From Hindustani to Standard Hindi, official language of the Indian Union
Originating from the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages, Hindi and Urdu were originally one and the same language, i.e. Hindustani. The only noticeable difference lay in the written language as Hindi used the devanagari alphabet while Urdu used the Persian-Arabic one.
Following the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the two languages became distinct from each other due to great religious tension between Hindus and Muslims. Hindi, together with English, was thereafter recognized as the official language of the Indian Union in the Constitution of 1950, and has since then become increasingly “sanskritized”.
Hindi derives from Sanskrit - a literary language traditionally used in Hindu sacred texts - but was exposed to various influences because of successive invasions by Muslims and European colonists. It resulted in Hindi having a rich vocabulary, in which a large number of English words live harmoniously with words borrowed from Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic. This allows Hindi speakers to express a large variety of emotions by using simple words but full of nuances, as in songs or poetry. Precise and logical reasoning, especially philosophical reflection, is also perfectly rendered in the language.
An open door to Indian culture
Just as any language, Hindi is also the reflection of a culture. The sharp social divisions that can be observed in India and such concepts as the respect due to the elders, the importance of the family, the cyclic perception of time as well as the predominance of religion can all be found in the language itself.
So if you want to discover the mysterious and charming world of India and its ancestral culture, learn Hindi! It will allow you to have a better understanding of a country that will undoubtedly have a significant influence on the 21st century owing to its increasing economic power.
Classification by family:
Indo-European languages > Indo-Iranian languages > Indo-Aryan languages > Hindustani > Hindi