Hindi: How is ण pronounced? (Thread closed awaiting moderation).

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by greatbear, Feb 22, 2012.

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  1. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    A statement which seemed shocking to me, "ण when isolated is pronounced as न by most people", was made by member tonyspeed recently in a thread on dots in Hindi. But maybe it is only me who is shocked and have failed to notice all these new न's mushrooming everywhere (or maybe they were always there).

    So, my questions to Hindi speakers:
    (1) How do you pronounce it "in isolation"?
    (2) According to you, how does the majority pronounce it?

    Also, since tonyspeed failed to back up his assertion by any kind of reference, I would also like the other members to come up with references or data which indeed point out that ण is pronounced as न by the majority of Hindi speakers.
     
  2. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Give me a couple of days, I hope to be able to say something about this. Not sure whether I'd be able to confirm or deny. It is getting more and more interesting! Please don't feel limited with this, do look for any reference from which we might learn that it is not so.
     
  3. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    Before I go hunting for references, I will answer questions (1) and (2).

    I am not sure what tonyspeed meant by "in isolation" but here goes:

    I have the capacity to pronounce ण and so does everyone I know. We were all taught to read, write and recite Hindi with a distinct ण. You can easily hear it in the media, too.
    As for if I actually distinguish it from न, I would say not often, nor do most of the people that I've interacted with. But, not often is the important phrase there, as I have definitely heard people use it, even if only sporadically, and it has become habitual for me in some words as well (I think I always pronounce the ण in भविष्यवाणी and निर्माण, for example).
     
  4. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    That is interesting, because you have heard often ण as न. Anyway, though, at least since you do pronounce ण in certain words, it can't be just removed from the script (as per a suggestion by tonyspeed). I keep looking forward to more experiences.
    Regarding "in isolation", I in fact didn't understand much, since tonyspeed also thought that it could be removed from the Hindi script itself: so I am assuming that he meant that ण is never pronounced at all by the majority of Hindi speakers (since that is what would warrant the complete removal of a letter). Anyway, let's just keep looking for more opinions, let's not derail this thread by petty bickering.
     
  5. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    How about ख़ ? The official recommendation is to remove the bindi, but I have distinctly heard, not one or two, but many people pronounce it; again, depending on the word! How is this any different from the ण situation? I also suspect the removal of ण is even higher amongst the illiterate.
     
  6. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I believe it is not a removal - it is just how the laguage evolved - which you see it is faithfully retained in Urdu - on opposition to Hindi, which quite recently got to replace the existent sounds and words with their ''so called SaMskRtaM equivalents".
     
  7. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    Seeing as before the great Urdu-Hindi divide, pronouncing x as kh was just a lack of education thing, I think it's proposterous to suggest that the entire Hindi speaking world all of a sudden become ultra-Sanskritist and replaced everything with "SanskritniSTh" equivalents.

    In reality,wider spread Urdu education and media standards ensure the pronunciations of x,G,q in Pakistan. Furthermore, with the importance of these sounds in Qur'anic recitation, it is only natural that they will become the way of speaking.

    Seeing as the Hindi script isn't so adept at expressing these sounds, nor are they important for our liturgical language(s), it seems to me simply a matter of people who could never produce these phonemes continuing to not be able to produce these phonemes.
    Other than z and f, x is indeed the most integrated in Hindi of the Persian phonemes. I don't feel there is any need to dump the nuqtah, just as much as I don't feel their is need to dump the retroflex n.
     
  8. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Could you please be a little more explicit. Perhaps it's just me.
     
