Index – Hindi Tips & Notes
Here are the tips & notes for all Hindi lessons in the Hindi Discussions Forum where they serve two objectives:
Since tips & notes are not accessible on every platform yet or might not be read by many learners, it seems appropriate to share them here for a better experience of learning Hindi on Duolingo.
This creates room for discussion about Hindi grammar rules and specific topics related to the grammatical aspects introduced in their lessons.
Letters: The Devanagari Script (an abugida writing system), the pronunciation of यह and वह
Basics 1: Introduction to Hindi vocabulary, the concept of gender, होना (to be), articles
Basics 2: Sentence structure, introduction to verb conjugation, forms of you (the second person)
Plurals: Pluralisation, complete verb conjugation (simple present)
Intro: Postpositions, possessive pronouns, possessive particles
Family: Forming the oblique case, full list of possessive pronouns, formality and respect, the concept of अपना/अपनी/अपने
Animals: Adjective endings, habitual form of होना
Activity: Present continuous tense, आना/जाना (to come/go), possession with to have, के
Food: Personal pronouns in oblique case, accusative case, dative case, चाहिए, पसंद
(More tips & notes and additional posts dedicated to grammar rules coming up super soon!)
I noticed that during letters, some letters are tested before they are taught. Second, why do you start long sentences immediately after learning letters? There should be simpler lessons with single words.
There are a couple of comments in this discussion thread that we looking into for compliance to https://www.duolingo.com/guidelines
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In second grade, I had a teacher who, when someone reported something missing, would go into this big drama about turning off the lights and demanding "the thief" bring the item to her desk. (It usually turned out that the child left their item at home that day, or found it in their back pack, etc.) She always gazed a little longer at the black kids when she gave her little speech. The point of course, was to turn the class against each other. I found her tactic lazy, patronizing, and abusive. If someone has broken the rules address that exact event and the author(s) directly. If they haven't broken the rules but you just don't like what they've posted, then drop it.
For those of you who would like a nice PDF chart of the Hindi (Devangari) alphabet, follow this link ---> http://www.omniglot.com/charts/print/hindi.pdf :-)
Here's the original article with all the information on how to join vowels to consonants as well as grammar tips and important vocabulary for various situations, etc. ---> https://www.wikihow.com/Learn-Hindi
Here is the problem that I have noticed with that having used many resources to study Hindi, transliteration of Hindi seems to be terribly inconsistent. The Roman alphabet has many different ways to pronounce most if not all letters. This is not the case in Hindi's Devanagari Script. As Hindi is a phonetic language the best way to know how to properly pronounce a Hindi word is to read it in Devanagari script. As others have said it only takes about a week to learn the alphabet and it's few simple rules. I did this without the help of duolingo. I can read and properly pronounce much more Hindi than I can understand yet. (And this is all with having the learning challenges from dyslexia)
In short learning the letters/characters will help you be much more precise in your pronunciation. It is well worth the time and effort.
As someone who is Indian, I disagree with it being disrespectful or lazy. I understand Hindi but am not great with grammar, but learning grammar only after learning how to read and write in Devrangi (which isn't something that's super used nowadays) makes it a thousand times harder for me to polish my skills
Hi, I learned to read Hindi when I was 14 out of curiosity. I found it simple to learn and it took me about a week with practice. After that, I was able to start learning grammar and vocab more easily buying books without transliteration where possible. :-) The Devengari alphabet is beautiful and shouldn't be ignored, in my opinion. Actually, studying Hindi opened the door to other languages with different alphabets and writing systems. I can now read Greek and Chinese very well, for example, and Japanese Hiragana and Kanji too, although my Katakana needs work! Hehe :-)
Elementary Hindi book. I also recommend getting the workbook, as a set. They're great. In learning a language, it's always best to use several tools.
