Hindi Language Blog

Devanagari or English Hindi? Posted by on Jul 30, 2021 in Hindi Language

Photo courtesy Nicole Herbert Dean


I recently had to evaluate मूल्यांकन करना a written sample in Hindi. When I opened up the document दस्तावेज़, it was Hindi alright but written in English. How was I to score it? Well, I scored it on grammar व्याकरण but could not on writing. Sounds odd अजीब doesn’t it?

This is not the first time पहली बार this has happened to me. I had a student छात्र from a professional पेशेवर background who was about to take an assessment मूल्यांकन in Hindi. But had no idea विचार how to write in Devanagari.

Devanagari is the script लिपि of the Hindi language. Learning Devanagari is easier आसान than most languages. Hindi is spoken बोली जाने as it is written. Therefore, once you learn the vowels and consonants, as well as how they can sometimes कभी – कभी be joined together, it is hard to  make spelling mistakes गलतियां.

Why? Because it is a phonetic ध्वन्यात्मक language.

So, why do people not take the time to learn the script? I fear it may become obsolete someday.

I find a lot of content विषय is written in English letters. The correct pronunciation उच्चारण is lost when Hindi is written in English.

For example, the word थोड़ा is written as ‘thoda’ is English, however, it is actually वास्तव में a hard rolled dental ‘d’ sound when pronounced in Hindi, ‘thodda’.

So, why is it exactly बिल्कुल that people write in English? Is it because इसलिये English is more elite अभिजात वर्ग than Hindi? Does it provide प्रदान करना jobs, a way up the social ladder सामाजिक सिढ़ी?

This paradox विरोधाभास, where Indians bristle at their colonizers उपनिवेशवादियों, yet write their native tongue मातृभाषा in their language, has me scratching my head सिर.

Yes, I do understand in today’s global economy विश्व अर्थव्यवस्था, there is a need to learn the language of business व्यापार. One must be a competitive प्रतियोगी skilled player to beat out the competition for any role. Also, I do understand that English denotes upper social mobility.

But seriously गंभीरता से, do we also have to scrap the script of our mother tongue? There is much beauty सुंदरता in the written Devanagari script. Writing it requires आवश्यक है much discipline शिक्षण and practice अभ्यास. Besides, it looks really pretty सुंदर हे on the page.

What about heritage विरासत?  What do we pass onto our children if we don’t write in the script? The responsibility ज़िम्मेदारी of passing on one’s language heritage brings with it the burden बोझ of maintenance. It is up to the parents to retain their language  not only in spoken Hindi at home but also in written form.

Teaching children the Hindi script is imperative अनिवार्य in bilingual households. It is great to have your children learn English but it is even better to have them become truly bilingual द्विभाषिक.  There are many script writing books available on Amazon.

While English continues to dominate द्विभाषिक the language world, acquiring the skills to write Hindi in the Devanagari script will emphasize ज़ोर देना the skill of the bilingual writer.



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About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant to the Department of Defense and United States Military.