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Nasalized Vowels

Did you notice these few new terms?

कहाँ?
kahã
Where?
आजकल
ājkal
these days
अरे वाह!
are vāh
Oh, nice!

Did you also notice the sounds ū̃, ā̃, and ĩ in:

हूँ
hū̃
am
हाँ
hā̃
yes
हैं
haĩ
are

These are nasalized vowels. Any vowel, with the exception of in Hindi, can be nasalized. That means that a good part of the airflow passes through the nose. You may not realize it, but English has plenty of nasal vowels. Any time a vowel comes before –m, –n, or –ng in the same syllable, it’s nasalized. Say dope and don’t, and pay close attention to the vowel. It’s nasalized in don’t. In Hindi, a nasal vowel is marked by a kind of half-moon on its side with a dot over it, placed above the vowel. If part of the vowel itself is written above the headstroke, then just the dot is used. Notice that in transliteration, nasalization is marked by the tilde:

कूँ kū̃
काँ kā̃
कों kō̃

Now let’s take a very quick look at the word order in Hindi. You may have noticed that it is different from the word order used in English. Let’s look at some of these differences: First, the verb to be, in its various forms, comes at the end of a sentence.

मैं अच्छी हूँ!
maĩ acchī hū̃!
I am fine!
आप कैसे हैं?
āp kaise haĩ?
How are you?

Second, interrogatives usually come before the verb. But the interrogative क्या kyā (what) comes at the beginning of a yes/no question.

आपका नाम क्या है?
āpkā nām kyā hai?
What is your name?
क्या तुम मदन हो?
kyā tum madan ho?
Are you Madan?
क्या आप राज हैं?
kyā āp rāj haĩ?
Are you Raj?