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Lesson Transcript

Eric: Welcome back to UrduPod101.com. This is All About Urdu, Lesson 4 - Basic Urdu Pronunciation. In this lesson we’ll show you how easy it is to start speaking Urdu.
Afrah: We’ll be focusing on pronunciation!
Eric: We’ll give you tips on how to perfect your pronunciation.

Lesson focus

Afrah: First, you should keep in mind that Urdu language is a non-Roman script.
Eric: The interesting thing about Urdu is that you write what you speak, because the Nastaliq script is highly phonetic. This means you can easily learn the pronunciation of unknown words just from their written structure.
Afrah: Compared to English, Urdu has more vowels and consonants. Let’s look at the pronunciation of vowels and consonants.
Eric: There are many consonants with the same pronunciation as English, though many differences exist. We’ll guide you so that you can pronounce Urdu correctly. Let’s start with the vowels.
Afrah: Urdu vowels are pronounced in a similar way to vowels in English.
Eric: That makes things a little easier! Let’s hear them one by one. Let’s start …
Afrah: The first vowel is (a), pronounced as a default vowel,
Eric: It’s similar to the “a” in “about.”
Afrah: Next is, (aa)
Eric: Like the “aa” in “bazaar.”
Afrah: Next is (i)
Eric: Like the vowel in “tin.”
Afrah: Also we have a long
Eric: Yes, there are two “i” sounds, as in the “e” at the start of “eel.”
Afrah: Next is (o) ……….
Eric: As in the “o” in “ornament.”
Afrah: Next is (eu)………
Eric: As in the “o” in “cool.”
Afrah: Next is (ay)
Eric: This is the coupled sound of “a”and “y” as in the “ay” in “tray.”
Afrah: And next is (ei)
Eric: As in the “e” in “eighty.”
Afrah: Next is (o).
Eric: As in the “o” in “okay”
Afrah: Next is (au)
Eric: This is the coupled sound of “a” and “u,” as in the “au” in “aura.” Okay, now let’s see Urdu consonants with the same pronunciation as English.
Afrah: ا ب پ س ک ل
Afrah: ن و…………….
Eric: Can you give us some examples?
Afrah: For example, the ک -sound is like the ‘k’ in “kite” …
Eric: That was easy. What’s next?
Afrah: We have the ل -sound… for example, لمبا lamba, which means “long.” Most of the consonants have the same pronunciation as in English.
Eric: Ok. Now, let’s have a closer look at the Urdu sounds that have different pronunciations from English.
Afrah: Like ڈ, which is not heard in English. An example of word with this consonant is ڈهول dhool, which means “drum.”
Eric: And how do we pronounce it?
Afrah: The ڈ is the sound produced by coupling a ‘d’, ‘a’ and ‘l,’ dal.
Eric: Can you tell us about some other sounds?
Afrah: Sure, for example, چ is also not heard in English. An example of a word with this consonant is Char, which means “four.” چ is a coupled sound of ‘c’, ‘h’, ‘a’ and ‘y,’ chay.
Eric: Those are called voiced, aspirated consonants, right?
Afrah: Yes, and they’re considered the hardest sounds for English speakers to learn.
Eric: But how do we make them?
Afrah: Don’t worry, with some practice, they’re not overly difficult. The next sound is د like Dant, which means “tooth.”
Eric: It’s a nasal sound made when the tongue touches a bit away from the teeth.
Afrah: But when romanized, it’s written as ‘N,’ which is similar to ‘ن’. In ن, the tongue touches the roots of the teeth.
Eric: What’s the difference between this and the other consonant?
Afrah: It’s the difference between د and ن.
Eric: OK, now let’s see the dental consonants.
Afrah: They are "t" and "d."
Eric: And how do we pronounce them?
Afrah: Exactly like the "t" and "d" in Spanish, with the tongue touching the back of the upper teeth.
Eric: Next let’s go over modified sounds.
Afrah: Maybe these sound scarier than the pure sounds… but believe me… everyone can do it!
Eric: Let’s try the modified sounds together.
Afrah: There are many sounds found in Urdu that do not directly correspond to any Nastaliq letter.
Eric: Let’s see some examples.
Afrah: Sure, let’s start with ق (q)
Eric: Is it similar to the sound in the Arabic word Qu'ran?
Afrah: Yes it is, but pronounced farther back in the throat.
Eric: What’s next?
Afrah: ز (z) is the same as the English "z" in “zoo.”
Eric: And the next one?
Afrah: ف (f) is the same as the English sound "f," like in “fruit.”
Eric: And that’s it! It wasn’t that difficult! Please keep in mind that listening and repeating are really the key to improving your pronunciation.
Afrah: Listen to and copy native speakers as much as you can.


Eric: Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening, everyone, and we’ll see you next time!
Afrah: Phir milenge.