Standard Hindi

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Standard Hindi (Devanagari: मानक हिन्दी), also known as Manak Hindi, High Hindi, Nagari Hindi or Literary Hindi, is a standardised register of Hindustani. It is the official language of India, and is used, along with English, for administration of the central government. Standard Hindi is a sanskritised register derived from the khariboli dialect. By contrast, the spoken Hindi dialects form an extensive dialect continuum of the Indic language family, bounded on the northwest and west by Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati and Marathi; on the southeast by Oriya; on the east by Bengali; and on the north by Nepali.

The number of speakers of Standard Hindi is ambiguous. According to the 2001 Indian census, 258 million people in India regarded their native language to be "Hindi". However, this includes large numbers of speakers of Hindi dialects besides Standard Hindi; as of 2009, the best figure Ethnologue could find for Khariboli Hindi was a dated 1991 figure of 180 million.

The regulating authority for Standard Hindi is the Central Hindi Directorate.

This article deals specifically with the standard register of Hindi promulgated since independence. For its earlier history, as well as aspects such as phonology and grammar that it shares with Urdu, see Hindi-Urdu.

 Official status

The Constitution of India, adopted in 1950, declares Hindi in the Devanagari script as the official language (rājabhāṣā) of the Union (Article 343(1)). Hindi is also enumerated as one of the twenty-two languages of the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India, which entitles it to representation on the Official Language Commission. The Constitution of India has stipulated the usage of Hindi and English to be the two languages of communication for the Central Government.

It was envisioned that Hindi would become the sole working language of the central government by 1965 (per directives in Article 344 (2) and Article 351), with state governments being free to function in languages of their own choice. However, widespread resistance movements to the imposition of Hindi on non-native speakers (such as the Anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu) led to the passage of the Official Languages Act (1963), which provided for the continued use of English, indefinitely, for all official purposes. However, the constitutional directive to the central government to champion the spread of Hindi was retained and has strongly influenced the policies of the Union government.

At the state level, Hindi is the official language of the following states in India: Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi. Each of these states may also designate a "co-official language"; in Uttar Pradesh for instance, depending on the political formation in power, sometimes this language is Urdu. Similarly, Hindi is accorded the status of co-official language in several states.


The dialect upon which Standard Hindi is based is khariboli, the vernacular of the Delhi region. This dialect acquired linguistic prestige in the Mughal Empire (17th century) and became known as Urdu, "the language of the court." (See History of Hindustani for the history of this period.) After independence, the Government of India set about standardizing Hindi as a separate language from Urdu, instituting the following conventions:

  • standardization of grammar: In 1954, the Government of India set up a committee to prepare a grammar of Hindi; The committee's report was released in 1958 as "A Basic Grammar of Modern Hindi"
  • standardization of the orthography, using the Devanagari script, by the Central Hindi Directorate of the Ministry of Education and Culture to bring about uniformity in writing, to improve the shape of some Devanagari characters, and introducing diacritics to express sounds from other languages.
  • standardization of vocabulary, replacing most of the more learned Persian loan words with new coinages from Sanskrit. (See next.)


Standard Hindi derives much of its formal and technical vocabulary from Sanskrit. Standard or shuddh ("pure") Hindi is used only in public addresses and radio or TV news, while the everyday spoken language in most areas is one of several varieties of Hindustani, whose vocabulary contains many words drawn from Persian and Arabic. In addition, spoken Hindi includes words from English and other languages as well.

Vernacular Urdu and Hindi share the same grammar and core vocabulary and so are practically indistinguishable. However, the literary registers differ substantially in borrowed vocabulary; in highly formal situations, the languages are barely intelligible to speakers of the other. Hindi has looked to Sanskrit for borrowings from at least the 19th century, and Urdu has looked to Persian and Arabic for borrowings from the eighteenth century. On another dimension, Hindi has been associated with the Hindu community and Urdu with the Muslim community.

There are five principal categories of words in Standard Hindi:

  • Tatsam (तत्सम् / تتسم / same as that) words: These are words which are spelled the same in Hindi as in Sanskrit (except for the absence of final case inflections). They include words inherited from Sanskrit via Prakrit which have survived without modification (e.g. Hindustani nām/Sanskrit nāma, "name"), as well as forms borrowed directly from Sanskrit in more modern times (e.g. prārthanā, "prayer"). Pronunciation, however, conforms to Hindi norms and may differ from that of classical Sanskrit. Among nouns, the tatsam word could be the Sanskrit uninflected word-stem, or it could be the nominative singular form in the Sanskrit nominal declension.
  • Ardhātatsam (अर्धातात्सम् / اردهاتاتسم) words: These are words that were borrowed from Sanskrit in the middle Indo-Aryan or early New Indo-Aryan stages. Such words typically have undergone sound changes subsequent to being borrowed.
  • Tadbhav (तद्भव / تدبھو / born of that) words: These are words which are spelled differently from Sanskrit but are derivable from a Sanskrit prototype by phonological rules (e.g. Sanskrit karma, "deed" becomes Pali kamma, and eventually Hindi kām, "work").
  • Deshaj (देशज / ديشج) words: These are words that were not borrowings but do not derive from attested Indo-Aryan words either. Belonging to this category are onomatopoetic words.
  • Videshī (विदेशी / ودیشی) words: these include all words borrowed from sources other than Indo-Aryan. The most frequent sources of borrowing in this category have been Persian, Arabic, Portuguese and English.

