Hindi is often regarded as a dialect continuum. The following languages are often taken to define its boundaries: Panjabi, Sindhi, and Gujarati define the western and northwestern boundaries; Marathi delimits Hindi’s southern boundary; Oriya marks the southeastern boundary; Bengali provides the eastern boundary; and Nepali marks the northern boundary. Along with Urdu, Hindi refers to a standardized register of Hindustani, an official language of Pakistan and certain Indian states. The principal difference between Hindi and Urdu is that Hindi is written in the Devanagari script and has a Sanskritized lexicon that to a certain degree has been purged of Arabic and Persian vocabulary. Urdu, on the other hand, is written in a version of the Persian script and borrows heavily from the Arabic and Persian lexicons. Hindi is the official language of India and is the second most widely spoken language in the world. Although it is spoken primarily in India, Hindi is spoken by large numbers in Nepal, South Africa, and Uganda. Hindi speakers can be found on all continents of the globe. (Source: http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=87&menu=004)
Hindi has been listed as a crucial language by the American State Department since 9/11/2001 because of our strategic business and security interests in South Asia. India is respected as the regional power of South Asia. It is the largest South Asian largest economy and most populous nation of South Asia, the largest democracy in the world and is also a nuclear power. Since its independence, America has maintained good ties with India, closely cooperating with it to achieve regional stability. India and America have also had good trade relations, which have rapidly increased in the last two decades, particularly in the tech, education and manufacturing sectors. In 2007 the United States exported $17,588.5 million to India an increase of 971% since 1985. In 2007 the United States has imported $24,073.3 million in goods from India, an increase of 949% since 1985.
According to the 2000 census there are 317,057 Hindi speakers in the United States. In 2006, 1,946 higher education students were studying Hindi and no measurable amount of students studying it in grades K-12.
Hindi is a Central Zone language of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family.
Given the high degree of mutual intelligibility among the varieties of Hindi spoken across India, it is often controversial as to whether certain variants should be categorized as dialects or separate languages. In most cases, language variation among dialects is primarily phonological, with minor morphological variation observed. Lexical differences also differentiate certain dialects. On the whole, the level of mutual intelligibility among dialects is very high. Just under half the population of India speak some variant of Hindi.
Key Dialects: Hindustani, Urdu, Khari Boli (Sarhindi/Standard Hindi), Chattisgarhi (Lahariya/Khalwahi), Bagheli, Awadhi, Bihari, Rajasthani, Braj Bhasha, Bundeli, Hariyanvi (Bangaru/Jatu), Kanauji, Dakhini, Rekhta.
Role in society
Hindi is the official language of India. As such, it plays a key role in society. Hindi is used in government, education, mass media (newspapers, radio, television), trade, and everyday communication. According to the 1991 census, 40% of the Indian population speaks Hindi. In terms of total number of speakers, Hindi ranks second in the world behind Mandarin Chinese.
The Hindi language is a descendent of Sanskrit. The evolution of Hindi from Sanskrit took place by way of the Middle Indo-Aryan Prakrit languages and medieval Apabhramsha. Old Hindi emerged around 500 A.D. Modern Hindi arose in the period of time spanning the 13th to the 18th centuries (i.e. around the time of the decline of Apabhramsha). In 1950, Hindi was recognized as the official language of India by the nation’s constitution. On January 26, 1965, Hindi officially became the national language of India. (Source: Language Materials Project http://www.lmp.ucla.edu/Profile.aspx?LangID=87&menu=004)
Number of speakers worldwide: Within India, there are 180 million native speakers and 300 million second-language speakers. The total combined number of native speakers in India and abroad is estimated to total 500 million. As many as 800 million people are estimated to understand Hindi.