  9. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    The point is here that Urdu, call it Hindi, Hindui, Hindavi or Rextah or Gujri or anything our previous generations found sufficient to describe the language, diverged much from its original form to go for another one in United India = so called shuddh Hindi = where Sanskrit forms of words were to dominate on the indigenous ones. The simple man speaks no Shuddh hindi but the language which has been going on, and presently upon the influence of retrospecting big men (retrospecting doesn't mean here 60 yrs but 1500 at least.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  10. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    Well everyone seems to think that all pre-partition Hindustani (Urdu? Hindi?) speakers could produce x, G, q. That doesn't quite jive with me - if that were so, they would not have almost enitrely vanished today. Compare /z/, which is well used and alive, and it isn't particularly becoming to say /j/ in its place - who says jyaada instead of zyaada o_O

    It seems evident to me that many, especially the rustic folk and the illiterate, would not be able to pronounce these phonemes correctly. Political forces can do a lot of things, but they can't simply kick out a phoneme used by millions of people. /x/'s marginal status in modern Hindi only suggests to me that it was on its way to become a solid part of Hindi just as much as /z/ has, but the Hindi-Urdu divide occurred to early for it do so.

    Hindi speakers could not pronounce retroflex n's or S's before the division, and now we all have the capability. Education, standardisation, religious forces etc. have all contributed to this.
    x,G,q it seems were not well ingrained enough that they could survive in a script and standard language that regard them as optional or even superfluous.

    Plus, it seems that the number of people who can't produce x,G,q has only increased today because of the unimportant position they now occupy.
     
  11. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Regarding the first paragraph. It has been 65 years since independence and therefore at least one generation is gone and another has replaced it. If people grow up in a (new) environment where Hindi is taught from Primary school age, is it a surprise that even those whose parents would have been pronouncing x, Gh and q correctly are now stuck with kh, g and k? Just look at the likes of Salman Khan and all the other Khans who can't pronounce their own names! As for f/z, please do not forget influence from English education. This is the reason why in your original post f, z formed part of the compulsory phonemes to retain the bindi.

    I have lived amongst completely illiterate "rustic" folk and I can assure you that they pronounced f, z, sh, x and Gh with perfect ease. The only phoneme they did not pronounce correctly was q. And this is in the Punjab. I hope someone who has lived in the Urdu/Hindi areas can fill you in regarding your assertion.

    In the pre-independence period, Urdu was taught in schools throughout Northern India including Punjab (East and West) and areas such as Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Bhopal. All these areas, apart from what is now Pakistan, are now practically devoid of organised Urdu teaching.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  12. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    I think you're looking at this a bit conspiratorially. I'm reading that Indian education system has intentionally "killed" x,G,q.

    Are these rustic folks you speak of Pakistani? They live in a very different environment. Everyone on Pakistani television pronounces their Persian phonemes correctly and clearly. I am assuming that many of these rustic people have had some Qur'anic verses taught to them as well.

    In India, the media folk sporadically pronounce their sounds correctly and almost never say q. It is not to hard to mishear x as kh in these situations.

    I agree that the education system is likely acidentally reinforcing the Indic approximations of the Perisan phonemes, but ultimately it's because of the attitude we have towards these phonemes (which almost treats them like allophones) and the fact that I still doubt everyone was capable of pronouncing them pre-division era.
     
  13. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Yes, these people I am talking about are Pakistani and when I said they were illiterate, I meant illiterate. No Arabic, no Persian, no Urdu, no Punjabi and NO TV! Radio had n't come to those people then let alone TV!

    Let's wait for someone from across the border, possibly from an Urdu background to offer their insight.
     
  14. JaiHind Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi
    I am shocked too by this assertion from that member. ण is never pronounced as न. Most of Hindi I have heard in my life, there has been a clear difference between ण and न, if I don't say "all". In fact, right in the school when kids are taught alphabets, they are taught to differently pronounce these two na's.

    How do we pronounce these? I think tongue movements are different. For ण, tongue becomes a curve like, its tip touches the top of mouth, its tip is upward inclined, also there is a kid of jerk by the end of saying ण (if I can call it jerk). For न, as we all know, the tongue is rather straight and there is no upward inclined tip of the tongue.

    Anyways, if some people are not well versed in Hindi, let us tell them to listen more Hindi and take more interest in Hindi. Also let them not look at Hindi with colored glasses.
     
