https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hmFBsdRQ

Pronunciation of वह and यह

I spoke with a native speaker, and they say that वह is pronounced as vō rather than vaha and यह is pronounced as yē rather than yaha, and states that people do not pronounce the words like how the tts is pronouncing it. Is this a mistake on the TTS or some sort of perscribed sanskritised pronunciation or something?

September 7, 2018

15 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/stephen_zissou

I grew up speaking Hindi (learning from my parents) and have spoken to friends, relatives, etc, my whole life. I also have seen countless movies and TV shows, visited India, etc. I had no idea that "ye" and "vo" would be spelled "yaha" and "vaha" until I learned how to read Devanagari. In Urdu script, they are not written that way, they are written "ye" and "vo," essentially.

Since being more aware of this, I have heard the "yaha" and "vaha" pronunciations, but only in very self-aware and "hyper-correct" contexts.

My advice: be aware of the variation, but you yourself should always say "ye" and "vo," since that's how almost everyone speaks in almost every situation.

September 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Salp_

No its not any sanskritised pronunciation. वह (singular) वे (plural) यह (singular) ये (plural) वो is a colloquialism, much like saying "मेरेको", "आप क्या कर रहे हो". They're perfectly fine and accepted for conversational purposes, but not for formal grammatically correct Hindi.

September 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hmFBsdRQ

Well I talked with the speaker again, they told me that the "vaha" and "yaha" pronunciations are wrong, to be fair the speaker says they speak urdu rather than hindi and is literate in urdu rather than hindi. Are there some dialects that pronounce it as "vaha" and "yaha"?

Would that also mean that बहन/बहिन would pronounced literally as /bəɦən/ or /bəɦɪn/ rather than /bɛɦɛn/ and कहना would be pronounced as /kəɦənaː/ rather than /kɛɦɛnaː/, and कह would be pronounced as /kəɦ(ə)/ rather than /kɛɦ/ in formal hindi?

I am more interested in learning colloquial hindi or urdu than learning formal sanskritised hindi.

September 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedHindi

In common spoken language voh and ye are used. If you are speaking formally you would say yaha (pronounced yuh-huh) and vaha. There is actually a linguistic rule that has to do with the pronunciation of बहन. If you break down this word all the letters are ब-अ-ह-अ-न. If there is an अ before and after a ह then the second अ is pronounced almost like an इ i.e. बहन (buh-hen) रहना (ruh-hena) कहना (kuh-hena). If there is any other combination of vowels then you pronounce the vowels as they should be i.e चाहना (cha-huna). BTW do not mistake my use of h as aspiration, I’m just trying to romanize in a way that could give correct pronunciation.

September 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RanzoG

ye and vo are in fact the correct pronunciations. What happened was that Hindustani (as the language was known before fracturing into the constructs of "Urdu" and "Hindi") was proliferated as a wide-ranging lingua franca, and it's main medium of writing was the Arabic script. Arabic script has some idiosyncrasies in spelling; it is not always intuitive how one should spell certain words/sounds, especially vowels at the ends of words. The Arabic script spelling, which includes a type of "h" letter, was transliterated verbatim to Devanagari. وہ > वह Everyone knew this was pronounced "vo," but after some point, some people got it in their heads that one must pronounce Hindi exactly how it is spelled in Devanagari. I speculate this has something to do with imagining "Hindi" to trace back to some ancient Sanskrit ideal, which can never be wrong; Hindi can only be a de-evolution or a degraded version... older must be better, so it goes. Deviation signifies degradation in this thinking, and people falsely conclude that the spelling Devanagari represents an "original" and therefore more proper. People are in denial. They need to accept that Devanagari is not a type of alternate-dimension IPA (international phonetic alphabet) and it is not 100% consistent.

This is one of the weird effects created by the artificial concepts of "Urdu" and "Hindi." Another effect is all the confusion between न and ण, श and ष, where people who come from the bias of Sanskrit-centric education swear that they are pronounced differently in modern standard Hindi. I know I'm hurting some feelings here, so I'll stop. Everybody probably hates me now, so be it. But learners of the Hindi language who don't have anything invested in this stuff, who just want to learn the language as it is, deserve to be accurately informed. The issue of "h" affecting vowel sounds is been addressed in several other threads, if you scroll down a bit.

September 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Salp_

Hindi is a language that has develeped with many influences from other languages like Persian, Arabic, Portugese and now even English, and that's what makes it so beautiful. Nobody is out here claiming that Sanskrit is the best ancient ideal but you have to standardise the language and find vocabulary to express complex ideas somehow. Nobody is out here claiming Devnagri to be the best thing since sliced bread but it's definitely a better writing system for Hindustani. Nastaleeq, although extremely beautiful and artistic, does dismally in accurately representing the sounds in any Indo-Aryan language. In Nastaleeq i won't know weather I'm looking at a "tam" or "tum", "main" or "mein", "mati" or "mitti". Even Latin is a beter and more accurate script for Hindustani than Nastaleeq. Brahmi scripts are best suited for the Indo-Aryan languages, whether it's Gurmukhi for Punjabi, the Gujarati script for Gujarati, Modi for Marathi, Eastern Nagri for Bengali, Sharda for Kashmiri, etc. Not only the Indians have chosen to leave the Arabic script, even the Turks and Indonesians have foregone that script. There are even some calls in Pakistan inspired by Kemalism to standardise the Latin script and use it officially to write Urdu.

