The third most widely spoken language after English and Mandarin, Hindi is spoken by approximately 500 – 600 million people all over the world. Stemming from Sanskrit and being a part of the Indo-Aryan group of languages, Hindi draws on a host of different languages such as Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Portuguese and English. It also has a lot in common with Urdu, the official language of Pakistan. Besides, it is similar to other closely related languages like Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati.
Hindi is a phonetic language and therefore easy to learn. The Devanagari script is straightforward and words are written exactly the way they are pronounced, unlike in English. The word ‘Hindi’ comes from Hindustan which was the colloquial language spoken in North India under the Persian rule in the 9th and 10th century. ‘Hindustan’ was then given the Persian name ‘Hindvi’ or ‘Hindi’ which means ‘the language of Hind, the land of the Indus River’.
Hindi was initially a diluted version of Sanskrit, which happened to absorb several ‘loan words’ from Arabic and Persian. It was used largely for ease of communication between the natives of North India and the newly settled immigrants from Persia and Arabia. The language though, traveled far and wide as the Sultanate expanded, till it finally became the official language under the British colonization. Today, Hindi is the official language of the Republic of India and a common second language in Mauritius, Trinidad, Fiji, Surinam and Guyana.
Hindi, English and most other European languages share the same ancestral roots. They evolved from a language spoken in Central Asia around 5000 B.C., termed by linguists as the Indo-European parent language. It is interesting to note that Hindi and English share so many different words that mean the same thing in both languages. English words that have their origins in Hindi include loot, thug, pundit, juggernaut, coolie, cot, bandana and dungaree.
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