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Dreaming in Hindi

por Katherine Russell Rich

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3131982,280 (3.28)24
An eye-opening and courageous memoir that explores what learning a new language can teach us about distant worlds and, ultimately, ourselves.   After miraculously surviving a serious illness, Katherine Rich found herself at an impasse in her career as a magazine editor. She spontaneously accepted a freelance writing assignment to go to India, where she found herself thunderstruck by the place and the language, and before she knew it she was on her way to Udaipur, a city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, in order to learn Hindi. Rich documents her experiences--ranging from the bizarre to the frightening to the unexpectedly exhilarating--using Hindi as the lens through which she is given a new perspective not only on India, but on the radical way the country and the language itself were changing her. Fascinated by the process, she went on to interview linguistics experts around the world, reporting back from the frontlines of the science wars on what happens in the brain when we learn a new language. She brings both of these experiences together seamlessly in Dreaming in Hindi, a remarkably unique and thoughtful account of self-discovery.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 19 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
3.25 stars

I quite enjoyed this book, but it definitely isn't for everyone. Kathy Rich, the author, writes about a year she spent in Udaipur, India, learning Hindi and being immersed in the local culture. Because she shares a lot about her friends and interactions, this is part memoir; but she also did a lot of research into second language acquisition (SLA), and shares insights from her research, as well. These bits were my favorite.

There are a lot of problems with the book, however, which is why it's not for everyone. First and foremost, the writing is incredibly strange; I don't know if the author was perhaps using Hindi syntax, with English words, on purpose, to illustrate some of the points she makes about SLA; if this happened on accident because of her immersion (I can testify that losing your grip on your first language while being immersed in a second is common); or if this is simply the way she writes. Regardless, it's very difficult and confusing to read at times and an editor should have addressed that.

Rich also mentions so many different people and situations, often without depth, that it was difficult to keep everyone straight. The book is too long, in general; again, a good editor could have helped to tighten (and shorten) the story.

I personally connected with the book because I'm living abroad, learning a second language and adjusting to this other culture and language that will never be completely mine. I was able to push past the frustrating parts because of this personal motivation. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who isn't very interested/invested in learning about second language acquisition by way of immersion; there just wouldn't be enough reason to read all the way through.

Note: There is some profanity and sexual references. ( )
  RachelRachelRachel | Nov 21, 2023 |
This is the third time I've tried to read this. I'm embarrassed to admit that I stopped the first couple of times in part out of jealousy. I am also studying Hindi but I wasn't making such good progress. To be fair it had a lot to do with how little I was studying. This time, though, I have been paying better attention and feeling better about my own skills and so what I found was that reading the book didn't make me feel simultaneously jealous and down on myself for not trying very hard. Instead I really enjoyed it. It felt very familiar and reminded me of my own trips to Rajasthan and all of the help I've been getting from native Hindi speakers. Hearing about her own struggles and triumphs as someone learning language later in life felt very familiar. I know exactly what she was feeling when she would describe problems she had or things she was proud of. Her talk about language learning and motivation was also really fascinating. I liked how we went back and forth between her experiences and some of the more technical details.

Like any good travel memoir it makes me feel like I do at the end of a trip to a beloved place - sad to see it come to an end. ( )
  toddtyrtle | Dec 28, 2022 |
Adult nonfiction/memoir. This book got decent reviews and sounds promising, but when I tried to read it the author's poor writing style/grammar/punctuation got in the way. The prose doesn't flow at all, and having to stop and re-read sentences or paragraphs on every page was ridiculous. I have trouble believing she is in fact a real writer, it's that bad. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
I liked this book, but I didn't love it. As a linguist, the various tidbits of language acquisition theory the author explains are not new to me, but it was interesting to see them explained in general terms. However, that wasn't the part that bothered me. Eventually I got really tired of the plot (or lack thereof). The author goes from event to event, and it's not always clear why some of these events have been included. Obviously the events where she felt a breakthrough in her Hindi skills are important, but often I was left to wonder why she was including a certain story. The whole book would've been improved by tightening up the narrative so that only stories relevant to her point were included.

There is also a great deal more discussion of Hindu-Muslim violence in India than I was expecting. This seems to be because the author herself wasn't expecting it, but I don't feel that it adds much to her overall theme of advancing her Hindi skills.

I was intrigued by the parts dealing with deaf students and home signs in Rajasthan. Could the students at the school where she volunteered be another case like Nicaraguan sign language? Fascinating! The answers aren't given, but it's potentially a great area for research on sign language and language genesis. ( )
1 vote Lindoula | Sep 25, 2017 |
I have long been intrigued by the idea that the language we speak influences the way we think, so I was excited to find this book. I am also partial to books about India, so I bought it without hesitation. Unfortunately, I found it a disappointing read. From the beginning there was something about the writing that stood like à heavy curtain between the writer's experience and my ability to share it. I can only describe it as a vagueness. It took me ages to finish. I am still on the lookout for other memoirs that explore the concept of language and experience. Any suggestions? ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
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An eye-opening and courageous memoir that explores what learning a new language can teach us about distant worlds and, ultimately, ourselves.   After miraculously surviving a serious illness, Katherine Rich found herself at an impasse in her career as a magazine editor. She spontaneously accepted a freelance writing assignment to go to India, where she found herself thunderstruck by the place and the language, and before she knew it she was on her way to Udaipur, a city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, in order to learn Hindi. Rich documents her experiences--ranging from the bizarre to the frightening to the unexpectedly exhilarating--using Hindi as the lens through which she is given a new perspective not only on India, but on the radical way the country and the language itself were changing her. Fascinated by the process, she went on to interview linguistics experts around the world, reporting back from the frontlines of the science wars on what happens in the brain when we learn a new language. She brings both of these experiences together seamlessly in Dreaming in Hindi, a remarkably unique and thoughtful account of self-discovery.

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