Hindi, Urdu: Pronouncing the infinitive verb

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by tonyspeed, May 12, 2014.

  1. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    I always assumed the scwha\inherent "a" was not pronounced before the infinitive's naa. Therefore, maannaa is pronounced with a geminate(elongated) nn sound instead of maananaa. Likewise, jaananaa is actually pronounced jaannaa.

    However, recently on a tape I have, I heard someone say "jaananaa" when pronouncing a list of vocabulary words. Is this an acceptable pronunciation in spoken Hindi/Urdu?
  2. Chhaatr Senior Member

    Rajnath Singh, the Varanasi born BJP candidate who contested the elections from Lucknow, also says "jaananaa", "maananaa" etc. I do hear such pronunciation both from native and non-native speakers. However, i do prefer "jaannaa", "maannaa" etc.
  3. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Nice pointer, Chhaatr jii. I listened to a couple of short speeches of Rajnath Singh on Youtube. Unfortunately, I didn't here too many words relevant to this thread, but I did notice him say karnaa, karne, etc. without the schwa, but bhaavanaa - though not an infinitive, but phonetically similar - with the schwa. Could it be that this schwa retention - in the speakers who do show it - is effected only after a long vowel followed by a consonant?
  4. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    If you check the way, for example, gin_naa is written in Platts, it implies that it should be pronounced "ginanaa". However, he transcribes it as "ginnaa".

    H گنا गिनना ginnā, or गनना gannā, or गणना gaṇnā [gin˚ or gaṇ˚ = Prk. गण(इ)=S. गणय(ति), rt. गण्], v.t. To count, reckon, number, calculate, compute; to consider, deem, repute, esteem:—gin-lenā, v.t. intens. of and=ginnā:—gin-gin-ke qadam rakhnā, To count one's steps;—to move very slowly or with great caution:—ginne-jog, or ginne-lāʼiq, adj. To be counted, calculable, numerable.

    I believe most people pronounce the infinitives without the schwa, as "gin_naa" as if there was a minute pause between the two ns. If the ns were doubled, one would expect the first n to be written as a "half n" in Devanagri and a "tashdiid" in the Urdu script. By the way, the word in Urdu has not been written in the way it is normally written i.e گننا
  5. littlepond Senior Member

    No, the Hindi spelling गिनना is indicating a pause - gin-naa - not ginanaa! So no "ginanaa" is being implied: Platts isn't just including a dash, which would have made things easier for the uninitiated, but that cannot be called as a transcription fault anyway. The doubling (without pause) would have led to completely different spelling and pronunciation: गिन्ना. In fact, I don't think there exists any गिन्ना but we do have a गिन्नी (of gold, silver, etc. - many of us buy these coins before Diwali and other occasions).
  6. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole

    This is a novel idea. So we are saying, nn continuous and n-n are different. In my mind they are just 2 different ways of gemination. For instance in the word bachchaa, we really have bach-chaa and similarly in patthar you hear pat-thar where "-" represents a pause.

    Are there any books that discuss this difference?

    - In my mind the reason it is written ginna is because it emphasizes the fact that gin is the root and naa is a suffix indicating the infinitive.

    - In any case, if a speaker is following the normal schwa deletion tendency inherent in most dialects of Hindi, ginanaa would become ginnaa. Therefore, saying ginanaa is a bit against the grain of normality for most speakers I would think...
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  7. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    In line with tonyspeed's surprise, I also have strong suspicions about your view. Of course, our brain, when analyzing speech, imposes all sorts of structure to it, like imagining word boundaries, morpheme boundaries, etc. which may seem to a native speaker like actually existing in the input speech, while they are really derived from the speaker's own internal grammar. There may also be a bit of positive feedback cycle going on with the orthography in this regard, where such structures are noted in spelling, and thus reinforced in the subconscious of literate speakers (e.g. karuuNgaa is one word or two?). My feeling is that it is probably a similar case.

    As far as I understand, there is no phonetic difference between a "real" doubling (i.e. gemination) and what you are calling - "doubling with a pause". I believe, there is no phonetic pause between the two n's (in fact, even the two n's is an illusion, phonetically there is just one long n*), and taken out of context of a sentence or conversation, it is impossible to distinguish गिन्नी and गिननी in their usual pronunciation. Think of the sentence - "ye bhii ginnii hai" which may be used either to mean:
    a) "this also is a gold coin, etc.", as in "ye maamuulii sikkaa hai, par ye ginnii hai, aur ye bhii ginnii hai"; or
    b) "This also has to be counted", as in "aap kii lisT meN ye ek kitaab chhuT gaii hai, ye bhii ginnii hai".
    I will be highly surprised if there is any difference in pronunciation between these two. It can be easily tested actually, at any Hindi/Urdu speaker's home. Just record the longish 2-3 sentence utterances by a few speakers, and then cut out only the "ye bhii ginnii hai" part from both types of sentences and see if you and your friends can still distinguish them thus deprived of context.

