Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Pratap's little problem"*

I'm already in chapter two and have failed to write about what our friend Pratap** was up to in chapter one! As if learning the vocabulary isn't hard enough. Phew! Okay, so, in chapter one, Pratap arrives in Delhi and meets his host Kamala and a boy named Raj (who I assume is Kamala's son, but I'm not sure; otherwise this adult-looking woman is randomly hanging out with children). Kamla, Raj, and Pratap determine that everyone is okay, thank you, and that Pratap is not in fact English but Indian (the dialogue title is "Pratap from London meets his Delhi host" - is Pratap an NRI? studying abroad? we'll never know) and that Marutis cars are not Japanese (I already knew that). Kamala then shows him his room, which has two cupboards, two chairs, a table, and a window. But no fan. No fan. Poor Pratap! पंखा, according to my tutor, is the most important word in Hindi. Pratap wrote about his adventures in his journal, which was pleasingly not too difficult to translate and mentions a beautiful garden.

In chapter two, Pratap meets his Hindi teacher, Sharma ji. He finds out that Teach Yourself Hindi is not a bad book and that the Ramayana is a very thick book (good to know in case the oft-used descriptor "epic" had you confused about that - then again, I feel pretty confused [and thick] myself whenever I work on these exercises, so I shouldn't be snarky). As for the title of this post, it seems our friend Pratap has gotten himself into a bit of a pickle. Turns out Sangeeta is upset because...well, because Pratap is around. That's all we know. Raj seems to think that perhaps her anger is due to her being a girl. Thanks, Dr. Snell, for teaching us how to express sexism so early in our fledgling exploration of Hindi. In contrast to the drama of the dialogue, Pratap's postcard home is pretty dull. He thinks the weather in Delhi is nice (not my experience of Delhi, but of course he's there in January and I was there in July - and what kind of moron goes to Delhi in July?) but that the city is polluted. Not as bad as Bangalore, says I, but I do not know where else in India Pratap has been or where he is from.

* I promise this is the actual title of the dialogue. I wouldn't make that up.
** Most of the time I am not going to bother to put in accent marks and things that would make this proper transliteration. Life is way too short.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Blogger and Devanagari

Maja, via the Buddha Smiled, I believe, told me how to get Blogger to transliterate into Devanagari:
ooh well it's easy! From your Blogger Dashboard, go to Settings, scroll down a bit on the Basic Settings page and it's there under the Global Settings heading. It says "Show transliteration button for your posts?" so change that to Yes, and then when you're writing a new post, you have to be in the Compose mode, not Edit, and you'll see a button with the Hindi A on it. If you turn it on right away, it'll convert each word into Devanagari as soon as you finish writing it and press Space, or you can write the whole text, then highlight it and click the button. It's genius, there's a short post about it here
and here's the Blogger help thingy for it

Let me tell you this, though (Michael und Babasko, hören sie?): good luck on a Mac. The Blogger transliteration function doesn't work on Safari, and Firefox can't handle Devanagari. My solution is going to be to use ITRANS to transliterate, then cut and paste. Geebus.

And I have to say, as much as I would like "snells" to connote little fuzzy creatures, to me the word sounds like a medical condition. "Ohhhh, I'd love to come over and watch a Shashi movie, but I'm really tired. I think I'm coming down with the snells."

Update to post (an hour after I wrote it): holy Indic scripts, Batman! It appears that, at least on the version of Firefox I'm running right this minute,, you can use Devanagari with Firefox on Macs! I cannot express how happy this makes me. I hope to get to the bottom of this later this week, but in the meantime, शाबाश!

Main Pratap nahin hoon

I might not have flashcards or a special bag, but what I do have among my Hindi-learning equipment is a very pretty business card (with butterflies!) from Ganesha that I'm using as a bookmark, and also a number of glitter pens.

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It also turns out that I have a slightly different grammar textbook than Beth, and unfortunately mine doesn't feature Pratap. The main characters in my book are Raju, a teacher, his wife Gita, who is a doctor, and their three children Manoj, Meena and Ram. They also have a dog ("Moti (male, age unknown)") and they all live in Agra. I've skimmed through the book a bit and it turns out in one of the dialogues that Gita has a bit of a thing for Shahrukh Khan, so even though I don't know much about her, other than that वह हिन्दुस्तानी है (she is Indian) and वह डाक्टर है (she is a doctor), I like her already!

I got these books back in February this year. What I've done so far is learn the script, although I tend to forget most of the conjuncts and I still have to learn how to write numbers. After learning the script, I started with the grammar book and I'm in the middle of chapter 1 at the moment. Here are the very first exercise and the one I did last:

click to enlarge

click to enlarge
This is a conversation between Manoj and his inquisitive neighbour Javed:
Javed: What is this?
Manoj: This is my radio.
Javed: Who is that boy?
Manoj: He is my brother.
Javed: What is his name?
Manoj: His name is Ram.
Javed: Who is that girl?
Manoj: Her name is Meena.
Javed: Is she ill?
Manoj: No, she is not ill. She is OK.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

amongst our weaponry are...

My Hindi-learning companion (Leroy) and the bag in which I tote around all my Hindi-learning stuff, which is as follows:

Snell x 2, paper, index cards, a pen, and markers. I am ready.

My first attempt at writing out the first dialogue in chapter 2. Our friend Pratap is talking about Hindi books with a teacher. My favorite part of this is on the back of the page. Pratap asks if a certain thick book is a dictionary, and the teacher, Sharmaji, says "No, it's the Ramayana." That's decidedly a step up in interestingness from the contents of Pratap's room at Kamala's house (fan, bed, chairs, etc.).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

a most inauspicious beginning

I was going to write out the famous "Main Pratap hoon" dialogue for everyone, but I see the fine print says that the Hindi transliteration function is not supported for Macs, so there goes that idea. Bugger. I guess I'll do it by hand and scan it in. It is a crazy, mixed-up world when I find myself wishing for access to a PC.