Tips & Notes – Basics 1
पहले पाठ में आपका स्वागत है! Welcome to the first lesson!
इतिहास itihās - History
Hindi is an Indo-Aryan language, meaning it stems from Sanskrit. Naturally, a major part of Hindi vocabulary finds its roots in Sanskrit.
However, the Mughal influence (of Persianised rulers) has lent several Persian (particularly old Persian), Arabic, and Turkish vocabulary to Hindi.
Hindi has also only recently undergone another gradual, albeit intentionally designed change since the last few hundred years: Sanskritisation. This term refers to the use of words (called तत्सम tatsam words: तत् tat - there, सम sam - same; meaning exactly the same as in Sanskrit) which are straight away picked up from Classical Sanskrit to be used in official, formal occasions while speaking Hindi. This should not be confused with the Sanskrit vocabulary that has evolved over long periods of time and now forms the base of the language.
Other than that, Hindi has a plethora of English (and occasionally Portuguese) loanwords.
शब्दावली shabdāvalī - Vocabulary
Summarising the previous paragraph, the four basic origins for Hindi words are:
- Evolved Sanskrit - most general grammatical rules are followed by this category of words, including identification of any word’s gender.
- Persian - most general grammatical rules are not followed by this category of words and have to be remembered by heart, most noticeably their gender.
- Classical Sanskrit (formal) - these words generally have different rules for very simple grammatical concepts than those for Evolved Sanskrit words.
- European - they mostly follow the general grammatical rules of Evolved Sanskrit words.
This information will be used further in these tips and notes.
लिंग liṅg - Gender
All Hindi nouns, verbs, and adjectives have a gender. There are two genders in Hindi - masculine (m.) and feminine (f.). There are a few ways to guess a word’s gender based on its origin:
- Evolved Sanskrit: most words that end with an आ ā sound are masculine (पंखा paṅkhā - fan, m.), while most words that end with an ई ī sound are feminine (नदी nadī - river, f.). Moreover, words that end with a consonant sound are masculine (घर ghar - house, m.) and those which end in या yā are feminine (चिड़िया ciṛiyā - bird, f.)
|ending vowel||ा/आ ā||ी/ई ī|
|ending sound||consonant||या yā|
Persian: Persian is a genderless language. So, there is no fixed way of identifying the gender of Persian loanwords in Hindi. They have to be learnt by heart. E.g. आदमी ādmī – man (m.), ख़्याल xyāl (m.), हवा havā (f.). In fact, there are instances when both Persian derived and Evolved Sanskrit words that have different genders are used for the same thing, e.g. Sanskrit छाया chāyā (f., according to the table above) and Persian साया sāyā (m., contrary to the table), both of which mean shadow.
Classical Sanskrit: Generally, all Classical Sanskrit loanwords that end in a consonant sound are masculine (संकल्प saṅkalp - oath, m.), and all other words that end in any vowel sound are feminine (सुविधा suvidhā - service, f.; प्रगति pragati – progress, f.).
European: these words are generally assigned a gender based on the gender of the actual Hindi word. E.g. स्कूल skool (school) is masculine, since the Hindi word विद्यालय vidyālay (school) is masculine.
होना hōnā - to be
Like most languages, the verb be is the most irregular in Hindi. However, all Hindi verbs require it in some or the other form as an auxiliary verb for basic conjugation. This means that you’ll find this verb in some or the other form attached to every other verb.
When used as an auxiliary verb, it has the simplest conjugation:
|Pronoun (Eng.)||Pronoun (Hindi)||होना hōnā||be|
|I (1st person)||मैं maim̐||हूँ hūm̐||am|
|He/She/It (3rd person)||यह/वह yah/vah||है hai||is|
Pronouns - यह yah, वह vah
Notice that Hindi has only two words for third person pronouns:
|यह yah||Gender-Neutral Pronoun, meaning he, she, it, or this (used when the person/thing is somewhere close or if you’re pointing towards them)|
|वह vah||Gender-Neutral Pronoun, meaning he, she, it, or that (used when the person/thing is at a distance or not present in the scene)|
Often, यह (yah) is pronounced as yē and वह (vah) is pronounced as vō colloquially. In formal and literary contexts, these colloquial pronunciations are considered incorrect.
Definite articles do not exist in Hindi. This means that there is no translation for "the" in Hindi. If the situation demands a strong specification, demonstrative articles are used (this, that). In Hindi, यह yah and वह vah also act like this and that respectively.
Just a minor comment: it was always my impression that in written Hindi, यह is singular and ये is plural (although in spoken Hindi they are both usually pronounced ये), and similarly with वह/वे (both pronounced वो). Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, and otherwise this is a great summary of the basics of the language!
Edit: I now see this is covered in the plurals note! Feel free to ignore this comment.