Hindi: Guttural Consonants: क, ख, ग, घ, ङ

When starting from the beginning in my Hindi studies, I learned an interesting concept about the arrangement of the Hindi alphabet: there is a reason the letters are in such an order. It is based on articulation of the consonants. I'm no linguist, but my understanding is that the consonants go in groups in this order: guttural; palatal; cerebral; dental; labial; approximant; fricative. Basically, but not entirely, this goes from the back of the throat (guttural) to the lips (labial). I'll lay it out in steps.

The first five consonants -- क, ख, ग, घ, ङ -- are guttural consonants (Wikipedia Guttural). Guttural consonants are articulated in the throat. The first four are easy to say for a Midwestern American -- most of them, of at least.


ka, /k/


kha, /kh/

क is said with no aspiration, i.e., with no puff of breath when you say it. That requires practice for me. When I say words like kite, I aspirate the k. ख is said with aspiration.


ga, /g/


gha, /gh/

Again, ग is said with no aspiration, घ is said with aspiration.


ṅa, /ŋ/

ङ is a nasal consonant. You'll never see it at the start of a word. You'll never see it on its own. You'll rarely see it in text.

Stop Nasal Approximant Fricative
Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced
Unaspirated Aspirated Unaspirated Aspirated Unaspirated Aspirated
Guttural
ka
/k/

kha
/kh/

ga
/g/

gha
/gh/

ṅa
/ŋ/

ha
/h,ɦ/
Palatal
ca
/c,ʧ/

cha
/chh/

ja
/ɟ,ʤ/

jha
hh/

ña
/ɲ/

ya
/j/

śa
/ɕ,ʃ/
Cerebral
ṭa
/ʈ/

ṭha
h/

ḍa
/ɖ/

ḍha
h/

ṇa
/ɳ/


ra
/r/


ṣa
/ʂ/
Dental
ta
/t̪/

tha
/t̪h/

da
/d̪/

dha
/d̪h/

na
/n/

la
/l/

sa
/s/
Labial
pa
/p/

pha
/ph/

ba
/b/

bha
/bh/

ma
/m/

va
/ʋ/

I am archiving this information about the alphabet on the Hindi page: kirkkittell.com/language/hindi. More information from Wikipedia:

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