lemonfirefly (lemonfirefly) wrote in linguaphiles,

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I have checked the India tag but did not see something like this, but apologies if this is a duplicate. Also apologies if my focus is too narrow.

Does anyone have advice for learning Indian languages, specifically Marathi? I speak English and to a considerable degree, French, and a smattering of others, but nothing close to Hindi or similar languages to assist. I have found a few blogs that I will study, and some confusing apps, but I'd appreciate any input or suggestions as to resources. I'm considering studying Hindi (in addition to just mooching its resources) to help but I would prefer to focus on Marathi if possible, so looking for Marathi advice especially.

More generally, Has anyone learned an Indian language to conversational competency for the first time as an adult? How would you suggest going about it? Tales of success would be comforting. :) Thanks!
Tags: hindi, languages of india, marathi
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the best way, i suppose, is to find a competent teacher.
by the way, hindi is much easier than marathi. and is more widespread, at least in india.
there are people who've learned either one of these two or both in an adult age. it is not that difficult, actually.
I have access to native speakers but nobody sure how to go about lessons, which element to tackle first and managably. I am thinking script since it can be covered alone, although speaking is more of a priority than writing. I expect Hindi might help as a backdrop, but I'm not sure if there would be more differences to keep straight as well. If Marathi would be a much harder undertaking without it then that would be an influence though.

I'm sure there are, and one way or another I hope to be among them!
the thing is that native speakers usually are confused about the lessons. what you need is an indologist, not necessary a native. anyway, you should start with the script and some simple speaking, simultaneously. i don't think there is much difference whether you learn marathi with or without hindi as a backdrop. these are two different languages. besides, it is quite common that a native marathi speaker's hindi is not what you call 'the proper one'. in maharashtra, for instant, hindi is influenced by vernacular marathi to a certain extent, even in the context of grammar.
anyway, since you already have some experience with foreign languages, perhaps, it wouldn't be a problem for you to undertake both the languages at the same time. it isn't that hard.
try to get some indian school books or the study books for the students of indology.

wish you luck.
if you have some particular questions about hindi or marathi grammar, feel free to ask me. :)
There is practically zero chance of finding someone who knows how to teach it as against speak it, which is why I figured I'd cast the net in case a linguaphile knows of any additional materials... Hindi is so much more accessible, but I'm not sure to what extent it would serve me with family, and I fear the differences would be my undoing! I think if I did go that route I would not learn both simultaneously; ideally Hindi would be a stepping stone so I could then make better use of more advanced Marathi materials I have come across, at which point I would try to understand and rewrite my learning where necessary and then continue on in Marathi. However, my learning has been almost exclusively Romance languages so far with the occasional dabble in the Germanic so with Indo-anything I'm flying pretty blind here as far as strategizing. :(

Thank you. :)
I would say my advice is the same as it would be for learning any language. (The main difference for Marathi is that quality learning materials are very thin on the ground and, depending on where you live, it may be quite difficult to find anyone to help you.)

1. Use it. If you want to be conversational, talk in it. If you don't have someone around to talk to, talk to yourself in it. Find a conversational partner on Skype. Consider starting a Marathi-language blog or finding an online discussion forum.

2. Practice daily. Twenty minutes a day will do more for your competence than two hours once a week. Doesn't matter if it's only five minutes of review. It takes dozens of repetitions for new vocabulary to work its way into your head.

3. Have fun. Language learning really boils down to rote memorisation and rote memorisation is super boring. If you can't link it to something you enjoy--listening to music, watching movies, composing limericks, getting drunk--you'll never make it past that.
Materials are my biggest problem, yep, as I have determination in spades but a general bafflement as to the next steps. I've never tried to learn a language seriously without instruction (I know of an informal Hindi session that is potentially feasible but I'm not sure how far I want to go down that route as far as whether it would add or reduce confusion). And most of all, I've never had my sights on something with such relatively small... exposure, for want of a better word. I'll be trying the classic labeling of things, and I'll have my hands on some materials from Mumbai from family in about a week so I'll see what that could contribute. I'm still holding out hope that someone can recommend something that has escaped my search but I know the odds are probably slim. Regardless, thank you for your prescription! :)
You mentioned starting with the script, so I would say: See if you can find some children's books. I know there are some being produced for Indian Americans who want their children to grow up with the language. I've also seen a fairly comprehensive Marathi dictionary (actually, I owned it until I gave it away to someone who had more use for it) which should be adequate for decipherment.

(My usual recommendation for adults self-teaching is graphic novels, but good luck finding one of those in any Indian language.)
The children's books are something I had considered, although due to lack of immediate resources (could try amazon etc but as another mentioned, the content can be dubious in relevancy) a knock-off alternative could be to use simple local children's books and get them translated by my accomplices.

I forgot I could ask for a tag when I first posted, but after checking the profile for procedures I noticed you're a maintainer - could I trouble you to bestow a Marathi tag? :)
I don't speak Marathi, but one of the best things I did when I started learning Hindi was to watch a LOT of movies and listen to a LOT of music. I listened to both the songs and the dialogues and mimic the pronunciation and rhythm of their speech, which helped a lot. I don't really know much about Marathi films except that they exist, but there should be songs on YouTube, although the only one I know of off the top of my head is Kombadi Palali. As my languge skills improved, I started transcribing and translating songs from the movies to help cement vocab in my brain. No reason you couldn't do that with Marathi as well.

