Your English ears are deceiving you. ;) Keep at it and you'll be able to tell the difference.
ख and घ are quite different to native Hindi speakers and there is no confusing them. Try listening to words involving them in google translate.
It doesn't come from "deeper down in the throat," lol. घ and ख are produced in exactly the same place and manner in the mouth. The former is simply voiced (vibration of vocal chords) whereas the latter is not.
The deception comes from the fact that English has k, kh, and g, but no gh. That means /g/ sound is never aspirated whereas k (especially at the beginning of words) is often aspirated, kh. Because k and g are closest in every other way, and because gh doesn't exist in English, one may think they hear the next closest thing, kh.
:) LOL. ख is the same as regular /k/ at the beginning in words of most varieties (although not Indian) of English. English speakers (again, not Indian) have more trouble with क। English uses both क and ख; speakers, but they don't meaningfully distinguish them. The "trick" for Hindi is to distinguish and use them at the right time.
G is a "voiced" consonant (and so is gh), unlike k (and kh) which are voiceless. When you say a voiced consonant, your vocal xords vibrate - you can put a hand on your throat to feel the vibration. Other voiced/voiceless pairs include d/t and b/p. Say them aloud a few times and you'll first get the hang of feeling vibration/not when you say the letter and lateron hearing will follow :)
Is Hindi still in Beta? In the clubs with a native Hindi speaker I wrote पक्षी पेड़ों में रहते हैं (birds live in trees), and I was quickly corrected and informed that पक्षी पेड़ों पर रहते हैं (birds live on trees). I am curious if there is something similar happening in this sentence. Is it ever culturally acceptable to say उसकी बेटी घर पर है? In addition which phrase is correct मैं घर पर रहूँगा or में घर पर रुकूंगा? - Darren Oakley
It's basically "at" versus "in." Yes, you can say "at home" using /par/—though it's more common to leave out the /par/ in that specific example. i.e. मैं घर रहूँगा. [When I used to teach Punjabi, we called that a "ghost-position" -- play on the grammatical term postposition. Because the word, though unsaid/unwritten, is still there in effect.]
As for the birds, the issue, I think, is that birds are not (in the Hindi brain) "in" trees in the same way as a person is "in" a house. So the English-brain expression does not translate literally, i.e. don't use /meṁ/. Moreover, /par/ can be "on" OR "at". I think those birds are ON trees... they are never IN trees (unless they go inside the tree trunk). The person can be IN so-and-so house (ghar as HOUSE), but s/he can also be AT home (ghar as HOME).
Lots of stuff going on here, ha! This is where the direct-translation method of instruction (Duolingo!) breaks down :)
Oh one more thing (if you didn't know): /par/ is typically pronounced /pe/ in spoken Hindustani. You'll also hear Hindi speakers adding /pe/ where it's not needed, much like English speakers might say "Where are you at?" when "Where are you?" would suffice. In Hindi, they'll say /vahāṁ pe/ to mean "there."