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Thread: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

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    Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Many moons back, while in the pursuit of learning Devanagri I managed to get to a stage where I could read a WHOLE page of a book without too much strain! However it came to me as a big surprise to learn that some words were spelt differently in the two scripts. The most obvious ones were "yih/vuh" which in Devanagri were written as "yah/vah" for the singular and "ye/ve" for the plural. Another difference that took me by surprise was the fact that words with a consonant 3ain following a short vowel were represented in Devanagri with the lengthening of the vowel, e.g ba3d (after)>> baad.

    The purpose behind this thread is to invite everyone who may have an interest in this topic to come up with instances where the two conventions differ. This process, hopefully, could be beneficial for those forum members who know only Urdu or Devanagri. It could also be of interest to those forum members who might speak Urdu-Hindi but do not write it. There is of course also the possibility that even those who are familiar with both scripts may learn a thing or two from the contributions of participating members.

    I have already mentioned yih/vuh vs yah/vah and ye/ve as well as ba3d/baad. I will mention one more thing and then let others come in with their suggestions.

    shuruu3 in Devanagri is shuruu (I wonder how many people familiar with Devanagri are aware of this)

    saHiiH in Devanagri is sahii. Just to clarify this point by way of a couple of examples.

    aap kii baat saHiiH nahiiN hai. (Urdu) = aap kii baat sahii nahiiN hai. (in Devanagri)

    In the following couplet, both Urdu and Devanagri "sahii" are identical.

    tuu hai harjaa'ii to apnaa bhii yahii taur sahii
    tuu nahiiN aur sahii, aur nahiiN aur sahii

    Amanat Lakhnavi

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Very interesting thread, Qureshpor. Just an aside, but perhaps of interest to some: Punjabi (in the Gurumukhi script), on many occasions, does distinguish between 'ain and alif. The first example that comes to mind is the word "ba3d," which in Gurumukhi would be written babba, aiRaa, kanna, dadda. (Sorry. Unable to reinstall Devanagari and Gurumukhi on my computer for the moment).
    Correccions en qualsevol idioma sempre són agraïdes.

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by panjabigator View Post
    Very interesting thread, Qureshpor. Just an aside, but perhaps of interest to some: Punjabi (in the Gurumukhi script), on many occasions, does distinguish between 'ain and alif. The first example that comes to mind is the word "ba3d," which in Gurumukhi would be written babba, aiRaa, kanna, dadda. (Sorry. Unable to reinstall Devanagari and Gurumukhi on my computer for the moment).

    You mean ਬਾਅਦ? The transliteration of this word would be baaad!! Of course, I know that the implied pronunication is baa'ad.
    Getting back to Urdu-Devanagri, I mentioned in my opening post that the short vowel+3ain in Urdu ends up being written as a long vowel in Devanagri, e,g. ba3d >> baad. I don't know if this statement is correct from a linguistic perspective. shi3r (couplet/poetry) is written as sher in Devanagri, which in turn becomes indistinguishable from sher/lion etc. I can't think of an easy everyday word where Urdu has u+3 combination apart from mu3tii (donor, as in a donor of funds etc) which, if written in Devanagri would be "motii" (as in pearl).

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    I'm going to guess that vajah, jagah, subah, tarah may also be spelled differently. Would you happen to know for sure? Those 'h's seem suspicious.
    You have already mentioned words such as dunyaa in another thread.
    We have also mentioned aam in another thread where the meaning is common and not mango.
    And I also suspect baadshaah is yet another such word.
    How about the particle "ki" meaning "that"?

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by tonyspeed View Post
    I'm going to guess that vajah, jagah, subah, tarah may also be spelled differently. Would you happen to know for sure? Those 'h's seem suspicious.You have already mentioned words such as dunyaa in another thread. We have also mentioned aam in another thread where the meaning is common and not mango.And I also suspect baadshaah is yet another such word. How about the particle "ki" meaning "that"?

    Tony, vajah is actually vajh but hardly anyone pronounces it in this manner. In poetry, it would have the same "vazn" as "sharm". jagah is as per Devanagri. But I am sure you are aware that some people pronounce it as "vajeh".

