Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ek Do Teen: Number Sense!

Before commencing with the next lesson, I will respond to a reader query:
Dear Bollywood Goddess,

What is "mujhse," as in "mujhse kaho" in the title track "Main Hoon Na"?


The short answer is, it means "to me." "Se" is a complex post-position, and depending on context, can mean "to," "with," or "from." I'll probably do a separate lesson exploring post-positions in greater detail. "Mujhse kaho" means "say to me," (kehna means "to say," and "kaho" is the imperative form), and it will generally take or imply a direct object. Mujhse kuch kaho -> Say something to me.

Keep the questions flowin'!

And now for the number lesson. There is a 1988 song from the film Tezaab that will aid greatly in learning numbers 1-13. It is called "Ek Do Teen," and is one of the most famous Bollywood dance numbers of all time, starring the one and only Madhuri Dixit.

Ek- One (pronounced like the English word "ache")
Do- Two (pronounced "though")
Teen- Three
Chaar- Four
Paanch- Five
Chhe- Six
Saat- Seven
Aath- Eight (pronounced Aaht)
Nau- Nine
Das- Ten (pronounced "thus")

Now for some "special" numbers.

Lakh- 100,000; according to the Indian numbering system, this is written as 1,00,000
Crore- 100 lakhs, or 10 million, written as 1,00,00,000

In July 2000, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan (affectionately termed "The Big B") began hosting a show inspired by "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" titled "Kaun Banega Crorepati?"

Kaun- Who
Banna- To become [Banega- will become]
Crorepati- Wealthy person [Pati literally means "husband," so someone married to ten million rupees]

Chalo then, until next time!

Main Hoon Na!!

Today's vocabulary lesson is inspired by a 2004 Bollywood blockbuster, Main Hoon Na.

A note about the pronunciation: Words are often transliterated with an "N" at the end, but this is a very slight nasalization that you can pretty safely get away with dropping entirely. So you can pronounce the title as "May Hoo Na," which amounts to, "I'm here, no?" Literally, it means, "I am, no?"

Let's go through some pronouns, in conjunction with some present tense forms of "Hona," the verb meaning "to be."

Main hoon: I am
Hum hain: We are [note: sometimes, especially in poetry, "hum" is used as the royal we for just one person. Also, "hum" is pronounced the way the English word "hum" is pronounced, rhyming with "bum."]
Tu hain: You are [note: this is the most informal form of "you," used only for extreme intimate relations or young children. Sometimes, mystical poets use it in poetry dedicated to God.]
Tum ho: You are [note: this is the normal form of "you." Also, "tum" is pronounced the way "oo" is pronounced in "book."]
Aap hain: You are [note: this is the plural and/or respectful form of "you"]
Woh hain: S/he is; they are

Now for the "na." Those of you who know French can liken it to "n'est-ce pas"? Sometimes it is used the way "right?" or "huh?" is used at the end of an English sentence, as a rhetorical request for validation.

Now for some added gratuitous vocabulary words that are commonly used in Bollywood, and that will help to learn the placement of words.

Paagal- a crazy person (often meaning crazy in love)
Aashiq- lover
Meri/mera/mere- mine (in the feminine, masculine, and plural forms, respectively)
Zindagi- life
Aisi/aisa/aise- like this (in the feminine, masculine, and plural forms, respectively)
Kyon- why [note: this is pronounced as "kyoo"]
Yahaan- here

Practice sentences:
Main paagal hoon, na? -> I'm crazy, huh?
Hum aashiq hain -> We are lovers; I am a lover
Tu meri zindagi hain -> You are my life. [This is the title of a song from the 1990 film Aashiqui; listen to it here]
Main aisa kyon hoon? -> Why am I like this? [This is the title of a song from the 2004 film Lakshya; listen to it here]
Woh yahaan kyon hain? -> Why is s/he here? (or "why are they here?")

That's it for now. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Welcome, and a Note on Transliteration

This blog will provide you with some basic Hindi language and cultural lessons so that you can better appreciate your journey through Bollywood cinema. I will reference many Bollywood titles, songs, and dialogues, and provide helpful external links as much as possible to make it a thoroughly fulfilling experience. I will also entertain special requests on linguistic or cultural matters, so please utilize the comments or email me.

Rather than use scholarly transliterations, I will be using transliterations that are commonly used for Bollywood films. For example, "Hum" meaning "we" or "us," would properly be written as "Ham"; various dots and accents are used in academic literature, but I will try to simplify and be as phonetic as possible.