Hindi etc.

Narayan S. Raja raja at galileo.IFA.Hawaii.Edu
Fri Nov 29 23:23:01 UTC 1996

On Fri, 29 Nov 1996, Robert J. Zydenbos wrote:

> (The actual point of
> the discussion is that I am arguing that there is an unhealthy fixation
> in Western academia on Hindi as "the modern language of India" [sic -
> this has actually been written here], with Hindi teachers in the
> Western Indological world institutionally overrepresenting that
> minority language while the majority of historical and contemporary
> India is ignored, irrespective of relative merits in that majority.)

You keep calling Hindi a "minority language" --
which it is (like every other language in
India).  But let's beam back to Planet Earth
and look at some numbers:
Population of India (approx)          --  900 million
Population of "Hindi belt" (approx)
   (UP+Bihar+MP+Rajasthan+Haryana+HP) --  280 million

Subtract non-Hindi-speakers, esp. in
   Bihar and MP                       -- - 40 million
Add Hindi-speakers in other parts
   of India                           -- + 50 million (at least)

TOTAL Hindi-speakers                      290 million (approx)

%ge of Hindi-speakers in Indian pop.  ~~   33%

Next largest language group in India
                 (probably Bengali?)  ~~   70 million (approx)
Add Bangladesh                        ~~  120 million (approx)
%ge of Bengali-speakers in India      ~~    8%
%ge of Bengali-speakers in subcontinent ~~ 16%

%ge of Telugu-speakers in India       ~~    7%
%ge of Kannada-speakers in India      ~~    6%
%ge of Tamil-speakers in India        ~~    6%  (MY LANGUAGE!)

All numbers are approximate (based on my guesstimates),
but close to reality.

Hmmm...  seen in this way (33% Hindi-speakers, as
compared with 8% for the next-largest language group
in India), I can easily understand that many foreigners, 
if they could pick only one modern Indian language, 
would pick Hindi.



PS:  Stay cool, don't get excited.  Learning Hindi is not evil.
PPS: I'm a Tamilian, myself.

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