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A North Indian Indo-Āryan vernacular which, in its medieval dialects, was the medium of much bhakti literature, such as the works of Kabīr, Mīrābaī, and Tulsīdās(a). In the 20th century, Hindi—a Sanskritized version of Hindustānī written in the devanāgarī script—was controversially promoted as the ‘national’ or ‘official’ language of India to distinguish it from the similarly Hindustānī-based, but Persianized, Urdū, which became the national language of Pakistan. In the face of vigorous opposition, mainly from speakers of the Dravidian languages, it has been recognized that, although designated India's ‘official’ language, Hindi is in practice only one among a number of languages used for ‘official’ purposes (eighteen are named in the Constitution). Hindi remains, however, in its various dialects, the most widely used modern Indian language, spoken by over 420 million people (41% of the population) according to the 2001 census. See also Braj bhāṣā.

Subjects: Linguistics

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