Hindi: How is pronouncing "ph" (फ) as "f" (फ़) perceived?


Senior Member
English - American
There's been a few threads about how some (many?) Hindi speakers merge "ph" and "f" (फ and फ़), pronouncing both as "f" (फ़) . I'm more curious about how this merger is perceived. Is it normal? Is it stigmatized?

For context, I learned Hindi with the two merged (e.g. I pronounce फिर "phir" as "fir"), and I'm wondering if it's worth re-learning a lot of vocabulary to distinguish these two sounds.
  • Agree
Reactions: Dib
  • Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    As a matter of interest, I just came across the following sentence in a Persian grammar book written for Hindi speakers.

    वह जो झिझकता है असफ़ल है.

    I shall leave the perception to Hindi speakers.


    Senior Member
    English, Hindustani
    I also grew up speaking a variety that frequently merges ph into f. Once, soon after I had first learned that this was "incorrect" by some prescriptive standards, I was at a relative's wedding in India and having a conversation about phere. Others involved in this conversation were pronouncing the word fere. I had a fleeting thought along the lines of, "But phere should be correct, not fere, right...?" and it led to me saying phere when I spoke next. I got a strange look for doing this. I decided that was the last time I was going to try to be vigilant about ph vs f in the context of talking to my relatives.


    Senior Member
    No stigma, unless you are saying English words, in which case saying "foTo" as "phoTo" may mark your speech as rustic or unrefined in some circles. As far as Hindi is concerned, I also grew up merging the two, and I still merge the two, and it's not a problem for most Hindi speakers.