Rupert Snell also has a good reputation
I agree with it being inefficient to ignore the Devangari script, especially since a lot of vocabulary learning comes from reading! One can only learn so much through conversation. Perhaps audio books are the way to go for those who would prefer to be effectively illiterate in the language. ;-)
The sad reality for Hindi is that more and more people are using the latin alphabet. With the advent of social media it's become the norm to transliterate as opposed to taking the time to learn the Devanagari keyboard. A real shame, both for the loss of the script, and also the fact that the 45 or so Hindi characters really don't map very naturally to the 26 english letters. But it may explain the logic of learning Hindi/Urdu through the Latin alphabet. To be honest I wish I knew transliterated Hindi better. I find it much easier to read devanagari, and therefore can't understand a lot of what my Hindi friends write.
Fiji Hindi is often Romanized but there are resources that use the Devanagari script (Rodney Moag's excellent fellowship work which is available online in pdf format is a good example).
Romanization is often inconsistent which is why the Devanagari script is much better.
Sivapriya15, I can see from your many posts on this topic that you're really passionate about learning the language the "right way". Obviously that's always the ideal and most committed route, but not everyone needs the full monty for their individual purposes. Rather than painstakingly learning how to read full sentences in Devanagari I'd rather focus on what's important to me: listening and speaking.
I have married into an Indian family and would love to be able to chat casually with my in-laws without committing to a purely academic study. Even my husband doesn't bother with Devanagari and refuses to use it when writing to people! I'll never live in India long-term so reading and writing is redundant for me. I actually have already picked up some spoken Hindi so would just like to continue adding to it.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, to each his own. It would be nice to have the option of a script-free course, and I'm sure there are many people who would appreciate it, even if it's not quite right for you. :)
This might be another good resource:
If we apply this logic to all aspects of language, picking and choosing what we feel is right for us, it'll never end, LOL. I don't like German cases, so I'll just choose not to learn them, or pehaps French pronunciation which is a total pain in the arse, so I'll just pronounce it phonetically since that's what suits me. Many of my old students were initially reluctant to learn English tenses since they believed that only the simple tenses were necessary. This was obviously ok to survive on a short holiday but also hindered their listening and reading skills since they couldn't understand much. This lunacy reminds me of someone I once knew who decided to go to China without learning Chinese Hanzi....they insisted that using Pinyin was right for them. They didn't survive long in China because the writing system is part of the language, part of any language, and if you're serious about studying a language, you need to do it properly. I should know, I am a language teacher. I see these mistakes by students all the time and I also see the results. ;-)
Then I suppose this is not the resource for you, since it uses written word to teach. Perhaps pimsleur may be a better for your needs, since it's spoken and not written.
It can seem daunting looking at devanagari, in starting to learn. However, I found it's not so bad once you get started.
I'm sorry if me trying to encourage people to give it a shot and even providing a great resource for that is bothersome.
No one is arguing that this written course will be a great help. We are just suggesting a future course which could be built later if enough people ask for it. I believe Duolingo constantly has new courses in development so it can't hurt to suggest more.
Pimsleur is a good idea though, I'll check it out.
I didn't think you were arguing. I was just hoping to help you find something to suit your needs. From my own experience, the more resources we have to learn from, the better.
You might want to see if there are any lessons on memrise that use transliteration too. Memrise has helped me to build vocab.
Also, the Teach Yourself series has a Conversational Hindi CD set that may help you too. I use it sometimes during my commute.
Is there somewhere to learn how to type Hindi online?
When I began the russian course the first thing I did was to learn how to type cyrilic (using this site: https://www.keybr.com/). This made life much easier in the long run. It would be very helpful to have something like this for Hindi. :)
Both Google Translator and Google Docs have “hovering virtual keyboards”. They are very practical because you can have the translation and/or save in a document for future reference. Google spreadsheets also has that function and you can create a formula (=googletranslate([cell],”hi”, “en”) that translates your entries automatically if you would like a quick reference or create a vocab list.
Thanks, but I would like something more "mechanical" as the one I linked there, so I could train myself to type in Hindi with the normal keyboard without looking (keybr has difficulty levels starting with just two keys and so on).
