Slip of the Tongue!

I am no polyglot or linguist and my tongue has really struggled to grasp the new sounds the Marathi language has exposed it to. I’ve been told by native Hindi speakers who live in Maharashtra that it’s hard for them to pronounce some Marathi words as well, which makes me feel a little better. It doesn’t stop the people I meet in Nagpur saying things like, “you should be fluent by now, we can speak English so why can’t you speak Marathi?”. I had never even heard of the Marathi language or Maharashtra before I met my husband, whilst English is one of of India’s many national languages, but that is for another day…

So, anyway, I find Marathi very difficult to speak, my tongue just doesn’t seem to want to accept it, I just cannot form many of the words with my voice (doesn’t mean I don’t samajatha  the jist of what people are saying around me).

Slowly but surely, small bits and pieces are starting to stick. The things that have stuck and I am able to actually say are, logically, things I hear constantly repeated, over and over. For example, when my husband is on the phone he says “baaki chhan” all the time, and that basically means that everything is good. I’ve got that one sussed and locked in the memory bank!

One evening, whilst parking our car, my husband asks me if everything is okay.

“Jackie Chan”, I reply. Oops!


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  1. I’ve heard that a few times too. It makes me so irritated. Most Indians start learning English in primary school. I only started learning Hindi less than 3 years ago and have never had proper lessons. 25 plus years of learning vs 3? Really?
    We’re doing good for how long we’ve been working at it ?


      • Also, I’m totally incapable of saying many things. Every time I try to say “leave” like “don’t leave me” it comes out as a dirty word…


      • That really is real LOL scenario!!!! Most Western languages dont have varying Ts i.e त थ ट ठ and Ds द ध ड ढ !! The first two Ts and Ds come out with the tongue touching the front teeth and the last two Ts and Ds come when the tongue twists and touches the upper pallate of the mouth!!! छोड़ which is to leave is written like this, but since the last two Ts and Ds are difficult for foreigners they use the first Ts and Ds this makes it funny in this situation


  2. Marathi, especially that spoken in Vidarbha, is the easier of languages to learn, especially for people who know hindi. Ergo, the hindi speakers who say it’s difficult have a language absorbtion problem.


  3. keep up the good work Lauren. Hindi is similar to marathi, bengali, gujrati etc. The sentence constructions, words and grammer are more or less same. The only thing different is how u pronounce the words. There is usually a extra sound in regional languages which makes it sound different from Hindi for eg. jal (water in hindi) becomes jol (water in bengali). There also no “va” sound in bengali which be comes “ba”. except for some linguist peculiarities most regional languages share similarities. South Indian languages are entirely different because they share less similarities with HindI. These languages are more like the different dialects of English in Britain like the Yorkshire accent.

    btw, “samajhta” is masculine. In your case it would be “samajhti”. In Hindi even non living things have gender. This is a common mistake. i sounds like a teacher. no offence meant.


    • See, haha, it’s complicated!
      This is why I can understand but not speak, I think in my situation understanding is most important because if I do attempt to speak people just laugh at me anyway 😛


      • I guess that there are two problems which non hindi speakers face and not just foreigners. Verbs have gender in Hindi. This is a very common problem where people mix the genders as far as verbs are concerned. Second is the words which need you to roll your tongue. The second one is a typical problem of foreigners.

        Most languages of India actually differ in pace and pronouncation. We are all speaking the same words more or less, using the same alphabets and sentence contructrions but at a different pace. It is like hearing the same song at different speeds. People get caught up in semantics and create linguastic divides.

        BTW, i like Marathi. It has a bounce and lovely rythm. I also love the Marathi bhajans during Ganesh Chaturthi. They way they rythimically sing the bhajans is wonderfull My favourite is “Jai Dev Jai Dev Ganapati…”


      • It’s funny you say that, my husband loves the sound of Bengali!

        Oh yes, there are a lot of bhajans during Ganesh Chaturthi, and a lot of shouting “Ganpati Baba Moriyaaa” 😀


      • I think you should start a english grammar and language coaching institute .there are lots of demand of it as english is necessary part of every competitive exam in india and spoken english also has its large share of demands in indias education market and consequently job market
        And above all you dont have to invest much money into this venture.
        Believe me even in country side english teachers earn as much as 30000 rupees per month easily.


