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(hĭn`dē), language belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-IranianIndo-Iranian,
subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages, spoken by more than a billion people, chiefly in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (see The Indo-European Family of Languages, table).
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 subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. The official language of India, Hindi is the written or literary variant of HindustaniHindustani
, subdivision of the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian languages, which themselves form a subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages. Some authorities define Hindustani as the spoken form of Hindi and Urdu.
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 that is used by Hindus. It is written in the Devanagari alphabet employed for SanskritSanskrit
, language belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-Iranian). Sanskrit was the classical standard language of ancient India, and some of the oldest surviving Indo-European documents are written in
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 and has a vocabulary of Indic origin. There are two main dialectal groups of the Hindi language: Western Hindi and Eastern Hindi. The former has four principal dialects. The latter is the medium of an extensive and outstanding literature. Some 300 million people speak Hindi as their primary language; most of them live in India.


See E. Bender, Hindi Grammar and Reader (1967); V. R. Jagannathan, Handbook of Modern Hindi Usage (1981); M. C. Shapiro, A Primer of Modern Standard Hindi (1989).



the official language of India and one of the country’s principal literary languages. Hindi is spoken mainly in the central regions of northern India—in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Haryana, in the Union Territory of Delhi, and, to some extent, in the states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Bihar. According to a 1971 estimate, there are more than 153 million speakers of Hindi.

Hindi, which belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages, comprises literary Hindi and two groups of related dialects. The western dialects are Khari Boli, Bangaru (Haryani), Braj (Braj Bhasa), Kanauji, and Bundeli; the eastern dialects are Awadhi (Avadhi), Bagheli, and Chhattisgarhi. Literary Hindi is based on the Khari Boli dialect, which differs from the others in phonetics and grammer; before the emergence of literary Hindi in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, poetry was written in the Braj and Awadhi dialects.

Hindi exhibits features common to all modern Indie languages. Vowels may be short or long, oral or nasal; there are also dip-thongs. Hindi has back, middle, cacuminal (cerebral), dental, and labial consonants; both unaspirated and aspirated consonants may be voiced or unvoiced. There is also a pharyngeal h. In literary pronunciation, front š and z and labial f appear in loan words.

The morphology of Hindi is analytic and uses rudimentary inflexions in the number and case forms (oblique and vocative) as well as in the personal and number forms of the verbal subjunctive and imperative moods. Word order typically follows a sequential pattern—adverbial modifier, subject, object, and predicate. The attribute precedes the word it modifies. The lexicon of Hindi is highly Sanskritized, containing direct borrowings from the Sanskrit and words formed from Sanskrit stems. A partial ergative construction occurs with certain forms of the predicate. Hindi is written in the Devanagari script.


Barannikov, A. P. Khindustani: Urdu i khindi Leningrad, 1934.
Guru, K. Grammatika khindi, parts 1–2. Moscow, 1957–62. (Translated from Hindi.)
Katenina, T. E. Iazyk khindi. Moscow, 1960.
Barkhudarov, A. S. Slovoobrazovanie v khindi. Moscow, 1963.
Chernyshev, V. A. Dialekty i literaturnyi khindi. Moscow, 1969.
Zograf, G. A. “Indoariiskie iazyki.” In Iazyki Azii i Afriki, vol. 1. Moscow, 1976.
Chatterji, Suniti Kumar. Vvedenie v indoariiskoe iazykoznanie. Moscow, 1977 (Translated from English.)
Khindi-russkii slovar’, vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1972.
Bahri, Hardev. Hindi Semantics. Allahabad, 1959.
Tivari, Uday Narayan. Hindi Bhasa ka udgam aur vikas. Prayag, 1961.
Platts, J. T. A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi and English, vols. 1–2. London, 1884.



1. a language or group of dialects of N central India. It belongs to the Indic branch of the Indo-European family and is closely related to Urdu
2. a formal literary dialect of this language, the official language of India, usually written in Nagari script
3. a person whose native language is Hindi
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