See also: The Hindi Language
Grammar and Spelling
Section One - Grammar and Spelling
1. Gender and Case: There are two genders in Hindi There are eight cases They can all be easily recognized and they do not require any agreements.
2. Articles: Articles are not used in Hindi.
3. Plural: The plural form can be recognised as shown in the following example:
4. Accents: Accents are not used in Hindi.
5. Capitalisation: Capitalisation is not used in Hindi.
Section Two - Punctuation
Hindi does not have any particular forms of punctuation that an English-speaker might find odd.
1. Full stops: Full stops are written as “।” and are used at the end of a sentence.
2. Speech marks: "..." (direct speech) is used for conversation and '...' is used for highlighting a noun. E.g.:
“Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe.
“Would anyone like some tea?” asked George.
“I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said.
3. Colons, semi-colons and ellipsis: These are used in the same way as in English.
4. Apostrophe: Apostrophes are not used in Hindi.
Section Three – Measurements and Abbreviations
1. Measurements: The metric system is mostly used.
For decimals, a full stop '.' is used and, for separating thousands, a comma ',' is used.
The following shows how different times are written in Hindi:
10.30 am / noon / 4.30 pm / midnight
The following shows the different ways in which the date can be formatted:
Spacing: There should be a space between a figure and all measurement abbreviations, except for °C, which would be: 30 °C.
Days of the week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (not normally abbreviated in English)
Section Four - Hyphenation
Hyphens are used when a word remains incomplete at the end of a line while writing or when specifying a range, e.g.: 2-3
has both prefixes and suffixes which are joined to
words with a hyphen,
There are no particular characters/combinations of characters that can not be separated by a hyphen.
Section Five - Miscellaneous Peculiarities
Naming: Capitalisation does not apply in Hindi. Therefore, surnames will never be capitalised, as in some other languages.
However, surnames may be written before the first name in specific cases.
Section Six - Geographic Distribution
Hindi is a language spoken in most states in northern and central India. It is an Indo-European language, of the Indo-Aryan subfamily. It evolved from the Middle Indo-Aryan prakrit languages of the Middle Ages, and indirectly, from Sanskrit. Hindi derives much of its formal and technical vocabulary from Sanskrit. Due to Muslim influence in Northern India, a large number of Persian, Arabic and Turkish words were adopted, which eventually resulted in the formation of Urdu. Standard or "pure" Hindi is used only in public addresses and radio or TV news, while the everyday spoken language in most areas is one of several varieties of Hindustani. This fact can be observed in North Indian (e.g. 'Bollywood') films.
Hindi became the official language of India on January 26, 1965, and there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit. There are approximately 1650 dialects spoken across India.
English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication.
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindi (accessed 20th June 2005)
Section Seven - Character Set
[ ] = Alt key codes
A sample of some of the characters in Hindi would be:
By McElroy Translation Company,
McElroy is continuing this series of interviews that highlight some of the characteristics of languages used in doing business globally. This month, we look at Hindi.
What are some pitfalls specific to Hindi to avoid that a client should be aware of when translating into this language?
When clients send documents over for translation, there are some translators who charge by the target word. Hindi expands to about 1.5 times the English in which case the client is stuck with having to pay much more than what was anticipated.
Clients should now make sure the latest Unicode fonts are used or at least fonts that are easy to install. Mangal [Unicode font] is available in all computers with Windows XP. So there is no need to install the font. Other commonly used fonts are Krutidev and Shusha. Some translators are still using very old fonts that do not lend themselves to web publishing, etc.
For the sake of reducing their costs, clients are now sending their jobs to those translators who are charging the least or to those in native countries. This sometimes works well, but many times clients who do not know the language are fooled by very low-quality translation work.
In those cases, clients should make sure the document is edited by an experienced translator. The integrity of many agencies/translators in India is questionable. I recently had to edit a document that was translated by someone in India, and I was shocked at the extremely poor quality of work. The client only wanted me to give it a cursory look as they did not want to spend any more money on the task, but that document had to be rewritten completely because of the extent of mistakes in every line.
