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what's the difference between त ت ط and ट ٹ ?

i'm not sure i've matched up the Hindi and Urdu letters right?

the question is mainly about ٹ whatever that corresponds to, though if that sound is a perfectly average English T, then what are the others?

i keep finding ट ٹ described as a "retroflexed T" with the IPA symbol ʈ [T with a tail if that doesn't display properly]

but an Urdu speaking friend says this is inaccurate.

Also that retroflexed T is a sound that doesn't happen in most dialects of English but i keep seeing examples or common words like "art" or "carts" as having the sound.

Though, one wikipedia page said the retroflexed T happens in Indian dialects of English. Maybe it's like that in Hindi but not Urdu?

i said maybe it was a regional variation in pronunciation, Urdu friend reckons wikipedia is just wrong about retroflexed T, but i have found it in a few other sources since.?

Also, ت and ط are completely different in Arabic, but they are pretty much identical in Urdu?

January 17, 2020

1 Comment


The problem here is that native speakers of some languages hear certain sounds as being similar while speakers of other languages don't.

ट is pronounced as retroflex. However, to a Hindi/Urdu speaker, the English 't' sound sounds exactly like ट (or its aspirated version ठ).
Some Indian English speakers use the retroflex pronunciation in English too but others use the retroflex pronunciation in Hindi and make the sound by touching their tongue to the alveolar ridge (a sound which is absent in Hindi) to make the English 't' sound. This makes for a rather interesting phenomenon where they may pronounce the same word in two different ways while code-switching between English and Hindi but don't realise it. Some younger people who were exposed to Indian English before Hindi may also use the alveolar sound instead of the retroflex sound for ट.
The same is true for ड and 'd'.

त is pronounced by touching your tongue to the teeth. Hindi/Urdu speakers perceive this to be a totally different sound than the English 't' (except when followed by an 'h' in words like 'thin' when it is perceived to be the aspirated version of त which is थ). However, non-subcontinental English speakers don't distinguish between dental and alveolar sounds and hear त as the English 't' sound while perceiving ट to be different.
The same is true for द.

I don't know the Nastaliq script so can't comment on the letters but I can tell you that what I've said holds true for spoken Urdu as much as it does for Hindi.

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