  15. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    I had already posted about this on the other thread. This statement is shocking to me as well.

    ण pronounced with the tongue at the same place as Ta, Tha, Da, Dha, whereas न is pronounced with the tongue at the same place as ta, tha, da, dha. The majority pronounces it like this, i.e., correctly.
     
  16. BP. Senior Member

    Karachi
    Urdu
    They can and have. Look at the Turkish spoken in Turkey. The political leadership forced the omission of q, of kh/x and of w, these being replaced by k, ğ (a y really), and a v respectively, and you won't hear them in a Turkish street anymore, except maybe a faint q from some less-educated folk.

    The French language authority guides the evolution of their language and unlike for English, decides which new words make the dictionary. I could imagine that even without using statutory means a political entity could social-engineer the modification of parts of a language over a longer period of time.
     
  17. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    The question is not of removal of ण; please read the original post again. There is nothing wrong in admitting that you were misled/mistaken when you made the statement, "ण when isolated is pronounced as न by most people" - this is the time you should do it. I've been following you right after you made that statement and you spawned nearly 5 to 6 different issues to deflect attention instead of taking it back; you can run, but you can't hide :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2012
  18. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Keeping the promise to come back again, all I can say for the moment is that tonyspeed SaaHib by no means has to "hide". There is no retroflex ''n'' in Braj bhaasha/bhaakaa at least. You may consult page 150 of this document by the Indian Government.
    I'll be back!
     
  19. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    It seems that the point is solved, while you acknowledge there are people who don't. Whether they are in majority or minority is less important.
    I wouldn't opt for the removal of this letter from Hindi because it is present there and also in many other Indic languages. Actually I'm against removing anything from the Hindi writing system, rather I'd go for adding a bit.
     
  20. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    Let's not run away from the main question. We are not discussing its removal. The question is whether the majority pronounces it or not (pls see original post). So, before you post more of orthogonal information, is your answer "Yes", "No", or "I don't know"?
     
  21. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    We all learn that ण is a retroflex nasal sound, unlike न. In other words they are different! Having said this, I hear more people now turning ण into an न !! Having good language teachers around always helps but as far as standard languages go, instilling a respect for good and proper pronunciation within us is just as important. Apart from this the ‘right’ environment is a must! Dialects, we all know, show considerable variations and we can’t completely eliminate their influence on any standard language. This too might also be influencing the way ण is being pronounced by some. Is the majority pronouncing it correctly in isolation? The ones I know do but that of course doesn’t make it the majority! I’m not sure anymore of the rest. Anyway, we already know that the majority can be incorrect about pronunciation and / or grammar.

    I have no intention of drifting into a (prolonged and off-topic) debate on the issue of ख (kh) versus ख़ (x) pronunciation here. But these two also illustrate the same point. Even now I know many illiterate people back home who make the distinction between the two (and between ‘s’ and ‘sh’ etc.). They are nearly all of the previous generation and this brings me back to the point of the right ambiance! At that time (over 6 decades ago) due to the influence and prevalence of Urdu in northern India many would learn the distinction between different phonemes even if they never had any formal education! The ‘right’ environment is essential.
    So, ण and are not the same न and shouldn’t be treated so, just like ख (kh) and ख़ (x) are not the same. Of course it is good to know how the majority might be pronouncing these (we need hard evidence) but I’d rather stick to the way it is supposed to be. Call me somewhat of a linguistic conservative, if you like. That is fine by me. But we need to maintain certain things for language integrity. That is how I feel.
     
  22. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Is ण pronounced as a ण in "Hindi" film songs?
     
  23. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Yes, I know! But I distinguish between the two! It is just me, I guess!
     
  24. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Sorry, Faylasoof SaaHib, I did n't quite follow. Are you saying, yes ण is pronounced in "Hindi" film songs or no, it is n't.
     
