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Learning Hindi

Hindi Challenges 2: Pronunciation of Aspirated Letters

A number of the consonants in Hindi have unaspirated and aspirated forms. Aspirated means you pronounce the same sound but with slightly more force.

When pronouncing aspirated sounds, you’re forcing a little bit more air out of your mouth, and it makes the sound of the letter more “breathy” or “hard.”

There’s no equivalent of this in English, but we do have some breathy sounds like P as in the word “pop.”

At the very beginning it’s going to be hard to distinguish the difference in these sounds, but please persevere. It just takes practice over a prolonged amount of time.

One way you can check the difference between unaspirated and aspirated is by putting your hand one inch from your mouth as you pronounce the letters.

When pronouncing the unaspirated sound, you should feel very little air hitting your hand from your mouth. With the aspirated sound, you should feel a puff of air. That’s the difference right there.

It’s quite hard to hear in recordings, but Manisha does pronounce unaspirated and aspirated sounds and wordpairs in this video.

To master this, we must use word pairs and our Hindu guru again. An audio recording or video cannot give you the feedback you need.

UnaspiratedPractice WordAspiratedPractice Word
करनाखाना
गाजरघर
चम्मचछोटा
जलझंकार
टिक्काठीक
डालढाबा
तीखाथाली
दूरधूप
पानीफल
बकरीभालू
Wordlist for practising unaspirated and aspirated Hindi words.

Hindi words that sound similar

Here are a few examples of common words that sound very similar!

UnaspiratedUnaspiratedAspirated
 कानाखाना
 सातसाठ
गोरागाड़ीघड़ी
तीखाटीकाठीक
Tricky words that sound very similar.

If my content has helped you, please leave a comment.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock is a Hindi speaking expat who left his career and life behind in New Zealand to take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India.

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