Pronouncing वह and यह
I think I am a nearly fluent Hindi speaker, but the pronunciation of वह and यह in Duolingo is confusing me. I came to Duolingo to learn to read and write Hindi, and I was always taught that वह was pronounced voh or woe and यह was pronounced like yeh or yah. However, in Duolingo, they are pronounced vaha and yaha, respectively. That just sounds wrong to me. Anyone else think this? Is the spelling just incongruent with the pronunciation of these words in Hindi?
You are right that the most common pronunciations are 'yeh' and 'voh'. This sort of discrepancy between spelling and pronounciation is common in words involving the letter ह. For example, महल is pronounced mehel, छह is pronounced cheh and so on.
The justification behing Duolingo going for the literal pronunciations 'yaha' and 'vaha' seems to be that they are more 'formal'. Personally, I remain unconvinced though.
There has been a lot of discussion of this since Hindi course was launched, and I agree with you. We seem to be "stuck" with the unusual, "literal" pronunciations that Duo provides. My argument has always been that there is, in fact, no incongruity between spelling and (correct) pronunciation. The pronunciation you know IS indeed the correct pronunciation, and we have to understand that that is rendered in such a way in writing. The Duo pronunciation is not actually the literal pronunciation -- it is a misconception that doesn't account for the spelling rules of Hindi having to do with letter ह.
That being said.. all this is really a problem for people who don't already know the pronunciation of Hindi. Since you already know the pronunciation, you have no excuse :) You're here to learn to read. The writing is there in front of you and there should be no reason for confusing यह and यहां, no matter how Duo pronounces them.