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Is Urdu spelling more phonetic than Hindi spelling?

from the few words i know in both Hindi and Urdu, Urdu seems a bit more phonetic, but i might be getting confused by the romanisations of Hindi being a bit arbitrary? I'm Australian and i've only been learning Urdu and Hindi for a few months, slowly with a lot of tangents.

from what i have learned so far i'm getting the impression that the pronunciation varies more within languages than between them? e.g. maybe Hindi speakers in Ludhiana and Urdu speakers over the border in Lahore sound more like each other than speakers of the same language in Hyderabad? But the standard pronunciations are similar between the languages, while the differences are more in vocabulary like bhasa vs zaban?

...and if the pronunciation is similar, the words i know in both seem to be more phonetic in Urdu.

e.g. the word ایک एक (a/an/one) is transliterated as "ek" in Hindi and everything tells me ए is like e... but the Urdu looks more like "aik" and they seem to use a mix of "ek" and "aik" when writing it in the Latin alphabet. But the pronunciation in duolingo's Hindi course sounds much more like "aik" than "ek"? the audio for एक sounds kind of like the English word "ache", but "ek" looks like it would sound like the beginning of "eccentric".

I'm not sure if this means Hindi spellings are weird, or just that the transliteration of Devanagari is a bit arbitrary?

There's lots of long threads on how वह or وہ‎ looks like it ends in a vowel but usually is said with one vowel?

the Urdu وہ could be read a lot of way وَه vah وِه veh وُهُ voho وَهِ vahe وُه voh وَهَ vaha وِهِ vihi ... and others (not quite sure i'm right on the diacritics, and lazily using Arabic ه because diacritics don't work on my Urdu keyboard) ... but it's kind of a known unknown, while वह looks like it unambiguously says vaha ... but doesn't?

the vowels are particularly confusing, the only one that really fits for me is आ ा the long A ... i guess ि ी ो in Hindi हिन्दी and Modi मोदी make sense... but all the "e" ones have me baffled... and i think maybe in the course those ones i just mentioned aren't just i and o... but now i've got myself confused...

Vowels vary hugely between English dialects so possibly the Hindi Romanisations are based on a dialect that's not like mine? But wouldn't they have come from UK English, which is fairly close to Australian English, particularly in my mild accent (i sound nothing like Steve Irwin). I put a more realistic, less stereotypical, example of Australian English in the comments.

April 18, 2020



since English dialects vary so much, here's an example of what mine sounds like for an idea of how i think letters sound. A video with lots of different examples of Australian English, since international depictions don't sound like much like anyone i know. (the presenter at the desk was born in the UK, but moved here only a year after i was born here) https://youtu.be/4xfwMhSWWuo


I am Pakistani so I know urdu but I have never heard of a or an to be aik


Do not trust duolingo that much because when I was doing Spanish it had many mistakes in it so. It could be wrong what they teach you


well, i'm fairly convinced it's wrong for वह there's about six threads on that... but it seems weird that एक would sound like the Urdu spelling by mistake?

i've never noticed any errors in the German, and in English it seems to only mess up things that are spelled the same but should sound different. Apparently the Arabic on here is a messy mixture of international standard and Egyptian local dialect.

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