Hindi (in the broad sense) is a subset of the Indic
language family in the northern plains of India, bounded on the
northwest and west by Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati and Marathi; on
the east by Bengali; and on the north by Nepali. As defined by
the 1991 Indian census, Hindi covers a number of Central,
East-Central, Eastern, and Northern Zone languages, including
the Bihari languages, the Rajasthani languages, and the Pahari
languages excepting Dogri and Nepali. They are conventionally
divided into Western and Eastern Hindi. However, they do not
form a natural clade, as which varieties are considered Hindi,
and which not, are determined by social convention rather than
to anything intrinsic.
"Hindi" in the narrow sense of one of the official languages
of India is a standardized register of one of the Central Zone
dialects variously called Khari boli, Hindustani, Hindawi, or
Urdu. See Standard Hindi.
The Hindi languages predominate in the Indian states and
union territories of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana,
Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar
Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Distinctive non-standard varieties of Hindi are spoken in
large, urban areas outside of the Hindi belt. Most notable of
these are those spoken in Mumbai, Calcutta, and Hyderabad.
Overseas forms of Hindi are found in Fiji, Guyana, Mauritius,
Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Recent immigration to the
West - Europe, USA, etc. - has resulted in the establishment of
Hindi-speaking communities there as well.
Population data from the 16th (2009) edition of Ethnologue
is as follows, counting languages with two million or more
- Central zone
- Western Hindi (West Central zone)
- 240 M Hindi-Urdu (Hindustani, Khariboli, numbers
out of date)
- 13 M Haryanvi (numbers out of date)
- 10 M Kanauji
- Eastern Hindi (East Central zone)
- 38 M Awadhi (the Hindi of Fiji)
- 18 M Chhattisgarhi
- 8 M Bagheli
- 31 M Marwari-Merwari
- 10 M Malvi
- 6 M Lambadi
- 5 M Harauti
- 3 M Godwari
- 2 M Bagri
- Bihari (part of Eastern zone)
- 39 M: Bhojpuri (the Hindi of Suriname and Mauritius)
- 35 M: Maithili (has since gained independent status)
- 13 M: Magadhi
- 2 M: Sadri
- Pahari (part of Northern zone, excluding Dogri and
- 3 M Garhwali
- 3 M Kumaoni (numbers out of date)
- 2 M Pahari
- 2M Kangri
According to the 2001 Indian census,
258 million people in India (25% of the population) regarded
their native language to be "Hindi". The government, however,
counted 422 million Hindi speakers (41% of the population) by
including people who identified their language as Awadhi,
Bagheli, Bhojpuri (Bihari), Bundeli, Chhattisgarhi, Garhwali,
Harauti, Haryanvi, Khortha (Khotta), Kumauni, Lamani (Lambadi),
Magadhi (Bihari), Malvi, Marwari, Mewari, Nimadi, Pahari,
Rajasthani, and Sadan (Sadri), counting just those languages
with at least 2 million self-indentified speakers. Note that
this does not count 52 million Indians who considered their
mother tongue to be "Urdu". The numbers are also not directly
comparable to the table above; for example, while independent
estimates in 2001 counted 37 million speakers of Awadhi,
in the 2001 census only 2˝ million of these identified their
language as "Awadhi" rather than "Hindi".
Eastern and Western Hindi, or Hindi proper, as
outlined in this description.
If there can be considered a consensus within the
dialectology of Hindi proper, it is that it can be split into
two sets of dialects: Western and Eastern Hindi.
This analysis excludes varieties sometimes claimed for Hindi,
such as Bihari, Rajasthani, and Pahari.
Thus Hindi proper includes
- Western Hindi (of which Sauraseni is the
- Braj, spoken in western Uttar Pradesh and
adjacent districts of Rajasthan and Hariyana.
- Haryanvi or Bangaru, spoken in the
states of Haryana and Delhi.
- Bundeli or Bundelkhandi, spoken in
west-central Madhya Pradesh.
- Kannauji, spoken in west-central Uttar
- Kauravi or Vernacular Hindustani,
spoken to the north and northeast of Delhi.
- Khari boli, the standard dialect, generally
identified with the grammatical core of Kauravi
(vernacular Hindustani), but displaying features of
other dialects and adjacent languages, as well as
non-Indic languages such as Persian. It is forms the
basis of the standard registers of Modern Standard
Hindi and Urdu.
- Eastern Hindi (of which Ardhamagadhi is
the immediate precursor)
- Awadhi, spoken in north and north-central
Uttar Pradesh and in Fiji.
- Bagheli, spoken in north-central Madhya
Pradesh and central Uttar Pradesh.
- Chattisgarhi, spoken in southeast Madhya
Pradesh and northern and central Chattisgarh.
non-Hindi regions in the Indian subcontinent
- Urdu is the official language of Pakistan. Although only
the mother tongue of 7% of the population, it is nearly
universal as a second language.
- Bambaiya Hindi, the dialect of the city of Bombay
(Mumbai); it is based on Hindustani but heavily influenced
by Marathi and Gujarati. Technically it is a pidgin, i.e.,
neither is it a mother language of any people nor is it used
in formal settings by the educated and upper social strata.
However, it is often used in the movies of Hindi cinema
(Bollywood) because Mumbai is the base of the Bollywood film
- Dakhni - a form of Urdu spoken in Hyderabad, Andhra
- Kalkatiya Hindi, another Khariboli-based pidgin spoken
in the city of Calcutta (Kolkata), Shillong, etc., heavily
influenced by Bhojpuri and Bengali.
the Indian subcontinent
- Mauritian Hindi, spoken in Mauritius, based on Bhojpuri
and influenced by French.
- Sarnami, a form of Bhojpuri with Awadhi influence spoken
by Surinamers of Indian descent.
- Fiji Hindi, derived form of Awadhi, Bhojpuri and
including many English and native Fijian words, is spoken by
Fijians of Indian descent.
- Trinidad Hindi, based on Bhojpuri, and spoken in
Trinidad and Tobago by people of Indian descent.
- South African Hindi, based on Bhojpuri, and spoken in
South Africa by people of Indian descent.