Information on Arabic and Hindi

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Ave
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Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby Ave » Sun Sep 19, 2010 2:51 pm UTC

Hello!

I am a big language fan...once upon a time I used to be really into dead languages--took years of Latin, began Greek, taught myself ancient alphabets and such. I took six years of Spanish in school...because it was easy. At one point I even taught myself the Cyrillic alphabet and how to pronounce it when reading/speaking, much to the delight of my Russian then-boyfriend (I had no idea what I was actually saying when reading off the store signs to him in Little Russia xP). I finally have some time now that I'm done with school to begin learning more living languages. I've started with Korean and began using Rosetta Stone to help memorization and pronunciation (great program, but definitely lacking in grammar instruction so far...for someone who is used to structured language learning), and I have a basic grasp of Japanese fundamentals (but everyone knows Japanese! xP). I've decided that my next foray will be towards the Middle East. I added Modern Standard Arabic to my 'to do' list, but then I realized how cool it would be to visit India. With 5 seconds of Googling I found that the official language of India (out of hundreds of dialects) is Standard Hindi.

So my question is--how do MSA and Hindi compare? Are they similar at all? I really have zero background in the cultures of either, so I'm totally aware that I probably sound like some ignorant, bigoted American, here. I love learning about other cultures, but it's more of a hobby that I've had very little time to make progress in. I know that asian languages like Korean and Japanese have a lot of similarities, but what about MSA and Hindi...are they (geographically) just too far apart to be similar? Which would be the easiest to learn first?

Thank you!

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Lazar
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Re: Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby Lazar » Sun Sep 19, 2010 3:05 pm UTC

Ave wrote:So my question is--how do MSA and Hindi compare? Are they similar at all? I really have zero background in the cultures of either, so I'm totally aware that I probably sound like some ignorant, bigoted American, here. I love learning about other cultures, but it's more of a hobby that I've had very little time to make progress in. I know that asian languages like Korean and Japanese have a lot of similarities, but what about MSA and Hindi...are they (geographically) just too far apart to be similar? Which would be the easiest to learn first?

Arabic is a Semitic language, while Hindi is an Indic (i.e. Indo-European) language, so in terms of grammar and core vocabulary, there isn't much similarity. The one similarity that comes to mind is that they both have masculine and feminine genders; but the Semitic system of consonantal roots is quite different from anything in Indo-European languages. You might see some lexical similarity due to the use of Perso-Arabic loanwords in vernacular Hindi, although the more elevated varieties of Hindi purge these and replace them with Sanskrit-derived words. Both languages have some challenging phonological features (emphatic and pharyngeal consonants in Arabic; the aspiration distinction in Hindi), and my experience with both is limited, but from what I've heard, Hindi is a bit easier.

As for the large east Asian languages, the similarities among Japanese, Korean and Chinese are the result of centuries of Chinese influence, not any genetic relation among the three languages. The Japanese and Koreans borrowed a ton of Chinese vocabulary, and also adopted the Chinese writing system (although that's largely been discontinued in Korea). Japanese and Korean may or may not be very distantly related to each other, but neither one is related at all to Chinese.

It seems like you might be well served by reading up on language families and subfamilies. There's a basic overview here, for example. English and Hindi are related because they're both in the Indo-European family (i.e. they descend from the prehistoric language Proto-Indo-European, spoken thousands of years ago); English is in the Germanic subfamily, while Hindi is in the Indic subfamily.
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Ave
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Re: Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby Ave » Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:02 pm UTC

Great stuff! Thanks much!

drLagrangian
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Re: Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby drLagrangian » Sun Oct 10, 2010 4:29 am UTC

if you are trying to learn hindi, this is a great resource.

http://www.ispeakhindi.com/

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turret
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Re: Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby turret » Tue Oct 26, 2010 6:39 pm UTC

I've learned Arabic after a background in English and French, and I've tried learning Hindi. Personally, I found Arabic much easier to pick up (not that it was easy, but it just... felt easier). Of course, I learned through living with Arabs, whereas I couldn't imagine learning a language without speaking it constantly.
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mastered
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Re: Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby mastered » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:27 pm UTC

This is probably a gross oversimplification, but Urdu is actually like a cross between Arabic and Hindi. It uses an Arabic-derived script and has Arabic origins, but it now has so much Hindi-based vocabulary that Urdu and Hindi are pretty much mutually comprehensible. (Does that sentence make sense? I meant a Hindi speaker can understand most spoken Urdu, and vice versa.) Just a thought. I don't know what you would find easier (or more interesting) though. I learned the Ancient Greek and Cyrillic alphabets too! I still think Ancient Greek pronunciation makes way more sense than modern. And I've tried learning Latin on my own maybe three times now... still haven't gotten anywhere. Depressing.
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Lazar
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Re: Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby Lazar » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:42 pm UTC

mastered wrote:This is probably a gross oversimplification, but Urdu is actually like a cross between Arabic and Hindi. It uses an Arabic-derived script and has Arabic origins, but it now has so much Hindi-based vocabulary that Urdu and Hindi are pretty much mutually comprehensible.

That's not true at all: Urdu is not a cross between Arabic and Hindi, and it most definitely does not have Arabic origins (any more than English has Greek origins). Urdu and Hindi come from an identical source, which is the vernacular Hindustani language spoken throughout northern India, derived from Sanskrit and the Prakrits. Urdu is the Muslim version of this language, written in the Arabic script and adopting Perso-Arabic words for educated vocabulary, while Hindi is the Hindu version, using the Devanagari script and adopting Sanskrit words for educated vocabulary; but in popular speech the two languages are nearly identical. In fact, it's only in the past century that the two languages have really begun to diverge.
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goofy
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Re: Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby goofy » Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:19 am UTC


cntrational
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Re: Information on Arabic and Hindi

Postby cntrational » Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:38 am UTC

The only real reason Hindi and Urdu are known as languages instead of dialects is that the Hindus prefer Hindi and the Muslims prefer Urdu. These two groups don't like each other much.


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