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Colloquial Hindi : Tej K. Bhatia


  11:17:43 pm, by Nimble   , 549 words  
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Colloquial Hindi : Tej K. Bhatia

Link: http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0415110874/thecerealkill-20

I have always found books on the Indian/Pakistani language to be close to insufferable. They always take the training wheels off too fast, leaving you spinning in mid-air wondering in Chapter 4 what all these words are supposed to be. In short, they seldom feel like they were written for English speakers actually learning Hindi. I have six or so books (mostly on Hindi, but one on Panjabi and another on Bengali), and they're all like that.

This was the book that finally got me past whatever mental block it was preventing me from getting past the beginnings of these books. As a matter of fact, I managed to get all the way to the end of the book, which is something I can claim for maybe one or two language books.

In a way, the book has the opposite problem, if you wish to call it that. In some ways, it keeps the training wheels on too long. Hindi script is present in the vocabularies, but the conversations are in Romanized script. I found it works just fine - you can go into the script units near the end and play in devangari if you want to.

What I found really works in here is Bhatia's style: sweeping, general rules are explained in ways you can really get your hands on, and without overcomplicating the issue. One thing I always appreciate in books as well is a literal word-for-word translation as well as what the entire sentence means - it gives me a better feel for the language than oodles of explanations.

Some of Bhatia's explanations are amusing, as well, but the best one by far is 'nerd nouns' for nouns without a long a or i ending. It takes until the next chapter to find out that postpositions like ke liye (for, in order to) can affect words that come before it, often changing long a or long i to e (the technique term for this is called the "oblique case"). Bhatia calls them "peer pressure words". Not all nouns succumb to this "peer pressure". Can you guess which one? If you guessed the "nerd nouns", give yourself a bindi :)

This book does suffer from the Missing Vocabulary Syndrome so many other language books do, unfortunately. You can do well without it (I did), but it's irritating; a small Hindi-English dictionary may help.

The best thing I can say for this book is that, after having read it, I don't understand what was so hard when I was trying to learn Hindi before, and that is the sign of a good book :)

If you're trying to break into Hindi, or even its relatives, I'd highly recommend this book.

(I went back to look at the Bengali book I have to see if my accusations stand - my god, do they ever! No vocabulary in the lessons themselves - you have to look it up in the back - after you 'learn the alphabet', you get totally thrown into the script while you're learning the lessons with no transliteration, so you have to guess what vowels are dropped and look up conjuncts - combined characters - in a big table near the end of the book, and conversations disproportionate in size to what's being explained. No *wonder* I used to think I'd have an aneurism! :) )

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