Hindi is a direct descendant of Sanskrit through Prakrit and Apabhramsha. It has been influenced and enriched by Dravidian, Turkish, Farsi, Arabic, Portugese and English. It is a very expressive language. In poetry and songs, it can convey emotions using simple and gentle words. It can also be used for exact and rational reasoning.
More than 180 million people in India regard Hindi as their mother tongue. Another 300 million use it as second language. Outside of India, Hindi speakers are 100,000 in USA; 685,170 in Mauritius; 890,292 in South Africa; 232,760 in Yemen; 147,000 in Uganda; 5,000 in Singapore; 8 million in Nepal; 20,000 in New Zealand; 30,000 in Germany. Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, spoken by about 41 million in Pakistan and other countries, is essentially the same language. Dakhini is an older, southern form of Urdu that uses fewer Persian or Arabic words.
Hindi speaking regions: Himachal, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajsthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Pakistan, Bombay, Hyderabad. Also used in Bangalore, Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates.
Dialects of Hindi: Marwari, MAP Braj, map, Bundeli, map, Kanauji, map, Urdu, map, Chattisgarhi, map, Bagheli, map, Avadhi, map, Bhojpuri map, Eastern Hindi http://www.acts.edu/images/96.gif ,
Maithili, and many others. It is not easy to delimit the borders of the Hindi speaking region. There has been considerable controversy on the status of Punjabi and Maithili, map . Sometimes they are regarded to be independent languages and sometimes dialects of Hindi. A 1997 survey found that 66% of all Indians can speak Hindi, and 77% of the Indians regard Hindi as "one language across the nation".
Brief History of Hindi: Hindi started to emerge as Apabhramsha in the 7th cent. and by the 10 cent. became stable. Several dialects of Hindi have been used in literature. Braj was the popular literary dialect until it was replaced by khari boli in the 19th century.
Background: The period of Prakrits and Classical Sanskrit (dates are approximate):
750 BCE: Gradual emergence of post-vedic Sanskrit
500 BCE: Prakrit texts of Buddhists and Jains originate (Eastern India)
400 BCE: Panini composes his Sanskrit grammar (Western India), reflecting transition from Vedic to Paninian Sanskrit
322 BCE: Brahmi script inscriptions by Mauryas in Prakrit (Pali)
250 BCE: Classical Sanskrit emerges. [Vidhyanath Rao] 100 BCE-100 CE: Sanskrit gradually replaces Prakrit in inscriptions
320: The Gupta or Siddha-matrika script emerges.