Hindi is the most commonly spoken language in India. It is the fifth most spoken language in the world with about 182 million native speakers in 1998. The script used in writing Hindi is Devanāgarī.
Hindi is widely written, spoken and understood in north India and most other places in India. In 1997, a survey found that 66% of Indians can speak Hindi. The most common form of Hindi is known as Hindustani. It has taken words from the Dravidian languages of South India, many words from the Persian, Arabic, Turkish, English, and Portuguese languages.
Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, is a standardised and Sanskritised register of the Hindustani language (Hindi-Urdu). Hindustani is the native language of people living in Delhi, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, northeastern Madhya Pradesh, and parts of eastern Rajasthan, and Hindi is one of the official languages of India. Colloquial Hindi is mutually intelligible with another register of Hindustani, (Modern Standard) Urdu, which is associated with the Muslim religion. The two varieties of Hindustani are nearly identical in basic structure and grammar, and at a colloquial level also in vocabulary and phonology. Mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialised contexts, which rely on educated vocabulary drawn from different sources; Hindi drawing its specialised vocabulary from Sanskrit, whilst Urdu does so from Persian and Arabic.
People who identify as native speakers of Hindi include not only speakers of Hindustani who are Hindu, but also many speakers of related languages who consider their speech to be a dialect of Hindi. In the 2001 Indian census, 258 million people in India reported Hindi to be their native language; as of 2009, the best figure Ethnologue could find for speakers of actual Hindustani Hindi (effectively Khariboli dialect less Urdu) was a 1991 figure of 180 million. This makes Hindi approximately the sixth-largest language in the world.
The Indian constitution, adopted in 1950, declares Hindi shall be written in the Devanagari script and will be the official language of the Federal Government of India. However, English continues to be used as an official language along with Hindi. 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 effectively instituted the usage of Hindi and English as the two languages of communication for the Union Government. Most government documentation is prepared in three languages: English, Hindi, and the primary official language of the local state, if it is not Hindi or English.
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 the language of their own choice. However, widespread resistance to the imposition of Hindi on non-native speakers, especially in South India (such as the anti-Hindi agitations of Tamil Nadu) and in West Bengal, led to the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1963, which provided for the continued use of English indefinitely for all official purposes. However, the constitutional directive 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: Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi. Each 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 additional states.
The dialect upon which Standard Hindi is based is khadiboli, the vernacular of Delhi and the surrounding western Uttar Pradesh and southern Uttarakhand region. This dialect acquired linguistic prestige in the Mughal Empire (17th century) and became known as Urdu, "the language of the court." As noted and referenced in History of Hindustani, prior to the independence of India and Pakistan, it was not referred to as Urdu but as Hindustani. After independence, the Government of India set about standardising Hindi as a separate language from Urdu
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