But I'm starting to think that for this kind of alphabet this may not be the best solution, since there are some 'letters' that look like little additions to other letters and so on.
Hi! Lexilogos is great! However, if you have an Android smartphone, you can change your keyboard settings to add any alphabet or writing system you want so that you can type immediately in another language. That's what I do :-) When chatting, I just click the little globe icon to the left of the space bar. Try it! :-)
There's a chrome extensions called Google Input tools that allows you to type Devanagari in the browser. I use it for duolingo, facebook, emails, etc. It's very handy.
A few years ago I bought a set of stickers that map to the inscript keyboard which is what Windows uses for mapping the Devanagari characters onto a US English keyboard. They work very nicely. Here is an example of them selling on Amazon:
I have found typing in the Hindi answers rather than using the word bank helps me learn the spelling of the words much more...and to tie into the earlier discussion, knowing how the word is spelt tells you exactly how to pronounce it. Brilliant! If only English was like that.
Just happy to have an accessible means of learning Hindi at last, so a big thank you to the team. On the alphabet, not wanting to get into the polemics, but as a multi linguist, I believe it is important to try to access a new language world via its own script as well as its sound and grammar worlds. Languages are mindsets after all and extraordinary places to travel around.
From what I've heard, it is similar to Urdu. I've also noticed Devanagari is similar to written Gujrati. I learned that one day I was at a temple and they realized I could read Devanagari, so they put the Hanuman Chalisa written in Gujrati script in front of me. Much to my surprise, I could read it.
From my limited experience, this is all I know. I'm sure others could chime in. Ranzo Ji seems particularly knowledgeable. I greatly appreciate his contributions to these discussion boards.
Yes, I noticed that I can read it too! I was sat in English Literature class one day reading poems when I came across a poem by Sujhata Bhaat entitled Search For My Tongue which started in English, then into Gujarati and then English again. I found that I could read it quite easily because I was able to read Hindi! I got quite excited, I can tell you! It's a lovely poem, too :-)
Hindi and Urdu are different standardized "registers" of the Hindustani language: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindustani_language
"The colloquial registers are mostly indistinguishable, and even though the official standards are nearly identical in grammar, they differ in literary conventions and in academic and technical vocabulary, with Urdu adopting stronger Persian and Arabic influences, and Hindi relying more heavily on Sanskrit."
It is part of the Indo-Aryan language family: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_India#Indo-Aryan_language_family
"This language family predominates, accounting for some 1035 million speakers, or over 76.5 of the population, as per 2018 estimate. The most widely spoken languages of this group are Hindi (or more correctly, Hindustani, which includes Hindi and Urdu), Bengali, Konkani, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Assamese (Asamiya), Maithili and Odia."
See the Indo-Aryan language family Wikipedia page for more details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Aryan_languages
From my understanding while Hindi and Urdu are very similar there are terms and sayings that in each language that are mostly used only with Hindus for Hindi and Muslims for Urdu. For example mother and father are pronounced completely different in the two languages.
This became glaringly obvious to me when I was watching Rasia Sultan and found many words I had to look up in an Urdu dictionary because they didn't exist in Hindi.
These are technically long and short vowels (thi and thii, chu and chuu) but I haven't listened to the audio on Duolingo yet so I am not sure if there might be some error. Generally speaking though, when listening to Hindi, there is a slight difference between the short and long vowels, like in English, for example: ship and sheep. :-)
My Italian students have the same difficulty with English vowels, at least initially :-) So did I with Chinese initially with the "ch" and "q" sounds. I still can't use the Hindi course using my phone (which is my main device) but will have a listen to the Hindi audio using my computer at some point and let you know if I think there might be an error. :-)
I hear no difference between the audio samples for चू and चु. I also hear no difference between the samples for श and ष. Each pair seems to have only one recorded sample between them. I'd love to have someone who's got a sharp ear and who's actually listened to the samples tell me I'm wrong. :-)
I'm not sure how to go back and hear these. So, I'm sorry I don't remember how they sounded. If the issue is mainly editing the course, then my response is not relevant (again, my apologies).
