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Hindi/Urdu: changing from Aap to Tum

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by tonyspeed, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    I'm trying to understand more fully the dynamic of using tum.

    Firstly, what kind of relationships do you use "tum" for? Can "tum" ever be used towards people older than yourself?

    Have you ever switched from using the "Aap" form to using the "Tum" form as the relationship with another person became less formal?

    What triggers this switch? Does the other person tell you to stop using "Aap" or do you just make the assumption yourself?


    I realise that in Urdu this may be a bit more rigid than in Hindi. So both perspectives are welcome.
     
  2. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    From my experience the switch is not easy. It also depends on what the other person is comfortable with. I have a few very close friends whom I have known for more than half my life but somehow it is aap both ways. In one that I can think of, other side to me is tum, but me to him is aap. It's kind of strange. A very long time gap in relationship can also make it aap from original tum. In some cases I have just interrupted people to remind to drop this cloak of formality (within extended family for example). Switch in either direction is hard.

    You'd find some people using tum even with people older than them due to social status. Common example, women talking to household workers.
     
  3. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    ^ Another example of the wife calling the husband aap and he calling her tum in some families.
     
  4. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    First of all, if we take tum and aap and make a comparison between them, it seems that tum is a grade lower in respect and courtliness. It should be still noted that tum on itself is a respectful form of address [p.pron.] as well as aap is. With both pronouns the plural conjugation is used. The usage is something peculiar to a broadly defined social group and the customary ways. It is not always the case of aap being rigidly formal as it can express a very intimate relation as well. Just a matter of mutual conventions. I believe the switch if it takes place is comparable with a situation as in English a person asks you to call him or her by the first name. It may be of course asked for but not necessarily, the change can take place gradually. I don't know whether Urdu is more conservative in this respect but what I noticed is that Hindi uses the tuu forms much more freely.

    Another thought is that aap should not always be understood as a 'formal' way of address. It is not infrequently used between close friends as well, but you will surely know that this *is* the formal way of address par excellence. I hope I haven't muddied the waters by this answer.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  5. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Excellent example. Very common indeed.
     
  6. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Thank you but I don't like it! But what we can do with our likings and dislikings, this is how the language is.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  7. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    Urdu seems to have gone the way of English, where English replaced singular and plural familiar forms with the plural respectful form, "you."

    It takes some of the social complexities out of the equation. Eventually, everyone thinks "tu" is only poetic language, as English speakers feel about "thou".
     
  8. amiramir Senior Member

    English-USA
    I think others' points brought up earlier that 'aap' isn't too be thought of purely in terms of formality is a good one.

    In addition, I would add that people also switch between pronouns all the time with the same people, or at least I do, but I'm not a native speaker. For example, with very close friends, I will usually stick to tum, but occasionally will lapse into tu when kidding around (particularly if it's just us boys, but also with my female cousins.) I don't really every switch from aap to tum, but I will switch from (aap + aap conjugation) to (aap + tum conjugation) and back again, particularly with my parents and how long it's been since we've seen each other.

    Now that I think about it, my grandmother switches with me. Sometimes (aap + tum conjugation) and sometimes just plain tum. And sometimes even tu, when she's acting as confidant (or yelling at me)
     
  9. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Everything depends on the person - his/her choices. And thereafter what is acceptable around him/her (and if not, then is s/he prepared to rebel, etc.). Personally speaking, I have rarely used "aap" in my life except with strangers. Even if someone is very old but belongs to family or has a good relation with me, I go for "tum" (or "tu", depending on intimacy). However, I am not a representative of people (and no one person is). There are women who call their husbands as "aap" (and there are women who think it a sin to take their husband's name, so they won't even say the name of a person who bears the same name), there are people who call their brothers even older by one year as "aap", and so on. It's a wide, wide world, and everyone has a different choice (thankfully).
     
  10. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    If both tum and aap are equally plural grammatically, why do we use different sentence constructs for them (at least in the present tense)?

    Example:

    aap kahaN jaa rahe haiN?
    tum kahaaN jaa rahe ho?

    And for contrast the tuu version would be:

    tuu kahaaN jaa rahaa hai?
     