Similarly, Urdu treats its own vocabulary, borrowed directly from Persian and Arabic, as a separate category for morphological purposes.

Hindi from which most of the Persian, Arabic and English words have been ousted and replaced by tatsam words is called Shuddha Hindi (pure Hindi). Chiefly, the proponents of Hindutva ideology ("Hindu-ness") are vociferous supporters of Shuddha Hindi.

Excessive use of tatsam words sometimes creates problems for most native speakers. Strictly speaking, the tatsam words are words of Sanskrit and not of Hindi—thus they have complicated consonantal clusters which are not linguistically valid in Hindi. The educated middle class population of India can pronounce these words with ease, but people of rural backgrounds have much difficulty in pronouncing them. Similarly, vocabulary borrowed from Persian and Arabic also brings in its own consonantal clusters and "foreign" sounds, which may again cause difficulty in speaking them.

 Sample text

The following is a sample text in High Hindi, of the Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations):

अनुच्छेद 1 — सभी मनुष्यों को गौरव और अधिकारों के मामले में जन्मजात स्वतन्त्रता प्राप्त है। उन्हें बुद्धि और अन्तरात्मा की देन प्राप्त है और परस्पर उन्हें भाईचारे के भाव से बर्ताव करना चाहिये।

Transliteration (IAST):

Anucched 1 — Sabhī manuṣyoṃ ko gaurav aur adhikāroṃ ke māmle meṃ janmajāt svatantratā prāpt hai. Unheṃ buddhi aur antarātmā kī den prāpt hai aur paraspar unheṃ bhāīcāre ke bhāv se bartāv karnā cāhiye.

Transcription (IPA):

ənʊtʃʰːeːd̪ eːk — səbʱiː mənʊʃj§ː koː ɡɔːɾəʋ ɔːr əd̪ʱɪkaːɾ§ keː maːmleː mẽː dʒənmədʒaːt̪ sʋət̪ənt̪ɾət̪aː pɾaːpt̪ hɛː. ʊnʱẽ bʊd̪ʱːɪ ɔːɾ ənt̪əɾaːt̪maː kiː d̪eːn pɾaːpt̪ hɛː ɔːɾ pəɾəspəɾ ʊnʱẽː bʱaːiːtʃaːɾeː keː bʱaːʋ seː bəɾt̪aːʋ kəɾnə tʃaːhɪeː.

Gloss (word-to-word):

Article 1 — All human-beings to dignity and rights' matter in from-birth freedom acquired is. Them to reason and conscience's endowment acquired is and always them to brotherhood's spirit with behaviour to do should.

Translation (grammatical):

Article 1 — All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

 Common phrases

English Hindi (Transliteration) Hindi (Devanagari)
Hindi hindī हिन्दी
English aṃgrezī अंग्रेज़ी
Yes hāṃ हाँ
You āp (formal) आप
You▓ tum (Informal) तुम
You│ tū (used intimately, often derogatory) तू
Your tumhārā तुम्हारा
Me mai मैं
My hamārā हमारा
No na
Not nahiṃ नहीं
Hi/Hello namaste नमस्ते
Goodbye namaste, नमस्ते
How are you? āp kaise haiṃ आप कैसे हैं?
See you later phir mileṃge फिर मिलेंगे
Thank you dhanyavād, धन्यवाद
I'm Sorry kṣamā kījiye क्षमा कीजिये
Why? kyoṃ? क्यों?
Who? kaun? कौन?
What? kyā? क्या?
When? kab? कब?
Where? kahāṃ? कहाँ?
How? kaise? कैसे?
How much? kitne? कितने?
I did not understand maiṃ samjhā nahīṃ मैं समझा नहीं
Help me (please)
Help me!
meri madad kījiye / sahāyatā kījie! मेरी मदद कीजिये / सहायता कीजिये
Do you speak English? kyā āp aṃgrezī bolte haiṃ? क्या आप अंग्रेज़ी बोलते हैं?
Time please?
Time please?
samay kyā huā? / kitne baje haiṃ? समय क्या हुआ? / कितने बजे हैं?
I do not know mujhe nahīṃ patā मुझे नहीं पता


  1. Hindi - A General Introduction
  2. Hindi-Urdu Grammar
  3. Standard Hindi
  4. Hindi Languages
  5. Devanagari (Hindi Script)
  6. Hindi Belt
  7. Hindi–Urdu phonology
  8. National Library at Kolkata romanization
  9. Khariboli
  10. Acharya Ramlochan Saran
  11. Hindustani orthography
  12. Awadhi language
  13. Bambaiya Hindi
  14. Braj Bhasha
  15. Fiji Hindi
  16. Urdu
  17. Hindi–Urdu controversy
  18. Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) word etymology


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