Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pratap isn't the only one who writes postcards.

I got a postcard from my friend Aditya in Mumbai!

After 40 minutes, I had written out and looked up every word I could - and then had to turn to a friend for help reading and/or getting the meaning of the others. I need more patience - I get so frustrated when I can't read. But on the other hand, probably getting a taste of what iliteracy is like is a very useful thing.

The really cool part of this - other than getting a postcard from a foreign country, yay! - was that once someone told me what the words were, I could see how they knew. Once I knew what I was looking for, I could see it. Maybe that's dumb, but it feels like an improvement over _not_ being able to see it, at least. I did know quite a few words and was able to look up several more - v satisfying as well.

The transliteration is on the photo's Flickr page (with line breaks as they appear on the postcard), with much help from the glossary at the back of Snell and from Filmi Geek.

Oh! And the picture!


Maja said...

Gah! I was so pleased with myself when I recognised "namaste" right away, but then I immediately got stuck on the second word. I can manage a word every now and then, and I think I figured out the bit where it says something like "I'm waiting for your reply", but I'm still very far from understanding or even being able to transliterate the whole message. Why do I have such a hard time decyphering handwriting or different kinds of fonts in Devanagari? I never have the same problem with Latin script! Thanks for providing the annotated thingy on Flickr so I don't have to spend the entire day annoyed with myself because I can't figure out a simple postcard ;)

Beth said...

Hee hee, I had that same rush of pride to start with! And then I was immediately derailed :) I too have a horrible time with handwriting and fonts that are not almost identical to those in my textbook. I think the problem is that we still know so little that we can't make informed guesses yet. With the Roman alphabet, in any of the five languages I've studied that use it, we had such a huge background of exposure to it, thousands of different ways of writing it, even if the combinations of letters could vary so much.

And believe me, I probably would have had to phone up the friend in India to get help if Filmi Geek in Boston hadn't been available. I was at my wit's end. It's a short trip, after all.

Filmi Geek said...

A few comments for both of you - I struggle with unfamiliar writing as well. The only way it gets better is with practice.

When the script is new to you, you don't know the letterforms well enough to know which features are the essential distinguishing features, and which are the slippable or variable ones. As you read more samples your mental template of the letterforms becomes more refined, and you will get better at this.

Also, if you don't know much grammar and vocabulary, it's that much harder to guess when you come across a letterform you can't figure out. If you can read three out of the four characters in a word but you can't decipher the fourth, you can fill it in if you have a good guess, based on vocabulary or grammar, at what the character might be. As Beth said, once she knew what the character was supposed to be, it was easy to see how it could be that.

In short, keep at it; it may not feel like much is happening but constant exposure and constant practice, even in tiny bursts, will help a lot over time.

eva-e said...

Didn't get "khushi", "Bombay" and "mashhuur" without the transliteration. But it's cool to get to practice on some real handwriting.
Good I've been writing my "H"s the handwritten version for a while.