If the issue is learning these sounds, I can offer some humble advice. In general, I think one won't learn the sounds of Hindi completely from the section about letters/sound; one has to just pass through that and hear the sounds spoken in the context of words. Why is this so? Because Hindi teaching is plagued by a legacy of prescriptiveness, of quasi-orthodoxy, coming out of a misperception that Hindi and Sanskrit are linked in some ways that they are not. To be clear, Hindi and Sanskrit ARE linked in some ways. I am referring to the ways that they are not linked, and how the framing of "Hindustani" or "Hindi-Urdu" -- a modern Indo-Aryan language based in Indic grammar, very influenced by Perso-Arabic and English vocabulary -- as a more ancient, more purely Sanskritic thing made ways of teaching things that are just wrong or, at least, unhelpful to non-natives who simply want to communicate. Among these errors are: 1. The notion that श and ष are distinct IN HINDI. They are not, therefore there should in fact be no difference. 2. The Sanskritic pairing of /u/ and /ū/ as "short" vs. "long" versions of the same vowel. If one follows the Sanskrit rule, then when saying चू and चु the vowels are the same, only one is short and the other long. But with just one syllable, everything is so short that it is hard to know the difference. In reality, IN HINDI, the vowels are different -- they are not merely longer or shorter versions of the same vowel. चु has (approximately) u sound of English "put" and चू had u sound of "rude."
TL;DR : There is a customary way of teaching Hindi writing and phonology that has lingering notions from Sanskrit and which don't actually apply to Hindi speech. Despite the fact that the course creators have done an awesome job, in the lessons or grammar, in teaching normal (useful!) Hindi, the writing/sounds part remains stuck in some of these notions, which seem to get passed on in elementary school education and in Hindi manuals. Hindi phonology, paradoxically, is better learned through "Urdu" manuals.
Thanks for taking the time for such a detailed explanation. Very much appreciated.
I don't know if you're a contributor or developer on Duolingo or just another user, but I'll speak as if you are a contributor/developer since if you're not, there's probably one who's following this, and one or two of the following notes are meant for them.
I've heard the claim before that श and ष sound the same, but I didn't buy it then. You've got me convinced. (You sound like you know what you're talking about. :-)) My only minor nit is that us competitive types hate being told we're wrong when we guess wrong on a "what does this sound like?" multiple choice question that includes both श and ष as possible answers.
All whining aside, Duolingo is an awesome tool. I've learned to not get upset by being called wrong in this particular case :-). And FWIW, I'd rather see the developers and contributors prioritize generating new content over refining little things like how to handle the fact that श and ष actually do sound the same. So, thank you for what you've done so far, and keep it up.
FYI, since before discovering Duolingo, I've been using music to help attune my ears to the sounds. I memorize lyrics without knowing what they mean, sing along for a while, and then eventually start working on translating them. My "reference" so to speak for /u/ vs /ū/ as comes from the first two lines of Dil Se Re. The"u" sounds in सूरज and कुछ are distinctly different. I like it as a reference because it's crisp and clear and seems to jive well with other sources. But I'm a Hindi n00b who's only been at this for ~2.5 months. If you're familiar with the song, I'm curious what you think of that choice for a reference. (If you're not familiar, check it out. It's an awesome song. I hope Rahmen starts touring again.)
Thanks for the tip on checking out Urdu sources for phonology. I will.
And speaking of Urdu, I know that Duolingo doesn't do dialects and considers Urdu a dialect, but it'd be great if we could have an alternate learning track in Hindi that lets us use Urdu's Persian-based script. I'd do both learning tracks. Why learn just one language, when you can learn two at the same time?
And again, thanks for the great, detailed response and for addressing everything in my original post.