    Now, subah is subH in reality (this H is not ordinarily distinguished fronm the "normal" h. But once again only careful speakers would pronounce it as subH in place of subaH. Same goes for tarH*. This H is the voiceless equivalent of the letter 3ain. In other words, just like a voiced Kh (x) becomes a Gh as in Gham, a voiced H, becomes an 3ain as in 3aam (ordinary). Talking about "3aam", other "3aam" everyday words with an 3ain are 3aadii (accustomed to), 3aadat, 3aashiq, 3ishq, 3iid, 3ajiib, 3izzat, 3aziiz, 3itr*, 3ilaaj, 3alii, 3ilm, 3umr, 3imaarat, 3imraan, 3iisaa, 3ilaaqah (region) etc.

    baadshaah is as per Devanagri.

    We have been talking about "sanam" and "saabun" in recent threads. Someone only familiar with Devanagri is likely to think that the "s" in these words along with sanduuq, saaf, sabr, saaHib/saaHibah, saadiq, subH, sabr, saHraa (desert), siHHat (health), siHn (courtyard), saHiiH (true/correct), sirf, suraaHii (long necked flask), sifr (zero), sulH (peace), safaa'ii, sandal, suurat, suufii and the like would be the same "s" as "saaNp", "saag" etc. But this "s" is different (called svaad) although not distinguished from the "s" in saaNp in ordinary conversation.

    Devanagri ki and na are kih and nah in Urdu.

    * In these words, the "t" is not the "t" as in tel, teraa etc. It is called "toe". Some examples of this "t" are taaqat, tabii3at, taalib (seeker, as in taalib-i-3ilm [student]), taraf, tarH, tarz (style), taur, tariiqah, totaa, tuufaan, tai, tayyaarah (aeroplane) etc
    Last edited by Qureshpor; 5th December 2011 at 6:27 PM.

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by QURESHPOR View Post
    * In these words, the "t" is not the "t" as in tel, teraa etc. It is called "toe". Some examples of this "t" are taaqat, tabii3at, taalib (seeker, as in taalib-i-3ilm [student]), taraf, tarH, tarz (style), taur, tariiqah, totaa, tuufaan, tai, tayyaarah (aeroplane) etc
    This is interesting. Would you happen to know what the original tongue position for "toe" is in the original languages? I'm assuming that Urdu speakers still pronounce them as the dental 't' in 'tel' and 'teraa'.

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by QURESHPOR View Post
    saHiiH in Devanagri is sahii.
    Hello! Forgive my intrusion, but I wonder if सही and صحیح share the same etymology? Platts seems to suggest sahii is of Indic origin, instead of a clipped version of Sa7ii7.

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by tonyspeed View Post
    This is interesting. Would you happen to know what the original tongue position for "toe" is in the original languages? I'm assuming that Urdu speakers still pronounce them as the dental 't' in 'tel' and 'teraa'.
    Yes, your assumption is correct. toe is one of the four "emphatic" consonants as far as Arabic goes. t as in tel/toe, s as in saaNp/svaad, zaal as in zikr (which in Classical Arabci has the th sound as in English that)/zoe (as in zulm) and d (as in daaNt)/zvaad. toe, zoe, svaad, zvaad are Urdu names of these consonants, not Arabic. As for how one should pronounce these letters, from what I have read in Arabic books, one needs to constrict one's tongue. I am sorry I am not very good at describing such details. This might be helpful.

    http://arabic.tripod.com/Arab10.htm#Pronunciation

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ghabi View Post
    Hello! Forgive my intrusion, but I wonder if सही and صحیح share the same etymology? Platts seems to suggest sahii is of Indic origin, instead of a clipped version of Sa7ii7.

    These are two seperate words. The Indic (KhaRii bolii) word is sahii, as in ...

    nahiiN jaate to nah sahii, mujhe kuchh farq nahiiN paRtaa!

    If you are not going, so be it; it makes no difference to me.

    Another example...

    bahut sahii Gham-i-dunyaa, magar udaas nah ho

    There are many sorrows in the world, I accept, but do not be sad..