      • I think you need a sustained exposure to a language either hindi or marathi. This is a problem that most foreigners face in India. A few words, some phrases here and there but not much as far as conversation is concerned. In your case, there is the problem of marathi and hindi, which one to learn?? I think you should start with hindi because it is widely spoken and it also forms the template of most of regional languages in India except those in south and north east. Most marathis understand hindi so it would be an appropriate language of communication. You can also ask your husband to start speaking to you in hindi so that you can get a hand of the language in day to day.

        Secondly, you should start watching hindi TV serials and movies. You may not be able to understand fully but you get and idea of how the language sounds in over a period of say half and hour or one hour with the story to join the dots. A very good way is to watch hindi movies with english subtitles on youtube. What is most interesting that these days bollywood movies have more english words. I have gone through many of these inter cultural blogs and I find it strange that nobody has explored Hindi serials or movies to learn the language. Perhaps Indians themselves paint a negative picture of their own movies and serials.

        There is ofcourse online course and material to learn from which teach at the own pace. Don’t get disheartened by what people say. I you learn a language it will be for your own advantage and not for somebody else. Language is the key that opens up the door of culture. If get a grip on Hindi it will be easier for you to pick up marathi later. Right now you are somewhere in between which is not a good position to be in.

        Alas, I sound like a teacher again. No offence meant.


      • Hey Friend,
        I hear practically zero Hindi, it’s really Marathi focused over here. I did start to try and learn Hindi when our plans were to move out of Nagpur, but we are staying and so Hindi, although I assume is much easier to learn, I don’t feel I should study. I have picked up bits along the way but it’s not something I am prepared to devote a lot of myself to since we are no longer leaving Nagpur and my Indian family and the people around me speak Marathi. I could not stand to watch Indian serials, the grandparents watch Marathi serials all day when they are here and they give me a headache, I am not a fan of TV or the high drama.

        At the moment I am just taking it as it comes, and don’t worry. I am getting sustained exposure to Marathi, it’s just difficult for me.

        Take care


  4. Oh gracious. I hear Kashmiri from my husband & his family, Nepali from my maid & gardener, & everything from Cantonese, Korean, Japanese, Greek, German, French, to Thai, from tourists here in Nepal.
    There really are so many sounds we don’t have in English in Hindi, Nepali, Urdu, & Kashmiri. The aspirated ‘ch’ (as in chaunk, which sounds more like “tsonk”) that sounds more like the ‘zz’ in pizza or mozzarella is one that I have difficulty with.
    And what is with this spelling things with an ‘s’ that are pronounced with an ‘sh’, as in chiso (means cold in Nepali) that is pronounced ‘chi-show’?
    Then theres the ‘th’ sound which doesn’t even exist really in Hindi but is pronounced as a ‘t’, shouldn’t paratha be spelled as it is pronounced ‘paratta’?
    There’s no ‘v’ but it can be pronounced as a ‘w’ or a ‘b’, I’ve heard vodka pronounced as ‘watka’ and batka’.
    To top it all off, because I’m a Californian who grew hearing speaking Spanish as well as English, I speak Hindi, Nepali, & Kashmiri with a Spanish accent. UGH!


  5. Haha that was so funny , but dont worry Lauren i’m quite sure you’ll learn marathi soon, i actually dont know how is marathi language but i know a bit of hindi i can speak some words however it is something difficult, but it’s a challenge and a great experience!
    So keep trying! You are doing it well 😉
    Sending love x


  6. Hahaha, that one made me laugh out loud. The things I learned in marathi while in India were mostly the names of spices and vegetables which I asked my cook about. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten most of it now! And whenever I said some words in Hindi (which I was learning with Pimsleur) , people laughed at me not in a bad way but in a happy way, like at the store, they were very surprised about my few words in Hindi.


      • For about 15 years I lived in a Welsh-speaking area in Wales (I’m English, as you know). I attended several intensive Welsh language courses, all day everyday, for a month at a time, and weekly classes in between. Whenever I spoke Welsh to Welsh speakers they were very encouraging and patient, rephrasing what they had said in simpler words if I struggled to understand. My English colleague had moved to Wales 20 years before me, and had married a Welsh speaker and her children were brought up bilingual. She had attended courses just as I had.
        Whereas I was confident in speaking Welsh, even with errors, my colleague (who could understand much more Welsh than I could) would never speak it. When I asked her why, she said it was because her sisters-in-law (her husband was one of ten children) used to laugh when she first spoke Welsh all those years ago, and it had made her feel much too self-conscious to continue speaking it. I’m sure they laughed involuntarily because to them it sounded strange to hear Welsh words coming from the mouth of someone who wasn’t Welsh, but the impact of their laughter on my colleague was profound.


