In this post we are going to talk about conversational Hindi dining vocabulary. Dining means flatware and dinnerware. I like to teach a unit about this to students because it’s useful to know the words for plate, fork, spoon, knife, bowl, etc. and they’re practical to practice, since we use these items everyday!
In the video below, I walk through each item and translate it from English to Hindi and there are some practice questions as well.
Dining Words Borrowed From English
Some Hindi words are borrowed from English and adapted to an Indian accent. For example, the word glass. In Hindi it’s pronounced “geelaas”. Similarly the Hindi word for napkin, is the same in English…napkin.
“Please” in Conversational Hindi Dining Vocabulary
Please and thank you Indian society is hierarchical with an emphasis on age differences. The words and tone used to speak with one’s peers differs from how one speaks with their elders. As such, the word “please” is embedded in tone and the words used as opposed to outright saying, “please”.
Please in Hindi: Krpya In fact, the Hindi word for please — “krpya” is usually used in situations where one is speaking to an authoritative figure. For example in the age of the Maharajas and grand palaces, you would hear the subjects of a kingdom say krpya to the king or queen. In today’s society if a person is talking to a judge, a police chief, a teacher, or a school principal.
But when ordering food at a restaurant, it would sound awkward to a server in India to hear someone add the word “krpya” to their order. And it would be a dead giveaway that there’s a foreigner in the house.
So while I love and appreciate Google translate, it’s important to keep in mind that how words are used in addition to the way they’re used does not directly translate from one culture to another.
“Thank you” in Conversational Hindi Dining Vocabulary
The Hindi word for “thank you” is dhanyavaad”. There’s another word for “thank you” that’s also prevalent in conversational Hindi, “shukriya”. Technically, “shukriya” is an Urdu word. Though like many Urdu words, it has been adopted into conversational Hindi much like many Hindi words are spoken in conversational Urdu.
Learning Hindi (or Urdu) is a bit like getting a two-for-one special. The two languages are not identical. There are many words that are different between them, but Hindi and Urdu speakers can converse with one another very naturally and with ease.
How “Thank you” is Used in India. Similar to the use of the word, “please” in conversational Hindi, the word “thank you” also has the same cultural undertones of formality in India. However this is changing. I’ve noticed my cousins living in a big city like Delhi all the way to my cousins living in a small town in Punjab, have all adopted the word, “thank you” and use it in much of the same ways that we use it here in the United States.
Thanking Restaurant Servers. I did notice one thing that hasn’t changed as much in India – and that’s saying “thank you” while dining out. In 2019 I went to Mumbai and stayed at a 5-star hotel, so the staff at the restaurants were very familiar with foreigners. I think maybe they were thrown off when I said, “thank you” because I look Indian and they weren’t expecting to hear that, but I noticed that saying “thank you” to servers still isn’t a thing in India…amongst Indians.
Thanking the Dukaan Wallahs. I went shopping in Mumbai and as a force of habit, said “thank you” to everyone whether it was the owner of the boutique or a staff member. I noticed the staff members were surprised and most asked me where I’m from. From that one word – thank you – they could tell that I am not from India.
Offended by Saying Thank you: True Story. My siblings and I were born and raised in the United States. When we were young we went to India to visit family. One day we went out in Delhi with cousins, aunts and uncles and my brother casually mentioned that he liked a shirt that he saw while out and about. The next day our cousin, very sweetly went to the store and bought it for him.
My brother thanked him. And our cousin got upset. Why? Because in traditional Indian culture, the word “thank you” is reserved for formal situations such as talking with strangers and people whom you don’t know well or in a professional situation. It’s not something you say to family members or even friends – again in very traditional Indian culture.
So our cousin interpreted my brother’s ‘thanks’ as having been relegated to the outer sanctum enshrined in formality, instead of regarding him as a brother. Our cousin voiced his hurt feelings to our mom, who explained that my brother meant no offence – rather he appreciated it so much and that this is big a cultural difference between the United States and India.
She went on to explain that children in the United States are raised to say “please” and “thank you” because in direct opposite to Indian culture, in the US, not saying those words is considered very rude.
Summary and Take Aways
This post is about conversational Hindi dining vocabulary and includes English to Hindi translations of the words for flatware and dinnerware. These are very useful words to know and they’re easy to practice and use because most people use spoons, forks, knives, plates, bowls etc. everyday.
Students in my classes receive recordings, practice activities, workbooks, flashcards and more.