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Season 1 - Episode 12

Basic Hindi 101

5 min - Talk


Uschi introduces us to a few basic and commonly used Hindi terms and words that will be essential during your journey to India.
What You'll Need: No props needed

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Mar 31, 2016
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Namaste, kse hai ap, ham tik hai, ap tik hai. Knowing some basic Hindi terms as you travel in North India is hugely, hugely helpful. Even though India is such a vast nation with hundreds of languages and dialects, just a few basics will really help you as you travel. I'll never forget, my friend Carolyn gave me a list of things that would be helpful on my journey, numbers, comings and goings, how to ask for help. I had this list in my bag for the entire time I was in India for two months, and every time I pulled it out, I was so, so grateful.

So here's some terms that will help you, and there's more. One of the most important and funnest terms in the Hindi language is tik hai. You'll hear people use it all the time and overuse it in a conversation, and sometimes their conversation consists only of tik hai, back and forth. Tik hai basically means okay. So learn to say tik hai, and when you're happy, use it with your friends.

Since you know how to say okay, it's really important to know how to say no. No is a big one. When you're out in the market in India, you'll get approached by people, and most oftenly, you might just want to use no or say nothing at all. But saying no thank you is something that in the West we're often really used to saying no thanks. Thanks can be kind of an invitation, so just saying no with a boundary is really important.

In Hindi, you would say nahin, or nahi cha yay, which means no I don't want. So nahi or nahi cha yay are two important words to know. A great word in the Hindi language is acha. It means good. Lots of things are acha.

Your chai is good, your breakfast is good, your train ride was good, the sunset is good. You can use acha with almost anything. If someone asks how you are, acha, or if you're very good, you'll say bahut acha. You're probably wondering how do I say yes in Hindi. It's very simple.

You could just say ha, like ha ha ha ha ha, which would mean yes yes yes yes yes yes if you were speaking Hindi. So just say ha or ji ha as a sign of respect. What about when something's not good, or you're not feeling good? How do you say that? You know how to say good, which is acha.

So when something is not good, you can just say acha nahi. That also applies to you. So if someone asks you, do you have a tummy ache? You could say ha, acha nahi, and that will communicate what you need to say. So you've been shopping in the markets of India.

How do you ask how much something costs? Really simple. You can say kitna, which means how much. Or to be more accurate, you could say kitna ka hai. How much is this?

So in all of this, where are you, ka ha hai? If you go out into the rural areas of India, oftentimes you'll encounter people on the road, and they'll look at you, and they'll say ka ha, or ka ha hai. They're basically asking you, where are you from, and how did you get here? Not from outer space. So can you also use this to ask for directions, since that's really important to navigating your way around on your pilgrimage?

And the answer is yes. Easy and simple. You can just point to a map and ask for directions and say hanuman temple, ka ha hai. Or shri cafe, ka ha hai, and someone will help you. So you've come all the way across the world to India on a pilgrimage.

How do you introduce yourself politely and meet people? Really simple with the term meri or meranam. When I introduce myself to someone, I'll say namaste, meri nam ushi hai, or namaste, meranam ushi. People will be so impressed by your Hindi skills, even if you only know three words. So look over your terms, jot them down, make yourself a list, a cheat sheet to take with you in your rickshaw rides, look over it, memorize some of them, and make new friends.



So tantalizing! I would definitely want to study Hindi before undertaking a trip to India! I've been studying Sanskrit for a couple of years, so I can basically read the Devanagari script - a start!

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