Hindi Lessons/Lesson 1
Lesson 1: About Hindi. Linguistic Information.
The Republic of India has 18 official or national languages: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Panjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and English. Not all languages are from the same group, thus an Indian speaker of Hindi would understand a Tamil speaker as well as for example an Englishman would understand a Chinese! Hindi as one of the official languages of India (Bhaarat) has more than 180 000 000 speakers! It's an Indo-European language, descendant of Sanskrit. It uses the Devanagari script to write. Another name for the language Hindi, is "khadi boli" (khari boli) - that's actually the name of a dialect, spoken originally in Delhi, from which Hindi developed. Surprisingly, Hindi isn't spoken only in India and parts of the surrounding countries, but also in... Africa! Yes, it's true and all Hindi speakers in Africa are more than 2 000 000! About the half of them live in South Africa (~800 000) and Uganda (~150 000).
Urdu, the national language of Pakistan is the same language as Hindi (FYI, back in history, India was a much bigger country, including the territories of today's Pakistan and Bangladesh. In those times the language spoken in the country was called Hindustani...). In some cases it's spoken about as the Hindi-Urdu language. However as languages, spoken in different countries, they are in many aspects different - mostly in vocabulary. Since Urdu is spoken in an Islamic country it had borrowed many words from Arabic and Persian and thus it has an Arabic hue, whereas Hindi would use rather Sanskrit words... Another difference is the writing system. As I said, Hindi uses the Devanagari script, but Urdu uses a modified version of the Arabic script (or rather the script used by Persians).
Most of the other official language of India possess their own script. However some of them use the Devanagari script too. Marathi is written in Devanagari for example. Gujarati has its own script. Some Panjabi speakers use the Devanagari script as well, but other (the Sikhs) use a special script, called "Gurumukhi". It's very similar to Hindi though... It's regarded as the script of the gurus (teachers), so it got its name - guru = teacher, mukh = mouth. On the other hand, "Devanagari" means "the heavenly script" or the script used in the city of gods (deva = god, nagari = city, town)...
To get a simple idea of how Hindi looks like written, see the text below:
हिन्दुस्तान में बहुत सारी भाषाएँ बोली जाती हैं और इस से पता चलता है कि भारत दुनिया का सब से बड़ा प्रजातान्त्रिक देश है।।
So, that was the very first lesson. It's short, yes, but I think it's important, since for me it's important to know some "linguistic" background of the language I learn. I think you share my opinion on that.
Anyways, now you're ready to get to Lesson 2, where you can find and learn your first words in the fascinating language Hindi!