Why are you learning Hindi?

I'm learning it because I want to travel to India and because I want to be able to read the Vedas in something closer to their original language (Sanskrit, while pretty, is not a useful thing to learn and pretty much impossible to find resources for). India's also becoming more and more relevant in the field that I want to go into after college.

What about you? What's motivating you to try this beautiful language?

July 21, 2018


My parents grew up in India and learned it in school. I sometimes go to India and really would love to be able to communicate with others.

July 21, 2018

Hope you'll learn it soon,Nice to meet you..I'm an Indian

July 21, 2018

My late partner lived in Rajasthan so I've been trying halfheartedly to learn it for some time (his mother tongue was Marwari but there are very few resources for learning that). I still feel motivated to learn it even though he died ten months ago as I feel a lot of connection to his home and still try to spend a lot of time there.

July 21, 2018

Sorry to hear about your partner. This may seem like an odd recommendation, but for Marwari you can find good info in the old colonial works by people like Grierson—many of which are available in public domain. They were pretty meticulous in describing grammar rules, and if you take your Hindi skills you can shift to the Marwari forms.

July 22, 2018

Thank you - I'll look into it. Thus far all I've found is a truncated online dictionary, a blog that someone got bored of updating and a section in an Indian languages phrasebook. It seems like a really tricky language to get a handle on - the dialects seem to change from village to village and different castes within a single village will use different forms (though I guess this is probably the case with the majority of languages). Plus everyone speaks so quickly. And everyone wants to practice their English. ;)

July 22, 2018

FWIW here's Grierson's compact grammar of Marwari, starting on page 19.

July 22, 2018


says that there are about 5.6 million Marwari speakers. Wikipedia

says about 20 million speaking Marwari and related languages, mostly in Rajasthan.


Language Use

Vigorous. Home, village, market, religion. All ages. Positive attitudes. Also use Hindi [hin], especially educated people.

Language Development

Literacy rate in L1: 5%–10%. Literacy rate in L2: 50%–75%. Literature. Newspapers. Radio. Dictionary. Grammar. Texts. NT: 1820–1821.

Google is happy to link you to Marwari newspapers, jokes, and other content.

July 23, 2018

I frequently come into contact with people speaking Hindi in my daily life. It seems like a widely-used common language among Indians, not only in India but here in the U.S. as well.

It seems like an important language globally as there are so many speakers of it. Also it seems to overlap hugely with Urdu which I occasionally meet speakers of.

I find India a really fascinating country and culture and Hindi seems to be a really important language there.

I also really like the sound of it. I find a lot of the consonant sounds in particular very pleasing to the ear. In contrast to a lot of other languages that have a phonology very different from English, the phonology feels a bit more accessible to me. The vowels all make sense to me, and the consonants, if different and requiring my brain to stretch a bit, seem to be fairly logical and intuitive in how they fit into different groups.

I also really like the writing system, Devanagari. I think it looks really cool and I have wanted to be able to read and write it for some time now.

July 21, 2018

Simply because i live in india and i am not fluent at it when speaking.
From southern india. God's own country where you can survive without knowing hindi.

July 22, 2018

That's a great sentiment, too often South Indians are so hostile to Hindi.

July 22, 2018

I'm learning Hindi because I love the writing system Devanagari and also, it's an extremely interesting language to learn.

July 21, 2018

I've always loved the Bollywood movies, often more than American movies. But I seldom watch movies in another language without trying to figure out some of the language, if not at least a few words. So far I've been able to pick up quite a few words and phrases and I'd like to see how much more I can pick up after the courses are done. Eventually, I'd like to visit India but that's still awhile out there in planning.

July 21, 2018

I mean, the most boring answer is that I'm learning Hindi because I love South Asia. Truth be told, you don't really need Hindi to travel in South Asia, or even do research there, but learning more makes me feel like there's one less question mark hanging out there. It brings the whole picture into slightly better focus when suddenly more signs start making sense, and I start picking up new strands of conversations I overhear over a cup of tea.

I'm also learning it on Duolingo because I'm probably not going to devote academic time to studying the language. Most of my work isn't in Hindi-speaking areas, but I pass through them often enough, and love to duck down into the plains and out of the Himalayas every now and then for some sweltering weather and spicy food. I want to know more Hindi, but I can't take time to focus on learning it exclusively, so Duolingo provides the perfect solution.

And then, on a more abstract level, Hindi is an interesting language to study as a bridge between my other Indic languages (Nepali, Sanskrit) and Persian languages. I think it's probably inevitable that I'll find myself in Afghanistan wishing I spoke better Dari some day, and so, Hindi and Urdu provide a convenient bridge, making other western Indo-Iranian languages seem a little less foreign.

