Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

Hindi / हिन्दी

Dozentin: Dr. Monika Freier

Hindi belongs to the (new)Indo Aryan languages of the indo-european family of languages - the most widely spread family of languages in South Asia (approx. 70% of Indians speak an Indo-European language)

Hindi is written in a modified version of the Devanagari-script (44 basic and 7 additional character as well as various special characters for consonant-conjunctions/ligatures). This alphabet that is written from left to right and knows no capital letters is also used by other South Asian languages like Marathi, Sanskrit or Nepali.

The modern standard Hindi has various official purposes: the constitution of the Indian Union states Hindi (as well as English) as the official language of the Indian national government. It is also the official language in a number of central Indian provinces like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar etc.

The number of speakers of Hindi varies based on the source consulted. Most commonly, 400 million native speakers are assumed (cf. Census of India 2011); more than 200 million people use Hindi as their second tongue.

Hindi in its various dialects has an important role in the Indian diaspora. It is partially spoken by Indian migrants in Great Britain, Canada, the US, Mauritius, Fidshi Islands, Surinam, Guayana, Trinidad and Tobago.



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The aim of Hindi-teaching in the BA over a course of four semester is to achieve a language proficiency that is equivalent to the niveau B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. In the MA Modern South and South East Asian Studies the BA-courses for Hindi are to be studied if a student does not have any previous knowledge of Hindi.

In the first semester, a basic knowledge of the structure and composition of Hindi is taught which enables the students to a passive and active usage on the simplest niveau. It also mentions cultural peculiarities of the Hindi usage. The Devanagari alphabet ist taught step by step, the correct pronounciation and intonation is practiced and a elementary thesaurus and grammar are learnt. Additionally, students are introduced to to the spoken language through the simulation of daily situations.

In higher semesters, the proficiency of the elementary knowledge is developed in free communication, written expression and the translation of texts. Understanding (listening, fluent reading), Speaking (Participation in conversations, autonomous elaboration on distinct topics) are the key abilities to be learnt.

In the MA, over the course of two semesters two lecture-courses are to be attended to widen abilities in reading, translating and interpreting of Hindi-texts. The reading of contemporary periodicals and journals (Online and print) with a focus on distinct thematic features as well as modern Hindi-Prose lecture (short stories, passages of belletristic, autobiographies). Variants of key episodes from the old Indian epics Mahabharata / महाभारत and Ramayana / रामायण in their modern Hindi versions offer a gateway to the rich cultural heritage of India.

In the BA and MA, students are (from the third course level onwards) to participate in a Hindi-conversation-class that serves to sophisticate and develop their practical usage of the language: various vocabulary tasks are coupled with dialogue scenarios from everyday life and short presentations on regional topics. There will also be listening texts with practice material from TV-news, -commentaries, movies to improve listening comprehension.


References for working material for Hindi-language and literature: