September 7, 2010 | Hindi
Hindi Writing Lessons
On Hindi writing hurdles.
I have been doing a lot of Rosetta Stone again. Sitting at a computer pecking at a keyboard is not good for my flexibility, and therefore my running either. Alas—I am running out of Pimsleur lessons to do while stretching on my exercise mat. Rosetta Stone just has way more content for Hindi than Pimsleur does.
For which I am grateful. However, to my annoyance, I continue to find the writing units of Rosetta Stone way too hard. Currently I am doing okay, but only because of all my extra studies on the side.
Conjuncts: These Require an Explanation, in English
For example, with Rosetta Stone you don’t get any explanation of how each vowel sound in Hindi has two different written forms, independent and dependent, depending on where it appears in a word. There is no English in Rosetta Stone lessons. If I hadn’t already known that the same sound is depicted in two often radically different ways, I would have become extremely frustrated. I would have been an unhappy language learner.
Nor am I satisfied with the way Rosetta Stone teaches conjuncts. My point is, I feel they really don’t teach them. Hindi conjuncts are (as I have mentioned previously) consecutive consonants, which are written differently when appearing in combination than they would be if making an appearance alone.
Without any grammar explanations in English, you are left to figure out on your own why these weird-looking fused letter combinations are happening. I can appreciate the benefits of learning a language all in the target language. Nonetheless, some things simply require explanation in one’s native tongue. Absorbing your first language—which is done as an immersion experience, without a grammar teacher handy to explain things to you—is not the same thing as learning a new language later in life.
Okay, I’m done complaining. For now.
On another topic: written Hindi is characterized by a mostly unbroken horizontal line along the tops of words. One thing I am not sure about is when, in the process of writing a word, native Hindi speaker-writers add the horizontal line.
The Hindi Word for Man: Admee
Somewhere in one of my books I was advised, as a beginner, to make a small horizontal line for each letter, one at a time, rather than drawing a single horizontal line across a whole word all at once. I have disregarded this advice and keep drawing the horizontal line once I have finished everything else.
Unfortunately, I have learned that I am not all that good at drawing reliably horizontal lines. My lines tend to head south and dive-bomb all my carefully constructed letters.