It's also just plain interesting to notice the differences between Nepali and Hindi, even on their pronunciations of Devanagari...

July 22, 2018

I'm purely learning some Hindi for interest in Linguistics. I have no intention of learning the whole language or even get to a point where I could read basic literature.

Hindi is a language with a beautiful script and unique grammar structure that is unlike languages I'm used to. I want to learn how languages like those in India work as I study linguistics.

I'm actually taking a class next semester on Conlangs, and I feel that getting exposure with the syntax and phonology of different languages will open my eyes to how I could create an effective and fun language.

July 22, 2018

I learned Hindi/Urdu in the 1990s, in the USA from a variety of sources. My initial desire was to expand my horizons generally but also to understand Hindi films -- which at the time were usually only available on VHS with no subtitles.

Then I learned Punjabi fluently and traveled to India a lot in the 2000s, especially for anthropological type research. I mainly got on in Punjabi, but was in regular contact with Hindi-Urdu. (I've also been to Pakistan twice.)

I have not been in a Hindi (or Punjabi) speaking environment for a long time, and I will be traveling to India for research next year. I like to use Duolingo as a simply, daily practice for languages before I travel, so though I intend to speak a lot of Punjabi in India, it will be good to increase familiarity with Hindi. In North India, I found, if one doesn't look Indian yet is trying to get on in non-English, people will often speak Hindi to you. Even when I am clearly speaking Punjabi to someone, they will (on first interaction) not seem to register (or believe?) it is Punjabi and will respond in Hindi. (In Pakistan, the situation is different. People don't assume foreign status as much based on looks, which I suspect has something to do with 1) Muslim attitudes towards "race", i.e. Islam is a religion of people of many races and 2) there are more people who look like me in Pakistan.) Government/official stuff will also be in Hindi, and not the everyday Hindi but more the register of language that one acquires from formal study, so my everyday Punjabi does not convert!

Overall, it's great to be aware of any and all languages in your surroundings if possible. I just got back from Belgium and the Netherlands and did Duolingo Dutch (even though most Dutch people speak English) and it really helped the experience.

July 22, 2018

Just curious since I'm not familiar with the two areas: What is the difference between Muslim attitudes toward race and Hindu attitudes?

July 24, 2018

Islam has relatively little feeling about what race a Muslim is. Muslims can come from any race. As long as you are Muslim, you are part of the brotherhood/sisterhood of Islam. Islam is a religion that seeks converts.

By contrast, it is far less accepted that one can be a "Hindu" without being of the South Asian ethnicity. Of course, "Hinduism" is not really a religion in the same sense that Islam is. In any case, one is generally considered to be "born into" Hinduism. That means "Hindus" are basically people with Indian DNA. Even so far as a non-South Asian may be accepted as having "converted" to Hinduism, they will still be marked as a "White Hindu" or whatever. Not so in Islam.

So, if you don't look ethnically South Asian and you're in India, you will always be something "other." That doesn't mean people won't be totally friendly and welcoming, etc. It's just that you will always assumed to be Other.

Pakistan is an Islamic Republic, and part of "the Muslim world." Being Muslim in that context is definitely the privileged position. But if someone sees you, one has no idea from your racial appearance whether you are Muslim or not. Considering that you don't have a lot of Western hippies (lol) just going to Pakistan, people are more likely to assume that if you're even there it is because you're cool with Islam and maybe you are Muslim. And as long as you follow Muslim customs, then you can be included as part of the Muslim nation.

In short, Pakistan's Muslim community is based more in religious identity (something one can adopt, not an in-born trait), whereas the Hindu community is religion+ a racial component.

I'm not a religious person at all, so I naturally don't advocate conversion to Islam. However, this quality of Islam was arguably a liberating force for "outcaste" people in South Asia, i.e. people who were ethnically South Asian but not included in "Hindu" society. The same was the case for Christianity, which is why the vast majority of South Asian-looking people in India who are Christians are people that came from "outcastes." Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism provided religious communities for people that were not attached to "race" (i.e. birth, ethnic lineage).

I'm not implying that the majority of Hindu Indians are racists walking around bent on excluding people!! But for people who were in the position of being excluded already, these other religious communities were viable options to uplift their social status.

July 25, 2018

That is a really fascinating question, since the word "race" could be interpreted a bunch of different ways.

