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Thinly disguised political agenda teaches useless Hindi
on May 1, 2001
Learning Hindi from this book is akin to a non-English speaker learning Latin grammar before coming to the U.S. and expecting to understand/be understood by Americans! The book is needlessly pedantic and clearly (to me) pursuing a language "purification" agenda, which flies in the face of actual Hindi usage, be it in Bollywood, Kolkata or Dilli.
Whether the author and her ilk like it or not, today's Hindi is a rich, polyglot language, with perhaps half of its word count (esp. in spoken Hindi...more than 50% when sung in Mumbai film songs!) coming from "Videshi" sources e.g. Persian, Arabic, English. Not only does the author not acknowledge this, there is too self-conscious an effort to use retrograde Sanskrit words and forms, resulting in a language that would sound archaic/pedantic/quaint to most Indian ears, if not downright unintelligible.
For instance, most Indians would commonly use the Persian/Arabic/Urdu words duniya, kitab,jaanwar, zamin instead of the author's preferred prithvee, pustak, pashu,bhoomi (Sanskrit)for earth/world, book, animal and land respectively. An even more egregious case(which could cause real weird problems for the reader)is her attempted distinction between "ma'in" and "hum" for the first person pronoun "I". Pretty basic, no? Why she idio(syncra)tically reserves the first form for "I" and the second form for "we"is beyond me... when ALL Indians use them interchangeably for "I"!!!
The author does her readers a disservice in not pointing out more common forms, which generally happen to be Urdu...I wonder if this is the root of the real problem here? If so, she should have made it clear in the Introduction that this book was Hindi for Hindus, to be used by those who yearn for a return to a "sacred" Sadhubhasa, but virtually useless for communicating with the vast majority of Hindi-speaking Indians who cherish the dynamism and diversity of their mother tongue.
The grammar sections are fine, though, as could be expected, with some outmoded formalisms. An appendix on adjectives would be welcome for most learners, as the main section contains mainly a list of Hindi words without translation.
All in all, this is not a book for the general purpose Hindi learner. While the author says this book is for "reading, writing and comprehension", I believe its scope is even more limited: to "traditional" Hindi literature and literateurs. Which is fine, but then you wouldn't be able to communicate with your cab driver or rickshawalla, read today's authors and newspapers, definitely not be able to follow most Hindi movies or TV shows, and worst of all, never be able to enjoy the ineffable beauty of a Lata or Rafi song..."Chaudvin ka Chaand ho, ya aaftab ho" or "Jiya beqaraar hai, chhaai bahaar hai, aaja more baalmaa, tera intezaar hai."