P.S. Urdu is more than just a "why not?" on my list. I recently worked with remote teams in Chennai, Pune, and Karachi. I felt bad when I couldn't "play with" the guys in Karachi. The world is getting smaller in a lot of good ways, and I'd like to help that along. Learning someone else's language is a great way to do that, if you're up to it.
I'm in agreement that Duolingo is an awesome tool, and reiterate that I think the Hindi team did an amazing job. I'm not a developer, but I followed a lot of the discussions when the course was released in beta.
I went through my own journey of learning Hindi in the 1990s, before such sources were available (I wish they had been!) and struggled over what the different sources were saying. I had some trouble with the script and sounds when learning from books, until I got some help from a teacher for the script. Then I had a breakthrough when I started studying the same language through the Urdu medium. Finally, I studied Punjabi, which has like 80% similarity to Hindi (*I just made up the figure of 80%, ha!). Punjabi is also written in the script of Urdu AND in the Gurmukhi script, which is related to Devanagri but seems to reflect some modern "improvements." Later, after living in India, I became a teacher of Punjabi and part of a project, along with native speakers, to write a textbook on Punjabi. We struggled a lot with how to explain the phonology to non-native learners, and consulted native linguists — grilling them as to what are the actual sounds versus the prescribed sounds. And I participated in conferences/workshops with teachers of South Asian languages at University of Wisconsin and UC Berkeley. This is not to say I have native knowledge of the languages, just to offer my background, in which I saw lots of dialogue between the perspectives of "insiders" and "outsiders." I'm prepared to be wrong about stuff! But that's the perspective of where I come from :)
A rough analogy might be American English spelling (of Webster) vs. British English spelling, where "colour" becomes "color." One realizes that the "u" in "colour" isn't really doing anything. Punjabi's Gurmukhi script, like Urdu's Persian script, eliminates the distinction between the two Sanskritic "sh" sounds. The benefit of knowing about ष is a matter of knowing about the history/etymology, just like knowing "colour" 's French derivation. I.e., it's good to know that ष is attached to the idea of a retroflex version of "sh," found in Sanskrit-based words. What I found on my journey was that Hindi teachers were often reluctant to give up their attachment to the idea of ष "originally" meaning a retroflex sound, and reluctance to acknowledge that speakers of the modern language, Hindi, don't pronounce it any differently. Learners of Urdu and Punjabi, however, don't have this hang-up because when they read in their languages they don't see two different symbols. Also, the characterization of the two "u" vowels as "short and long" persists in instruction and it's even reinforced in Urdu and Punjabi, too, when we transliterate with the symbols "u" and "ū" (because that macron [line of the u] marks so-called "long" vowels). In fact, one could say (I'm on shaky linguistic ground here) that they are actually distinguished as short and long vowels, yet the important thing is that they are also different vowels in terms of mouth-shape (not just length). When kids, native speakers of Hindi, learn script in school, they are taken through this traditional exercise of reciting the vowels, like, "OK, class, repeat after me:
a, aaaaa i, iiiiiiii u, uuuuu " The exercise sets up the vowels as short versus long pairs. This doesn't impair students' Hindi at all because they already know how to speak Hindi :) I guess they just live with the contradiction. Teachers say, students do as they're told, and they go on with their lives!
Yes, those examples from "Dil Se Re" work well.
It would be useful to have at a minimum tips on Devanagari, how vowels are indicated through diacritics and so forth.
Another issue might be more on Duolingo's part, but when you're learning a new script it's probably helpful to be able to see the transliteration more often.
I'm not sure if anyone else had trouble with this, but I just started and I am finding it very difficult to learn the letters because the audio and the transcription of those sounds with Latin letters really do not match up to me. I hear 'uh' but apparently that's 'a', I hear 'puh' but it's written as 'gha', I hear 'tuh' but it's 'ka', etc. so I find that I'm spending most of my time in the quizzes trying to figure out which Latin letters correspond to the sounds instead of actually learning the Devanagari letters. Did anyone else have this problem or have any suggestions?
