Indian TV channels and their contempt for Hindi

Rajesh Kochhar

Nowhere in the world would you find such disrespect for grammar, syntax and pronunciation as on Indian Hindi TV channels. Roman alphabet is grossly inadequate for representing Indian language sounds. If you come across an Indian word written in Roman script, you cannot pronounce it in an ‘obvious’ manner; you must know beforehand, from independent sources, what the correct pronunciation is. Take two popular Indian proper nouns Tata and Lata. They are spelt similarly but their actual pronunciation is vastly different. Both the t’s in Tata are hard as in the alphabet itself, but t in Lata is soft. In South India, Lata would be often written as Latha. This however does not mean that th is to be pronounced as in haathi.
While ostensibly paying tribute for bravery and endurance to the Siachin soldier whose name is written as Hanmanthappa, Hindi and English channels have not cared to find out what his name is and what its correct pronunciation is.
Roman alphabet makes a distinction between j and z; as well as k and q. Sounds represented by z, f, and q do not occur in Sanskrit. However, many common words in Hindi contain these sounds; the presenter/anchor should know the difference. An otherwise well-respected Hindi TV personality jarringly insists on saying hajaar (thousand) in place of hazaar. Curiously, ph in Sanskrit words is increasingly but wrongly being replaced by f: instead of saying saphal ( fruitful, successful), the tendency is to say safal.
Unlike English, each Hindi noun is assigned masculine or feminine gender. The gender in turn determines the verb and adjective form. In English one would say: Divali ( or festival of Divali) was celebrated. But in Hindi, Divali manaayee gayee, but Divali ka tyohaar manaayaa gayaa. ( Incidentally, there is no need whatsoever to employ w in Hindi words; the phonetically correct alphabet is v.)
Like gender, it is important to know whether a Hindi noun is singular or plural and how a noun goes from singular to plural. Do (two) nauka ( boats) doobi is wrong; it should be do naukayen doobi.
When text in Devanagari is shown on the TV screen routinely there are errors of half and full consonants and long and short vowels. ( It is not possible to illustrate this in Roman script.) The examples given here are merely indicative. Anyone who watches TV can expand the list. Can there be a way of making sure that Indian media, particularly the TV channels, know the difference between correct and incorrect when it comes to Hindi?

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