Number of speakers in the United States: 317,057 (2000 U.S. Census see: Language Use, English Ability, and Linguistic Isolation for the Population 5 Years and Over by State: 2000, 2/25/03, http://www.census.gov/population/www/cen2000/phc-t20.html)
American Community Survey puts the population at 465,415 speakers in 2005 (http://www.mla.org/cgishl/docstudio/docs.pl?map_data_results)
Number of language learners in the United States
Modern Language Association data show that college and university enrollments in Hindi have increased by 36.1% between 2002 and 2006, from 1,430 to 1,946. Source: Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2006 by Nelly Furman, David Goldberg, and Natalia Lusin
FLAS Allotments for 2007: There are 9 National Resource Centers and 13 FLAS INSTITUTIONS that have received FLAS funding for South Asian languages in 2007. 141 FLAS Fellowships have been allotted for South Asian languages at these institutions totaling a budget of $2,638,500. Urdu is a common South Asian language that is offered at 11 of the 13 FLAS INSTITUTIONS under the South Asian Studies Programs. (Source: http://www.ed.gov/programs/iegpsflasf/awards.html)
According to a survey conducted by the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages entitled, Foreign Studies Enrollment in Public Secondary Schools, Hindi does not have an enough language learners to be featured as an individual category but rather it is a part of the Less Commonly Taught languages category that they have titled “Other.” According to this category, 66,623 7-12 students are studying languages other than French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, SNS, African Languages, ASL, Arabic, Czech, Chinese, Cantonese, Greek, Haitian, Hebrew, Korean, Native American, Polish, Portuguese, or Vietnamese. This indicates that 1% of all 7-12 language students studied a language other than those listed in detail here. 71,948 K-6 students studied a language other than French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian or Spanish. Report available at: http://www.nvtc.gov/lotw/months/november/USschoollanguages.htm
According to the website of Less Commonly Taught Languages, 1 Primary and Secondary schools teaches Hindi: http://db.carla.umn.edu/lctl/FMPro
America’s business relationship with India
India is the only nation where Hindi is an official language.
In 2007 the United States exported $17,588.5 million to India. This amount has increased by 971% since 1985. In 2007 the United States has imported $24,073.3 million in goods from India, an increase of 949% since 1985.
To provide comparison, America’s exports for this same period to the five nations with English as their national language was $356,436 million, which has increased by 513% since 1985. In 2007 the United States has imported $434,481 million in goods from these countries, an increase of 446%. (Source: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/index.html)
National security measure relating to language
In response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) convened in January 2002 with the leaders from the intelligence, defense, diplomatic, and education communities to identify the deficiencies in language resources and establish the critical need for language learning to stem the war on terrorism. Increasing language acquisition of critical languages has been one of the main approaches to bolstering security since 2001. The National Security Agency, the Pentagon, State Department and major intelligence units of the US government have cited Hindi as a critical language because of the central role India has played in geo-politics in the last quarter century.
India is respected as the regional power of South Asia. It is the largest South Asian largest economy and most populous nation of South Asia, the largest democracy in the world and is also a nuclear power. Since its independence, America has maintained good ties with India, closely cooperating with it to achieve regional stability. India and America have also had good trade relations, which have rapidly increased in the last two decades, particularly in the tech, education and manufacturing sectors.
Critical languages have been promoted by the National Security Language Initiative since 2002. Due to it’s status as a critical language there are many scholarships to study Hindi including Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) scholarships, National Security Education Program (NSEP) scholarships and the Fulbright Language Enhancement Award as well as government assistance to programs like the National Capital Language Resource Center and the American Counsel for Teaching Foreign Language as well as $24 million earmarked for the department of education’s Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) in order to promote the teaching and learning of Hindi and other critical languages at the K-12 level. The US President requested $114 million in the national budget to promote critical languages in the US education system.
NFLC advertises that knowledge of critical languages, including Hindi provides career opportunities such as communications (foreign correspondent, reporter, translator), international finance (international banker, international consultant, political risk analyst), industry (manager of government relations for oil company, market analyst for export company), government (foreign service officer, development program officer, intelligence analyst, government relations specialist, translator or interpreter, linguist), law (contractual and corporate consultant), and academia (teaching and research positions).