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Two identical sounds in Hindi.

There are two identical sounds in the Hindi syllabary/alphabet - both sound like 'sh' - I'm afraid I am unable to type the transliteration on my keyboard. So is there anyway to distinguish them and so get the answers right first time?

November 6, 2018



I assume you are referring to श and ष. I grew up speaking Hindi but did not learn to read/write Hindi until much later, and from my perspective, there is no difference between these sounds in Hindi. I can't tell which letter to use by sound alone.

Some very proper or traditional people will say there are differences in sound, because in Sanskrit, the sounds are indeed different. But not in Hindi, not really.

The rule that has worked for me is: almost always use श and you'll be fine. In any word of Arabic, Persian, or English origin, you want श. I also think most native Hindi words use श.

ष , the other hand, will be used only in some words of Sanskrit origin. So you will see it in names like Rishi, Santosh, Harsh, Vishnu, Krishna. You will see it in "kosh"/"shabdkosh" ("dictionary").

If you don't know, err on the side of श. Hope that helps!


Thank you Stephen, that is indeed most helpful. I'm still working through the letters, so for now, it's 'hit and miss' - but then, once I get onto basics, etc, I should be able to make a judgment. Many thanks.


Okay, so if this was happening a year ago and it's still the same today, it's not going to get fixed. Just accept, Robert.


Do you mean ⟨ś⟩ and ⟨ṣ⟩? So apparently ⟨ś⟩ is [ʃ] which is the sound you usually find in english for /sh/ like in /shoe/. ⟨ṣ⟩ is [ʂ] and doesn't occur in English but is the /sh/ sound you get while your tongue is rolled back in your mouth. I haven't been able to hear a difference between the two with Duolingo's audio though.


I am also confused with this two word. (Şa and Śa)


As far as I can tell there is no way to distinguish them so that you will get it right first time. It is driving me nuts as I have finished the whole course and am just doing practice exercises at the moment. The questions requiring me to identify श and ष keep coming up all the time in the practice sessions, because of course I keep making mistakes as it is only guesswork. This needs to be fixed!

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