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Hindi Lokoktiyan in Language Learning Posted by on Sep 14, 2021 in Hindi Language, Idioms

Photo courtesy Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

Hindi Proverbs or Lokoktiyan are also known as Kahavats. Hindi has a lot of figurative language, drawing from mythology.  They are a part of everyday life in India. In the villages proverbs are passed down from generation to generation as a means of educating the children. In cities, the educated read books and watch movies containing proverbs. Not only do the books, poems and movies romanticize them but so do people.

What do Proverbs do?

They provide advice about life. They provide color to a story.  A language learning student can understand simple proverbs right from the start as many proverbs in Hindi are a reflection or translation of English proverbs.

They can be specific to culture and yet they do provide understanding to everyone. Idioms can be a little tricky as they use a lot more imagery and cryptic language which can only be understood in a native cultural context.

What are the benefits of proverbs in language learning?

  1. Proverbs are part of the national heritage and a student is better able to understand the nation’s cultural heritage.
  2. They provide grammar – students learn irregular sentence structure and parallel structures/
  3. Proverbs make use of alliteration and rhyme which is great for language learning even at the beginner level.
  4. They also use repetition of words and phrases which encourages memorization.
  5. Descriptive sentences provide strong imagery to the learner. Proverb encourage creativity.
  6. Proverbs also make use of phraseology and syntax.
  7. They provide insight and cultural context to the learner.
  8. Proverbs also help the learner understand the nature and character of the natives.
  9. Add eloquence to speech – when a student uses a proverb in speech it is not only lovely to hear but also adds life and eloquence to the conversation.
  10. Skills in using proverbs in speech reflect the level of skill in language. The more experienced speakers will use proverbs regularly.

Some Hindi proverbs

  1. घाट- घाट का पानी पीना means to be experienced and clever even though the literal meaning is to go from pier to pier drinking water.
  2. अंधा क्या चाहे दो आंखें – literal meaning is what does the blind want but two eyes. However as a proverb it means to get the desired thing.
  3. अंधा बांटे रेवड़ी, फिर फिर अपने देय – to take full advantage
  4. नाच न आवै आंगन टेढ़ा – to blame others for your shortcomings
  5. अधजल गगरी छलकत जाय – empty vessels make the most noise
  6. अपना रख, पराया चख – use others in order to save oneself
  7. अपनी करनी, पार उतरनी – all’s well that ends well.
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About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant to the Department of Defense and United States Military.


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