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History of the Hindi Language

Posted by STPL on January 20, 2010

Hindi shares with English and most other European languages the same ancestral roots. They evolved from a language thought to have been spoken in Central Asia around 5,000 BC, called by linguists the Indo-European parent language. For this reason and because of the 200-year influence of the British in India, many basic words in Hindi are the same as or similar to their equivalent in English. English words of Hindi origin include cot, loot, thug, chintz, bandanna, dungaree, rajali, pundit, coolie, tom-tom, and juggernaut.

Hindi first started to be used in writing during the 4th century AD. It was originally written with the Brahmi script but since the 11th century AD it has been written with the Devanagari alphabet. The first printed book in Hindi was John Gilchrist’s Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language which was published in 1796.

Hindi language has its roots in the classical Sanskrit language. The language acquired its current form over many centuries, and numerous dialectical variations still exist. Like Sanskrit, Hindi is written in the Dev Nagari script, which is common to several other Indian languages as well. Much of the vocabulary of Hindi comes from Sanskrit, though Hindi also has a special relationship with Urdu. Their grammar and much of their vocabulary are virtually identical.

The development of Hindi into a national language had its beginnings in the colonial period, when the British began to cultivate it as a standard among government officials. Later it was used for literary purposes and has since become the vehicle for some excellent prose and poetry.

After independence of India, the Government of India worked on standardizing Hindi.

In 1954, the Government of India set up a Committee for preparing a grammar of Hindi. The committee’s report was later released as “A Basic Grammar of Modern Hindi” in 1958.

Hindi became the official language of India on January 26, 1965, although English and 21 other languages are recognized as official languages by the Constitution of India.

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