I had always wanted to learn Hindi although it was usually a low priority task. Hindi’s significance probably increases when you go to some foreign country like US. Most Indians here know Hindi and the subtle pressure to learn Hindi increases. There is also the usual BS about it being the national language.
So finally I decided to learn Hindi . I had made some half hearted measures before and had abandoned my Hindi learning within weeks. So I was determined not to do it again. So here are the various steps I took to learn Hindi.
I realized that I will be using Hindi a lot – for eg reading articles or writing some basic text. So I added Hindi support to my OS (Ubuntu – Karmic) . I am sure the steps given here will be applicable to older Ubuntu versions too . Again , for other versions of Linux /Windows / Mac OS the steps can found in net.
Enabling Hindi Language Support :
1. System –> Administration –> Language Support.
2. Select Install / Remove Languages
3. Select Hindi from the list of languages.
4. Ubuntu will install necessary Hindi support for Ubuntu.
Toggling between Keyboards :
If you are like me , then you will primarily working in English and occasionally toggling to Hindi. To do that :
1. System –> Preference –> Keyboard
2. Select Hindi
3. Click on “Layout Option” button.
4. In the new window, select the option “Key(s) to change layout” . You can select any combination of keys to toggle between languages. I settled on Shift+Caps Lock.
Keyboard Indicator :
It is usually very useful to know which language keyboard is being used currently. Sometimes the reason the system is not accepting the password might be because, you were typing it in Hindi !! That has bitten me quite some time. If you are in Ubuntu, it is very easy to fix it.
On any GNOME panel right click and select “Keyboard Indicator” applet. It gives concise information about the current application’s keyboard. In Linux, each application can use one of keyboards simultaneously. For eg I can type in Vim in Hindi and use English in Firefox with no problems.
Hindi Fonts :
There are lot of free fonts from multiple places for Hindi. Do a simple Google search to get them.
Typing In Hindi :
The input methods (IME) in Ubuntu , does not really use a transliteration based typing. The mechanism used took some time to get used and after some time became very natural.
a) Consonants are typed with the appropriate letter for the sound. ie you type k to get क (not ka) . To get ख, you type K (k in caps).
b) The vowels are used to get the various combinations –
ka gives का
ke gives के
kE gives कै
ki gives कि
kI gives की
ko gives को
kO gives कौ
ku gives कु
kU gives कू
Books And Courses
Good Hindi Websites
I have not done extensive research into all good Hindi learning sites , I found some very useful ones.
1. ISpeakHindi – I Speak Hindi was probably the most comprehensive of all of the sites. They also have a very useful podcast series for learning Hindi. I try to learn a podcast or two everyday. Their wiki page has lot of useful information. It has a good classification of lessons from which you can sample.
2. News Sites : There are lot of good Hindi news sites which gives news in reasonably simple Hindi. The most prominent of them is BBC Hindi site . Their Hindi site for Indian news is also good. Of course, to get more authentic , Indian Hindi News from Indian newspapers see Google News Hindi site.
3. LiveMocha : I was told LiveMocha was useful for learning other languages although I did not find it very useful.
I also wrote some tools to help make my Hindi learning easier.
1. Hindi Translator : This is a Python script which takes a file and source,destination languages and converts the words in the file (which is in source language) to destination file using Google Translate API. It can found here.
2. Flash Cards : This is a Flashcard like application which I used to quiz myself on the Hindi/English words. It expects all the files to be put in some folder (for eg one per chapter) . It now allows you to select one /all of the files for quizzing you. It allows both English to Hindi and Hindi To English. Unfortunately , I wrote the code in PythonCard, so I doubt it working in non Linux OS. It is also the code makes lot of assumptions , so might need some changes before being reusable. The code can be obtained here.
3. GNOME Hindi Scroller Applet : This is a simple GNOME applet which when added to a panel, keeps showing some Hindi word and its meaning every 10 seconds. It accepts its input from a file . I had written about this more at this blog post . The code can be obtained here .
I will keep adding more posts in this series as I learn more Hindi !!