    H سہي सही sahī [prob. S. सत्यं; whence H. सई, q.v.], emphat. part. Yea, verily, indeed, true enough, forsooth; just so; very well, so be it, let it be; just; pray; please; (often added to the particle to, e.g. āʼo to sahī, 'Just come then,' 'come if you dare';—kholo to sahī, 'Pray open,' 'do open').
    The other is saHiiH.

    do + do = paaNch, saHiiH?

    nahiiN, Ghalat!

    A صحيح ṣaḥīḥ (v.n. fr. صحّ 'to be healthy, or sound,' &c.), adj. Healthy, sound, valid; perfect; whole, entire; substantial, real, true, genuine; pure; right, just, proper, correct, accurate, authentic, sure, certain;
    Last edited by Qureshpor; 5th December 2011 at 7:53 PM.

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Hi again, QP! Thanks so much for the explanation and lovely examples, but I'm a bit confused: in Hindi one would say "do + do = paaNch, sahii?", right? I mean, in Hindi सही (in the sense of "correct; right") is meant to represent sahii, not sahiih; सही and صحیح just stand for two different words, unlike the case of आम and عام, which stand for the same word. I might be completely mistaken, of course, but when I first learnt the word सही I thought it's from Arabic صحیح and found it strange that the final ح is omitted, but then I thought perhaps that's a different word altogether?

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ghabi View Post
    Hi again, QP! Thanks so much for the explanation and lovely examples, but I'm a bit confused: in Hindi one would say "do + do = paaNch, sahii?", right? I mean, in Hindi सही (in the sense of "correct; right") is meant to represent sahii, not sahiih; सही and صحیح just stand for two different words, unlike the case of आम and عام, which stand for the same word. I might be completely mistaken, of course, but when I first learnt the word सही I thought it's from Arabic صحیح and found it strange that the final ح is omitted, but then I thought perhaps that's a different word altogether?

    सही and صحیح are two different words with different meanings as I have already explained. However, they are both written as सही in Devanagri.

    आम and عام are also two different words. The first one is a mango and the second means "ordinary". Once again in Devanagri, they are both written as आम. Mango in Urdu is آم .

    (In Devanagri शेर is both lion and a couplet. In Urdu, the former is شیر and the latter شعر ).

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    I must have phrased my question awkwardly, and I apologize for that. sahii سہی and sahiih صحیح are two different words with two different written forms in Urdu, all right, but how can we know that it's not a translation (instead of a transliteration) when صحیح appears as सही in a corresponding Hindi text? Do we have other examples where a word-final ح disappear in Hindi? صلاح and صبح appear as सलाह and सुबह in Hindi after all, with the final ح preserved. Or have I missed something?

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ghabi View Post
    I must have phrased my question awkwardly, and I apologize for that. sahii سہی and sahiih صحیح are two different words with two different written forms in Urdu, all right, but how can we know that it's not a translation (instead of a transliteration) when صحیح appears as सही in a corresponding Hindi text? Do we have other examples where a word-final ح disappear in Hindi? صلاح and صبح appear as सलाह and सुबह in Hindi after all, with the final ح preserved. Or have I missed something?


    I think I follow your drift. sahii and saHiiH are two different words in Urdu with two different meanings. For these two distinct meanings Devanagri employs the same word “sahii” but of course context points to the intended meaning. I think words like shuruu3 and saHiiH are written as shuruu and sahii because for Hindi speakers and writers the final 3 and H are not “perceived” in hearing. For subH and salaaH, it is obvious that Hindi speakers do perceive the presence of an “h”. Sahii in Devanagri is NOT a translation of saHiiH! It is a mere coincidence that within the repertoire of “sahii”, Platts includes one of the meanings (true enough) to appear identical with one of the the meaning of saHiiH (true).

    My “hunch” above does fall flat however! For riiH kaa dard, I do believe in Devanagri it is written as “riih kaa dard”.