  11. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    This may be beyond answerable. However tum is the plural of tu. Aap was originated to be, I would think, purely a"polite" plural form.


    H تم तुम tum [Prk. तुम्म or तुम्ह=S.युष्म], pers. pron., 2nd pers. pl., You:—tum-āp, You yourself:—tum-tanau (Braj)=tumhārā:—tum-san (Braj)=tum-se:—tum-nā (old H.)=tum-ko:—tum-ni, an inflective base, in Braj, of the dat., acc., and abl. cases of tum;—tum-ni-soṅ = tum-se;—tum-ni-kauṅ = tum-ko.


    H آپ आप āp [S. आत्मन], refl. pron. com. gender, Self, himself, oneself, itself; he himself, you yourself, they themselves:—pron. rever. You, Sir, your honour, your worship; his honour, his worship.—āp-āp, distr. pron., Each one; each by himself or itself; every one for himself:—s.m. Selfishness, egotism.—āp-āp karnā, v.t. To address (one) with respect or deference; to flatter; to be selfish or egotistical.—āp-bhātī, adv. According to one's own pleasure.—āp-bītī, s.f. That which has befallen oneself, the story of one's own sufferings.—āp-rūp, adj. Self-made, self-formed; singular, strange, wonderful, unique, incomparable, unequalled:—s.m. The self-formed, the Deity;—you, your honour, your worship;—an unparalleled scamp or rogue.—āp-rūpī, adj. Self-formed, &c. (=āp-rūp):—adv. Of its own accord, spontaneously.—āp-swārthī, adj. Pursuing one's own objects, self-seeking, selfish (see swārthī).—āp-se, āp-se-āp, adv. Of himself, of his own accord, voluntarily, freely; without rhyme or reason, causelessly; of itself, spontaneously.—āp-kāj (S. ātma-kārya), s.m. One's own business or affairs.—āp-kājī, adj. Attending to, or concerned about one's own business or affairs; pursuing one's own objects, self-seeking, selfish.—āp-ko (or apne-ko) dūr khainćnā (-se), To hold oneself aloof (from); to have an inordinate opinion of oneself.—āp-hī-āp, adv. Of himself, of itself, &c. (=āp-se-āp); alone.


    It is interesting to note that, according to Platts, aap has no Prakritic equivalent, meaning, it seemingly did not come through Prakrit. I could be reading too much into this. It could be an omission. But, if that is the case, the question is when was the reverential "aap" construction first used?


    Interestingly, there is quite a parallel with European languages, even English (thou,ye,you) if you want to look up "thou" in wikipedia.
    And from another site: "You may have been told that "thou" and "thee" were for familiar use, and "you" and "ye" were formal. This was not true originally, but it was true for about two centuries, roughly 1450-1650, including Shakespeare's time. The previously plural "you" was used in the singular to signify politeness and respect, which left "thou" and "thee" for all the other singular uses, ranging from endearing intimacy to bitter rudeness. Eventually, the politer "you" drove out nearly all uses of "thee" and "thou"; they survived mostly in poetry and religion."
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  12. hindiurdu Senior Member

    Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri
    Indeed. This seems to be a very personal choice that shows wide variation even within a single family. I know of one where the father and kids refer to each other as 'aap' while the mother and the kids are on 'tuu' terms (sounds jarring to me sometimes) and the parents use 'tum' for each other. Also interesting that God is often referred to with the least respectful (most intimate?) 'tuu'. Delhi Punjabis (West Punjab origins, mostly) mix forms and seem to mostly avoid 'tum' as much as they can - 'aap kyaa kar rahe ho'. I think friends usually default to 'tuu' nowadays - maybe up until high school or college, when they become more formal. I am pretty sure there must be some really strong dialectical variations in this.

    There seem to be some protocols on what to say to shift registers as well. For instance, 'tuu-taRaang mat kariye' to force a shift to 'aap'. 'Ye(h) kyaa aap-aap lagaa rakhii hai' to force a shift to 'tum' or 'tuu'. Reminds me of the French, 'on se dit tu?'
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  13. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    The most intimate is the primary meaning of "tuu" (hence for God); the lack of respect meaning has only later evolved from this. To take an example, a servant usually doesn't say "tu" to the master, because it would mean that the servant is on intimate friendly terms with the master, and thus lack of dignity for the master (the usual notions, I mean).

