Hindi Language

6 Facts about Hindi Language.

Whenever your reason for studying Hindi or being interested in it, learning more about the language is always a good idea. In this article you will find some interesting facts about Hindi language statistics, origin, dialects, difficulty of learning, similarities with other languages and more.

1. Origin of Hindi.

Hindi language is being categorized as Indo-European family language and it belongs to Indo-Aryan branch. It is thought that Sanskrit, which is an ancient Indian language and it dates back to even 5000 BC, had a lot of influence on Hindi therefore there are similarities in vocabularies of these languages. In 1949 the Government of India gave Hindi official language status. Up until now September 14th is being celebrated in India as Hindi Day.

2. Statistics.

In India, Hindi shares official language status together with English. Since India is a multilingual country, Hindi is being spoken only by part of Indians. Out of all population of this country, Hindi is being used by ~40% of people there. Based on statistics, there are a total of 370 million speakers who use Hindi as the first language and 120 million additional speakers who use it as a second language. These numbers make it the 4-rth most spoken language in the world after Chinese, Spanish and English (as 1-st language). If we would take into account both native and non-native speakers, Hindi is the second most spoken language in the world.

It is also worthwhile to mention that Hindi is spoken outside of India too in countries like Fiji, Tobago, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad as well as Nepal. Due to large population of India, large communities of Hindi speakers can be also found in countries like Germany, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, USA and others. Since population of India increases rapidly it is highly likely that the number of Hindi speakers will continue to grow fast and importance of this language will increase too.

2. Alphabet and Grammar.

Hindi is being written in Devanagari script, which derived from ancient Brahmi script. It can be said that Devanagari is quite similar to other Indian scripts like Bengali and Gujarati. The alphabet of this language consists of 33 consonants and additional 11 vowels. Since each sound in Hindi alphabet corresponds to a unique sound, it is quite easy to read in this language. Since pronunciation of letters is always the same you would be able to read in Hindi without too much difficulties. Unlike English, Hindi doesn’t use articles, which is another factor that makes learning this foreign language significantly easier.

Some more difficult aspects of Hindi grammar are that each noun has two genders (feminine or masculine). The gender of the noun also determines the form of verb and adjective that needs to be used in the sentence. Also Hindi has a different sentence structure since verbs here go at the end of the sentence. So for an English speaker Hindi sentence structure might take some time to get used to. All these aspects makes learning grammar of this language not an easy task.

4. Loan Words.

When learning Hindi you might find quite a lot of words that you already know the meaning of. This is because English uses some vocabulary that originates from Hindi. A few examples would be yoga, guru, avatar, karma, jungle and many other words.

It is also worthwhile to mention that you will find some English language too. Even though they are written in Devanagari scrip, they are read and pronounced the same way as in English language. A couple examples of these words would be football, hospital, train, station, doctor and many others. All these similarities between these languages makes learning Hindi significantly easier. Some other languages that influenced Hindi vocabulary are Persian, Portuguese, Turkish and Arabic.

5. Various Different Dialects.

While Hindi uses the same writing script in all regions – Devanagari, spoken form of this language has various dialects and variations. Quite commonly it is being divided into 4 main varieties – Nagari, Standard, High and Literary Hindi. If you would count all languages and their dialects in India, the number can be even close to a few hundred. Although multilingual country’s status is not very surprising for India when keeping in mind a large population number.

Some of the largest regions in India where Hindi is spoken are Delhi, Bihar, Himachal, Haryana, Bombay, Chandigarh and others. Since Indian states in south tend to use other languages like Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu it would be quite difficult to communicate there particularly in Hindi. Also these regions tend to use even a different writing script – Dravidian so you wouldn’t be able to write or read there if you only know Hindi.

6. Similarities with other Languages.

One of the most closely related languages to Hindi is Urdu, which is spoken in Pakistan. Both of these languages derived from Khari Boli dialect (or Hindustani). Due to many similarities between these languages it would be quite easy for a Hindi speaker to communicate with anyone who speaks Urdu. However a Hindi speaker wouldn’t be able to read or write in this language since it uses different writing script – Arabic. The other difference between these languages can be found in vocabulary – Urdu tends to have more words that originate from Persian while Hindi uses more vocabulary from Sanskrit.

