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How do you learn Hindi vowels?

I'm a native Polish speaker and the Hindi vowels are indistinguishable to me... Especially a and ā, u and ō I hear the same sound. Has anyone overcome such an obstacle in Hindi?

November 27, 2019



Wislanka, I'm passionate about languages, accents in particular, and I think I might be able to help you. Drop me a line on [removed email since it was only meant for Wislanka] if you are interested. I would love to be able to teach a Polish person how to distinguish between a and ā, u and ō in Hindi. I won't charge you anything, I promise, though of course it would be wonderful if you could let me know what you think of my Polish pronunciation. I've been working hard on it.

EDIT: I forgot to say that I'm bilingual in English and Bengali and spent my early teens in New Delhi where I learnt some Hindi and Sanskrit.


My understanding is that the different between short a and long a is how long you spend on the vowel. I’m actually learning Hindi myself! As far as o goes, o is the combination of a and u to give you and o sound..as you can see It is also short, but the au sound is just a meter longer.


You're right about अ/'a' and आ/'ā' in that the first is short and the second is long.

However, ओ/'o' is not the combination of 'a' and 'u'. In fact, there are no diphthongs in Hindi. Even औ/'au' whose romanization suggests a diphthong is not one. (This romanization is because of the pronunciation of the letter in Sanskrit where it is a diphthong).

अ/'a' is a short vowel like the 'a' in alert and आ/'ā' is a long vowel like in 'far'. It's actually easier to hear the difference in words than when the vowels are sounded in isolation.
Similarly, 'u'/उ is short like the 'u' in puss and ū/ऊ is long like the 'oo' in 'boots'.
The vowel ओ/'ō' is not very common in most varieties of English where it's realised as a diphthong. It's basically the first of the two vowels that make up 'o' in 'so' but lengthened.

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