Learn to Read Gujarati

Lesson 1

Lesson 2 ..Home.Golshani's alphabet comparison page..
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Gujarati is a language of the Center West part of India. It is the language of a large part of the Indian immigrant community in East Africa , Britain and the Americas. It is also the language of the Muslim Ismaili community many of whom write in the Arabic script. It is the language of Mahatama Ghandi and of Mohammed Ali Jinnah the founder of Pakistan.

Here we will concentrate on the Indian script. It is very similar to the Hindi script and non Gujarati speakers may find it easier to do the Hindi lessons first. Gujarati does not have a line on top of the word like Hindi does and some classical Gujarati in fact is written in the Hindi script.

You may freely copy these lessons on to your web site , for non commercial uses, add sound files or modify them in any way you want - but please do mention Ukindia in them. . A copy of all these Gujarati lessons together with the images on a floppy disk and a Learn to Read Gujarati paperback book by Balaji books is available for $15 plus $10 postage . Add $10 if you want an English to Gujarati pocket dictionary. Send your cheque to Ukindia box 346 Nottingham UK . Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

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This is the letter M and a vowel mark aa ( as in fAther) .

See if you can read your first word in Gujarati below

The answer is

Mama ! -mother's brother.

You can make similar lessons yourself by using a Gujarati font. Open windows character map program - its in the windows directory- and copy some letters . Paste them into a windows paintbrush program using the text tool and save as a monochrome bitmap file. Open this file in thumbs or paint shop pro and save as a gif file. For really large letters you need Universal word program.

Letters M , N , R and CHH

Lets look at four letters M , N , R and CHH. M , N and R are as in English. CHH is a sound like CH in China but to make CHH instead of the tip of the tongue it is the first third of the tongue which touches the palate on top.

Vowel marks

Lets look at the letter N and how vowel marks can modify it.

The first is an accent , to be used very rarely since most people now where to lay the stress . For instance in the word stuN it would be over the N. The next is an AA sound . Then followes little i as in hit . Note that this is put before the letter eg N here but pronounced after it. Finally we have the long ee as in Neem tree.

Some more vowel marks

The first is little u as in rUth , the second is long U or OO as in NOOn , then the ae is in NAME and finally the aae sound as in to NAG

More vowel marks

the first is O as in NOTE , the second AU as in AUtumn , the third is a nasal N as in RUNG and the last is a longer nasal N as in CANT .

There are quite a few forms of R the semivowel

The first is Ri as in wRist , the second and third are just staight Rs as dRama . The next is actually pronounced before the letter , so here it is RUN and the last is another accent mark borrowed from Sanskrit and gives it an aei sound as in prataei -morning.

Now lets combine M and N and recheck the vowel marks. The vowel mark in each case is placed in between the M and the N and gives the following sound..
Dont rush this bit -go over the above figure again.

Make sure you can identify each vowel mark before moving on - the closest sounding English word is given as above.

Lets look at the vowel marks on their own Now see if you can correctly identify the marks.

check your answer

Now lets once again join M and N with a vowel mark in between which makes the word sound as follows.

Did you remember the vowel marks ? Check again.. These are the correct answers.

This is the most important lesson. If after three or four tries you can get all words correct , the rest of the lessons should be quite easy !

before ending this lessons lets see if you can read your first three sentences in Gujarati using the letters M , N , R and CHH. These have Gujarati words but after this lesson we will start with English words written in Gujarati script. At the end of each sentence is the letter chh ( sounds like the letter ch in rich ) with a short ae vowel mark. The chh sound comes from the chest while saying ch. The chhae word is Gujarati for is .

The correct answer is

Although some of the items are repeated it is important to get the vowel marks right first time. This is the end of lesson 1 . Go over it before going to the next one.


Comments by Readers

Poonam Mandalia writes

I would just like to express my deep gratitude to you for providing such an intensive programme online. I spent one hour briefly running through the lessons and as a result, I was fairly confident in translating the illustrated sentences, and i thus feel much more motivated to learn Gujarati, and i feei i can do it within a matter of weeks. So thank you for such a brilliant site, and moreso as it is a free, easily available site to anyone surfing the net.

During my search for online gujarati help, i was disappointed to find that the only method of obtaining language help in this language, was through books on sale, at a high cost.

Being a linguist myself, (studying English language and linguistics at university) i found the site extremely helpful as you illustrated each sound phonetically and by place of articulation, which made pronunciation much easier, and provided me with examples i could relate to. Once again i would like to congratulate you on the production of this site and thank you once again.

If you do produce more sites like these, i would be eternally grateful if you would inform me of these, as i do find them extremely comprehensive and helpful.

I basically felt an urge a few months ago to learn my language properly. I have previously learnt French, German, Spanish and of course English, but i sort of took for granted my mother tongue. I could speak Gujarati, and understood it too, but only recently after explicitly thinking about the languages i had obtained a grade in, i realised that Gujarati was the only one i hadnt a GCSE in.

Also, after having thought about my future, marrying into a family etc, i knew it was necessary to have a good grasp of my own language, in both written and spoken forms, in order for competent communication.

I set myself the task of learning the language in the Easter holidays whilst at home from University, and required a comprehensive yet easy programme to learn from, and thus searched the internet, through search engines, yahoo i think it was, and came across your website which shone out from a long list of links.

Lesson 2