language fact file: Hindi

Spoken widely in: India, Nepal, Mauritius, Fiji and many others. 

Number of native speakers: approximately 615m!

Learn someThere are a number of ways to greet someone warmly in Hindi. ‘Namaste’ and ‘namaskar’ are quite traditional and respectful, as is ‘salaam’, but all are widely used. If you want to be more casual, you can use ‘kaise ho’ (pronounced keh-se hoh) to greet a man or ‘kaisi ho’ (pronounced keh-see hoh) to greet a woman. 

Fast facts:

  • Hindi is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world, after Mandarin, Spanish and English. In addition to being an official language in India and Fiji, it is spoken by Indian diasporic communities all over the world. There are large Hindi-speaking populations in England, Trinidad and Tobago, the US, Canada, Mauritius, South Africa and parts of the Middle East.
  • Hindi’s written language system, Devanagari, contains 36 consonants and 11 vowels. This makes it simpler than English to read aloud, as words are spelled exactly as you pronounce them.
  • As an English speaker, you already know loads of Hindi words! Everyday words we have adopted from the language are: avatar, bandanna, bungalow, dinghy, guru, jungle, khaki, karma, loot, mantra, nirvana, punch, pyjamas, sorbet, shampoo, thug, typhoon and yoga.