Hindi-Urdu Grammar

This text from Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. WikipediaŽ is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Hindustani, presently represented by the official languages of India and Pakistan, Standard Hindi and Urdu, originated during the Mughal Empire, when the Persian court language exerted a strong influence on the Indic dialects of central India, creating Rekhta or "mixed" speech. It is this which came to be known as Hindustani, was elevated to a literary language, and is the basis for modern standard Hindi and Urdu. Although these official languages are distinct registers in their formal aspects, such as modern technical vocabulary, they continue to be all but indistinguishable in their vernacular forms.


Shah Jahan's court in Delhi

Most of the grammar and basic vocabulary of Hindustani descends directly from the medieval language of central India, known as Sauraseni.[1] After the tenth century, several Sauraseni dialects were elevated to literary languages, or khari boli ("standing dialects"), including Braj Bhasha, Avadhi, and the Delhi dialect which currently goes by the name Khari Boli. During the reigns of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, which used Persian as their official language and had their capital in Delhi, the Delhi dialect was used by the majority of the populace, including the army. It was thus infused with large numbers of Persian, Arabic, and Turkic words from the court, primarily nouns, for cultural, legal, and political concepts.

The term Hindustani derives from Hindustan, the Persian name for India. It is thus the "Indian" language. The term Urdu, or "camp language" (cognate with the English word horde), was used to describe the common language of the Mughal army. The works of the 13th century scholar Amir Khusro are typical of the Hindustani language of the time:

Sej vo sūnī dekh ke rovun main din rain,
Piyā piyā main karat hūn pahron, pal bhar sukh nā chain.

"Seeing the empty bed I cry night and day
"Calling for my beloved all day, not a moment's happiness or rest."

Persian was crucial in the formation of a common language of the Central, North and Northwest regions of the South Asia. Following the Mughal conquest of South Asia and the resulting vast Islamic empire, especially in the northern and central regions of the South Asia, a hybrid language of Arabic, Pashto, Turkish, Persian, and local dialects began to form around the 16th and 17th centuries CE, one that would eventually be known as Urdu (from a Turkish word meaning "army", in allusion to the army barracks of visiting troops).

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built a new walled city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi in 1639. The market close to the royal fort (Red Fort) came to be called Urdu Bazar and the language was eventually termed "Urdu". It grew from the interaction of (often Persian-speaking) Muslim soldiers and native peoples. Soon, the Persian script and Nasta'liq form of cursive was adopted, with additional figures added to accommodate the South Asian phonetic system, and a new language based on the South Asian grammar with a vocabulary largely divided between Persian (and indirectly some Arabic) and local Prakrit dialects. Elements peculiar to Persian, such as the enclitic ezāfe, and the use of the takhallus, were readily absorbed into Hindustani literature both religious and secular. This language was developed by Kashmiri Pandits and now a days widely spoken in South Asia.

The poet Wali Deccani (1667–1707) visited Delhi in 1700[2]. He is termed "Bava Adam" (founding father) of Urdu poetry by Maulana Muhammad Husain Azad wrote in the monumental Aab-e-Hayat (Water of Life)[3]. His visit is considered to be of great significance for Urdu Gazals. His simple and melodious poems in Hindustani, stunned the Persian loving nobles of Delhi and made them aware of the beauty and capability of "Rekhta" or "Hindawi" (an old name for Hindustani) as a medium of poetic expression. His visit thus stimulated the development of Urdu Gazal in the imperial city of Old Delhi.

Hindustani soon gained distinction as the preferred language in courts of South Asia and eventually replaced Persian among the nobles. To this day retains an important place in literary and cultural spheres. Many distinctly Persian forms of literature, such as ghazals and nazms, came to both influence and be affected by South Asian culture, producing a distinct melding of Middle Eastern and South Asian heritages. A famous cross-over writer was Amir Khusro, whose Persian and Urdu couplets are to this day read in the subcontinent. Persian has sometimes been termed an adopted classical language of the South Asia alongside Sanskrit due to its role in South Asian tradition.

 Hindustani and English

Beginning with the establishment of the first British East India Company outposts, and continuing throughout the period of British rule, English loanwords began making their way into Hindustani. English-language education, a requirement for the administrative classes that managed India and its population for the British ruling elite, greatly accelerated this development. Soon, English became identified with Western culture and modernity, and many of the Hindustani words borrowed from English - doctor /ˈɖɔkʈɻ/, taxi /ˈʈɑksi/, meter /ˈmiʈɻ/ - reflect this association.

The influence of English has continued in the post-independence period, as both India and Pakistan have continued to use English as a regionally neutral language of business and administration, and people of South Asian descent stay in contact with their friends and extended families in the South Asia.


 Antiquity (Old Indo-Aryan)

  • 600 BCE: late Vedic Sanskrit.
  • 500 BCE: Prakrit texts of Buddhists and Jains originate (Eastern India)
  • 400 BCE: Pāṇini composes his formal Sanskrit grammar (Gandhara), reflecting transition from Vedic to formal Pāṇinian (Classical) Sanskrit
  • 322 BCE: Brahmi script inscriptions by Mauryas in Prakrit (Pali)
  • 250 BCE: first records of Classical Sanskrit. [Vidhyanath Rao]
  • 100 BCE-100 CE: Sanskrit gradually replaces Prakrit in inscriptions
  • 320: The Gupta or Siddha-matrika script emerges.

