Posted tagged ‘vala’

Translation 39. A Short Reference List for Hindi learners & Notes on the suffix vaalaa / wallah

4 November 2012

 A copy of this Reference List for English-speaking learners of Hindi has recently been published at the end of  Item 1 of Hindi Learning Hints on my language website. This extensive analysis is based on my learning curve in relation to the important Hindi suffix vaalaa (aka vala or wallah).

In an item referred to in the Reference List below (, Sharell Cook introduces vaalaa to would-be travellers to India with this useful thumbnail sketch:

“This word is notorious for its different meanings and spellings. Most visitors to India know it in the context as it refers to a seller or vendor of something. For example, a taxi-wala is a taxi driver. A vegetable-wala is a vegetable seller. However, wala can be combined with the name of a town or city to indicate someone who comes from there. For example, Mumbai-wala or Delhi-wala. Wala can also be used to specify a certain thing. For example, chota-wala means small one, lal-wala means red one, kal-wala means yesterday’s one. Finally it can be used to indicate something as about to happen in the immediate future. Ane-vala means about to come or about to arrive. Jane-wala means about to go or about to leave.” (‘5 Common but often confusing Hindi words’. See in the List below.)


Hindi vaalaa is, in fact, a much more complex and a very frequently met phenomenon. Since bilingual dictionaries tend not to help with this basically morphological matter, grammars and other descriptions need to be consulted for an idea of the wide scope of the usage, especially for improved comprehension and translation purposes. For those interested, my vaalaa comprehension and translation analysis is available here.


A Short Reference List for English-speaking Learners of Hindi


Agnihotri, Rama Kant. Hindi. An Essential Grammar, Routledge, London and New York, 2006.
McGregor, R. S. Outline of Hindi Grammar, 3rd edition, New Delhi, 1995.   
Shapiro, Michael C. A Primer of Modern Standard Hindi, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1989.
Snell, Rupert, Teach Yourself Beginner’s Hindi. London, Hodder Headline and USA, McGraw-Hill, 2003.

Dictionaries and other Lexical Studies

Allied’s Hindi-English Dictionary, ed. Sangeeta S. Parikh, New Delhi, Allied, 2002. (with Romanised transliterations) 
Bahri, Hardev, Advanced Learner’s Hindi-English Dictionary, 2 vols, New Delhi, Rajpal, 1999. (with Romanised transliterations) (HB)

Bulcke, Father Camille, Hindee-AaNgrezee Kosh, Catholic Press, Ranchi, 2008. [This appears to be a posthumous publication since the author died in 1982. His English-Hindi Dictionary, 1968, was highly acclaimed and is still in print. See Wikipedia for his distinguished career.]

Sinha, R. Mahesh K.  See
The site of a fabulous cornucopia of bilingual dictionaries in MANY languages. The Hindi-English dictionary has a very impressive number of vaalaa offerings. Far more than I have seen anywhere else, online or in print.  Bookmark it! Another very useful online lexical tool, with a lively forum, listed below.

For other useful references see librarian Salman Haider’s website pages, notably this one.

Kumar, Arvind, The Penguin English-Hindi/Hindi-English Thesaurus and Dictionary.
For intermediate and advanced study of Hindi, this essential reference work is available for purchase from Arvind Lexicon:
Also available there is The Arvind Lexicon Online Version (for an $18 annual subscription), and a smaller free version for visitors.

Hindi Corpus
The Center for Indian Language Technology (CFILT) Hindi Corpus
(Although not a very large corpus, and with an apparent preponderance of scientific texts, this is a treasure trove for any language researcher.)

Online Transliteration and Translation
(Indispensable aids for the wary contemporary user.)

Transliteration from English into Hindi:

Transliteration from Devanagari into Romanised Hindi:
Google Translate (to, from, and between many languages):
Microsoft BING Translator (to, from, and between many languages):

Other useful websites for learners and students of Hindi

Also from CFILT: Indo-Wordnet. “A Wordnet of Indian Languages”:

A forum for questions on Hindi and English translation:  [another forum]

Learning_the_Language_in_India.htm/, with its helpful course recommendations, and language hints by Sharell Cook.

Professor Frances Pritchett of Columbia University has a labyrinthine and very stylish website on Urdu language and literature. For Hindi students there are many insights in his long series on the work of C. M. Naim.


Note: The introduction to this series of Hindi shortcuts is available here, or here.