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    There is a category of words which in Devanagri have two aspirates in close proximity whereas in Urdu, one of them has "dropped off":

    e.g. jhuuTh >> jhuuT
    dhokhaa >> dhokaa
    bhuukh >> bhuuk
    bhiikh >> bhiik

    One could add khambhaa >> khambaa
    paudhaa >> paudaa
    hoNTh >> hoNT

    Besides the above, the verbal nouns in Urdu are written with an "O" ending whereas in Devanagri they end in a "V".

    jhukaa'o (Urdu) >> jhukaav (Devanagri)
    banaa'o >> banaav
    lagaa'o >> lagaav etc
    .......................................

    gaa'e (cow and he/she/it sings) >>> gaay (cow)
    chaa'e (tea) >> chaay
    naa'o (boat) >> naav
    .........................................

    gaa'oN (village) >> gaaNv
    paa'oN (foot) >> paaNv
    chhaa'oN (shade) >> chhaNv

    This particular category of words was spelt the same way as Devanagri in older books.

    As has been mentioned in "kamraa vs kamrah" thread, words that end in -ah in Urdu (of Arabic and Persian origins) are written with -aa in Devanagri.

    mazah >> mazaa
    gilah >> gilaa
    qabiilah >> qabiilaa
    mu3aamalah >> maamlaa (?)

    Enough for this post for the time being!

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by QURESHPOR View Post
    Besides the above, the verbal nouns in Urdu are written with an "O" ending whereas in Devanagri they end in a "V".

    jhukaa'o (Urdu) >> jhukaav (Devanagri)
    banaa'o >> banaav
    lagaa'o >> lagaav etc
    Very very interesting. How about dabaav? Is that dabaao in Nastaliq?

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by tonyspeed View Post
    Very very interesting. How about dabaav? Is that dabaao in Nastaliq?

    Yes it is. And "Nastaliq" is "nasta3liiq" (). As I have indicated in another thread, "Nastaliq" is just one of the many styles of Urdu script.

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by tonyspeed View Post
    Very very interesting. How about dabaav? Is that dabaao in Nastaliq?

    Tony, I don't know if you have any interest in Urdu or Hindi poetry, but here is a Ghazal by Altaf Hussain Hali 1837-1914 (a shaagird of Ghalib), which allows the nouns and the verbs to rhyme. I shall mark the verbal nouns in blue.

    dil ko kis tarH samajhiye kih vahii hai yih dil
    vuh ummiideN haiN nah armaaN vuh umaNgeN haiN nah chaa'o


    yaar ko yaar samajhtaa hai nah tuu Ghair ko Ghair
    tuu to achchhaa hai magar tere bure haiN bartaa'o
    Last edited by Faylasoof; 11th March 2012 at 9:56 PM. Reason: Not more than 4 lines per quote, please!

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Another feature is that the marker of the future tense -gaa, -gii, -ge is written as an inherent part of the verb in Hindi, while in Urdu mostly not so.
    kare gaa << karegaa

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by marrish View Post
    Another feature is that the marker of the future tense -gaa, -gii, -ge is written as an inherent part of the verb in Hindi, while in Urdu mostly not so.
    kare gaa << karegaa
    Thank you, marrish saaHib for reigniting this thread.

    The consonat "r" is represented in various ways in Devanagri, depending on its position in the word, e.g. रात, कुर्सी, पत्र. Also, the retroflex consonants as shown in the following two words ऋषि, कृष्ण are not normally indicated in the Urdu script.

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    Re: Urdu-Hindi: Urdu/Hindi spelling conventions

    Quote Originally Posted by QURESHPOR View Post
    Thank you, marrish saaHib for reigniting this thread.

    The consonat "r" is represented in various ways in Devanagri, depending on its position in the word, e.g. रात, कुर्सी, पत्र. Also, the retroflex consonants as shown in the following two words ऋषि, कृष्ण are not normally indicated in the Urdu script.
    Your are most welcome! I hope this thread will keep on flickering!

    Indeed, it's a remarkable feature of this wandering Devanagari consonant "r". But, according to my source, the latter one is described as a vowel, not as a consonant. I am sure it doesn't exist in Urdu, nor in Prakrit. This one is a purely Sanskrit peculiarity, and visible in Hindi in the Sanskrit borrowings. I'm curious whether it's pronounced differently in Hindi these days than the consonant.

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