I'm just getting started on Hindi, so I don't know, but in Nepali (a language I do speak that isn't so far off) there are three terms for race. One is "jati" - which is the same word used for clan or "caste." Another is "daud" which is a bit less common but you see it in textbooks and stuff. And then another one I hear a lot is "रेस" which is just "res" or the Nepalis spelling the English word in Devanagari. That should illustrate how foreign the term is.

Ultimately, South Asia is like everywhere else in the world: there's plenty of bigotry to go around, and often, it is based on the most obvious traits you see in a person - how they look, what they do, and what they say. And the often blend them. For example, in Nepal, Hindus will often say that Nepali Muslims aren't really Nepali, they are just migrants from India. This is conflating religion, geneology, and geography in ways that tell you a lot about social tensions and prejudices.

I've seen a lot of hostility towards Chinese people that could be characterized as racism, but it is also relatively new, as it has come up in the last decade or so, as China has pursued a larger economic and political footprint in South Asia.

In Kashmir and the Panjab, I've seen plenty of times when Hindus and Muslims don't get along, and that's often couched in ancestral terms, but then there are also plenty of cases where those differences are exaggerated to be exploited by a few bad actors. And then there are Sikhs, who have long running tensions with Muslims, thanks Mughal persecutions, which were only aggravated, intentionally, by the British Colonial Administration, that would pit different groups against each other to achieve control. But Sikh hostility towards Hindus has been running high at times as well, especially since the 80s when the Khalistan movement was almost an open civil war.

If jat can be race, then there are quite a few lineage based discriminations. But these are often much more specific than what people would regularly call racism in English. For example, if you come from a clan of metal workers, you'll be treated very poorly in many places, as will your children. Is that racism? No, not by any traditional definition. Is there a better word for it in English? Hard to say. Is it any less degrading? Definitely not.

Fortunately, there appear to be at least a couple of anthropologists on this thread, so you'll probably get a number of interesting answers all saying different things, and all probably equally true.

July 25, 2018

I love the smile that comes to everyone's face when they hear you speak their language. Especially in a country (USA) that seems to me to too often engender disrespect for other cultures. I love making people feel like they matter. And lastly, one woman in the new Duolingo documentary (check it out on YouTube) said it best:

"If you speak to me in another language that I know, you will speak to my head. If you speak to me in the same language that I know, you will speak to my heart." Vah

July 21, 2018

Nelson Mandela was actually the author of that quote. P.S. You've got a beautiful source of motivation ! :) Good luck~

July 22, 2018

Bollywood movies and, more recently, television series in Hindi like Porus (which can easily be found in YouTube through the channels of the producing companies). I'd love to be able to watch them without subs one day!

July 21, 2018

I'm a South Asian actor that keeps getting asked whether I speak Hindi or not. This feels like a good idea!

July 21, 2018

Also going to India myself! Beautiful country, have many friends there, Hindi is gorgeous as well, it's been a blast to learn.

July 21, 2018

It's my mother tongue and I would love to be more fluent in it as I've never learned it formally. Also, I would be so interested in learning Punjabi as well - anyone with me? Haha

July 23, 2018

ਭੈਣ ਜੀ ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਤਾਂ ਹਿੰਦੀ ਤੋਂ ਚੰਗੀ ਤੇ ਅਸਾਨ ਏ। ਿਸੱਖ ਲਓ ਜੀ

July 23, 2018

My mother-tongue!

July 21, 2018

I haven't had the time to properly start yet, but the main reason why I'm interested in learning Hindi is to master the distinction between the plosives /p : pʰ : b : bʱ/ (mainly to improve my pronunciation of the murmured/voiced aspirate /bʱ/).

July 22, 2018

I learned some Pali and Buddhist Sanskrit decades ago. This is the nearest modern language to them.

Evam maya srutam. Ekasmin samaye Bhagavan Rajagrhe viharati sma...

Thus have I heard. At one time the Blessed One was dwelling in Rajagrha...

Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami.

I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.

July 23, 2018

There are lots of resources for Sanskrit, including Vedic, Classical, and Buddhist. All of the essential texts and commentaries are online. There are comprehensive dictionaries and grammars.

Here is a four-hour recording of Vedic chant.

Bhagavad Gita

July 23, 2018

It's estimated that there's only around 50,000 people in the world who speak Sanskrit (and most of them also speak another language) compared to 490,000,000 who speak Hindi. It's hard for me to justify spending a ton of time and energy learning a language that doesn't have real world applications. Being able to speak with 8,000 times more people is more important to me than being able to read the Vedas exactly how they were written. I'm not a religious scholar.

