Hindi vs English

A common argument that I (and most of the people use) is that English, unlike Hindi, is not a phonetically correct language. Brits write one thing and pronounce it other.

However today my friend threw a challenge at me.

If you think Hindi is so phonetically correct, then try writing “Mel Gibson” in Hindi.

My Hindi is not that great, so in all the attempts I made, I failed. Can one of you help me with that?

12 replies on “Hindi vs English”

The problem really is not with language, rather with the script
It is the Roman script which does not faithfully mimic the English language, (or for that matter any other language written in it), as much as Devanagari faithfully scripts Hindi (and Marathi)

NO language contains all possible sounds !! Every language has some unique sounds.

Your argument is about being phonetically correct — That still holds true after this example of “mel”. We cannot reproduce the sound of e in “mel” in devnagiri script. But we still say what we write in Hindi. Hindi is still phonetically correct. It just cannot product all sounds.

People (incorrectly) think that just because Devnagiri script correctly imitates spoken Hindi, it also contains all vovel sounds. Hindi has lots of vowels & consonants — It doensn’t have all!

There are so many examples —
English: set, all, random, for … Devnagiri cannot reproduce these sounds
Bangla has an alphabet – which is between V & B — not there in Hindi
Marathi has something between J & Z — closest is the Hindi ज़ .. but not the same
English has ळ, ण and so many more missing …
and I don’t want to even start the “Ghalib” argument .. The Urdu ‘gh’ is not the same as Hindi one

Phonetically correct = speaking exactly what you write and vice versa
It doesn’t imply that Hindi contains everything.

that sounds like Mail Gibson.

@khalil @vivek
Welcome to ENagar….
i agree no language is perfect.. and probably inspite of all our attempts devanagari will never be able to mimic all sounds. However what surprises me is that the language that was developed as late as in 19th century at fort williams college kolkatta. it has so little scientific or modern words (hindi before 19th century consists of several regional dialects… it was only in Kolkatta was it formalized and standardized.)

@Ankur : I am not new to E-Nagar 🙂
I am not sure about this Fort Williams and Kolkotta thingy
Hindi/Urdu (Hindustani to be correct) may have been a collection of local dialects but the official version is likely to emanate from middle or western UP rather than Kolkotta. May-be Fort Williams was the British official/formal version of the language.
Also as pointed out by Vivek, it is not possible for languages to have all sounds, just that for Hindi/Devanagari, what we write is what we read.
We have a short ए missing for Mel, but we have a long ए as in Mail. You win some, you lose some.
@Vivek : Urdu has two ‘g’, one of which is similar to Hindi g as in गाडी, the other is used in Gaalib.

Lastly, recalling from “The GODs must be Crazy”, all our languages will always have the click sound missing found in Namibian Bush-Men’s native language. 🙂

Regards and GOD Bless 🙂

Ugh! .. well .. same here… not new to ENagar!! 🙂
Can you point me to some source where I can read about the Fort Williams thingy? I didn’t know about that. From what I know, Hindi developed a few hundred years before Mughals came.

I still can’t pronounce Ghalib right!! 🙂 .. The sound should come from deeper inside the throat.

Firstly.. i must apologize.. i have been running this blog for 5 years now and have never taken a lot of pains in knowing the readers. (something which i intend to correct)

Akbar developed his own religion Din-i-Ilahi… in order to promote it, this North Indian Ruler with capital in Delhi/Fatehpur Sekri got it translated to all the major languages spoken by the common men/learned at that time. However hindi was not one of them. Hence I doubt it hindi was an established language at that time. (dialects which sounded very similar to hindi did exist, but we are not talking about them)

In the 19th century Kolkata was the capital of the British empire and hence a center of learning. Fort Williams had a school for oriental languages where indian literature and various Indian languages were developed, formalized and translated.
This is what i remember from a Xth standard hindi book which was part of official curriculum in kendriya vidhalaya during 1998.
Indian history is very sketchy esp on internet. However the closest i could find was :
” Lallulal (also spelt as Lalloolal or Lallo Lal), the father of Hindi Khariboli prose, was instructor in Hindustani at Fort William College. He printed and published in 1815 the first book of old Hindi literature, Tulsidas’s Vinaypatrika.”

you guys might find it interesting that for a period of 300 years (11th to 14th Century AD). Brits were banned/discouraged from conversing/transacting in English. No wonder the greatest english literary were were developed in the 16th century AD

@Ankur : No need for apologies 🙂

I doubt that Akbar didnt get things translated in Hindi, maybe it wasnt called Hindi then.
Also Hindi is still a collection of dialects. Malvi Hindi spoken in Indore, Bundelkhandi spoken in Sagar(MP), Avadhi spoken in Lucknow, and Hindi spoken in Merath/Agra would all be different.
Languages change over the years, but coming into being within 300 years is a bit difficult, need a little more time.
The Fort-Williams looks to be a formalization thing.

It is also possible that English did not exist before 1000CE

i usually refrain from giving opinions that I cannot substantiate. and i am afraid i am now entering grey area.

english… old english had evolved around 5th century AD. however Williams of Normandy conquered Britain and imposed french language.. hence the 300 year ban.

Hindi.. as regional dialects hindi did exist for centuries before 19th century. however it does takes for a language to be written/recorded/standardized (esp when indian masses were always illiterate) That might explain the time delay.
that is why

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