  25. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Sorry, I wasn't clear! I meant it isn't always! But I can't say for sure how often as I have not been listening to these songs often enough.
     
  26. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I don't run away from the main question. What for you is the original question seems to differ from the one I see:

    ''Hindi: How is ण pronounced?''

    I cannot answer ''yes'' or ''no'' to this question. If you can, do it. It is also not possible for me to say ''I don't know''. According to my knowledge, what I heard and read, which is confirmed by Hindi speakers' opinions in this forum, ण is pronounced in Hindi either as a retroflex consonant or as a dental one.

    Two other questions are directed at "Hindi speakers" only - I think this restriction disqualifies my participation in this regard so don't expect me to trouble myself with answering.

    The last part of the OP is a request to "others" for background references. In post no. 2 I'd said I was up to some research, because I find this topic interesting. Everyone is free to do some research. Have you once come up with a single reference?
     
  27. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    I've already said it. I'm saying it again: it is pronounced correctly by a majority of native speakers if not almost all, period.

    I don't need to - that's something you don't seem to understand, and I don't feel the need to explain it to you now. Let me be blunt: my opinion from my experience as a native speaker is itself a reference -- it's up to you (or those looking for an answer): take it or ignore it - there is no guarantee. I don't feel the need to waste my time providing references for what I know about my language (there won't be any references one can rely on for complex reasons - making native speakers the best source of information, but that's another issue).
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  28. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
     
  29. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Let me attempt to answer my own question.

    1) There is a song in the film, "Hare Rama Hare Krishna", with the words "dekho o diivaano tum yih kaam nah karo.." There is a line..

    Raam ko samjho, Krishn ko jaano (note NOT KrishNR)

    2) A well known bhajan from "Baiju Bawra" (mana tarapata Hari darashana ko aaja) has the wording...

    bina guru gyaana kahaaN se paa'uuN
    diijo daana Hari guna gaa'uuN (not guNR)

    3) There is a song from the film "jawab" starting with the words..

    kis kaaran jogan jog liyaa (not kaaraNR)

    4) From film, "Chandan ka Palna", there is a Lata song with the words...

    kis kaaran kaamini sharmaa'e (once again not kaaraNR)

    5) In another thread Amitabh Bachchan has been put forward as an example of a person who speaks good Hindi. In 1983, he was interviewed by the BBC and there are two Youtube videos (part 1 and 2) entitled "BBC Interview Amitabh and Jaya bachchan". In the first at 4.29 the interviewer (a Hindi speaker) uses the word "kaaran" and in part 2, Amitabh Bachchan at 02:12 uses "kaaran".

    By all accounts all these people should be saying "KrishNR", "guNR" and "kaaraNR" but for some strange reason they are not doing so!
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  30. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    Well, like some of the Hindi speakers here have said, we don't consistently pronounce the retroflex n. I gave only two examples where I know I'm 100% consistent - bhaviSyavaaNi and nirmaaN. These aren't uber mundane words either.

    It seems to me that more integrated words, like krSN, guN, kaaraN, are generally pronounced dentally.
     
  31. ihaveacomputer Junior Member

    Canadian English
    Even in Indian Punjab, where this phoneme is extremely common, Hindi speakers often drop it in favour of a dental nasal! The retroflex nasal seems to be associated exclusively with Punjabi. Obviously this is not the case for those who are educated and make a point to watch their pronunciation, but in colloquial speech, the poor ‌‌ण doesn't get the attention it deserves.

    Source: Personal observation and the comments of others during the short year I spent on the subcontinent. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  32. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    bhaaSHan, kaaran, shreni, arun, varnan, even apaharan - all heard dental today. Interestingly enough, the same speaker who pronounced dental n in kaaran went on to utter a retroflex n in kaaraNRoN se.


    I tend to subscribe to souminwé SaaHib's suggestion that it is the question of integration of those words in the language.
     
