confusion over the pronunciation of two devanagari letters.
During my lessons it gave me an audio cue for a "sh" sound. 2 of the options i had to choose from was श and ष. as i moused over them both i got the same audio sample so i had a 50/50 chance of getting it wrong. Is it really the same audio sample? does anyone have any advice on how to avoid this?
श and ष do represent two different sounds: श is a palato-alveolar fricative while ष is a retroflex fricative. Basically, श is "English sh" (as in "shape") and ष is "Russian sh" (ш). That said, people often, if not always, pronounce both of them as श. This might have to do with the absence of word pairs in Hindi that differ only with respect to one of the two sh-sounds (such word pairs are called minimal pairs) and the fact that श is the easier one to pronounce. Nevertheless careful speakers like myself do pronounce the two differently.
Since the audio samples in this course aren't helpful in discerning them, you can make use of the fact that ष occurs in way fewer words than श and try to memorize the words containing ष as you come across them (there won't be many of them). It's just a matter of getting used to and you'll have it down in no time.
as a russian learner as well, i know the ш sound. so that was a helpful hint! thank you!
Saw the flag near your username so thought of using an example from Russian ;). Glad to help.
As far as I understand, there are three "s"-like sounds represented by the symbols "स", "श" and "ष" (BTW, they are represented by a single button on the iOS Hindi keyboard). The first one (स) gives the regular "s" sound like in "Sun"; The second one (श) gives the "sh" sound also known in English, like in "SHame"; The sound for last one (ष) doesn't exist in English, though. One pronounces it like "sh", but with the tongue curled backwards, so that its tip touches the roof of the mouth, but further than for the "sh" sound. मैं हिंदी नहीं बोलता हूँ, so this may not be a 100% accurate description, but this is how people teach this sound online, including YouTube, so one can listen to the three of them to feel the difference. I have to admit, the Duonlingo audio for these two sounds is confusing for me as well.
I wasn't sure if they were exactly the same audio file, or just that I am unable to distinguish the difference. The effect is the same of course. I just had to guess and sometimes I was right and sometimes I was wrong. I don't think it is really a useful exercise.