Back Of The Book
Hindi for Non-Hindi Speaking People is an original two-in-one monograph that covers grammar and is a reader for beginners. The book has virtually sprung from Kavita Kumar's long experience of teaching Hindi to foreign students of several nationalities. It can be used both as a classroom text and for self study. It is designed to meet the needs of the novice, taking him/her gradually to intermediate and upper-intermediate levels of proficiency. The book can be gainfully used even by fairly advanced students who, nevertheless, still sometimes make grammatical mistakes in speech and writing.
The book is a complete course in an easy-to-follow style comprising of a series of meticulously arranged and graded lesions (units). A complete course in spoken and written Hindi - a practical course that is both fun and easily comprehensible. A journey to the Hindi alphabet, its vowels, consonants, conjunct letters and phonetic transliteration, through the sections of practice reading tailored to fit interesting and practical daily life situations in India. She explains everything clearly along the way with many opportunities to practice what you learn, gives exercises of reading based on rules explained earlier in the text, lists of antonyms and synonyms, sound words and phrases, and idioms and essentials of grammar dealt with a minimum of jargon.
The book fulfills a long-felt need for reference Hindi grammar for non Hindi-speaking people in or outside the country.
Kavita Kumar was born in November 1936 in Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan). A Master's degree holder from Delhi University, she taught at Directorate of Correspondence Courses, Delhi University; Lady Irwin College, Delhi; Degree College, Panipat; Janaki Devi College, Delhi and Government Girls College, Gorakhpur. She has also taught Hindi to students from England, USA, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Switzerland, Japan, Korea and Thailand.
She is married and lives in Varanasi. She has two daughters.
Having been engaged for over a decade in teaching Hindi to foreign students of several nationalities, I was concerned at the lack of a satisfactory text which would fully meet a student's requirements. I have attempted to design these lessons with a view to introduce the readers to vowels, consonants, phonetic transliteration and speech patterns, in an easy-to-follow, readable style. Grammar structures have been explained first and are then followed by reading and comprehension passages. Glossaries and exercises have been given to enable the learners to assess their performance from time to time.
Situational dialogues have been included in order to enhance the utility of the book for tourists and other visitors to India. The dialogues should equip the reader to cope with routine tasks happening in daily life.
The English translation of Hindi structures may, in some cases, be found to be not very precise or accurate by English speaking people. I am conscious of this anomaly which arises form the inherent bilingual organization; the accuracy has had to be occasionally sacrificed with a view to teaching good Hindi for which a word-for-word translation was considered essential, and which may not exactly be the same as a native speaker might use.
Because of differences in syntax and speech patterns between Hindi and various foreign languages, I have ad to respond to a variety of queries, questions, and doubts from my students; this kind of interaction has been a strong motivation and driving force for undertaking and completing this venture. I have had the good fortune of interacting with a number of discerning, critical, and enthusiastic students, some of whom have themselves been involved in teaching their own native language as a foreign language in other countries; they have read portions of the manuscript and given valuable comments, criticisms, and suggestions, which I greatly value. In fact, the teaching plan incorporated in this book has been successfully tested and as enabled many students, without any prior knowledge of Hindi, to learn to read, write and speak the language fairly fluently.
Apart from my former and present students to whom I am greatly indebted, I wish to thank Mr. Kamal Malik of the Affiliated East West Press Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, and the editorial staff of Rupa and Company, for their helpful discussions, advice, and encouragement. Gyanendra Prasad Shukla deserves special mention for typing both Hindi and English scripts.
Any comments or suggestions for improvement of the text will be greatly appreciated.
Hindi uses the Devanagri script of Sanskrit, believed to be a divine
language. Its alphabet is arranged in a fascinating, scientific order, beginning
with the velars, moving forward through the prepalatals, palatals and dentals
to the labials. Each row has five consonants produced in distinctly separate
regions of the mouth, again very scientifically arranged; the aspirates following
the non-aspirates, ending in nasal consonants, thus giving a soothing rest to
Devanagri script is written from left to right. There are no capital letters.
Being a phonetic language it has no pronunciation ambiguities. There
are no silent letters. The language is almost read the way it is written.
Indian perception of life in every object is imbibed in the language;
hence only two genders, masculine and feminine are recognized grammatically.
The native speakers grow up with the language and learn the genders naturally
without any special effort. Foreign students are advised to learn the gender
with every new noun-word. The sound of a word is the master key initiating the
intuitive lead to accurate gender-determination.
During my years of teaching the Hindi language to foreign students,
particularly from European countries and America, I have often noticed the
difficulties caused by several constructions where the subject is followed by
(ko), the causative verbs as well as the use of the same word (kal)
for tomorrow as well as yesterday.
Language is after all a mirror reflecting the culture, religion, philosophy
and social structure of a country. The basic Hindu belief admitting the
supremacy and omnipotence of the creator of the universe, accepting Him as
the doer of all activity and assuming for the people a very humble passive role
as recipients of His grace or wrath is reflected in the language. Instead of the
subject in the nominative case, language constructions with the dative case of
the subject (i.e. subject followed by ) are found in plenty; the underlying
concept is that the subject is not actively doing the action but things are actually
happening to him. For instance while an English language speaker says, 'I
am hungry.', 'I hurt myself.', or 'I like it', the corresponding constructions by a
Hindi language speaker are 'mujhko bhOkh lagT hai ., 'mujhko cot lagi hai' etc.,
meaning respectively 'To me hunger is.', 'To me injury is.', or 'To me it pleasing
The profuse use as well as availability of the causative verbs does not
sound strange in a society like ours with ages'-Iong, deeply-ingrained caste
structure where a class of people has been recognized as mainly existing for
providing service to those higher up in the caste hierarchy - without any guilty
conscience perhaps! Naturally the native speakers did not consider it worth
their effort to devise any syntactic formation to express the meaning of having
something done by somebody; instead they learnt dexterously to form causative
verb roots by a quick morphological process, in fixing
between the transitive or intransitive verb roots and their (na) endings.
Our impressions of the Time as an eternally revolving wheel without
any beginning or end never presented any justification for the use of two
distinctly separate words for the time past or immediately following the present
The verb endings are enough of a clue to help the smooth functioning of our
Students will certainly come across several similar constructions while
learning the language. However, if interpreted and understood in the religio
socio-philosophical background as briefly explained above, they are easily
comprehended and mastered.
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