      • I can relate to your colleague, Nicola. It does really bust it out of you!
        My nanny is Welsh and her mother was Irish and moved into a joint family not knowing any Welsh and if I remember the story correctly, she ended up understanding but not speaking because of some taunts. History repeating itself or what? Haha
        I hope you are well 😀 Take care xx


  7. So you are never short of mean spirited people in Nagpur. Typical of people who have never left their big village (Yes nagpur is a big village). Next time ask them if they can learn a neighbouring state language like Telugu or Kannada – They cannot, even if they spend the rest of their life span (and I bet they will not want to either ). Perhaps then they will appreciate how difficult it is for a westerner to learn native languages.
    I am purposefully referring to south indian languages because unlike Hindi (which is quite close to Marathi, by the way) they are from an entirely different language family.
    Sigh..I hope you get thick skinned sooner than later – else you will lose your sanity.


    • Haha, VK, I know you are a huge fan of Nagpur really 😛
      It is indeed a big village in so many regards!
      Something that will tickle you, a elderly Nagpurian man once said this to me “I learnt Gujarati in 7 months, you have been here for 10 months- what is your excuse!?” in a quite aggressive tone.

      My skin has got a lot thicker, I still get frustrated sometimes but not as much as before. I’ve started to see the funny side of things 🙂
      Hoping you are well 🙂


      • I recently read a story about a Syrian refugee learning German in 7 months. But do you know how? He dedicated EVERY moment of every day studying. That’s all he did, besides eat and sleep.
        If an Indian man was telling you he learned a language in 7 months, it’s because he’s a man. Men here, while most work, don’t have as much responsibility as women. It’s unrealistic that people expect you to learn their language in such a short amount of time.
        I could have learned Hindi by now, if I didn’t have to cook, clean, tend to my blog, tend to my husband, do freelance writing jobs to survive… Yeah… But I do have to do all of those things!
        So don’t worry about what those kind of people say.


  8. I’m watching a brazilian soap opera based on indian culture and I can imagine how difficult it is to pronounce some words when every actor says the same word in a different way. It doesn’t stop me from appreciating the beautiful story and to learn more about India, but sometimes is too funny and I laugh on the saddest scenes. lol


    • India has some really intense soap operas haha, and sometimes what is trying to be sad can turn into comedy because it’s just toooo dramatic!
      That’s cool there is an Indian serial in Brazil 😀
      I hope you are well 😀 xx


  9. if any one asks you anything in marathi just say ‘Majha Malat Nai’ meaning ‘i dont know’ and just scoot 🙂


  10. Hi,

    I can understand your problem in learning language. I face same problem in Chennai. I am Marathi and I am living in Chennai for last almost two years. I can understand some words of Tamil but otherwise I am blank when someone speaks Tamil. It is very different language for me. And people here ask me same question “how you have not learned tamil” yet. For me it is very difficult and different language. Although I am very open to learn any language it is taking me lot of time and efforts.

    Even some people laugh at me if I speak tamil but I take it like, they hear some of their words in different tone and way and so they laugh.

    Anyway I try to follow your posts they are all good.



    • Hey Shailesh,
      I have heard from many people how different South Indian languages can be!! I am sure you are doing very well!!
      My cousin sister-in-law is marrying a South Indian guy and I think she will have similar language problems with her new family to the ones I initally had with mine!

      I hope you are well, thank you so much for your great comment! Take care


  11. Hey! So i just recently found your blog – in fact, I just commented on a different post, lol – and I, too am trying to learn. My soon-to-be MIL only speaks Hindi and Marathi, no English. So, I am trying to learn Hindi first, because everyone tells me that the switch from Hindi to Marathi isn’t that big and from what I’ve found, there are many more resources for learning Hindi than there are for Marathi (make that nearly none!). My point is that, on my own blog, I am trying to put some posts up for learning Hindi as I learn it – so if you are interested, maybe it will help you, too? Just a thought *^_^* Maybe one day, I’ll get around to making a useful guide to Marathi when I learn it, lol! If you’ve any good books or resources to recommend, that would be much welcomed.

    Best of luck! (the blog is



  12. Hello Lauren, At first welcome to our India… and it was really a pleasure reading everything here, Good luck and have a beautiful life….


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