Hindi is the national language of India and the most widely known tongue of South Asia. Those who know Hindi are also able to communicate with speakers of Urdu since the two languages have virtually the same grammar and share a large part of everyday vocabulary. A command of spoken Hindi enables students to have direct contact with those who are not strongly influenced by English education. With the spread of modern media, especially cinema and television, the number of people who understand Hindi keeps increasing not only within India but also outside its political boundaries. In the eyes of many Indians, a command of Hindi expresses respect for their living culture.
The increasing number of English loanwords can make the learning of spoken Hindi relatively easy for English-speakers.
For useful Hindi links visit http://www.lang.ox.ac.uk/links/hindi.html
Hindi Language Classes at Oxford
A new elementary Hindi course starts each year in Michaelmas term in mid-October and runs for three terms. There are five taught classes each week held at the Oriental Institute in Pusey Lane. Students interested in learning Urdu can join this course. They will be introduced to the Urdu script in Trinity Term.
The coursebook is R. Snell & S. Weightman: “Teach Yourself Complete Hindi” (Not to be confused with R. Snell's “Teach Yourself Elementary Hindi”). Since Hindi pronunciation differs considerably from English students are advised to get a copy of the book accompanied with CD.
Students enrolled in the course will go through “Teach Yourself Complete Hindi” in the first two terms covering all essential Hindi grammar and basic vocabulary and thus being introduced into basic reading, writing and conversational skills. In the third term students will expand their vocabulary, consolidate their grammar and will be exposed to the diverse registers and styles of Hindi through texts from various sources (political and cultural journals, literary texts, cinema etc.). Their communicative skills will further be developed through regular discussions and the writing of 150-200 word Hindi compositions on a weekly basis. All students are required to pass the tests held during the teaching term.
The workload can be heavy, especially for those who are not familiar with a South Asian language. If you intend to participate, you should make sure that you can devote to Hindi 10-15 hours per week at home. Please apply for the course only if you can attend all classes.
Elementary Hindi is primarily intended for students enrolled in the M. Phil. or M.St. in Modern South Asian Studies or in a BA in Arabic, Persian, Turkish or Sanskrit. Prospective language learners from outside the Faculty of Oriental Studies should contact their tutors at their college, which will pay for the course. If the course is not full, self-paying students from outside the university may join and make their payment before the beginning of each term. Admission for self-paying students is subject to availability and to the approval of the course tutor. Application Form for non-Oriental Studies students to attend Faculty classes is form nr. 25 at http://www.orinst.ox.ac.uk/general/forms.html .
Dictionaries: Students are advised to provide a copy of R. S. McGregor’s The Oxford Hinid-English dictionary (OUP) and of Kamil Bulcke’s An English-Hindi Dictionary (S. Chand & Co. New Delhi 1994 etc.) and to use the Digital South Asia Library Dictionaries http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/ at a more advanced stage.
Modern Hindi texts
Readings of a variety of Hindi literary texts are organised for students enrolled into the M. Phil in Modern South Asian Studies. Those who wish to continue their Hindi studies after going through an elementary course in Oxford or elsewhere can also attend provided the course is not full. Admission for students from outside the Faculty is subject to availability and to the approval of the course tutor.
These classes are held twice a week and constitute in translating into English and interpreting the selected texts. Along with a close reading and translation of the texts their socio-cultural context is also presented and sessions normally include a Hindi discussion of some earlier passage. Students will normally be given a basic vocabulary and should prepare their texts with the help of dictionaries in advance. They will sometimes have to present short Hindi essays about various topics related to the texts. The course normally presents a 5-10 hour weekly workload.
The texts read vary each term but they include short stories from the classics of twentieth-century Hindi prose (Premchand, Mohan Rakesh, Yashpal, Agyey, Renu) and by lesser known writers. Normally more accessible texts are read in Michaelmas term and more specialised classes are held later. Specialised classes include writings by one particular author or thematically arranged readings, such as female writing in Hindi (Sonrexa, Bhandari, Saraogi etc.), the literature of partition (Sahni, Agyey, Mohan Rakesh etc.) or historical fiction (Sankrityayan, Premchand, Nirala, Varma etc.)
Dictionaries: Students are advised to provide copies of
R. S. McGregor: The Oxford Hinid-English dictionary (OUP)
Kalinath Prasad et al. (ed.): Brihat Hindi Kosh. (Gyanmandal Ltd. Varanasi)
They are also advised to consult Shaymsundardas (ed.): Hindi shabd-sagar I-XI. (Nagiripracharini Sabha, Varanasi) http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/dasa-hindi/ and John T. Platts’s A Dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi and English (Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi). http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/platts/index.html
Early Hindi Texts (Brajbhasha)
See description at Brajbhasha.