Alright, okay. So I am a North Indian, and someday I will be branded a Northie and questioned in Bangalore as well. I can take that, and would understand the sentiments and politics around that. But, at times, when I am called a Hindi guy as opposed to a Northie, I pause and think.
Would you have guessed that both my grand-moms (ajjis, as in daadi and naani) found it hard to talk in Hindi? One used angika, and another maithili, both of which I can describe as languages that sit somewhere between Bengali and Hindi. Yeah, one is more of a dialect today, but maithili has well documented grammar and literary history as well.
My parents speak (rather, spoke; dad is no more) Hindi, as well as their native tongues. And myself can just about comprehend angika and maithili. Why is it that my parents had to learn Hindi, and I did not take the pain to learn my parent’s and grandparent’s mother tongues? Argue if you would, that the two local languages I am advertising here are pretty close to Hindi. But whose language is Hindi anyway?
Lets start from Bengal, and move North-West towards Punjab. You hit into tribal languages of Jharkhand, santhali, ho, uraanv. Angika, maithili next, and then, some magahi and bhojpuri. You may not know that the reason Lalu Yadav and some others sound ‘funny’ when they speak Hindi is because its not really their ‘mother tongue’, its bhojpuri or magahi. Slide up North-West a bit more, and you run into awadhi, brij-bhasha and garhwali. Inch closer towards Delhi, and now is when you hit into a lot of Hindi (khari-boli).
Time to pause and recollect the Hindi regions now. Western UP, and Delhi? Its not exactly like calling a kannadiga, telugu or malayali a madrasi, but calling me a Hindi guy is kind of a similar thing. Hindi didn’t exist this predominantly even about a century ago! Hindi was and is a dialect continuum, sort of a nationalist movement a lot of North Indians bought into. You might say that all those languages I mention above are dialects of Hindi. But Hindi of today (khari boli) is a fairly new language, and quite a few of North Indian dialects existed long before modern Hindi happened.
The way I see it, there is no real owner of what we call Hindi today.