Hindi / India

how to learn hindi: introduction

hindi is spoken by over 600 million people worldwide, making it the 4th most spoken language in the world after english, spanish, and mandarin. it is the official language of india, although there are hundreds of other regional dialects and languages across the nation.

it is a melodious, harmonious language that places respect as the forefront, the basis, of the language. even the words for ‘you’ are based on levels of respect; aap, the most respectful and formal, used for elders and strangers, tum, informal and used only for those very close to you, and tu, which generally should be avoided completely. you can see how the basis of the whole language is rooted in these ideas of utmost respect through both actions and the language.

hindi is written in devanagari script, consisting of 11 vowels and 33 consonants. you can change your keyboard on your laptop to devanagari so as to better write in it, if you want to practise.. it can also be transliterated, although you will find the spelling of certain words varies considerably. transliteration means that the hindi will be written in romanised/latin alphabet.

just like most western scripts, hindi is written from left to right. however, if you are writing in devanagari, it is normal to write at the top of a line, rather than the bottom as we do in english.

nowadays, modern hindi has many english loan-words. this means that many professions and other english words have been integrated into the language – this is called colloquial hindipure hindi (without any arabic, persian, english or portugeuse) is based on the languages roots in sanskrit and is considered more formally correct, although it isn’t used in casual conversation and some hindi-speakers aren’t familiar with it either.

depending on your reasons for learning hindi, it may be beneficial for you to learn pure hindi. after all, when we learn english, we learn the correct form first – and then the informal slang later. however, for touristic purposes or simple conversational purposes, it may be your best bet to become familiar colloquial hindi first.

however, even with the inclusion and integration of english words into hindi, as an english speaker (or most european languages), you will still encounter lots of issues. some sounds in the hindi alphabet simply do not exist within our alphabet – meaning they can be hard to get right, and sometimes it’s even tricky for an untrained ear to hear the differences! distinguishing between sounds is very important in hindi, as you may end up swearing by accident, by just what sounds to us as adjusting the volume or intensity of one sound.

so now you have some background information (and know what you’re getting into!) are you ready to learn some basics … (or help me out, if you’re a native speaker!)?


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