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on January 11, 2004
Except for having studied some classical Sanskrit, I don't know much about Indian subcontinnental languages like Urdu and Hindi, except that Urdu is the main language in Pakistan and Hindi is probably the same for India, despite the many more languages spoken there. I'd never seen a book covering both of the languages before, so I checked it out, and this looks to be an excellent little phrasebook and dictionary.
You can learn a lot even from a little book like this, and it turns out Hindi and Urdu are mostly mutually intelligible, although written in different alphabets, Urdu using the Permo-Arabic script and Hindi using the old Devenagari alphabet, or more accurately, syllabary.
The book starts out with a 30-page section giving basic info such as a pronunciation guide and an intro to the grammar. It also includes common phrases, numbers, telling tiem, and so on. Most of the book is taken up by the dictionary and phrasebook, but interspersed throughout there are sidebars that provide extra info. Often these are cultural tips on such things as customs, etiquette, and slang, but occasionally you get some grammar, too.
Finally, there is a reference section in the back with sections on signs and notices, how to read menus and food items, numbers, place names, road signs, public holidays, and many others, in both the Hindi and Urdu. Also, although as I said they're very similar languages, any words or phrases that are only for on Language are indicated by a "U" or "H."
The text uses "keyword referencing" for the dictionary, so if you need to find out how to ask for a hotel room, you just go to the "hotel" section in the dictionary and look for that word, and then you can find the phrase from there.
I also learned some interesting things about the grammar, such as that there are only two genders and two noun cases in Urdu and Hindi, the direct and the oblique. What we call prepositions occur as postpositions, or after the noun, and pronouns lack gender, so there is no "he" or "she." The verb has the same tenses as English and most Indo-European languages, which are strong on time relationships in general (unlike, for example, Arabic and Japanese, which lack a true future tense and are not especially detailed in this regard), and so there are past, present, future, past continuous, past perfect, past imperfect, etc., tenses, as well as the indicative, imperative and subjunctive moods as well.
Given all the features and at 240 pages, it's a lot of information in one little book. And at six and a half dollars, the price is right. The paper is also higher quality than I've seen in other small, inexpensive phrasebooks. All in all, I think this is a great little dictionary/phrasebook book for the price from the Rough Guide.
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