September 14 – Hindi Diwas in India

Posted on September 14, 2017

Today is the anniversary of the adoption of Hindi as one of India's official languages, on this date in 1949. English is the other official language (India was colonized by the British). 

Although India's constitution states that the official language of the nation is Hindi (English is detailed as an official language in the Official Languages Act of 1963), the nation does not have a "national language." Maybe that's because India has the world's second highest number of languages, with about 780!!!!

(India is a big nation, about one-third the size of the United States in area. It has a huge population - more than three times the population of the U.S. Still, that's a lot of languages for one nation!)

In addition to a lot of land, a lot of people, and a lot of languages,
there is a lot of cultural diversity in India!

Actually, it's really hard to count how many languages exist in a nation, because it's hard to define with "tongue" is a different "language" and which is only a "dialect." 

A dialect is generally defined as a sub-form of a language that may have different pronunciations, different vocabulary, and even different grammar - but which are mutually understandable. In other words, most Americans can understand most English people AND most Scottish people AND most Irish people AND most Australian people...and so on and so forth. And most of those people can understand most Americans, too, and each other. British people may say that the 13th element is aluminium, whereas Americans say it is aluminum; British people may call American potato chips crisps, and American fries chips - but even so we basically understand one another. So all these forms of English are considered dialects of English rather than entirely different languages.

According to India's 2001 census, 30 different languages are spoken by a million or more people. And another 191 languages are spoken by at least 10,000 people (but less than a million). So I would have assumed that the census would list another 650-some languages as minor languages - but instead it listed 1,599 minor languages!! I guess that means that the census counted some dialects as separate languages?

I read that Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India today, and it serves as a sort of lingua franca across most of North and Central India (which means that a variety of people who do not share a native language or "mother tongue" talk with each other using a second language, Hindi). However, I also read that many people in South India get upset with they feel that Hindi is being pushed at them.

Learn a bit of Hindi! Try the Hindi in 3 Minutes videos.


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