The Five-Point Guide To: Learning Marathi
Never mind what fascist politicians say; you shouldn’t learn Marathi because they say you should, but because you want to. Learning the language has many practical uses in this city, from making sense of muffled train announcements to decoding your electricity bill and weaseling your way out of paying a traffic fine. But understanding the often-underrated language also opens the key to a treasurehouse of literature, poetry, theatre, music and film. Marathi’s closeness to Hindi makes it easy to pick up and get by with a rudimentary knowledge of the language, but if you want to delve into the state’s tongue, you’ll find that in Mumbai, it’s easier to learn Hindi, French or Spanish than Marathi. We’ve put together this handy five-point guide to show you how.
1. TIPS FROM TEACHERS
“Use the Bal Bharati series of textbooks for standards 1-5 to learn the basics of Marathi.”
“Read Marathi newspapers such as The Maharashtra Times, Sakaal, Lokmat and Loksatta. Stay away from Saamna.“
“Watch Chaan Chaan Goshte, the animated children’s show which airs on the TV channel, Mi Marathi [daily from 10-11am]. The stories are simple and easy to understand.”
“You won’t find Marathi books in stores like Crossword or Landmark. Visit Bharat Book Depot in Thakurdwar [near Bank of India. Open Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, 2388 7851], Ideal Book Store in Dadar [near Dadar railway station, Chabildas Road. Tue-Sun 9am-1.30pm, 3-8pm , 2430 2126] and Jawahar Book Depot in Vile Parle East [near Vile Parle railway station, Shradhanand Road. Tue-Sun 9am-8.30m, 2614 3902].”
“Apart from the textbooks prescribed in schools and courses for adults, I’d recommend Spoken Marathi by Naresh B. Kavadi and An Intensive Course in Marathi by Vijaya Chitnis.”
2. TIPS FROM STUDENTS
“Peons, clerks, secretaries and drivers are always happy if you speak to them in Marathi. They might be amused at your terrible grammar but they’re kind enough to correct you.”
“It’s not the medium but the content that matters. If something is of interest to you, try and learn through that. For example, I love watching cooking shows, and watching Marathi cooking shows has been very helpful to me, more so because there’s a lot of repetition of the same words.”
“Enroll in a course. Because unless you have an exam, you’re unlikely to study.”
“Be realistic in your expectations. If you’ve just started learning a language, be happy if you learn one word or sentence a day.”
“Get hold of some of Acharya Atre’s books. He had a teaching background and wrote in a way that was both entertaining and educative.”
3. TIPS FROM SPEAKERS
“Eavesdrop. Whether you’re at the bus stop or at the vegetable market, try and hear what people are saying. To listen and learn, hang out with a dabbawallah for the day, visit Ferry Wharf when the catch comes in, or if you can, drop into the art department of an advertising agency, where most designers happen to be Maharashtrians.”
“Most multiplexes have to screen a minimum number of Marathi films every year. Even though they usually aren’t subtitled, you can pick up a few words and also perhaps understand the context in which they are used.”
“Rent DVDs of comedy films. All DVDs have English subtitles, and the language used in comedy films is often simple. Recent hits include Tingya and De Dhakka.“
“Read Time Out Mumbai‘s Mumbai Local section for their somewhat tongue-in-cheek column of Marathi translations of lines from the magazine.”
“Spend some time with a crooked cop and tell him to teach you a few lines in Marathi and that you will give him a shiny 100 rupee note in exchange.”
4. MARATHI COURSES
Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangha runs a year-long course at is headquarters in Gaiwadi. Classes are held once a week between 4-6pm on a day decided by the students in consesus. The same course, which is conducted from July to April, is taught at the Mumbai Tamil Sangha’s offices in Sion and Chembur. Class strength varies between 10-15 students. Fees are Rs100 per year. Call 2385 6303 or 2387 6158 ext 24 for further information.
The Marathi Department of the University of Mumbai conducts year-long certificate and diploma courses in Marathi. Classes are held every Friday and Saturday afternoon. Class strength varies between 10-20 students. They also conduct classes for offices on-site on request. Course begins in the last week of July or first week of August. Visit the campus to fill an application form, or call the office on 2652 6091 ext 340 or 341 for further information.
Marathimitra.com teaches Marathi online by phonetically transcribing the words in Roman script.
5. TO START YOU OFF, A FEW PHRASES TO KNOW
Hello sir, how are you? Hello sahib, tumhi kashe aahaat?
I’m fine, and you? Mee theek aahe, aani tumhi?
What’s your name? Tumcha naav kaay aahe?
My name is… Maazha naav ___ aahe.
Oh Ganpati my Lord, come soon next year Ganpati bappa morya, pudhchya varshi lavkar yaa
Oh, the licence/papers is/are left at home. Let me go, no? Aaho licence/kagaz ghari rahila aahe. Jaon dya, na?
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