The best way to get to conversational competency, IMO, is to find someone to have conversations with once you get the basic grammar down. If you're more interested in reading (which I'm assuming not because you specifically said conversational competency), then look for Marathi newspapers. Start with either simple articles or articles about something you're already familiar with, and then branch out more as your vocab and reading fluency improve. Good luck!
I have family I can attempt to converse with, so that will be doable, and I'll probably try to set up a regimen of incremental learning in the meantime, but the resource situation is quite dire until I bridge the early gaps somehow. I have some songs and will look for more when I have the time. I will need to figure out how to get past the initial hurdle into the point where it would be possible to transcribe parts. :/ But yes, media will definitely be a resource I further pursue when applicable! Although I shouldn't completely undersell myself, I suppose, as I was able to figure out "Shyamchi aai" (title only!), so, baby steps. ;)
I've been in a somewhat similar situation with Hndi (my wife's family is Hindi-speaking; my wife understands OK but doesn't really speak it).

My experience trying to learn Hindi has been somewhat frustrating. Things I have NOT found useful include:

-- Children's books, at least the ones my wife had from her family. These are disastrous; full of Sanskritic vocabulary and obscure rural words.

-- Classes organized by volunteers at community centers and the like. The teachers were native speakers who did not have a good teachable understanding of the language.

-- Trying to talk to my wife's family in Hindi. They would either be totally uncomprehending, or they would understand what I said and rattle off a reply at a hundred miles an hour. Hopefully not all families are like this.

Things I DID find useful:

-- Bollywood movies. By far the best learning materials. Especially if you can find the rarities with subtitles in English AND HINDI.

-- Textbooks. I liked Snell's "Teach Yourself Hindi" the best.

Overall, I wish I had started learning younger (at least when I was in graduate school) because I would have had more time to devote to it.

I'm not sure how much of this is relevant to Marathi, but I hope it's at least somewhat useful.

Useful, well, tbh my first response was along the lines of "oh darn" as your cautionary tales are against most of the few resources I have mustered! But yes, useful and also appreciated, definitely. :) I haven't found much in the way of Marathi-specific textbooks, at least not from the English perspective as most guides seem to be Hindi-based, but I have found a strange digital textbook that I'm trying out. The Hindi lessons I do know of would probably be volunteer-based and, as you mentioned, that can spell doom. I would be less inclined to go that way than make use of my native speaker(s) as it would at least be the right language I'm being poorly instructed in. I think learning Devanagari might be my first port of call, as it would be so integral to learning vocab, etc., that it probably deserves an early spot. My vague sense from awhile ago is there are a few minor discrepancies between Hindi and Marathi as far as pronunciation which I'll try to look out for as well. I've gotten a few pages to try from the Hindi tag so that should be a good help. Thanks for your suggestions! :)
Please don't let me put you off! It may well be that you will find more joy than I did with volunteer-run classes. And it may well be worth learning some Hindi, if only to get the Devanagari down. The Indo-Aryan family has many similarities with the Romance family of languages. I don't know Marathi, but I would guess that its relationship with Hindi might be analogous to something like Italian v. Spanish. Maybe someone else can opine more authoritatively.
No no - but in a way I can't be put off, really, or at least not without really trying first... I'm making progress with the Devanagari and there are enough small differences between Hindi and Marathi that I'm still thinking just the one would be "simpler" - in a manner of speaking, as Marathi has more, or at least some different, sounds than Hindi, and variability.

Somewhere here I saw the analogy that speakers of regional languages tend to understand Hindi in the way that - I believe the term used was "hood rats" - would understand the Queen but not vice versa. There's several degrees of separation by this chart but with its specificity I don't know how significant that would be.

Not sure if you're checking this over a year later, but I've found http://kaushiklele-learnmarathi.blogspot.co.uk/ a great resource and has You Tube links as well. Quite heavy on grammar but a good starting point when backed up by film-watching and attempting to chat to native speakers. You mention you have found some blogs so this may well be one of them, but just in case it isn't I thought I should pass it your way.

My own Marathi learning is going quite slowly (I find Hindi much easier) but I'd be happy to discuss further if you're still going with it (not sure if there is a private message function on here?)




September 14 2015, 20:52:13 UTC 1 year ago Edited:  September 14 2015, 20:57:37 UTC

Hi Jon, Thank you and sorry for this late response. The blog sounds familiar although I've slipped in my studies so I don't remember much about it --oops... I'd be interested in your experiences. I think there's a direct mail capability but I will have to look into how it works. E.T.A. Might have got it?
Just sent you a message but apparent you gave "privacy settings" so cant receive it :) I'll paste it here apar from the bit with my e-mail address (feel free to message me with yours if you want to discuss Marathi-learning further),

Hi - yes got this! I completely forgot about this website or why I joined it (it might have been specifically to write a comment on your post actually!)

To be honest, after a year and a half of (sporadically) working through Kaushik's blog, watching Marathi films and talk shows on YouTube and having the occasional attemt at a conversation with Maharashtrian friends (either face to face or on Skype) I've reached a bit of an impasse with Marathi. I spent a week in Mumbai and Nasik in Easter and spoke some Marathi (and Hindi, which I find much much easier) which certainly helped. I think total immersion is the only way that really works for me....

Why are you learning, BTW? I'm about to start an anthropology PhD looking at language and identity in Mumbai and had grand ideas of mastering Hindi (which I speak lowe level conversationally anyway), Marathi and Gujarati prior to going out to do fieldwork for a year starting late next year, but I think I may have to scale down expectations and jettison the Gujarati apart from a few pleasantries!


Hi Jon, so sorry! I had no idea. I think I fixed it. Otherwise we can just talk here.