Hindi at SOAS Language Centre
Hindi is one of twenty-two languages currently designated as ‘official’ within the Republic of India. It has the greatest number of speakers of any Indian language and is spoken, as either a first or additional language, by a number of people estimated to be in excess of 500 million within India alone.
Quite aside from its importance in its country of origin, Hindi is understood by many millions in the Indian diaspora and has served as the language of Indian cultural identity and of communication between speakers of related Indic languages. It is a language of daily use in territories as widespread as Fiji, Trinidad and Mauritius.
Structurally, Hindi is barely distinguishable from Urdu - a language that is wholly intelligible to speakers of Hindi at a basic conversational level. Where Hindi and Urdu part company is at the literary level, with the former using the Sanskrit alphabet and the latter employing a form of the Arabic alphabet modified through Persian influence.
The use of Hindi as a language of both administration and literature has increased steadily since Indian independence. Additionally, the importance of a prolific film industry, commonly referred to as ‘Bollywood’, has given Hindi a broad and global appeal beyond the administrative and literary contexts.
SOAS Language Centre in London offers a number of Hindi learners courses: