? Chhatr: Likh liya. Teacher: Kya? Chhatr: Barish ho gayee, match radd.] Teacher: Write an essay on a cricket match. All pupils started writing except one. Teacher: Why are you sitting? Student: I've finished the essay. Teacher: What did you write? Student: "Due to rain, no match.”
Travel to India. India is one of the most exotic, fascinating and exciting places in the world. Its rich history and culture have significantly influenced the civilization in the East. India’s wonderful heritage is manifested in its intricate temples, elaborate architecture and other awe-inspiring landmarks.
You should be careful with the use of formal and informal words in Hindi. For example, there are two common words in Hindi for the word father: पिता [pita] is a formal word, whereas बाप [baap] is an informal one. So, if you ask your Indian friend at a party How is your father? using तुम्हारा बाप कैसा है [tumhara baap kaisa hai] you might cause embarrassment for you and your friend. The appropriate use should be formal, for example तुम्हारे पिता कैसे हैं [tumhare pita kaise hain]. Additionally, there are three words for you: तुम [tum], तू [tu], and आप [aap] but [tum] and [tu] should never be used in formal situations, especially with elders as this will be considered extremely impolite. They are mostly used with friends and family members. The most appropriate expression for you is [aap] as it can be used in any situation.
Hindi has many idioms which are quite frequently used in day-to-day conversations. Here are a few examples: कर भला हो भला [kar bhala ho bhala] (literally: do good, will be good) Do good and good will come to you जैसा करोगे वैसा भरोगे [jaisa karoge waisa bharoge] (literally: what you do, you pay) You reap what you sow जैसे को तैसा [jaise ko taisa] Tit for tat Here are a few interesting Hindi proverbs: बंदर क्या जाने अदरख का स्वाद [bandar kya jane adrakh ka swad] A monkey doesn't know the taste of ginger Meaning: Those who don't know, can't appreciate थोथा चना बाजे घना [thotha chana baje ghana] A hollow lentil makes more noise Meaning: Those who are not capable of delivering, talk more बहती गंगा में हाथ धोना [bahti ganga me hath dhona] To wash one’s hand in the river (Ganges) Meaning: To be an opportunist
Hindi in its present form emerged through different stages, during which it was known by other names. The earliest form of old Hindi was Apabhramsa. In 400 AD, Kalidas, a famous Indian literary playwright, wrote a romantic play in Apabhramsa called Vikramorvashiyam. The modern Devanagari script came into existence in the 11th century. The earliest evidence of Hindi printing is found in Grammar of the Hindoostani Language, a book by John Gilchrist, published in 1796 in Calcutta. It deals with the Hindustani language, which is a common form of Hindi and Urdu, but is mostly a spoken language. The book has traces of Hindi/Devanagari texts but it is more of an Urdu-English book than a Hindi book. Prem Sagar, meaning ‘Ocean of Love’, by Lalloo Lal was published in 1805. It’s considered the first published Hindi book and tells the deeds of Lord Krishna, a Hindu religious figure.
The most common word for greetings in Hindi is नमस्ते [namaste]. It’s a formal way to say hello to anybody with a sense of respect. Literally, it means ‘I bow to you’. The word is derived from two Sanskrit words: नमस [namas] meaning bow and ते [te] meaning to you. When greeting each other, people generally bow slightly while bringing their hands in front of the chest pressing them together, touching palms and pointing fingers upwards. Shaking hands is accepted in India in a westernised environment, such as in meetings or in parties, or when people are being introduced formally to each other. But it’s not a common way to greet people in daily life. Normally, Hindus and Sikhs touch feet of elders, and Muslims in India normally only use phrases like अस्सलाम-वालेकुम [assalam-wale-kum], Peace be upon you, to greet each other. Another very useful and common word to know is जी [jee], yes to show politeness and respect. It’s usually placed after people’s first or last names, and for both male and female. In the case of the name Ram Singh, it can either be [Ram jee] or [Singh jee]. Therefore the greetings would be for example: नमस्ते राम जी [Namaste Ram jee],Hello Ram नमस्ते श्याम जी [Namaste Shyam jee], Hello Shyam नमस्ते शारदा जी[Namaste Sharda jee], Hello Sharda The word जी [jee] can also be used as a formal expression while calling someone’s name, for example: राम जी [Ram jee] सीता जी [Sita jee] or even विलियम जी [William jee] विक्टोरिया जी [Victoria jee]. In day-to-day communication, especially in formal situations or between people of different ages, then जी [jee] is considered a polite expression to show respect instead of using हाँ [haan], the Hindi word for yes . For example, if a teacher asks his student a question, then to say ‘yes’, the student should say जी [jee], rather than हाँ [haan].