    "tuu" immediately impacts the mind with intimacy, affection and deep love, when used with friends, family, lovers, etc. It's a beautiful form. I don't know though why are people discussing English thou and so on, since Hindi rather resembles French in this respect to a certain extent (vous, tu). Of course, in France, vous and tu usage varies, plus they don't have the middle "tum". As for English, whatever "thou" was, it's old-fashioned and obsolete now, even for referring to God, so period.
     
  14. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Interesting, I always say tuu-taRaak :)
     
  15. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Re: tuu pronoun for God ... In Muslim context (emphasis on uniqueness of God) I think it also has to do with tuu being unquestionably singular, unlike tum and aap. Although the the use of aap for this purpose is not totally extint in Urdu.
     
  16. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Me too. Also, it doesn't mean exactly the same as "(se) tutoyer" (of French), as far as contexts where it is applied are concerned. "zaadaa tuu-taRaak pe mat aaiiye" - something like that is usually used when the situation is heating up (or if it's a question of respect, "teri mujhse tuu-taRaak pe aane kii himmat?" - interestingly, the speaker thinks it fine to himself tuu-taRaak the other party).

    French doesn't have a "tum", hence the vous-tu dichotomy is sharper, making vous very formal and "tu" as tum and tu, both (often). A colleague at work addresses you as "tu" in French; a colleague at work in India would address you as "tum" or "aap", but never "tu", unless buddies as well.
     
  17. hindiurdu Senior Member

    Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri
    Interesting. I have never heard 'tuu-taRaak' as far as I can remember. It is 'tuu-taRaang' for my circle.

    I also now realize that the word 'tuu' applies to a lot of respected figures in HU. 'Aye qaid-e-aazam teraa aihsaan hai' and 'saabarmati ke sant tuune kar diyaa kamaal' come to mind. I also now remember from college a situation in which this one girl would call all the boys 'aap' except this one boy whom she called 'tum'. Sure enough, they got married later. I also now realize that younger Delhi Punjabis now call everyone 'aap' if they are a stranger (no matter how much lower in station they are) and seem to reserve 'tuu' purely for intimate or close relationships. They don't use 'tum' at all or hardly ever. Biharis and UP people use it very differently. Kashmiris are inconsistent across generations. The younger generation uses 'aap' kind of like Delhi Punjabis but the older ones are much more open with 'tuu' and discriminate based on economic and power status. Could this portend a tuu > aap trend similar to that seen in English. Also, in English, we have 'our father who art in heaven, thy kingdom come' - which basically makes God a 'tuu'/'thou' also.
     
  18. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Are you sure it's "tuu-taRaang" or "tuu-taRaNg"? I have heard the latter, but never the former.
     
  19. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole

    I think GB stated it wonderfully above. Tu is the most intimate of forms, but when used for someone you are supposed to be "formal" with, it takes on an air of disrespect.

    One has to be formal with people in positions of power (would include most older people) and people one does not know.

    Logically therefore, people with whom you are quite intimate and people with absolutely no power can be spoken to with, using "tu". (especially when not in formal situations or in the presence of others)


    One aspect I don't think we have touched on is the urban vs rural differences. I've heard in rural areas, usage of tu is much freer, as the level of formality is less.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
  20. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    In fact, the situation is the very contrary, tonyspeed! The usage of "aap" is very widespread in rural areas: a brother even one year older is addressed to as "aap", and so on. Whereas, in cities, "aap" is considered 'unmodern', and more and more "tu" is used. In cities like Mumbai, FM radio stations have hosts even addressing the listeners as "tu", which is something that continues to shock me, because "tu" is intimate and dear, and the radio host saying it gives it some kind of an impersonal touch, which is the rape of "tu" to my ears.
     
  21. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    I've noticed this about Bombay as well. Ran across the phrase "tu tera dekh" the other day.
     
  22. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    ^ Quite common, along with "tu khud kaa dekh". Of course, "tu apnaa dekh" would be better grammatically.
     

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