    * Indeed, a single n is composed first of an oral occlusion at alveolar ridge/teeth with the tip of the tongue, followed by a hold interval, and ending with releasing the occlusion, while some air keeps flowing out through the nasal cavity during all this duration. If you notice, in "nn" there is just one leading occlusion and one final release with a longer hold time in between. That's what I mean by a long n as opposed to two n's, i.e. 2 occlusions, 2 hold intervals and 2 releases.

    This is my impression too. The orthographic break simply corresponds to a morpheme boundary.
    Last edited: May 13, 2014
  8. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I share your remarks on this matters regarding Urdu. The Urdu spelling in such cases is not with a tashdiid but with two letters, contrary to what is listed there in Platts online. I regret I have no access to the printed book any longer. The same with جاننا ماننا تاننا (jaan_naa, maan_naa, taan_naa). That is why we (those who adhere to some good practices on transliteration) indicate two letters by using _ or . or -, while when a consonant is doubled by the mark "tashdiid" we don't do it so that those who might be interested don't get mislead as far as the Urdu spelling is concerned. It seems the same convention is being followed by Hindi गिनना but गन्ना (gin_naa (verb), gannaa (sugar-cane). I think it is not without a reason.
  9. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Yes, and tonyspeed and I think, the motivation is likely to show the boundary between the two morphemes involved - the root (gin-) and the ending (-naa), i.e. a morphological reason, rather than a phonetic one.
  10. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    It seems we all agree with this, for the time-being. It is quite convincing idea. I have some diverging thoughts but they are not worth mentioning. Possibly, if these thoughts gain shape I will share them with you all for scrutiny. One of them is word-stress...
  11. littlepond Senior Member

    Dib jii, I do agree with what you say: I guess my being a native speaker has introduced such a confusion in my mind. A good sentence to test would be "गिन्नी गिननी हैं क्या?" (shall we count coins?): in fast speech, I do not find any diff. when I pronounce them. However, in slow speech, the "nn" is longer in the latter "gin-nii".
  12. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Interesting observation. I wish I could find out more about it - like record some people and measure the durations, etc. The sentence rhythm/intonation may also play some part in making them sound different, as they occur in two different parts of the sentence.
  13. littlepond Senior Member

    ^ Indeed; I would also like to do some fieldwork! I hope to also hear from Chhatr jii, in case he would like to share his opinion, about this, as he is the only other active Hindi native speaker present on the forum, as far as I know.
  14. Chhaatr Senior Member

    littlepondjii maiN aapkii is baat se bilkul sehmat huuN.
  15. littlepond Senior Member

    ^ aapkaa laRii mein phir se shariik hone ke liye bahut, bahut shukriya, Chhatr jii! Aur baat kii pushTi ke liye alag se dhanyavaad!
  16. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    We have discussed in other threads created by QP-sahib that this could possibly be intonation due to being used in different contexts. In on sentence you are using ginnii simply as a noun in a statement. In the second statement, you are using it to denote a desire/requirement.

    A better test would be two bland sentences:

    1. yah ganna hai
    2. ginna us kaa kaam hai
  17. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    Phychology does have much to do with how language is perceived. This is mentioned in Ohala's book quite extensively. Especially since you are literate, the written form begins to shape your ideas of the structure of the language. The question becomes: what is the perception of an illiterate person compared to yours?
  18. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Platts gives the verb "ban_naa" as given below.

    H بننا बन्ना, बनना bannā

    For me बन्ना is "bannaa" (n is doubled) which is another word for dulhaa (bridegroom) whilst बनना is "bananaa". Neither to my mind depict the infinitive "ban_naa".

    The Urdu "jannat" is the Arabic "janna(h)". Ignoring the final short vowel, this in no way has the same sound as "jan_naa" (to give birth).
  19. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    It is becoming really interesting. Is there anybody who could record themselves (or even better, record someone clueless about what we are discussing here) and circulate it, for us skeptics about the difference to hear what exactly you mean?
  20. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    You have to take into account the schwa deletion, so it becomes ban_naa for most and not bananaa.
  21. littlepond Senior Member

    Quresh jii, for me as well, बन्ना is bridegroom, whereas बनना reduces to "ban-naa", the infinitive for "to become". And I do not see बनना possible to use for the bridegroom, either orthographically or phonetically. Dib jii, Quresh jii has come up with a very good example, btw: why don't you search for some "bannaa/bannii" songs from TheTh UP, and see if you can spot some difference.

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