Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hindi Lesson 2

Attached is a photo taken at the street children project, as a teacher writes song lyrics in Hindi for students to memorize! A volunteer from Spain taught the song to the children, as the teacher wrote down the Hindi spelling for the sounds she heard in the lyrics of this Basque nursery rhyme!

Today I would like to discuss a bit more about the notation I will be using to teach some basic and useful Hindi to travelers or volunteers coming to India, before moving on to more helpful phrases in the language. In Hindi, we have several sounds which may be difficult to differentiate to a non-native speaker of the language. The first I will mention is an aspirate sound, or, the difference between "p" and "ph" in Hindi. A "p" sound is a soft sounding "ph," in the sense that when you vocalize the sound, there should be no puff or exaggerated exhale from the mouth (which may be noticed by keeping your palm close to your mouth when you speak the sound). For example, the exhale can be heard or felt with your hand when you say the word "pounce" ("phauns" in this system), whereas the normal "p" sound can be detected with the "p" in the word "lip." In Hindi, we have several of the aspirated consonants, so when you see a consonant followed by an "h," the sound is actually one consonant, with this exhale to execute the proper sound. One exception, for the consonants, is with an "s," as an "sh" will have the sound of an "sh" in English, as in "shun" (or "shan," in this phonetic system). Also, please remember that a "c" has the sound as in "choose," but a "ch" has an extra aspirated effect, as in the word "chase" (These are the best English words I could find that can be used to differentiate the sounds textually). 

There are also several different places where your tongue functions in Hindi, quite different from the way it does in English! When I write a "d" or a "t," these are sounds where the tip of the tongue should touch behind the top of the front most teeth on the upper jaw. The effect of the sound is similar to the sound in the word "the," but slightly off to a native speaker of Hindi, as the tongue goes beneath the teeth, rather than behind the top, where the teeth meet the gums. Also, there are corresponding "dh" and "th" sounds, which also require the tongue to move to the correct location, while adding an exhale to the sound. The best example, for an English word, which I could find was "th" in "thistle." An "r" sound in Hindi is a bit of a rolled sound, where the tip of the tongue slightly rolls backward while you make the sound (similar to how you roll the tongue when saying the "tt" sound in the word "latter," except the tongue should not touch the roof of the mouth).

Now let's move onto a couple of grammar concepts. To review what we learned, adjectives precede the nouns they modify, and the basic sentence structure is "Subject, Object, Verb." In Hindi, the nouns all have a gender, and the adjectives and verbs (usually) agree in the gender as well. For example, the sentence "The wait/delay was long" translates to "intezaar lambaa thaa" in Hindi: "intezaar," a masculine word, means "wait," "lambaa," which is inflected to correspond with the masculine gender of the noun intezaar, means "tall/long," and "thaa" is the word "was" in the masculine form. If we delineate the grammar of each individual word in the Hindi sentence and translate it to English, we see that it sounds like "wait long was," as the grammar is "subject, object [none in this sentence], verb." I hope this clarifies things a bit!

Let's compare this phrase with an identical phrase in meaning, but slightly altered phrase because of gender agreement. The masculine word "intezaar" has a feminine synonym, the word "prateekshaa." Intezaar is the word we use at home when we speak Hindi, and prateekshaa is a bit bookish sounding, but it is also an appropriate word, with a root closer to Sasnkrit, rather than an Urdu word, like intezaar. So, though we have two sentences, which have the same English translation because of the use of synonyms identical in meaning, the difference in gender affects each word in the sentence! Here is a comparison of the two sentences:

Original Sentence: "intezaar lambaa thaa"
New Sentence: "prateekshaa lambee thee"

Learning from the examples, usually words ending in the "aa" sound are masculine, though not always, because "prateekshaa" is one of the few feminine nouns that has a masculine-appearing ending: thus, "lambaa" and "thaa" correspond to the gender by having their masculine forms. Similarly, words ending in "ee" sound are usually feminine words, just like "lambee" and "thee" are the feminine forms of these words. Here is another example (I am using a Haryanvi word for boy/girl, as it is an acceptable word in Hindi to use, and I can't describe the Hindi word in this writing system until next lesson):

Masculine: "choraa patla hai"
Feminine: "choree patlee hai"

Before dissecting each word, strikingly we can see that the word "hai," meaning "is," is not a gendered word! Though in the past tense, "thaa/thee," in the present tense, this verb is the only verb in the present tense that does not change gender. Other verbs will require a lesson in verb conjugation to discuss, but we will keep our lessons to "is/was" lessons in the beginning to emphasize these other grammar concepts before reaching a more difficult topic. So, the word "choraa" means boy, and "choree" means girl. The words "patlaa" and "patlee" mean "thin," with their uses reserved for the corresponding gender of the noun which the adjective modifies. Reviewing, we see that the sentence resembles "boy/girl thin is," when we translate each word in order. Finally, as I tell you a new word from now on, if it can easily change in gender, like "lambaa/lambee" or "patlaa/patlee," then I will describe it as such: The word for "thin" is "patlaa/patlee." I hope you enjoyed a more insightful look at Hindi grammar for beginners!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Volunteers and Orphanage Children Visit Park!

