The Lord’s Prayer in Hindi:
Hindi (933- ) is the largest language in India and the largest in the world after Chinese and English. It is also spoken in Fiji and the Caribbean, where the British Empire sent contract workers in the 1800s.
Hindustani, used by Gandhi, Bollywood films and schools, is the best understood dialect.
Urdu, a form of Hindustani, is spoken mainly by Muslims, especially those who fled to Pakistan when India became independent. Unlike other forms of Hindi, it is written with Persian letters and has more words from Persian and Arabic. It is a language of government in Pakistan.
About half the people in India know Hindi, a fourth as their first language. Most young people with education know it.
The Hindi heartland is New Delhi and the upper Ganges river, the area that stretches between Bengal and Punjab.
Hindi, like most of the other languages of northern India, comes from Sanskrit. Sanskrit is like the Latin of India: an ancient language which gave birth to many of its present-day languages, besides having a huge body of important works written in it. Just as Latin became Italian, French and Spanish, so Sanskrit became Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali and the other languages of the north.
This means that Hindi is easy for northerners to learn: if they do not speak Hindi itself as their mother tongue, they speak a language that is close to it.
But in the south the languages do not come from Sanskrit. They are no closer to Hindi than they are to English. Since they feel the north already has too much power, they tend to favour English.
In India you have a choice of whether to receive your education in your mother tongue, in Hindi or in English. Most choose to receive their education in Hindi over their mother tongue because you can use it anywhere in the country.
But those who aim higher choose English: the highest levels of education are in English since the best and latest books in most fields are written in English, not Hindi. English is also understood throughout India, especially in the cities.
Apart from Urdu, Hindi is written in devanagari. The characters sometimes stand for letter sounds, sometimes for syllables. They are joined together into words by a line that runs across the top. Like the the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets, it comes from the Aramaic alphabet of South West Asia.
Is Hindi hard to learn? If all you know is English, it is much easier than Latin but harder than, say, French.
The grammar will seem somewhat familiar since long ago English and Hindi were once the same language, Proto-Indo-European.
Hindi works mainly by word endings. The prepositions come after the word so they are called postpositions: you do not say “the dog on the table” but “the dog the table on”. Nouns have gender, male and female, but not neuter. Even verbs have different male and female forms!
– Abagond, 2007, 2015.
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