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Acha! Mutlub? Hindi words

week 27, Episode 54

There are some words in the Hindi language that you'll notice quite quickly once you start listening to the people speaking in it. These words are repeated from one conversation to another and are useful to get familiar with.

Let's start with the essence of the Hindi culture encoded in the language—honoring the elder. This is simply done by adding the particle जी (jee) after a name/last name of a person, his/her status, or even after a name of groups or inanimate objects of respect.

Another little detail—words for "yes" and "no" in Hindi. Normally, you use हाँ (ha) with the vowel sound being nasal for a positive answer and नहीं (nah-hee), also with the last vowel sound being nasal, for a negative one. When someone is very eager to agree with you and repeats the Hindi "yes" several times, it sounds pretty much as a laughter: हाँ-हाँ! (ha ha). Makes me smile every time :)

By the way, you can make your "yes" or "no" more polite if you add that जी (jee) particle, but for these two cases before, and not after, the actual word: जी हाँ (jee ha)—polite "yes", जी नहीं—polite "no".

Let's talk more about this letter ह (ha) for a moment. It is interesting because just by adding necessary diacritics, the letter turns into different words, exactly into forms of the verb to be: हूं (hoo, with a nasal vowel sound) for "am", हैं (heh, with a nasal vowel sound) for "are", है (heh, with no nasal sounds) for "is". Yes, the dot above makes all the difference.

I like to call these two last symbols "tarakashka", which in Russian is a funny way to say "cockroach", because, well, God knows why, it looks like a sneaky cockroach to me with its antennas on the top.

As a verb in a Hindi sentence normally appears at the end, you would hear a lot of heh and hoo when somebody is sayng things like "this is that" and "that is this" and "I am something".

Another word you'll hear a lot in Hindi is अच्छा (ah-chah). Though it sounds as a sneezing, literally it means "good", but with different intonation may indicate surprise, agreement, understanding and, sure, praise. So you can use it also as "OK", "I see", "I got it."

Often, when a Hindi-speaking person does not understand what has been said, he/she will ask "मतलब?" (Mut-lub?), i.e. "Meaning?", which is a request for clarification.

The last thing I wanted to make clear is the symbol of OM, or OHM, or AUM. It actually has different ways of pronunciation, depending on the religion you are related to or the language you speak. You can probably recognize this symbol:

This is the way it looks for the Hindi language—a ligature of the letter ओ (o) and the diacritical mark ँ called chandrabindu (literaly, "moon dot")that indicates the vowel's nasalization. The sound can be written as ओं (o, nasal), or ओम् (om), or औं (au, nasal), or ॐ which is a symbol on its own.

Note that generally speaking Buddhists use oṃ (short o sound) whereas Hindus use auṃ (long au). They sound similar, and nobody pronounces it as written anyway.

At this point, I hope you got the idea of what Hindi is about and how Devanagari looks like and works. As for me, I feel strong connection with this language, though I can't explain it in any logical way. If Hindi evokes some राब्ता (rubtah) in you, consider watching Hindi movies with English subtitles—that's a total treat!

I am up to a new leg of the Langventure and excited to welcome you all to join me! 

शुभ कामनाएँ! (Shoob-kh kamnayei!) Good luck!

" I'm acha and I know it! Put your like!"

Discover more about Hindi and other languages at!

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