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Hindi pronunciation tips - 2 (consonants)

In continuation with my previous post, I am now sharing some explanations on some consonants and conjuncts to clarify your concepts so that you can teach your child without confusion and with self-confidence. If the content is too academic for you, you can skip the complex concepts and just see the audios, article links and videos.

In the present series of posts, I am sharing helpful suggestions that will be of use to parents who want to understand some concepts of Hindi better for themselves before they help their child learn Hindi.

A helpful article on the Hindi letters, that is short and yet quite comprehensive is here:

Some tips that I would like to share are below.


क to म

The consonants are not that difficult if you are familiar with other Indian languages. However, depending on your native language, you may need to work on the correct pronunciation of the sounds.

The letters क to म are called sparsha vyanjan or plosive consonants and are arranged in the Devanagari alphabet as sets (varga) of 5 letters, each set articulated using mainly one part of the mouth. The 5th letter of each set is called "naasikya" as they have a nasal sound.

Check out this useful video on the Hindi consonant letters and their standard pronunciation from Shikshaa Deekshaa -

Conjunct Consonants  क्ष,  त्र, ज्ञ and श्र

When two or three consonants are added to create blends, the "ligatured letters" often give an idea what have been added. Like त + व = त्व (tva).

Why only these 4 consonants are added at the end of the standard varnamala?

Some blends look very different from the component consonants, and are hard to guess, like क्ष,  त्र, ज्ञ and श्र. So they are taught to children along with the main consonant set, so that they learn these symbols also at the outset. Some books mention three, क्ष,  त्र  and ज्ञ, while some books also mention a fourth, श्र . I think all the four letters should be taught to kids as they are common enough.

There is a lack of consensus among people from different states as to what is the correct sound of ज्ञ. In colloquial Hindi, we sound like "gya spoken nasally".

If you are interested to check out the correct Sanskrit pronunciation of this letter, check out this video:

The important thing to notice for non native speakers is that our pronunciation of Hindi consonants is affected by the way we pronounce equivalent consonants in our own mother tongue. So Bengalis find it hard to say व, many people from South India find it difficult to differentiate between भ and ब, anglophones find it hard to pronounce ड़ , ढ, घ, etc.

But with practice it is possible to acquire a better pronunciation. And I hope this post will point you in the right direction to achieve that.


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