Hindi Urdu Flagship Program
May 31, 2010 9:20 AM   Subscribe

The Hindi Urdu Flagship Program at the University of Texas, Austin has a number of freely available online resources on Hindi and Urdu, including vocabulary exercises for beginners, video interviews with native speakers discussing various aspects of their language, a Hindi-language podcast on various topics and the ways one can discuss them in Hindi, and several downloadable books in PDF format.

The Hindi Urdu Flagship is only one of many programs under the aegis of The Language Flagship initiative, "a national effort to change the way Americans learn languages" involving centers teaching many different languages in several universities, across the United States and around the world.
posted by skoosh (18 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Uff the shame of being lumped together! (kidding. sort of. my father will be turning in his grave.)
posted by bardophile at 10:23 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hindi and Urdu are taught in separate courses there, if it makes your father feel any better. Me, I kind of wish that they taught both Hindi and Urdu together in at least the beginning courses, but it might be a bit much to expect a typical American college student to learn two writing systems that are both totally different from each other and completely foreign to her, as well as two similar (but not identical) sets of vocabulary, all simultaneously.
posted by skoosh at 10:34 AM on May 31, 2010

Excellent. Now please find one for Kannada.
posted by dhruva at 10:48 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh man! I'm just getting ready to go through a mess with my department program director over the fact that NEITHER of these is taught at my school, yet I need both for research, along with Classical Persian (not taught there either), yet I'm REQUIRED to pass two language exams at my school for my program.

I'll console myself by reading this and learning as much as I can!
posted by strixus at 10:50 AM on May 31, 2010

This is great! Just as I was dusting off my old Hindi materials to get back into the swing of things.
posted by threeants at 11:07 AM on May 31, 2010

strixus: Any chance of cross-registering at UGA? They've also got courses in Persian (in the Religion department, maybe?), according to the course bulletin.
posted by skoosh at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why don't more Universities teach Hindi? When my dad was in college, his engineering program required two semesters of a "technical language", which was either Russian or German at the time since along with English, those were the languages in which engineering happened, so to speak. Now, that would be more like Hindi or Chinese. For that matter, why not teach Asian languages at the grade school level instead of German and French? They would certainly be more useful in the lives of current grade school students. What would today's kids possibly have to say to any German or Frenchman 20 years from now, besides maybe "ha ha, sucks to be you, colonialism's a bitch ain't it?".
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:44 AM on May 31, 2010

hum khoosh huay soon kar, yeh baat ko

but agree with bardophile, ditto dad ;p
posted by infini at 12:07 PM on May 31, 2010

Why don't more Universities teach Hindi?

I think there's a wide perception that "everyone in India speaks English anyway". While it is true that English is widely spoken and understood amongst the educated class, this is very inaccurate as a broad statement. In my experience in Northwest India, I would say that the average person on the street knows as much English as the average Joe in China or Tanzania or Guatemala; that is, not particularly much. Unfortunately, many people only think of the educated upperclass anyhow when considering doing dealings in other countries.
posted by threeants at 12:08 PM on May 31, 2010

Ok, terrible example; Tanzania is also a Commonwealth country where English is spoken by the elite. But you get my drift.
posted by threeants at 12:09 PM on May 31, 2010

Skoosh ! Thanks! I'll look into it.
posted by strixus at 3:01 PM on May 31, 2010

Bilcool teekay! :) Meherbani.
posted by nickyskye at 7:29 PM on May 31, 2010

I think there's a wide perception that "everyone in India speaks English anyway". While it is true that English is widely spoken and understood amongst the educated class, this is very inaccurate as a broad statement.

232,000,000 English speakers, ie, people who can read and write English. The total number of English users, people who can read English words but necessarily converse in the language, is easily 750 million. The wiki page doesn't quite say it, but I suspect this is true because most vernacular languages in India borrow a lot of words from English; a bicycle is simply corrupted to 'saikilu' in Telugu, for example.

None of which is any reason for, shall we say, non-interest in Hindi / Urdu in the US; you folks are better positioned to comment on that. :)

Uff the shame of being lumped together!

As you all probably know, the distinction between Hindi and Urdu is mostly religioso-political, having come up only post-Independence. Pre-independence, they were considered one language, Hindustani. :) [This is, of course, assuming you consider _both_ Naastaliq and Devnaagri to be native to Hindustani)
posted by the cydonian at 11:40 PM on May 31, 2010

i feel like channelling the spirit of raaj kumar, like in pakeezah or some such ;p
posted by infini at 1:29 AM on June 1, 2010

Gosh, foreigners talking in one's language is the sweetest thing. I just want to hug everyone who tries to learn my language.

(And kinda kick every celebrity who says Namaste.)
posted by mondaygreens at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2010

Why don't more Universities teach Hindi?

A fair amount do; Hindi has been taught at Berkeley since the early sixties. But it's only more recently that there's been a buildup of energy for creating materials for teaching it, assessment standards, etc. The Flagship Program is an important part of that, but there's still a ton of work to be done. Your average Hindi teacher usually has a very limited set of materials and is expected to create a lot of their own, as opposed to, for instance, a Spanish teacher, who has a huge amount of totally integrated materials and standards.

If you need more material, you can check out the now-classic video series A Door Into Hindi which is fairly closely linked to Teach Yourself Hindi.

A classic on the Hindi-Urdu debates (which as far as I know are the most controversial language debates in the world and I don't want to say anything about them, except that they go back at least to the 19th century) is Hindi Nationalism by Alok Rai; there are many, many others. As far as I know, the majority of language programs in the U.S. now teach the two languages separately--although the video series I just linked to does not.

Full Disclosure: I'm a grad student studying modern Hindi literature (though not at Austin) and have taught Hindi before. Great link, Skoosh! Although, it's kind of ironic, but you just gave me an excuse not to read from a history of Hindi for about fifteen minutes.
posted by goodglovin77 at 5:30 PM on June 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

goodglovin77: that book by Alok Rai is eye-opening, even in just the first few pages! I definitely want to read more.
posted by skoosh at 9:51 PM on June 1, 2010

The history is super heavy, to put it mildly. The book is short and fairly accurate (and written by Premchand's grandson!), so I would definitely recommend reading the whole thing if you're at all interested; the history of the Hindi-Urdu debate can illuminate the beginnings of a huge amount of cultural problems, and can problematize the bases of language and nation for billions of people--which is of course why it's so upsetting.
posted by goodglovin77 at 1:55 AM on June 2, 2010

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