Some other languages that Hindi shares similarities either in written or spoken form are Nepalese, Gujarati, Bengali and Sanskrit. Having a knowledge in one of these languages can make learning Hindi a significantly easier task too.

How to learn Hindi?

Learning a new language might be a frustrating experience for most people, especially in the beginning. So before you start it is important to plan ahead and determine how much time you will dedicate each day, what tools you will use, what you will learn first, what level you will try to achieve and how much money will you spend on your learning tools. Having a clear plan might be one of the most important factors that will determine your success with this language.

Learn Hindi via books.

In case you prefer to learn on your own there are quite a lot of books that you can get cheaply from Amazon. These books are definitely up to some limit; however it might be a good way to start learning.

1. Read and Write Hindi Script: A Teach Yourself Guide.

This book can be a great help for those who are interested in learning Hindi writing system. It is step by step guide, so it is a great choice for total beginners. The purpose of this book is to help you learn how to read and write in Devanagari script. The book has 192 pages so it is definitely worth this low price.

2. Hindi in a Flash Kit.

If you enjoy learning new vocabulary through flash cards, this can be a great additional learning tool for you. The cards are written in both Devanagari and Romanized script, so you would be able to learn in both writing systems. The vocabulary consists of a total of 2240 words (448 main words and ~1700 related words), so it’s a great value for money if you are interested in learning Hindi vocabulary.

3. Elementary Hindi.

This book is designed for beginners of Hindi learners. It will teach you basic conversation phrases, alphabet and how to pronounce each sound and some basic grammar rules. The price is quite high compared with other similar books, but it is 352 pages long so it can be said that it is worth the price.

4. The Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary.

When learning a new language buying a dictionary is inevitable step at some point. Having a dictionary is beneficial since you can always look up words you don’t know, translate text while reading and etc., which is essential for expanding your list of vocabulary. The Oxford dictionary for Hindi is quite reasonably priced, includes 1103 pages and has good rating from its users; therefore it might be worth checking it out.

These are only a few examples of the books that are available on Amazon for learning Hindi or any other language. And if you don’t have even a small budget on books you can always visit your local library. There might not be such a huge choice of books that are dedicated for teaching you Hindi, but I am quite sure you will be able to find at least a few.

Learn Hindi via Online courses.

When it comes to Hindi the choice of online courses is still quite limited. Although there are a few that might be worth your attention. One of these is Rocket course, which is popular language software for learning languages like Spanish, French and German. Currently there is only one level available for learners of Hindi, so it can be a great way to start learning for beginner and intermediate level learners. The program includes various features such as games, different software for learning vocabulary, writing and audio lessons with culture notes. It is also one of the cheapest options for those who are interested in online course ($99.95 for lifetime access). The next online program that can help you learn Hindi is Pimsleur. It is an audio based course, therefore it only teaches you how to speak and understand Hindi. It is a great choice for those who are planning to travel to a speaking country soon and need to learn some phrases. The third course for learning Hindi is well-known software for language learning Rosetta Stone. Although the program is designed for total beginners you should already be familiar with Hindi grammar or have additional material that would explain it. In my opinion Rosetta Stone is a great software for those who want to learn more vocabulary and phrases in a fun way. In case you are interested in any of these courses you should check more detail reviews of them in this website.

Learn via free resources.

In case you don’t have any money to spend for learning Hindi this is definitely not the end of the world. You can definitely find free websites that offer explanations on grammar, vocabulary lists and etc. One of my favorite places to look for free material is YouTube. You can find quite a lot of videos that will teach you basics, so it is definitely a good way to start learning. As it was mentioned before it might be also a good idea to visit your local library and look for books that you can borrow. Depending on your living area it might be easier or more difficult to find books for learning Hindi. One of my favorite websites for learning new languages is memrise. It is totally free website and it has a few courses for Hindi that can help you to learn some new vocabulary.

General tips on how to learn Hindi on your own.