So do you suspect the audio to be wrong? Or do you just not like the transliteration (not transcription) system? If you saw क, which is transliterated like ka... or which in International Phonetic Alphabet would be transcribed as kə... but you heard "tuh"? Does that mean the audio is wrong, or does that mean you are having trouble with the sound of ka?
I wonder if I can translate this into सीधी-सादी (straightforward, plain) Hindi :-)
बहुत [ख़ुशी] हुई हिन्दी [पाठ] को डुओलिंगो पर देख कर। आशा है कि इसमें जो कमियाँ हैं उन्हें [जल्दी] ही दूर किया जाएगा। [अगर] आपने इस [पाठ] को तैयार करने में [मदद] की हो तो आपसे [विनती] है कि कृपया 'तू' शब्द के स्थान पर 'तुम' का [इस्तेमाल] करने को [बढ़ावा] दें।
Kindly tell me where I go wrong.
Thanks for providing the Tips & Notes.
Will there be Tips & Notes for the Letters 1 - Letters 4 skills, too?
I think it would be helpful to provide an overview of the letters learnt in each skill together with some notes about how diacritics modify a vowel etc.
This would make it easier to learn the letters.
Has anybody noticed that the pronunciations of यह and वह seem to be wrong? Duolingo pronounces them literally as they are written like "yaha" and "vaha". Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was learning a little Hindi before I started on duolingo and I thought they were pronounced yeh and woh. Is this a mistake?
That is discussed in depth in another thread, I'll see if I can link it. The general consensus is that yaha and vaha is the correct traditional pronunciation. However, today, the coloqial pronunciation is "Ye" and "Vo". So feel free to make the correction in your mind, but technically the audio is correct from a "pure Hindi" perspective.
No, there is no consensus of that. You have a few Indian Hindus, who privilege the written word, merely asserting that based on a faulty assumption that Devanagari spellings are sacred and represent what is "proper" or "older." It's like asserting that the "t" should be pronounced in English "often" just because we see it written that way, and assuming it must be there for a reason, and that the reason "must be" that it's older and therefore proper (because older is always more proper right? Well, in India it is).
There are a few topic threads here about how short vowels /a/ and /u/ undergo a change when they occur in the environment of letter ह. The vowel sounds do not correspond to Devanagari letters, and so there is no 1-to-1 phonetic way to write them. Everyone just knows to say kehna (to say), mehel (palace), rehna (to live), shehar (city), etc. The audio / pronunciation on these words is a known flaw in this otherwise excellent course.
I'm surprised to see so many different versions of the letters "ē" and "ai" ("eo", etc.). Coming from a background of Devanagari for Sanskrit, I also haven't seen "e" and "o" with long lines on them ("ē", "ō") before. Are these long lines the standard for Hindi? I know that you can add the anusvara and visarga after any vowel. Is that what is happening with these other versions of "ē"?
What do you mean by different versions? There is only the one /e/ and the one /o/... unless you count the "e" vowel sound that is heard in proximity to ह but which a rigorous transliteration demand we write as /a/.
I think the lines above / macrons are there to make this transliteration friendly in relation to broader discussions of Indic language. They also mark these as "long" vowels in this paradigm:
i (short) vs. ī (long) a (short) vs. ā (long) [hypothetical e ] (short) vs. ē (long) [hypothetical o] short vs. ō long.
In my opinion, there is no need for the lines on those vowels if one is just studying Hindi. They are just being sticklers.
Hello, I would like to make a general suggestion for the Hindi learning app. I recently realized it is quite important to say the phrases out loud while doing the lessons. However, this is challenging when going from English to Hindi as the Hindi words are very difficult to say or hear. I think that if transliterations could be added in the lessons this would improve the Hindi app a lot.
Here's a pdf version of the Hindi Tips and Notes I've been making for myself. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ud-vwI8Yrv0AKUeBUUdxzMSG7wHaRCAu/view?usp=sharing
It looks a little different but the content is the same.