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Almost nobody here would ever have any reason to say "bharat" for "India."

If you go to India, especially to the South or places where Hindi isn't spoken as a first language (or hardly at all; ie most of the country), several words that I find appearing in this course aren't used; instead English words are used.

Firstly, using "bharat" for "India" is very rare. It is only done by politicians or authors or those who speak perfect / elite Hindi. Doing so might be seen as bizarre, especially if you are a foreigner because it actually references an emperor of Ancient India.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bharata_(emperor) This emperor is long gone and modern day India is a republican democracy; imperialism is heavily looked down upon.

Modern day Indians use the Spanish name; "India" - which most of the Western world uses - or the Mongolian/Persian name; "Hindustan."

Honestly, use "India" for two reasons; it's more common, and it's also less political. I can't help but notice the right wing party of India (which is based off of Italian fascism and Nazism) tend towards that word a lot more.

Also, just know that with animal names, you can do pretty well by just using the English words for them; only learn how to say "cat" and "dog" and "cow" maybe, haha. I hear "horse" way more than I hear the Hindi word for it, which I can't even remember right now... (I'm south Indian)

July 21, 2018



(Context: Indian, studied Hindi in school in Mumbai/Ahmedabad for 12 years, also lived in Bangalore, Pune, Chandigarh and Delhi)

Hey, that's a lot of misinformation! 'Bharat' is the standard name for India in Hindi, it is quite relevant. For instance, the current Prime Minister's political party is called 'Bharatiya Janta Party' (BJP),

Hindustan is not the Hindi name - it was the Urdu name for India from the Mughal times. ('Pakistan' is an Urdu name as well.) After colonial times, most government bodies have the Hindi standard 'bharatiya' prefixed to their name, for example- 'Bharatiya Reserve Bank' for the Reserve Bank of India, and 'Bharatiya Vayu Sena' for Indian Air Force.

I hope these examples are sufficient to convince you that 'bharat' is not political at all. It's quite like 'Espanol' for Spain, 'Zhongguo' for China', etc.

If you are taking the trouble to learn Devnagri script - which is where the Hindi Duo course started when I did a run-through - it'd be hugely remiss to not bother about what India is called in Hindi.

I would argue with your point on animal names as well. My housemaid in Mumbai only knows Bengali and basic Hindi, and hardly has a word of English in her. If we ever have a conversation about horses, and she calls them 'horses' instead of 'ghode' it would be hilarious. You'll find rabbit sellers outside Delhi University who don't know the word 'rabbit'. And if anyone is traveling to Ahmedabad, I would suggest they look up 'gadha' beforehand :)


This is misleading. Most Indians would interchangeably use 'bhārat', 'Hindusthān' and 'India' while conversing in Hindi, though the first two are seen as a more formal. In the written form, however, भारत and हिंदुस्तान are overwhelmingly preferred. Even in the South Indian languages, with the exception of Tamil, the official name for the country is some variation of bhārat and is common enough in daily speech.

As for the animal names, the same could be said for most of the Hindi vocabulary due to the intelligibility of English words in most of the country and the prevalence of 'Hinglish'. However, I assume people here want to learn Hindi rather than learning to get by with English when they travel to India and knowing animal names is part of that.

By the way, the Hindi word for horse is घोड़ा(ghoṛā) and it also figures in one of my favourite Hindi idiomatic expressions- 'घोड़े बेचकर सोना' (lit. to sleep after selling horses) which means to sleep soundly.


Coming from a US perspective, "Hindustan" for some reason seems to me to conjure an image of pre-partition India. It's not a term that's generally used here; the country is nearly always "India." Using "Bharat" would just get you blank looks.


Bharat is widely accepted in the north of India, leaving the Punjab. Hindustan, on the other hand, is the name used in Indian Punjab as well as Pakistan.


I don't think so. I'm from India. Both, Bharat and India terms are used as synonyms. And, the word Bharat is more used where I live


I am also a south indian. For the topic, i would come up with spanish example, Spanish speaking peoples do not say they speak spanish, Instead they say 'espanol'. It makes much sense to them . But others would probably say "I am gonna take spanish course from duolingo".