What are characteristics of Hindi that are unique or different from English and/or other languages?
Hindi is written in the Devanagari script. Because the Devanagari script contains more letters than the English alphabet, sometimes it is necessary to use two or even three English letters to represent one Devanagari letter.
The first eleven letters are all vowels, and then there are forty consonants.
All vowels come in two versions in the script: a full vowel and vowel sign. The vowel sign is much simpler than the full vowel. It is used when a vowel follows a consonant. If a vowel follows another vowel, or if a words starts with a vowel, the full vowel is used. There are no pronunciation differences between full vowels and vowel signs, however.
Hindi uses the same punctuation marks as English, except for the full stop which is represented by a vertical line.
In Hindi, objects have genders. For instance, a book is feminine, a room is masculine, a table is feminine, and a house is masculine.
Hindi uses a different word order than English. The main differences are that verbs are placed at the end of the sentence (as in German) and that Hindi uses postpositions instead of prepositions. Postpositions are like prepositions except that they are written after the noun.
How do these characteristics make it important to use properly qualified, professional translators?
Since grammar is quite difficult with two genders, laypeople make mistakes in that regard.
There are many dialects of Hindi spoken in India. Unless the person translating is a professional, the dialect they use will be distinct, which will sound wrong to a Hindi-speaking person from another area. For instance, people in Mumbai speak with a different accent compared to people in Delhi, and so on.
Most translators know that names of companies, abbreviations, etc., are usually retained in English when translating documents. But a layperson will just go ahead and translate everything without considering the end reader and the accepted norms in translation.
Do you know examples where translation or localization mistakes have occurred with Hindi, such as problems with text expansion, date/time formats, counting errors, character encoding, etc., or mistakes with the translation itself? Perhaps you’ve been asked to review a translation that did not seem to be the work of a properly qualified, professional translator.
I have had many experiences when I have been sent documents to edit which were so obviously done by laypeople based on the sheer number of spelling errors.
Another problem is the way in which names have been translated. For instance, when a person in remote India is translating documents for North America, they translate names like Brookline to read as “brook–lean.” A name like Keefe will read “keefee.”
Sometimes companies get their documents translated by Hindi speakers living in the United States. The documents are translated in such pure language that even a Hindi speaker would need a dictionary to understand most of it. Only a qualified translator knows how to translate for different end users.
In another case, the English source document had given a name of a person and his address for sending in completed forms. The entire bit was translated into Hindi including the name and the full address. If a person just wrote out that name and address and sent it to the United States, how would it reach the person concerned?
Relate an example or two of times you found a website page or form difficult to use because it was poorly localized. How might a business lose money, prestige, or incur legal risk due to this bad translation?
I was once asked to test a Hindi survey online. Many of the Hindi characters were displaying as junk characters and the button that read as “back” would go forward, and so on. It had to be completely redone. I spent a considerable amount of time taking screen shots of each page and preparing a corresponding Word document explaining what needed to be done.
Supposing this site had been live, the company would definitely have gotten a bad name for having such a faulty survey showing them to be unconcerned about quality.
In India, the date is written in the dd/mm/yyyy format as opposed to the mm/dd/yyyy format followed in the United States. I have seen cases where a lot of confusion was caused because the translator had put the date in the Indian format with June 11, 1973 written as 11/6/1973.
Lack of proper editing before turning in translations can cause a lot of damage. I have seen instances where translators would translate 1 million dollars as 1 million rupees. That is only 25,000 dollars. The meaning changes so quickly when a mistake in translation occurs.
If possible, provide one example of a particular phrase or concept that only a properly qualified, professional translator would be able to correctly communicate.
The text below is a sentence that I translated some time back, and I feel that a layperson would not be effectively able to translate it in a clear and precise manner. There are many such examples of text that a layperson might translate in a very roundabout manner that would be confusing to the end reader.
“Having read and understood the foregoing, I voluntarily agree to and consent for The Gallup Organization to perform the processing activities described above for the purposes of the Pioneer India Employee Engagement Survey, 2007, and I consent to my data being processed in the United States.”
Published in September 2008.
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