Sunday, March 19, 2006

Kindergarten all over again

Yup, that's what it feels like. I have spent the past hour and a half studying, and I've come to the conclusion that I can't read. I can hear you saying "Um, I hope it's not English we're talking about here." Despite my often careless spelling, no, it's not English we're talking about. It's Hindi. More specifically, Hindi script, which is actually called Devanagari Script. You may have seen it before, especially if you take yoga classes or if you have and Ohm tattoo, but if not, here's what it looks like:


Picture thanks to this site.

Unlike, say, Chinese, it is a phonetic alphabet. That certainly ought to make it easier for me, especially since I like to think that I'm pretty good with new languages. But the sounds represented by these letters do not have a one-to-one correspondence with the English alphabet. There are sounds in Hindi that only exist in English when you run two words together, and some that don't exist in English at all.

I actually have confidence in my ability to learn something close to the correct pronunciation eventually, especially since my soon-to-be husband speaks Hindi fluently. And it's not like I even have to learn it at all, since the family always speaks English at home (and not just for my benefit). But I really want to learn it very very much, but I feel like I can't even get going with learning it until I get the alphabet down, and that is proving to be quite a challenge. My brother, who after three years of living in Japan has finally memorized hiragana (but only a few kanji), suggested treating it like one of those codes we used to make up when we were kids, and practice writing all kinds of words--even if they're all in English--using this new "code" until I get used to how the sounds look. A very smart idea, and with the help of a couple websites and my loving man, I may finally get it. Then it's on to grammar, vocab, and actual sentences.

So far, all I know how to say (though I couldn't read or write any of this) are the following: "I have to go pee pee," "Yes," "No," "Thank you," "Me too," It's OK," "It's over/done," and the most important of all, "I love you." Hmmm, maybe I can get away with only learning how to read and write that last one...

6 comments:

goodkarma said...

Wow, this is quite an endeavor, but I commend you for doing it. It's obviously important to you to honor your future husband's culture and traditions. I think that's fantastic! :)

austin's dad said...

very cool. you are becoming even more "international".

the trucks you gave to Austin has been his favorite toys. unlike most of his other toys, these trucks require the cooperation of 2 hands! you need to hold it with one hand while pulling the string with the other hand. It took Austin quite a while to figure this out!

waiting for more good stories from you.

Stephanie said...

Hey your back! You have been busy. I am fluent in English and even that could be argued! So you go! Sorry about the dream job thing not working out. I kept checking in though you haven't lost this reader!

jessica~ said...

Wow - Hindi looks incredibly hard. I've never been good with languages. Best of luck with your studies!!

jessica~ said...

Wow - Hindi looks incredibly hard. I've never been good with languages. Best of luck with your studies!!

Beth S. said...

OMG. You are actually learning the alphabet! My husband is after me to do that, but I get exhausted just thinking about it. I majored in Russian in college, and I had the Cyrillic alphabet written out and taped to the underside of my roommate's bunk, so I'd see it when I was lying in bed; inside the closet, so I'd see it when I was getting dressed; beside the mirror, so I'd see it when I was brushing my hair. And at least Cyrillic was shaped along the lines of Latin letters! The Hindi script is more like calligraphy. Oy. I'm so impressed that you're doing this.