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Any good references on Hindi alternate spellings?

Duolingo is the most important tool in my Hindi-learning toolbox, but it's not the only one. And I often use various other Internet resources.

इसलिए, I keep getting exposed to alternate spellings such as "इसलिए", which was accepted when I typed it, even though Duolingo expected "इसलिये".

In Hindi, I've seen:

  • using "ए" in place of "ये" (e.g. "इसलिए" on Wiktionary vs "इसलिये" on Duolingo)
  • dropping a nuqta (़) ("खुशबू" vs "ख़ुशबू")
  • using anusvara (ं) vs candrabindu (ँ) ("मंगलवार" vs "मँगलवार")

Usually, when there are accepted alternate spellings for something, it's because different groups of people have their preferred way, but they each accept the other's. Examples in English include British "colour", "realise", "centre" vs American "color", "realize", "center".

But sometimes, differences are simply colloquial. I'd like to learn the difference.

Does anyone know of good resources that take a stand on what's right or wrong? Formal or colloquial? Regional differences?

I've found one page: https://blogs.navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/aalim-sir-ki-hindi-class/aalim-sir-hindi-class-12-on-gayee-and-gai/ . But it's in Hindi, and reading it is a challenge.

January 14, 2020


  1. The alternate spellings ए/ये and ई/यी (and even ओ/वो/यो) are due to pronunciation differences (both regionally and based on individual choice). Some people really don't like pronouncing two vowels one after the other in Hindi (remember that Hindi does not have diphthongs) which is why they insert the य/व consonant in between. Others find the pronunciation without inserting the consonant as more natural. So, both spellings are in vogue even in writing.
    I mostly agree with the blog you posted on this subject (thanks for sharing btw). When two alternate forms are equally popular, policing one as 'correct' is a pointless endeavour. That said, I was taught in school that when both the forms exist, the one without the consonant is the 'officially recognised' spelling (Option 2 in the blog) though I've never verified this (Edit: Just checked on the rajbhasha website that alfredo_555 linked above and this seems to be true). I have also seen Option 3 in the blog being quoted a lot where the spelling with the consonant is used when the singular masculine form has a या and the spelling without the consonant otherwise.

  2. The nuqta (with the exception of the letters ड़ and ढ़) is used to represent sounds which are foreign to Hindi. These are mostly found in words borrowed from Persian/Arabic or European languages. As a result, a lot of native Hindi speakers find it difficult to pronounce them correctly and revert to the nearest native sound (ie, the letter without the nuqta). This is reflected in spelling too. So, dropping the nuqta is mostly colloquial usage.
    Also, the tolerance for nuqta dropping is different for different letters. You will see the nuqta retained in फ़ and ज़ much more often than in क़, ख़ and ग़ (Use of these letters in English may have something to do with this)
    Another point to mention is that Urdu (Hindi's twin language) which uses an Arabic-derived script represents all these nuqta-letters as totally different characters. So, the tendency to drop the nuqta is also related to how exposed a person is to Urdu speakers.
    (As an aside, some Hindi speakers also tend to overcompensate with the nuqta. If a word sounds Persian/Arabic, they will use क़/ग़ even if it's supposed to be क/ग)
    Note: ड़ and ढ़ are native to Hindi (though not to Sanskrit which is why they don't have their own Devanagari characters). These nuqtas should never be dropped.

  3. मँगलवार is incorrect.
    The anusvaar stands for the insertion of a nasal consonant with the same place of articulation as the consonant that follows it while the anunaasik (chandrabindu) stands for vowel nasalisation. When there is no place above the top line for the moon-dot symbol, the dot is used in place of the moon-dot but it is still understood that it is the anunaasik.
    Usually, the anusvaar is present in words borrowed directly from Sanskrit to Hindi while the anunaasik is present in words native to Hindi (which may be derived from a Sanskrit word with the anusvaar). So, you may sometimes see pairs of words meaning the same thing but one using the anusvaar and the other the anunaasik.
    As for pronunciation variations, the anusvaar is almost always pronounced correctly (as a nasal consonant). Some people pronounce the anunaasik in certain words (when it occurs in the middle of a word rather than the end) as an anusvaar so you may sometimes see a dot where a moon-dot is expected.


Well worth the 10 lingots. बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद !

Edit The 10 lingots were based on a quick skim. :-) Now that I've taken the time to read this, it's great stuff. Thank you again for taking the time and for the thoroughness. 5 more lingots. I'm sure that you can use them. :-P


Interesting point you raise here. I found this site from the department of official language of India. They seem to have some interesting glossaries there.


Thanks for the blog, it seems interesting and certainly a challenge to read.


challenge to read

Yeah, especially when you let Google translate the page for you, and it folds all the multiple alternate spellings back into the same one English word. :-)


And thanks also for your reference. I'm combing through it now.


Thanks for the question, the same thing puzzles me as well.

I would add another set of alternate spelling I've come across:

anusvara vs ligature as in हिंदी vs हिन्दी


The anusvaar stands for the nasal consonant of the same family as the consonant that follows it. When it stands for न, म and to a lesser extent ण, forms with the anusvaar and conjunct consonant are equally popular. When it stands for ङ or ञ, the form with the anusvaar is almost always used because these letters are rare in Hindi on their own.

The official stand is that the spelling with the anusvaar should be preferred over the one with the conjunct. However, this is only true for native Hindi words and words borrowed from Sanskrit. For foreign words which are popularly written using the anusvaar (like इंडिया), the recommendation is to drop the practice. This is because such words may be transliterated differently causing confusion. For example, India is sometimes transliterated इन्डिया to be closer to the English pronunciation while the anusvaar dictates that it should be इण्डिया.

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