Thanks for clarifying that. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything other than India in the country, on reflection. Bharat I've only ever encountered as a personal name. Is 'Indian' commonly used as well in your neck of the woods? Various Hindi courses I've looked at suggest 'भारतीय', which sounds equally unlikely.


While speaking in English, it would be uncommon to use any name other than 'India' unless you are trying to make some kind of a point. This is not the case in Indian languages and the different names are used interchangeably.

'Indian'(इंडियन) would be perfectly acceptable in daily use (eg. saying "मैं इंडियन हूं"- 'I am Indian') but would feel a little awkward in formal settings or in the written form.

The personal name you are probably thinking of is Bharat (भरत) which is a little different from the name of the country Bhārat (भारत).


So you’re saying don’t say “Hindustan”? I thought that was common.


IMO, go ahead and use it. It is an Urdu word - not Hindi - so you won't find it in Hindi news or books, but it's used colloquially just the same. If I'm talking to an auto driver in north/west/east India about our country, I'll use 'Bharat', 'Hindustan', 'India' interchangeably. (Most people in Southern Indian states don't know much Hindi, or don't use it regularly - so I'd be better off saying 'India' there.)

I don't believe there is any religious connotation to 'Hindustan' all. In fact, many big companies have 'Hindustan' prefixed to their names - Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), Hindustan Unilever (HUL) - quite like, say, Bank of America. Patriotic songs in school referred to our country as both 'Bharat' or 'Hindustan' - though the national anthem, being in Hindi, only has 'Bharat'.

To sum it up - this is a non-issue. I'm from 'India', 'Bharat' and 'Hindustan' and I am over the moon to have you learning my language!

(Context: Indian, studied Hindi in school in Mumbai/Ahmedabad for 12 years, also lived in Bangalore, Pune, Chandigarh and Delhi)


I think in both of your comments you are missing the point in the examples you offer. OF COURSE the Hindu nationalist BJP uses "Bharat". OF COURSE the colonial company Unilever uses "Hindustan." There is a political dimension and history to these terms that MAY make them problematic. As you point out, they will not necessarily problematic. But I think to suggest they cannot be problematic is disingenuous, and to not advise a potential foreign language learner --who does not have the same intuition you have -- to be aware of when and with whom they might use these terms is unwise IMHO. I think what you say is valid but... there's more...

India is not a united place like España and Zhong Guo except for due to colonial and (some would say) neocolonial power, hence these names have some potential to divide. "India", as a modern "international" term, would seem to have slightly more neutrality and is safer when you don't know who all is in your audience.


I wasn't debating history at all - I was just saying, that I have felt perfectly comfortable using 'Bharat', 'Hindustan' or 'India' interchangeably everywhere in India with people of all social classes, religions, and age.

Saying the Spain is united is ridiculous! :) (Hint:Catalan) And China, wow! O.O


Why would you use all those words interchangeably? Is it not possible that you sensed, however intuitively, that it would be more appropriate or more effective to use one or the other?


Hindustan doesn't have religious connotations---it comes from the Persian word for the river Indus. In fact, India and Hindustan are cognates.


Man Indians in Delhi (where I am from) who know English(90% of the people I know) use the mix of Hindi and English using english object words like table and other stuff. And even people who dont know will know some of these words because of the mkx most Indians speak and we xall tgis Hinglish.


but still we use pure hindi sometimes


What is the name for India in Sanskrit? That way I avoid the connotations of Hindi and Urdu supremacy over other languages. xP


Nevermind, it seems that Bharat is Sanskritic, hahaha. As a native speaker of Portuguese, I find it silly when people hate on Latin and loanwords between European languages so my perspective on this might be a little biased. In my personal opinion, mixing English into your Hindi should be seen as the same level of problematic as mixing Sanskrit into it, if not more. I do not care about what is easy or popular, both languages are not universals to most speakers of Hindi. Just because rabid right-wing parties have a weird obsession about the past doesn't mean that we should try to throw it into a coffin together with them.

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