Among the volunteers that are with us, and not traveling around India, several have been continuing their work at the volunteering projects! Here is a photo taken at a local Hindu temple, where some volunteers went to learn about Indian culture and Hindu traditions! Otherwise, our volunteers have been continuing their work in the medical projects, working with a pediatrician and helping the nurses in the nursery with taking care of the infants there; other medical volunteers have also been volunteering with the handicapped children this week, as they taught in their classrooms and with their therapy. The volunteers who have been working at our orphanage are going to take the children to the park, as they love visiting the locally famous destination! There is a restaurant at the park, where a generous supporter of our work has promised to subsidize any snacks or meals that the children would like to eat! Every time we go to the park, we are reminded by the generosity of the people in our local community who help support our dream of offering the children with us a simple concept: each of our children should feel like they are an essential part of our warm and loving family!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Orphanage Renovations Complete and Varanasi Trip!

We wanted to notify our readers that we have completed the renovations of the upstairs floor in our orphanage! The bathroom has been retiled and is now operational, and the caretaker's room on the second floor is also fit to be used! At the moment we don't have any pictures, but hopefully soon we can upload a few pictures so that we can share what it looks like! Though the entire floor is not complete, the rooms that are constructed now look great, and we just need to construct one bedroom; because of our limited funds, and because there is no urgent need for building the room at the moment, we have decided to wait until we are able to muster some funds so that we can properly build an appropriate bedroom, separate for the girls at our orphanage.

Also, we have finally finished signing up the children at our orphanage on a health insurance plan! Though we could not subsidize all of the children's plans and coverage, we felt that it was necessary to keep the children's health insurance covered on a plan, and we dipped into our own funds as well for the task. We are just extremely relieved about the health insurance coverage, as this was an important responsibility for us!

One of our main benefactors, who has been with us all of this month, will be ending her stay with us in a few days. With all of her help, donations, and time, we have bought the children all of the necessary clothes for the winter, finished the refurbishments of the home in the orphanage, purchased an essential cabinet in the orphanage to store winter clothes and blankets in the summer, along with other invaluable resources she has provided for us! We will surely miss her! At the moment, she went on a short vacation with another volunteer to Varanasi! Here is a picture from Varanasi, when our past volunteers had previously visited the city! Other volunteers have been ending their programs recently, as they had wanted to go home for the holidays! Which reminds me, we would like to wish everyone happy holidays, or "Mubaarak ho" in Hindi (literally, "congratulations")!

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!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Orphanage Film Part 2

And here is Part 2 of a version of the short film about our orphanage that we reformatted! We hope you enjoy the film!

Orphanage Film Part 1

Here is Part 1 of a version of the short film about our orphanage that we reformatted! We hope you enjoy the film!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Goodbyes and Orphanage Renovations

This week, one of our oldest volunteers, who has been with us for six months, and earlier for five months, has gone back home to the US after his long volunteering trip with Aim Abroad! He has spent a lot of time helping out at the orphanage, teaching the children English, Mathematics, other subjects, and even some written Hindi he picked up while here too! Everyday, he would tutor the children at the orphanage, spend time with them, and even take them to the park when he had the chance to do so. He also helped a lot of the volunteers, as he was learning basic Hindi during his time here, and was fluent in Spanish, so he helped translate for any volunteers from Spain who had limited English communication skills. He would frequently volunteer at the hospitals as well, and was very known to our group here in Delhi NCR! Even my family has welcomed him as a member of the family, and we attached another photo from the wedding, when a bunch of children at the wedding enjoyed speaking to him! All of us will really miss him while he's gone, but we will keep in touch, and we are certain to see him again when he decides to come back to India for more volunteer work! "Kaash ki ham ussey jaldi milein!" ("We hope that we will see him soon!" in Hindi)!

In other news, we have begun construction in our orphanage, for renovating the second floor! We hired a plumber and mason to work on the upstairs bathroom and upstairs caretakers' quarters, and the construction has been coming along nicely. If we can reach our financial goal, we expect to also construct a new room, so that we can separate the girls' quarters from the boys'. At the moment, there is no pressure to construct the room in the coming months; however, in about a year the new room will be compulsory, as our oldest girl will be reaching an age appropriate for a separate room for girls. As such, since we had the funds to renovate the existing rooms in the orphanage, we decided to touch up the rest of the floor, which will be nice for the orphanage when we do make use of the space for the girls at the orphanage. Let's see how we can reach our goal to upgrade the orphanage!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Indian Wedding in Haryana!

A few days ago, a pair of volunteers from the US went to a "Shaadi" (or "wedding" in Hindi) with me and my family in Rewari, Haryana!  The photo was taken with the bride and groom just moments after the wedding ceremony, during the reception! Overall, the wedding was a wonderful event, and the volunteers were welcomed as every other guest in the family! They were reluctant to dance to Bollywood music and other western dance songs even at first, but the children attending the wedding insisted that they dance, and they were so happy they did! Everyone enjoyed the evening, and the volunteers went back to their home in Delhi NCR in the evening afterwards. As we say in Haryanvi, "Ghanaa jeesa aa gya!" (Everyone had a blast!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Traveling in India!

Here are some more photos from Manish's birthday! Also, recently several of our volunteers have been traveling around India! A group of four volunteers went to Ram Nagar, nearby a tiger reserve, bird sanctuary, and elephant safari conglomerate, among other recreational areas, by the city Nainital. This morning, two volunteers from Europe went to Rajasthan to tour around Jaipur and Udaipur, two must-see tourist destinations in North India! Also, three of our volunteers went to Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama will be giving lectures in his home town and temple! Though the volunteers will be unable to see the Dalai Lama, as they have not registered, it should be a spiritual experience for them to be in the same city as he is in at the same time! Two of our volunteers will be traveling to Agra either tomorrow or the next day to see the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal! We always encourage our volunteers to see the wonderful sites of India, as they are only here for a short time!