That's not to say there isn't still a part of me that would like to learn Sanskrit, but maybe later in my life as a hobby project.

July 23, 2018

Quality over quantity much? Sanskrit is easier to learn than Hindi it only took me a few months, and you can learn Hindi faster with a background in Sanskrit or Pali. Sanskrit is not a spoken language but it has an extensive classical literature which is essential to understanding Indian culture, it would not be a waste of time. The Vedas are not written in Classical Sanskrit they are written in Vedic Sanskrit. Classical Sanskrit literature is not just the religious, but the Epics etc. There is extensive literature on meditation, yoga, Ayurveda, and even sex (the Kama sutra) all composed in Sanskrit. It would not be a waste of time trust me.

October 9, 2018

Because I will be traveling India and because it is a beautiful language!

July 23, 2018

I'm learning Hindi as many of my high school friends are Indian and my girlfriend is Bengali/Indian. Also learning any language on duo-lingo is free and not a hassle so I was like why not.

July 26, 2018

So many reasons, similar to others': 1) It's a rich and beautiful language! 2) I've been to India three times and will in all likelihood return many more. While one can get by in English, I've found speaking even a little Hindi (in northern India) helps to break down barriers and ideas of what the "typical American" is like. 3) I also study Pali, which is similar enough to be aided by Hindi studies. 4) I also dream of watching the Bollywood films that I love so much without the subtitles.

and 5)...why not?

July 28, 2018

I live in India and it would simplify my life greatly to be able to speak Hindi (and Kannada because I live in Bangalore).

July 22, 2018

Almost half of the world’s Bahá’í live in India. In addition I love Hindus and Buddhists. Plus it just a gorgeous language.

July 22, 2018

I always loved India. its rich culture and history. Also because of Bollywood, i am a fan of Aishwarya Rai & Katrina Kaif.

July 23, 2018

I'm of Indian origin, but grew up in America; as an international relations journalist focused on South Asia and its politics (I would rather not wait for translations of Hindi and Urdu speeches) and Bollywood fan, I'm always exposed to Hindi, and although I can get the gist of it, I'd like very much to strengthen my Hindi, especially my formal, written Hindi (I would say I speak Baazari Hindi). Both of my parents are Telugu mom grew up speaking standard Hindi in Bihar and Jharkhand , and my dad speaks Hyderabadi Hindi/Urdu, so in terms of entertainment and music, we always used Hindi at home. Moreover, I find that when I want to express myself poetically, I'm drawn to Hindi/Urdu over English, so I'd like to understand it better.

July 25, 2018

For a long time, my partner has run a popular programming group on Facebook named PHP Developers India. When other members/programmers learn he is actually from the UK he is frequently invited to visit and spend time with them. We plan to accept such an offer as soon as we can. I think getting to meet people from another culture away from the usual tourist activities would be an experience made all the richer by learning some language.

August 1, 2018

People in my community speak a lot of Urdu and my parents predominantly spoke English at home with me being born in the US. I hope to be able to better connect with folks especially elders in the community. Along with learning Spanish I also want to overcome the fear of messing up when speaking (I took Spanish in school a while ago but haven't kept up with it).

July 21, 2018

Because it is mutually intelligible with Urdu. My son is learning Urdu to go to Pakistan and talk with them about the way we believe; we think they may find it interesting. (Don't bother asking which religion we are because we don't fall nicely into any denomination that I have ever heard of, but if you are interested, feel free to look me up on wordpress or social media.)

July 23, 2018

I'm a huge fan of Indian music (keep in mind that each region has their own music and culture) and getting into Indian films.

August 28, 2018

Um, it's actually a little easier to learn Sanskrit than Hindi it's been studied since at least the 18th century in the West. There's "Teach Yourself Sanskrit", a lot of books are out of print you may find them in college or university libraries. And a lot of websites too like:

October 9, 2018

I (in the US) have coworkers from India, and I've wanted for ages to learn a bit of at least one of their languages. I wobble back and forth between thinking it should be Hindi (which all speak at least some of) or Bengali (which the person I'm closest to speaks), but when I came back to Duo after several months absence and found that Hindi was now active I did the Kermit-the-frog-arm-flail in my head and started it immediately. I'm hoping to at least pick up enough sentences this weekend to surprise people when I go back to the office on Monday. :D

There is also some "why not??" factor as well, although Duo has so many languages at this point that I can't do them all at once and be able to do justice to them. I would like to gain some facility with each language I study so I'm trying not to go overboard.

November 11, 2018
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