  33. flyinfishjoe Senior Member

    American English
    Just wondering, why do some of you transcribe it as NR? :confused:
     
  34. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    To be phonetically accurate, in modern Hindi it's more often than not a nasalised retroflex flap than an actual retroflex n. Plus, our notation for a nasalised vowel is (vowel)N
     
  35. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Well, I'm just following the convention of this forum. It is the best way I know to distinguish between the nasal sound N and the retroflex, without resorting to diacritics.
     
  36. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Your valuable input is much appreciated!
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  37. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I can relate to this. Even my "dushman" is a dushmaNR!:)
     
  38. ihaveacomputer Junior Member

    Canadian English


    Would you mind expanding further on this point? I was actually thinking about this very distinction a week back, comparing Hindi with Punjabi. Intervocalically, the preference for a flap definitely seems to exist. What about at the end of a word, however? Does crisp, conservative Hindi pronunciation allow for a flap in this context?

    Let's use the example of "nirmāṇ", as raised earlier. In Punjabi, that final consonant is, without doubt, a flap. A true retroflex nasal doesn't sound completely out of place, but my (non-native) instincts guide me towards a flap. What about in Hindi? Does a retroflex nasal flap sound appropriate, or is that too Punjabi in flavour?
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  39. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    I'm not sure....Punjabi NR's always seem very stark to me, but that may be simply because the sound isn't as common/integrated in Hindi.

    If you watch the trailer for Aarakshan, you will hear a character say आरक्षण, and it sounds so much like आरक्षंड़ that that is what I googled as I tried to figure out the meaning.
     
  40. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    The situation I'm afraid is that at least in khaRii Bolii , the retroflex N became extinct due to language erosion over time (the same way ph has become extinct in certain areas) and people not being familiar with Sanskrit. Even if it does persist in other languages, I believe I am correct in saying that most if not all of the words in Hindi that contain a retroflex N are tatsama loan words from Sanskrit. Please correct me if I am wrong.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  41. JaiHind Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi
    So you are having company of people who pronounce it wrong :) So which region of India are you talking about? And these people have what as their mother tongue? Is the incorrect pronunciation due to influence from some other mother tongue?
     
  42. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I would tend to agree with you and this would explain its complete absence in Urdu!
     
  43. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو

    It appears therefore that the ण in Hindi is pronounced, at least by some people as a true retroflex, by others a "nasalised retroflex flap" ( see also your post 39) and yet others by a dental n!
     
  44. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    This is very interesting. Could you please let me know how the ण is pronounced in its pristine form.
     
  45. BP. Senior Member

    Karachi
    Urdu
    ^It appeared slightly different, and finally I've figured the Hindi version is pronounced from further up the nose, but a linguistic-unlearnt person like me can't name you the exact makhraj for it.
     
  46. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    This is a presumption on your part! :) I refer to the media which covers a wide range of people! I'm not privy to where these people come from and what exactly is their mother tongue but if they had greater respect for language then we wouldn't this issue in the first place! After all they were taught this difference in school! Besides, one generally notices words being mispronounced quite often these days - and it isn't just restricted to Hindi, you also find it Urdu and I bet other languages too!!
     
  47. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I feel myself intrigued as to how this one might sound? Somewhat nasal with retroflex or a ''flap'' at the same time?
     
  48. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    It is not easy to explain! It may be worth searching for some sound files on the net and then give an indication of how to ge to them.


    A general note to all: Of course we all should remember that no live video and sound files are allowed. So it'll be best to provide a link that we can easily get to by typing it ourselves when searching. I myself too shall look for them.
     
  49. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    Just an "n" articulated at the same place as the other retroflex sounds (without any accompanying flap). I don't really know of any places where you could hear it said perfectly. Dravidian languages have this sound, try checking out something in Tamil for an example (in the song Kannazhaga, the phrase "kaNNazhaga" has this phoneme).
     
  50. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you. Would you say that, in conclusion, you are not aware if it is articulated correctly by Hindi speakers anywhere?
     
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