Colloquial Hindi: The Complete Course for Beginners: A Complete Language Course (Colloquial Series) Audio Cassette – Audiobook, 5 Dec 1996
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About the Author
Tej Bhatia is Professor of Linguistics and Director, South Asian Langs at Syracuse University. His areas of specialism including bilingualism, second language acquisition and the structure and teaching of English and South Asian languages.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
My only gripes are the way that all the devanagari is stuck at the back (grr!) and that I had to buy the book and CD separately. Even with those minuses, it is absolutely worth it, and I would rate it a must have.
Compared to products I've used for other langauges (mostly Berlitz tapes), the Hindi CD is a vast improvement, moving beyond "set piece conversation" into more general usage.
Obviously, I'm not in a position to critique Bhatia's style of instruction or other technical details.
The CDs I received are "burned" (CD-Rs) with one-color silk screening, and not pressed. That's OK, but for extra safety, ripping a copy for general use is recommended. Keeping CD-Rs in hot cars is an express ticket to data oblivion.
My only minor gripe is that I wish that those who write about Hindi or Indian culture would stop apologizing for India's social problems. Remember, the USA broke away from Great Britain in 1776 with a population of about 3 million. India started her own path in 1947 with a population hundreds of times greater. It took the USA roughly 70-80 years to achieve social and economic milestones comparable to Europe. So just chill and remember that respect comes to those with lots of money and power (such as one gains by splitting the atom.)
(1) Bhatia is careful not to overwhelm the beginning learner with the complexities of the Devanagari script too early. He has the perfect instructor's touch here, rendering most of the early dialogues in Roman characters while gradually easing the learner into Devanagari as he/she gains more confidence in the basics of speaking and comprehending.
(2) Bhatia's book has just enough grammar to give any Hindi learner a handy mental framework for organizing the rules of sentence construction, without being too intimidating. Happily, Hindi grammar resembles that of Mandarin Chinese in some respects, though not quite as simple as Mandarin-- it's fairly consistent, broad-brushed enough to allow sophisticated emotional and logical expression yet accessible enough that even beginning students can basically vocalize their thoughts after just a couple weeks of study. Bhatia does a fine job of really organizing this grammar in the right sequence, explaining the niceties of Hindi syntax while taking some of the language's trickier aspects (e.g. postpositions, as in Japanese, participles, causatives, the oblique) and making them seem eminently manageable.
(3) Pronunciation, often neglected in self-teaching language books, gets more than a cursory treatment here, an asset not to be downplayed!
(4) The tape/CDs have a wealth of spoken material and can be conveniently played at home, on the road or on the plane or train or bus.
(5) Bhatia's book, as the series title suggests, really focuses on Hindi as a colloquial idiom. While this may at first seem trivial, it's a very important asset to his book! In India, there are in effect two forms of Hindi-- the formalized literary version used in ceremonial and official circumstances, and the popular "Bollywood" Hindi that's used on the street and in the markets throughout India and, indeed, much of the world (including in quite a few South Asian shops in New York City, where this "common Hindi" is a sort of lingua franca). It's this colloquial Hindi (very closely resembling Urdu), essentially, that's so rapidly become a world language and taken much of the world by storm as Bollywood movies and music, among other Indian exports, become so popular.
In practice, this "colloquial Hindi" isn't even entirely Hindi, but a hybrid spoken tongue with a Hindi foundation plus plenty of contributions from Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and other Indian as well as European languages tossed in to spice the mix, popular throughout the Subcontinent in its varieties. While Bhatia doesn't delve too much into the varied vocabulary of this "dialectical Hindi(ish)" language, his dialogues and idiomatic expressions do a fine job of conveying true conversational Hindi to the learner and thus providing a nice basis for communicating in the popular Hindi that's actually used between native speakers.
In its dialectical varieties, Hindi-Urdu has close to a billion speakers worldwide, may soon become a UN official language and-- along with Spanish and Mandarin Chinese-- may well be one of the "essential languages" of the 21st century as India continues its ascent. Moreover, since Hindi is a fellow Indo-European language, it has enough similarities to intrigue and delight a native European-language speaker and smooth the learning process. In fact, if you've already learned an important European language like French, German or Spanish-- or Farsi Persian or Dari, which Hindi-Urdu in many ways resembles-- you'll have a headstart in mastering the quirks and structures of Hindi, especially as Bhatia presents it.
Besides which, Hindi is a beautiful and poetic language that sings as much as it speaks, equally at home conveying complicated scientific concepts as in expressing the deepest emotions of the heart. Bhatia is an experienced and talented teacher of this wonderful language, and after just a couple months of studying you'll find yourself able to communicate at a decent level, maybe even humming some Hindi music during your lunch break.
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