I don’t know about you, but my Hindi isn’t nearly as good as my English. In fact, my English is about the best language I have to offer when traveling.
Nothing focuses the mind more than trying to communicate basic information with someone who you do not share a common language with. While it can be hard and frustrating it can also be a beautiful thing. Recently, a lady who we met on the train and who had basically no English vocabulary still offered us food, and when I smiled and shook my head to say “No, thank you” she smiled back and said to me “Beautiful smile.”
English, Hindi and a local dialect
While English is widely spoken throughout India, the official language is Hindi. Each region also has it’s on dialect – In Kolkata, you’ll find people speaking Bengali, in Mumbai people may speak Marathi. It can make for confusing conversation at the best of times.
There are other benefits to knowing a bit of the local language, it can help you make friends. A simple Namaste can break the ice. It can also be helping in getting rid of new ‘friends’ like a rickshaw driver who won’t leave you alone.
Its taken us a month, but here is a handful of words and phrases you might find handy if you end up on the sub-continent.
Quick Hindi phrases for your trip
Hello / Hi: Namaste
What’s your name?: Aapka naam kya hai?
Thank you: Dhanyavaad
That’s enough: Bas bahut hua
When all else fails, and if things are really bad (of you’re being pickpocketed or harassed), you can always resort to the ‘Billy Connolly school of language’ and say a hearty ‘F off!”‘.
If you’re keen to learn more languages, why not check out duolingo. They offer courses in hundreds of languages and are launching a Hindi course later in 2017.