Was Hindi Really Created by India’s British Colonial Rulers?


Hindustani characters of the Grammatica Linguæ Indianæ Vulgaris (1703) of Francois-Marie de Tours.

As a person who studies early modern vernaculars, I often hear the opinion that Hindi was created a little more than 200 years ago by the British. This view is nowadays shared by both Hindi and non-Hindi speakers. Those who resent the political role of Hindi in 20th century nationalism claim, as the title of an article by a Bengali author does, that “Hindi was devised by a Scottish linguist of the East India Company – it can never be India’s National Language”.

Similarly, one of the leading Hindi publishing houses, Vani Prakashan, states in its home page that Hindi, in its present form, is the language that is born in modern times”. In contrast, most 20th century scholars working under the ideas of the Indian freedom struggle underlined the continuity of modern Hindi with earlier literary idioms, such as Avadhi and Brajbhasha (though rarely with Hindustani).


A young Grierson. Photo: Goodreads

However, the clearest formulation of the idea of the birth of a new language is the one found in Sir

— source thewire.in | Imre Bangha | 12/Sep/2020

Nullius in verba


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