Thursday, October 2, 2008

मुझसे माफ़ करो - broken hindi ahead...

अच्छा, आप लोग जानते मैं हिन्दी नहीं बोलती हु। लेकिन test कर सकती हु, है ? मैं हिन्दी थोड़ा समझ (समझती?) हु जो मैं कोई हिन्दिवाल्लाह (या हिन्दिवाल्ली) मिल गई, मेरा conversation (बातों?) बहुत limited होनाहिन्दी पिक्कार से सीखना मै सिर्फ कोई चीज़ सीखी ने। मै कुछ हिरोवाल्ला dialogues जानती, प्यार या लेकिन, कुछ simple, एक ट्रेन टिकेट (er, buy?) मै नहीं सकती हु।

देखी, यह सब मेरे लिए बहुत मुश्किल है। मैं सिर्फ़ थोड़ा grammar जानती हु (मालूम है?) मेरा vocabulary अजीव है

लेकिन let's get down to business. As explained and demonstrated above, I know next to no Hindi (hope reading/deciphering the above wasn't too painful for you native speakers). But the funny thing about learning Hindi mostly from films are actually two funny things and I'm not sure exactly how funny they are, but I will talk about them anyway.

For one, my "passive vocabulary" is a lot richer than my "active vocabulary". For those not familiar with the terminology, passive vocabulary is words you recognize and know the meaning of, but wouldn't necessarily know how to use when writing in said language. Active vocabulary is what you actually have at your disposal when stringing words together to make sentences. What happens with Hindi and me is simple: I feel like I can follow and understand a lot of stuff even without subtitles, but seeing as how my grammar knowledge and active vocabulary is scarce, I couldn't really string sentences like that together myself without making about a gazillion mistakes.

Another funny thing is that when you learn Hindi from movies, a certain phrase or a word relates to a certain movie or a scene or an actor who uses it. So for example, "accha" or अच्छा which literally means "good" but is also said to mean "I see", always reminds me of the train scene in Sholay where Sanjeev Kumar as Thakur adjusts his hat and speaks the word while Veeru makes smalltalk. The word "saansa" or in its oblique plural (I think?) "saanso" or साँसों which means "breaths" always reminds me of Aamir Khan's great monologue in Dil Chahta Hai, making romantic talk to Preity Zinta.

As you can tell, I don't study Hindi though I do own a beginner's studybook of it. If I don't lack the time, I lack the patience but I keep telling myself if I really wanted to, Hindi wouldn't be an unbearable challenge. Might not be easy, either, but still, the relative familiarity with the language would help, I'd imagine.

(If any of the Devanagari is wrong, my apologies. Used Blogger's automated Hindi function.)


Anonymous said...

I feel exactly the same, Sanni. I can follow (vaguely) what's happening but couldn't string together a sentence to save my life. I think the only way I'll ever learn it is if I live in India for a while and force people to speak in Hindi with me. Then I think it might be a fairly quick thing...

I taught myself the Devanagiri alphabet, and kept practicing for a few weeks but got bored with it and it went right out of my head. Gotta use it or lose it I guess...

Kanan said...

Very good attempt. :) I find it so inspiring when adults make such efforts in learning new language. I don't have patience to learn a new language so I'm glad I learned all the necessary ones as a kid. Keep up the good work! best luck.

ajnabi said...

I can understand longer stretches now without subtitles (my copy of Tashan kept on having the subtitles disappear but I was pleased I could still follow a lot of it). Still, the most I can string together is about: Kyaa love story hai! and to write it in Devanagari is utterly beyond me.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I wish I knew a 3rd language as well as you know your Hindi! You may feel like you are struggling, as you mention- but I do feel you are being too modest.

Great job!

Anonymous said...

Great post and so true about that gap between the passive and active language use. I think I've gained some pretty good receptive language (what you call passive) skills in Hindi, but to actually try and speak a sentence, (other than immeadiately repeating a movie dialog) would be nearly impossible, hai na? :)
I do love the times when I am watching a film and following for the first few minutes and realize I've forgotten to switch on the English subtitles. A small victory!
Keep up the great work.
All the best,

Filmi Girl said...

I'm taking a Hindi class this semester and I'm actually surprised at what I *do* know. Our teacher is Pakistani and does the classroom small talk - yeh kya hai?; Dekho; etc. - in Hindi and I understand her jist more often than not.

Of course, a lot of the vocabulary in our text is new to me as most of the words I know involve either death, romance, or family relationships. Sadly, knowing how to say jadoo is not going to get me very far.

veracious said...

memsaab - One of my uni professors said in order to learn a script of a whole new language, you need to paste the alphabet up on every room's wall in your house, and especially the bathroom next to the toilet. :D If I was more committed and if my flatmate wouldn't consider me totally odd, I could do that.

kanan - Thank you! You never know what life throws in your way.. I discovered Hindi films at 16, Korean music at 18.. Who knows what I'll be inspired to learn as time goes along.

ajnabi - The automated Devanagari thingy on Blogger was my saver. :P

Shweta - Thanks for the encouragement. :D

Sitaji - Indeed, small victories. The worst movies I could gladly watch without subtitles, but of course with the potentially good ones, I want to understand it all.

Filmi girl - I know! So many weird words from 70's films I know that really are of no use because my skills otherwise are limited. Stuff like 'izzat', 'himmat' .. not exactly every day words. There's a lot of sentences I could make but they don't relate to anything - just like a random piece of dialogue - so they don't make for logical conversations. :D

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Oh how wonderful a meme! I must admit I like Saif more and more every passing year- his acting, choice of movies and looks seem to improve all the time. I have always wanted to see Hamesha and Parampara, despite knowing how horrible they are...the 90s were a bad time for everyone's looks I guess :)