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

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

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.

Comments (4)

Jagdish Bhatia • Posted on Sat, April 07, 2012 - 4:51 am EST

Lines are drawn after the word is complete.
You are doing it right. Just need little practice.
Hindi SMS

Brian Sullivan • Posted on Fri, October 05, 2012 - 8:43 am EST

Wow! someone else with the same drama.

I am an Asuralian living in India and dont have a clue how to type the halant conjunct consonants in the program - and so get marked wrong!
do you know how to type the conjuct form on their keyboard? some programs require you type the d or even ; key after the cosonant to tell it to sh
orten the stem before the second consonant. But how do you do it in Rosetta Stone?

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Fri, October 05, 2012 - 12:39 pm EST

You have my sympathies, Brian. I used Rosetta Stone for Hindi more than two years ago and do not have access anymore, which I mention only because I am not sure the setup will still be the same…but I remember I had to press the shift key to bring up an alternate Rosetta Stone keyboard displaying the conjuncts I needed. I had to do an online search to figure that one out (ultimately found the answer on Facebook). Also, in order to know what to press, I had to bring external knowledge, gleaned from other sources, of how the conjuncts worked. Rosetta Stone did not teach me what I needed to know in order to do its exercises.

Sarah • Posted on Sat, January 26, 2013 - 2:03 am EST

Just because I know someone out there will find this blog before they find the answer—In the Version 3 that I have the “halant/half-form subtraction” key is actually blank. It is located 3 keys in from the shift key between “ey” and “i”—to use it, type the sound you want then the blank key to remove the automatic “uh” sound.

(and I find that Hindi doesn’t have to be this hard, when the program doesn’t actually don’t use so many English words—which because of the borrowed sounds, makes the learning 1000 times harder.)

Details from Rosetta Stone are here:

Previous? version:

Version 3:

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