As far as न और ण go, differentiating their pronunciations is not some hogwash people are trying to pull from Sanskrit to devolve the language. If you have any idea about the linguistic landscape of northern India you'd know very well that these sounds do exist. Some dialects prefer ण, some न, and others use a combination - which standard Hindi does. Even the Nastaleeq variant used to write Punjabi (shahmukhi) sometimes includes a letter for ण. The variant of the Arabic script used to write Sindhi and Seraiki also includes a letter to represent this sound. (ڻ)

September 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RanzoG

You miss the point. I offered an idea of why people persist in imagining pronunciations for Hindi based off of Devanagari spelling, despite the actual way people, without such affectations, pronounce. You have not spoken to that. "No one is saying"? There are people all over these discussion boards that keep claiming that /vah/ and /yah/ pronounced as such are the "proper," the "original," or the "Sanskrit" pronunciations. Why is it, do you think, they believe that?

Yes, I know the sound of retroflex N exists. I speak Punjabi. It's irrelevant to Hindi, in which न and ण are allophones.

Off topic: "Shahmukhi" with the two dots over the nūn is a fantasy of recent Punjabi language promoters, generally Indian Gurmukhi using academic-types who are trying to effect a unified front with Pakistani allies. It's an admirable idea, but as more everyday stuff is being written in Punjabi Arabic script it looks that the use of that new letter has not succeeded.

September 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RedHindi

I have only been learning for a 19 months now, but I am pretty devoted. As a learner who speaks to people from all over India and Pakistan I find you both correct. I very much enjoy hearing each of your perspective because it gives me a deeper insight into the language. I will say this, when speaking to Urdu speakers, they have no problem with how I speak. In fact, they often claim that I am not speaking Hindi, but Urdu rather. When speaking to "country" Hindi speakers who claim to speak "pure" Hindi, they have many issues with how I speak. They would never say शुक्रिया only धन्यवाद. This idea of "pure" Hindi has caused a lot of frustration to me because most people are not from the "country," they are from the "city." Yet, many apps and learning tools hang on to this idea of "pure" Hindi. One app I was using tells you to pronounce सोलह as so-luh-huh along with any other word that ends in ह, including of course वह and यह. When discussing the pronunciation of numbers 11-18 this pronunciation was ridiculous to even single native speaker I have talked with, including those from the "country." This is where my frustration comes into play. No learner in the entire planet wants to learn this so called "pure" Hindi. Instead, we want to learn spoken polite Hindi. In my opinion, I think it's good to be educated on both, but the bulk of your learning should focus on spoken Hindi and tools that only focus on "pure" Hindi should be avoided.

September 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hmFBsdRQ

The thing is, न and ण are allophones in hindi/urdu. Does the native language of the people of Uttar Pradesh have the retroflex nasal? It is in those languages you mention that they have that sound, not in hindustani. But there is no harm in pronouncing it as a retroflex nasal. I mean the sounds (ز), (خ), (غ), (ق), are foreign sounds to hindustani from Persian, and not everyone uses them, but there is no harm in using these sounds and you can use them, like the retroflex n.

In languagers like Bengali, the sounds श, ष, and स are pronounced the same if I recall correctly, along with न and ण, even though they are written differently in their script, though bengali when compared to hindi is even less accurate in terms of pronunciation to the written language.

September 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Salp_

I feel people here are looking to start fights with the whole Hindi-Urdu controversy. Its a controversy that has been brewing for centuries and you're not going to convince anyone of your viewpoint. Nothing is black and white in the linguistic landscape of the Indian subcontinent. If you came to learn Hindi then that's what you're doing. If you're not interested in learning the sounds and higher vocabulary of Hindi then why bother? If you're looking for something purely conversational and don't want to use proper grammar and vocabulary - simply go learn Hinglish, or better yet just stick with English because that is used as a prestige language and common communicative language by the urban youth of India and Pakistan.

Whats even more absurd is that people are seeing the Hindi-Urdu controversy where it really isn't present, like in this situation with "wah" "vaha" "yah" and "ye". Even formal written Urdu makes the distinction وہ وے یہ یے The Hindi-Urdu issue begins pervading the language at the level of higher vocabulary which is used in the literary language forms only. Pronunciation of common words remains uniform throughout both registers.

It really isn't that deep.

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ted815429

Vo and ye are the proper pronunciations in Urdu. In Hindi, they are informal but very common.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RanzoG

Given that "Urdu" and "Hindi" are mere situational variations of the same language (once called Hindustani), why do you suppose that there is a group of people speaking this language "Urdu" and another group "Hindi" who say two of the most common/essential words differently?

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ted815429

In the language as actually spoken by common people, there is no difference. Both groups (Urdu speakers and Hindi speakers) say vo and ye.

The difference is that written Hindi preserves an older form of the words (vaha and yaha), and hence these older forms are considered “proper” by educated Hindi-speakers, even though the common speech doesn’t use them.

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RanzoG

But why do you think these are the older forms, rather than just the SPELLINGS? Urdu is also spelling as vah, but everyone knows the pronunciation is vo. Just like spelling of "palace" is mahal but we say mehel or "speak" is kahna whereas we say kehna or "sister" is spelled bahan but we say behan. In every case where the word has short vowel but is spelled with H, we must remember to pronounce the vowel differently. These "educated" people are looking at the spelling and treating it as if it is more "proper" to pronounce it literally. We know in English that in the word "bought" we don't say the "gh" part... People reading in Urdu medium understand that there is a spelling and then there is pronunciation. Why is it that these "educated" people using Hindi (Devanagari) medium think that they have to pronounce every letter and that makes it more correct?

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ted815429

The ah->eh change is quite regular and predictable in Hindi, but vaha->vo is not regular. Maybe that’s why grammarians insist on pronouncing vaha like vaha, and maybe yaha stays as yaha for symmetry.

In any case, Urdu and Hindi have distinct literary traditions, and even though they are the same language in the informal register, you shouldn’t expect them to be the same in the formal register.

September 20, 2018
Learn Hindi in just 5 minutes a day. For free.