September 18, 2010 | Hindi

Multilingual Metropolis

In which I am grateful for New York.

As part of Rosetta Stone’s pronunciation units, you are often instructed to repeat sentences into your Rosetta Stone microphone, at which point Rosetta Stone tells you whether you have said them correctly or not.

'Milk' in Hindi Sounds an Awful Lot Like 'Dude'

Sometimes I find the sentences too long to remember. Fortunately, I have realized that you can replay them pretty much indefinitely, without penalty, before you try to repeat them. 

So that’s what I do. The hardest for me so far are the complex sentences (i.e., ones containing an independent clause plus a dependent clause), such as the Hindi translation of “The dog smells bad because it’s dirty and wet.” 

Yesterday at Café Margot, where I did some Hindi work, I had a rather thrillingly international experience. My Hindi books open in front of me, I spoke Spanish with a musician from Buenos Aires while, at a table to my left, I could hear German, and at a table to my right, French. I also discussed the merits of adding Polish to this project with one of the young women who work behind the counter.

She pointed out that there are many Polish speakers around to practice with. She has a point; she is one of them. It happens that I cross paths with Polish people all the time, so there would definitely be many easy opportunities to practice my skills. More for sure than with Hindi.

Speaking of Hindi: I continue to learn new vocabulary. “Teeth” is dahnt. “Towel” is tolia. So many sound-alikes and familiar-feeling words! I had no idea. What is not so familiar is the word for “milk,” which sounds amusingly like “dude” in English.

Tonight I went to a friend’s thirtieth birthday party in Harlem. It was a very international crowd that included native speakers of Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, Albanian, and more.

New York is amazing.


Comments (1)

Ken • Posted on Mon, October 04, 2010 - 1:39 pm EST

Late response here, but you’d have PLENTY of Polish people to speak with in Greenpoint, including the men in jogging pants, socks, and sandals!

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