Hindi language

Indo-Aryan language of India, spoken or understood by more than 30% of the country's population.

Modern Standard Hindi is a lingua franca (as well as native language) of millions of people in North India and the official language of the Indian Union. It is effectively a continuation of Hindustani, which developed from Khari Boli, the speech of certain classes and districts in Delhi affiliated with the Mughal court in the 16th–18th centuries. A heavily Persianized variant of Khari Boli used by Muslim authors formed the basis for Urdu. Hindustani was codified by the British at Fort William College in Calcutta (now Kolkata). There Hindu intellectuals promoted a Sanskritized form of Hindustani (see Sanskrit language) written in the Devanagari script (see Indic writing systems) in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; it became the progenitor of modern literary Hindi as used by Hindu authors. During the Indian independence movement, Hindustani was regarded as a national unifying factor, but after the partition in 1947 this attitude changed, and the name has practically dropped from use in favour of either Hindi or Urdu. Linguists, particularly George Abraham Grierson, have also used the term Hindi to refer collectively to all the dialects and regional literary languages of the northern Indian plain. Hindi has drastically simplified the complex grammar of Old Indo-Aryan while preserving certain phonetic features.

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      official language of the Republic of India, a central Indo-Aryan language (Indo-Aryan languages) claimed as a mother tongue by some 180,000,000 speakers in India. There are also significant numbers of Hindi speakers outside of India, including nearly 1,000,000 in South Africa, 700,000 in Mauritius, 350,000 in Bangladesh, 235,000 in Yemen, and 150,000 in Uganda. Many more hundreds of thousands speak Hindi as a second language. Literary Hindi, written in the Devanagari (Devanāgarī) script, shows a strong influence of Sanskrit (Sanskrit language) as a source for borrowings; it is based on the Khari Boli dialect, to the north and east of Delhi. Also commonly treated as dialects of Hindi are Braj Bhasa (Braj Bhasa language), which was an important literary medium from the 15th to the 17th century; Awadhi, also a literary medium; and Bagheli, Chattisgarhi, Bundeli, and Kanauji.

      Hindi has a much simpler inflectional (inflection) system than does Sanskrit, although the literary language uses a great number of Sanskrit forms. Nouns and pronouns have lost the full declension in eight cases of Sanskrit and instead make use of postpositions—small words attached to the end of nouns and functioning much like English prepositions. There are only two genders, masculine and feminine, whereas Gujarati and Marathi retain three. Verbs also are much reduced in inflectional complexity, with only the present and future indicative forms fully conjugated; other constructions are based on participial forms.

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Universalium. 2010.

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