History of Hindi Grammars:

Beginning in the eighteenth century, Hindi has a long tradition of grammatical literature which falls under the categories of,

(a) Traditional grammars

(b) Comparative and historical grammars

(c) Modern linguistic grammars

Bhatia (1987) provides a critical survey of the Hindi grammatical tradition.

  • Traditional grammars describe the language using the traditional framework of Sanskrit grammar.
  • Comparative and historical grammar are mostly concerned with presenting the diachronic description of the grammatical features at different linguistic levels, especially phonology and morphology. They are useful for historical linguists and those interested in the comparative linguistics of Indo-Aryan languages.
  • Modern linguistic grammars in Hindi have been written with various objectives. Most of the modern linguistic grammars deal with some aspects of syntax at length and tend to apply the western theoretical models and raise theoretical issues. They are useful for linguists interested in theoretical discussions and are of little use to the language learners and teachers of Hindi or to general readers. It is important to mention a few grammars here.

Aryendra Sharma (1958) prepared the first detailed descriptive grammar of modern Hindi in English. It has been revised and printed several times. Though written in a traditional format it presents a good description of Hindi. Different linguistic aspects of Hindi have been described in various dissertations and independent grammatical studies lately. I will specially mention three recent works:

  • Mountaut (2005),
  • Kachru (2006)
  • Agnihotri (2007) written with different objectives

Moutaut (2005) provides a functional description of Hindi from a typological perspective. She provides a brief phonological outline of standard Hindi, its morphological analysis, an analysis of simple clauses and complex sentences. The final section provides representative features of standard Hindi, its various dialects with special reference to other neighboring Indo-Aryan languages. She presents a review of the earlier works on the subject and uses examples from various written texts. It is the first linguistic grammar of Hindi written from a typological point of view and is useful for linguists working in the area of linguistic typology with special reference to Indo-Aryan languages.

Kachru (2006) describes the structure of modern Hindi keeping in view primarily the sociolinguistic context of language use. She provides a description of sounds, devices of word formation, rules of phrases, and sentence constructions and conventions and practices of language use in spoken and written texts keeping in view recent linguistic theories. She also deals with the information and discourse structure of the current use of Hindi. This is quite useful for linguists and language learners of Hindi in various situations.

Agnihotri (2007) is a practical reference guide to the core structures and linguistic features of Hindi. He provides a brief description of the various simple, compound, and complex structures of Hindi. Word morphology, phonology, and issues related to the Devanagari script are dealt with adequate examples. It is useful for linguists and students of Hindi for reference.

There is a scope for a pedagogically oriented grammar which provides essential information for the use of Hindi language learners as well as teachers. The present Modern Hindi Grammar is an effort in this direction. It is pedagogically oriented; utilizing simpler terminology and authentic data from standard spoken and written Hindi; providing useful descriptions and tables of grammatical categories as well as simple descriptions of phrases, and sentence types designed for the use of language learners, teachers of Hindi at various levels.

  • The Phonology describes segmental phonemes (vowels, consonants)
  • Supra-segmental (length, stress, intonation)
  • Morphophonology (alternations, deletion, and insertion, allomorphs). The Morphology provides descriptions of nominal morphology (noun inflection, gender, number, case, postpositions, pronouns, adjectives)
  • Verb morphology (types of verbs, verb inflections, voice, tense, aspect, mood, non-finite verb forms), and adverbs.
  • The Syntax describes the structure of phrases, sentence types, complex and compound constructions, other syntactic constructions among other items.
  • The Lexicon presents a classified vocabulary of Hindi under 12 sub-sections.