  • learn-all-the-hindi-wordsOne of the first steps while learning Hindi should be to learn the alphabet. Learning Devanagari would allow you to start reading quite fast; since all letters in the alphabet are pronounced the way it is written.
  • The second step should be to learn some useful vocabulary and most important phrases. A good way to start would be to learn numbers, months, weeks, items that surround, how to say hello and goodbye, introduce yourself, say about your hobbies and interests and etc.
  • The third step should be to learn basic grammar rules and how they are different from English language. This will allow you to make fewer mistakes while trying to speak.
  • When you get familiar with Hindi vocabulary and some grammar rules it might be a good idea to surround yourself with Indian culture. Due to the fact that Bollywood movies are quite popular it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a few and watch them during your free time. Also there is quite a lot of Indian music available on YouTube, which you can listen for free and improve your listening skills. Surrounding yourself with Indian culture might be a good way to not only improving your language skills, but also understand how to better communicate with Indian people.

Learning Hindi: how difficult it is?

About Hindi language.

Hindi is considered to be one of the most widely spoken languages in the world with a total of 487 million speakers (366 million native). These numbers makes it the third most spoken language in the world after English and Mandarin.

Together with English, Hindi is one of the two official languages of India. It is spoken mostly in Central and North India. This language is also quite well understood in other countries such as Nepal, Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname. The official script used for Hindi is called Devanagari, which has derived from Brahmi. It is also quite similar to other Indian scripts, such as Bengali and Gujarati. Even though ~41% of India population speaks Hindi it is important to point out that there are various other languages. For instance Bengali is spoken by ~8%, Telugu and Marathi 7% of population. It is not big surprise that there are so many languages and dialects spoken in India, because the population of this country is the second largest in the world (1.2 billion people). It is calculated that there are on average 400 different languages and dialects in India, so both English and Hindi are very important for communication between people in India.

How Difficult it is to Learn?

keep-calm-learn-hindi-languageIn case you are wondering how difficult it might be to learn this language the answer to this question highly depends on what other languages you already know. For example for people who are already familiar with languages like Urdu, Nepalese, Bengali and Sanskrit it would be much easier to learn Hindi, since they have some similarities in either spoken or written form. The similarity between Urdu and Hindi is so big that some linguistics even considers them as the same language. In general Hindi is not easy to learn for English speakers. According to Foreign Service Institute (FSI) research, it would take on average 44 weeks to learn this language if you are an English speaker. By “learn” it is meant that you would be able to achieve S3 (speaking) and R3 (reading) levels. This comparison also indicates that even though it is not an easy language to learn, it is easier than languages like Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and etc.

Easy and Difficult Aspects of Hindi.

You might get a bit surprised to know that you already know some words in Hindi. This is because there are some words of Hindi origin that are used in English language. A few examples could be words like yoga, karma, guru, avatar and etc. On the contrary Hindi also uses some words from English that you might find familiar. A few examples are bus, train, hospital, car and etc. So even if you never spend time learning Hindi you would already be familiar with some vocabulary. Despite these similarities it is important to know that pronunciation of these words is a bit different so it is important to learn how to pronounce them correctly.

One of the easiest parts about this language is to learn how to read. All you need to do is learn the alphabet and how each sound is pronounced and with just a little practice you will be able to read easily. It is easy to learn how to read because each word is written the way it is pronounced. So just by learning the alphabet you will be able to practice reading. The next good thing about this language is that it doesn’t have any articles like “a” or “the”, which is always an extra challenge for most language learners.

Some of the things that you might find confusing in the beginning is the fact that sentence structure is different from English. The main difference is that verb in Hindi goes to the end of a sentence. So for example if you would want to say “I like cats“, you would say “I cats like” in Hindi. So you might need some time to get used to this structure in the beginning.

The other challenge of Hindi language for English speakers is to learn genders. There are two genders in Hindi – masculine and feminine. Unlike in English, Hindi nouns have gender so it’s a bit more complicated to learn. Due to the fact that genders might be different with some words than compared to your native language, you might need to learn genders with each new word you are learning in order to avoid mistakes. When trying to identify a gender of a word it is always a good idea to look at the end of the words. When a word ends with a vowel “a” it is a good indication that it is a masculine and when it ends with “i” – feminine. There are however many cases when words don’t end with neither of these vowels, so you would need to learn them separately.

When it comes to adjectives there are two types of them. The first type of adjectives is invariable, meaning they do not change the ending. The second type changes ending depending on the nouns they come with.