Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hindi Lesson 1

हिंदी - Hindi (in Hindi)

I wanted to dedicate a few blogs to teaching some useful Hindi phrases, so that anyone interested in traveling to India, especially North India, would have an easier time with the language barrier after learning a bit about the language and culture of the region! I will start with a few useful phrases and a brief look at grammar, but only the bare essentials of each for beginners!

Before we begin, I wanted to clarify the writing that I would use: English consonants get their pure sounds, with the exception of "c," which will have a soft "ch" sound like in the word "choose." The t's and d's used in this lesson are different from native English sounds: your tongue should touch the back of your teeth when you make these sounds (other t's and d's, similar to English t's and d's, will come up in another lesson, and I will address the notation then). A single "a" will have the sound as in "gum" or "come," which would be spelled as "gam" or "kam" in this phonetic manner I am utilizing. Two a's together, or "aa" will sound like the long "a" sound in "fall" or "gone" (spelled "faal" or "gaan" in this system). Finally, the only other point to make for this lesson about this writing system of Hindi using the English alphabet is that the vowel "ai" will act as one vowel sound, similar in sound to the vowel in the words "catch" ("kaic"), "fail" ("fail"), and "fan" ("fain"). Now, moving on to the phrases:

To say hello and goodbye in Hindi, the word is the same, and we say "namaste." There is another word, "namaskaar," that people use as well, which sounds a bit more formal, but is also very polite and has a nice ring to it. "namaskaar," like "namaste," also means both hello and goodbye.

We also have two words for thank you. "shukriya" is the word volunteers tend to prefer, as it is easier to pronounce and remember than "dhanyavaad," the other word for thank you. These words are synonyms, but they originally come from two separate languages etymologically: "shukriya" is an Urdu word, and "dhanyavaad" is a Sanskritic word, but both are equally accepted and used, depending on the location and reason for use. Some may say that "dhanyavaad" is a bit more formal, but it is typically more appropriate to use this word, rather than "shukriya," when in a Hindu context.

To say "My name is Kranti," we say "mera naam kraanti hai." The word "mera" means "my," and the adjective precedes the noun, as in English. "naam," to no surprise, means "name," and this is a masculine noun, as Hindi is a gendered language. As such, the adjective "mera" has a masculine inflection to match the gender of the noun it modifies, "naam." My name, of course, is Kranti, so this remains the same in both languages. Finally, the word "hai" means "is," and in Hindi, the main verb is always at the end of the sentence. So, the phrase "My name is Kranti" has the grammatical organization in Hindi of "My name Kranti is."

To ask someone "What is your name?" (referring to the person respectfully in a formal sense), we say "aapka naam kya hai?" in Hindi. "aapka," like "mera," is an adjective meaning "your," which corresponds in gender to the word "naam." The word "kya" means "what," as an interrogative, and interrogatives are always placed near the end of the sentence, just before the verb.

That should be enough to focus on for one lesson. In the next lesson, I think it would be good to focus on proper pronunciation, as best as I can describe with an English alphabet! I hope this has been helpful and interesting!

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