Friday, January 27, 2012

kya meri hindi itni kharaab hai

I am slowly (comfortably) learning Hindi. That means, I am not studying, just having fun picking up words and phrases, listening to music and watching Bollywood films. I want to understand the basics, so I have some books, software and MP3 files. The other day, I was asked if I have ever thought about using Rosetta Stone software. Well, I have Rosetta Stone software installed. I am not the biggest fan.

I stopped using Rosetta Stone early on in my learning days. It hates my accent, which is more my problem than its, but was frustrating to work around. I also did not find the exercises engaging. "Writing" in Hindi using the keyboard was a bit painful as well.

But, I was recently asked, so I tried it again. After returning to it after all this time, and knowing more Hindi now than then, I was surprised to learn a lot of the training is simply wrong. Yes, incorrect. Maybe you learn something, enough to build on, but you aren't going to properly learn the language.

Incorrect Spelling

Let us take a look at two sentences used to teach basic Hindi.

Incorrect Hindi
bura hindi

Where to begin? The "boy" is reading, then he is running. But, the first word of each sentence is not boy. The second word in each sentence, the verb, are not words at all, that I can tell. And, the last word is not "hai", which is है and not ह .

Now, For Some English

Let us increase our Hindi vocabulary. Repeat after me. In English, "sandwich". In Hindi, "sandwich". In English, "pen". In Hindi, "pen". What? Maybe the software uses the same vocabulary exercises for every language and sandwich in some other language is different and good to know. Maybe if you say "pen" in Timbuktu people help you look for a lost dog. Or, it could be that these words are chosen just for you to see Devanagari script. I don't understand. But, we are right back to inaccuracy, regardless. Pen could be क़लम , but if they really wanted to stick with pen, I would have written it पेन . The rest of the list is just baffling to me: car, cycle (bicycle), bread and coffee?

I hope tea is chai

Back to movies for me! Tonight? तीस मार ख़ान (Tees Maar Khan). And, back to the dictionaries.

Wrong way to learn Hindi
Bouncing between dictionaries is not a good way to learn Hindi


  1. Nice blog and nice to see someone make an effort learning Hindi. I hate to be that guy but लड़का is the correct word for boy. And the other words पढ़ and दौड़ are valid Hindi words meaning study and run respectively.

    Also Hindi uses many Loan words taken from English. Sandwich, pen, coffee are used as is in Hindi.

    Perhaps participating in an online forum like will accelerate the learning process for you.

    1. Thank you for your post, and I agree with you. लड़का is definitely the word for boy, yet that is not what the software displays. They have लडका , which is not the same. I shall also check out the link you submitted.

  2. In my quest to learn Swedish, I initially used Rosetta Stone and found it useless in actually helping keep my motivation at learning Swedish and made it feel more like a chore and one that wasn't very good for it either. This was at least one generation of the software ago, so I don't know what it is like now, but one of the problems was that Swedish wasn't a primary language for Rosetta Stone and therefore, you got some basic vocabulary (pen, dog, cat, boy, girl, walk, dance), but didn't get to the meat that was interesting.

    My approach has been to focus on reading first and move on to radio and television (although the latter is a little harder since I've been too lazy to find a proxy so I can use outside of sweden). I've always enjoyed world news, so it was fortunate to find a simplified swedish news site that allowed me to get starting and work on improving my vocabulary until I could move up to more mainstream sites (and blogs). I've also done similar things with podcasts.

    I contrast this with the four+ years of German I had in highschool/college where I managed to maintain only a little that was initially helpful when learning Swedish. The big difference is that the Internet makes using the language regularly much easier.

    Enjoy your bollywood!