 Middle Ages

  • 400: Apabhramsha in Kalidas's Vikramuurvashiiya
  • 550: Dharasena of Valabhi's inscription mentions Apabhramsha literature
  • 779: Regional languages mentioned by Udyotan Suri in "Kuvalayamala"
  • 769: Siddha Sarahpa composes Dohakosh, considered the first Hindi poet
  • 800: Bulk of the Sanskrit literature after this time is commentaries. [Vidhyanath Rao]
  • 933: Shravakachar of Devasena, considered the first Hindi book.[citation needed]
  • 1100: Modern Devanagari script emerges
  • 1145-1229: Hemachandra writes on Apabhramsha grammar

 Islamic empires

Islamic empires in India in the late Medieval to Early Modern period.

  • 1283: Amir Khusro's pahelis and mukaris. Uses term "Hindavi"
  • 1398-1518: Kabir's works mark origin of "Nirguna-Bhakti" period
  • 1370-: Love-story period originated by "Hansavali" of Asahat
  • 1400-1479: Raighu: last of the great Apabhramsha poets
  • 1450: "Saguna Bhakti" period starts with Ramananda
  • 1580: Early Dakkhini work "Kalmitul-hakayat" of Burhanuddin Janam
  • 1585: "Bhaktamal" of Nabhadas: an account of Hindi Bhakta-poets
  • 1601: "Ardha-Kathanak" by Banarasidas, first autobiography in Hindi
  • 1604: "Adi Granth" a compilation of works of many poets by Guru Arjan Dev.
  • 1532-1623: Tulsidas, author of "Ramacharita Manasa".
  • 1623: "Gora-badal ki katha" of Jatmal, first book in Khari Boli dialect (now the standard dialect)
  • 1643: "Reeti" poetry tradition commences according to Ramchandra Shukla
  • 1645: Shahjahan builds Delhi fort, language in the locality starts to be termed Urdu.
  • 1667-1707: Vali's compositions become popular, Urdu starts replacing Persian among Delhi nobility. It is often called "Hindi" by Sauda, Meer etc.
  • 1600-1825: Poets (Bihari to Padmakar) supported by rulers of Orchha and other domains.

 Colonial period

Modern Hindi literature emerges during the Colonial period.

  • 1796: Earliest type-based Devanagari printing (John Borthwick Gilchrist, Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language, Calcutta) [Dick Plukker]
  • 1805: Lalloo Lal's Premsagar [4] published for Fort William College, Calcutta [Daisy Rockwell]
  • 1813-46: Maharaja Swati Tirunal Rama Varma (Travancore) composed verses in Hindi along with South Indian languages.
  • 1826: "Udanta Martanda" Hindi weekly from Calcutta
  • 1837: Shardha Ram Phillauri, author of "Om Jai Jagdish Hare" born
  • 1839,1847: "History of Hindi Literature" by Garcin de Tassy in French [Daisy Rockwell]
  • 1833-86: Gujarati Poet Narmad proposed Hindi as India's national language
  • 1850: The term "Hindi" no longer used for what is now called "Urdu".
  • 1854: "Samachar Sudhavarshan" Hindi daily from Calcutta
  • 1873: Mahendra Bhattachary's "Padarth-vigyan" (Chemistry) in Hindi
  • 1877: Novel Bhagyavati by Shardha Ram Phillauri
  • 1886: "Bharatendu period" of modern Hindi literature starts
  • 1893 Founding of the Nagari Pracharini Sabha in Benares [Daisy Rockwell]
  • 1900: "Dvivedi period" starts. Nationalist writings
  • 1900: "Indumati" story by Kishorilal Goswami in "Sarasvati"
  • 1918-1938: "Chhayavad period"
  • 1918: "Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachara Sabha" founded by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • 1929: "History of Hindi Literature" by Acharya Ram Chandra Shukla
  • 1931: "Alam Ara" first Hindi talking movie
  • 1930's: Hindi typewriters ("Nagari lekhan Yantra") [Shailendra Mehta]
  • 1936: Kamayani, the most celebrated Hindi epic poem, written by Jaishankar Prasad


The 1947 partition of India sees the separation of Hindustani (Khariboli) into two standardized dialects, Urdu and Standard Hindi.

  • 1949: Official Language Act makes the use of Hindi in Central Government Offices mandatory
  • 1949-50: Hindi accepted as the "official language of the Union" in the constitution. Debates a, b, c.
  • 1952: The Basic Principles Committee of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan recommends that Urdu be the state language.
  • 1958: definition of Modern Standard Hindi by the Central Hindi Directorate
  • 1965: Opposition to "Blind Hindi-imposition by Congress" in Tamil Nadu, where Tamil- the predominant Dravidian language, lives brings Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to power. Congress lost its base.
  • 1975: English medium private schools start asserting themselves socially, politically, financially [Peter Hook].
  • 1985-6: Devanagari word processor, Devyani DTP software, both from Dataflow.
  • 1987-88: Frans Velthuis creates Devanagari metafont. [Shailendra Mehta]
  • 1990: According to World Almanac and Book of Facts Hindi-Urdu has passed English (and Spanish) to become the second most widely spoken language in the world [Peter Hook].
  • 1991: ITRANS encoding scheme developed by Avinash Chopde allows Hindi documents in Roman and Devanagari on the Internet.
  • 1997: Prime Minister Deve Gowda emphasises promotion of Hindi and the regional languages, having himself learned Hindi recently.
  • 1997: Hindi Newspaper Nai Dunia on the web (January) (Or was Milap first?)
  • 1998: Thiru Karunanidhi, the DMK leader, recites a Hindi verse during a political campaign, indicating a change in views [1].


  1. Hindi - A General Introduction


LONWEB.ORG is a property of Casiraghi Jones Publishing srl
Owners: Roberto Casiraghi e Crystal Jones
Address: Piazzale Cadorna 10 - 20123 Milano - Italy
Tel. +39-02-78622122 email:
P.IVA e C. FISCALE 11603360154 • REA MILANO 1478561
Other company websites: