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Hindi

Hindi is the name given to an Indo-Aryan language, or a dialect continuum of languages, spoken in northern and central India (the "Hindi belt"),

The native speakers of Hindi dialects between them account for 40% of the Indian population (1991 Indian census). Standard Hindi is one of the 22 official languages of India, and is used, along with English, for administration of the central government. Standard Hindi is a sanskritised register derived from the khari boli dialect. Urdu is a different, persianised, register of the same dialect. Taken together, these registers are historically also known as Hindustani.

Etymology

The word Hindi- is of Persian origin and literally means "Indian", comprising Hind "India", and the adjectival suffix -i-. The word was originally used by Muslims in north India to refer to any Indian language: for example the eleventh-century writer Abu- Rayha-n al-Bi-ru-ni- used it to refer to Sanskrit. By the 13th century, "Hindi", along with its variant forms "Hindavi" and "Hindui", had acquired a more specific meaning: the "linguistically mixed speech of Delhi, which came into wide use across north India and incorporated a component of Persian vocabulary". It was later used by members of the Mughal court to distinguish the local vernacular of the Delhi region where the court was located from Persian, which was the official language of the court.

Evidence from the 17th century indicates that the language then called "Hindi" existed in two differing styles: among Muslims it was liable to contain a larger component of Persian-derived words and would be written down in a script derived from Persian, while among Hindus it used a vocabulary more influenced by Sanskrit and was written in Devanagari script. These styles eventually developed into modern Urdu and modern Hindi respectively. However the word "Urdu" was not used until around 1780: before then the word "Hindi" could be used for both purposes. The use of "Hindi" to designate what would now be called "Urdu" continued as late as the early twentieth century.Nowadays Hindi- as taken to mean "Indian" is chiefly obsolete; it has come to specifically refer to the language(s) bearing that name.

History

Like many other modern Indian languages, it is believed that Hindi had been evolved from Sanskrit, by way of the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit languages and Apabhramsha of the Middle Ages. Though there is no consensus for a specific time, Hindi originated as local dialects such as Braj, Awadhi and finally Khari Boli after the turn of tenth century. In the span of nearly a thousand years of Muslim influence, such as when Muslim rulers controlled much of northern India during the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, many Persian and Arabic words were absorbed into khari boli and was called Urdu or Hindustani. Since almost all Arabic words came via Persian, they do not preserve the original phonology of Arabic.

Hindi is contrasted with Urdu in the way both are written, and the use of Sanskrit vocabulary in higher registers. Urdu is the official language of Pakistan and also an official language in some parts of India. The primary differences between the two are the way Standard Hindi is written in Devanagari and draws its "vocabulary" with words from (Indo-Aryan) Sanskrit, while Urdu is written in Urdu script, a variant of the (Semitic) Perso-Arabic script, and draws heavily on Persian and Arabic "vocabulary." Vocabulary is in quotes here since it is mostly the literary vocabulary that shows this visible distinction with the everyday vocabulary being essentially common between the two. To a common unbiased person, both Hindi and Urdu are same (Hindustani) though politics of religion and ethnicity portrays them as two separate languages since they are written in two entirely different scripts Hindi-Urdu controversy. Interestingly, if Urdu is written in Devanagiri script, it will be assumed as Hindi and vice versa. The popular examples are Bollywood songs and gazals.

Literature

Hindi films play an important role in popular culture. The dialogues and songs of Hindi films use Khariboli and Hindi-Urdu in general, but the intermittent use of various dialects such as Awadhi, Rajasthani, Bhojpuri, Punjabi and quite often Bambaiya Hindi, as also of many English words, is common.

Alam Ara (1931), which ushered in the era of "talkie" films in India, was a Hindustani film. This film had seven songs in it. Music soon became an integral part of Hindustani/ Hindi cinema. It is a very important part of popular culture and now comprises an entire genre of popular music. So popular is film music that songs filmed even 50-60 years ago are a staple of radio/TV and are generally very familiar to an Indian.

Hindi movies and songs are popular in many parts of India, such as Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra, that do not speak Hindi as a native language. Indeed, the Hindi film industry is largely based at Mumbai (Bombay), in the Marathi-speaking state of Maharashtra. Hindi films are also popular abroad, especially in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Iran and UK. These days Hindi movies are released worldwide and have large audience in Americas, Europe and Middle Eastern countries too.

The role of radio and television in propagating Hindi beyond its native audience cannot be overstated. Television in India was controlled by the central government until the proliferation of satellite TV rendered regulation redundant. During the era of control, Hindi predominated on both radio and TV, enjoying more air-time than local languages. After the advent of satellite TV, several private channels emerged to compete with the government's official TV channel. Today, a large number of satellite channels provide viewers with much variety in entertainment. These include soap operas, detective serials, horror shows, dramas, cartoons, comedies, host shows for Hindi songs, Hindu mythology and documentaries.

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