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Hindi or Hindustani?

Week 27, Episode 53

A big confusion surrounds the question of what the Hindustani language is and how it relates to Hindi. As was mentioned in the previous episode, Hindustani is a mix of Hindi and Urdu, but in order to understand better once and for all what is what, let's get to know a bit closer the intricate and grandiose past of marvelous India.

Truth been told, when researching about Indian history, you suddenly realize the depth of the multifaceted and manifold nature of this culture.

It was pieced together out of various tribes, and states, and kingdoms, and empires and was invaded and taken over not only by the Indian rajas, shakhs or nizams (titles meaning king or ruler in different Indian languages), but by so many foreign intruders: Muslims—Turks, Arabs, and Afghans; Europeans—Greeks, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, French and English; also Scythians, Kushans, Huns.

No wonder nowadays India has 22 official languages, plus hundreds and hundreds of dialects. It is believed that every 100 km diameter you can expect a new dialect, and every 300 km diameter you can expect a new language. And of course, all of them differ from each other and are not spoken by every Indian :)

In the relation to the Hindi-Hindustani confusion, the contact between Indians and Muslims is the key.

It is the influence of the Persian, Arabic and Turkic languages that started to modify the current version of Hindustani (or Khari Boli) dividing it into two literary forms: the earlier form, called Hindi (Persianized Hindustani) by its users and now known as Urdu, and the second form called Modern Hindi (Sanskritized Hindustani), now known as Hindi, that came into literary use at the beginning of the 19th century and spreaded rapidly since then.

As you can see, both are referred to as Hindi causing a lot of confusion and misunderstanding even amongst scholars. Up until 19th century, Hindi (Persianized Hindustani), and not Modern Hindi (Sanskritized Hindustani), was the lingua franca of India, and the speech of polite society, whether Hindu or Muslim.

To clear up any doubt: the three names—Hindi, Hindustani, Urdu—indicate one and the same language. They have an identical sound system and very similar grammars.

So, the difference between Hindi and Urdu is not so great as some people imagine, though it must be noticed that after the partition of India in 1947 into India and Pakistan, the two languages started to be associated with two separate countries and began to drift apart.

Not in India, neither in Pakistan is Hindustani an official language. Why? Because officially it has a different name in each of the two countries—Hindi and Urdu, respectively.

But Hundustani is no artificial speech. It has existed 3,000 years as a distinct language. Today, modern Hindi and Urdu are merely two styles of Hindustani, and difference between them is basically confined to loan words.

Normally, in speech you will hear a mixture of both languages (named Hindustani) seasoned with English words and words from a certain local language of the city/state.

I hope this totally clears up for you all the misconceptions and confusions about Hindi and Hindustani (bonus: Urdu). Moving on to the pleasure for ears—Hindi words!

मैथुन! (Mate-hoon!) Awesome!

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