1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Hindi/Urdu/Punjabi: Can shir mean both tiger and lion?

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Benyameen, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. Benyameen Junior Member

    Greetings everyone.

    Is it correct that the word shir can be used for both a tiger and a lion?

    I have Dari speaking Afghan friends who use the word shir to mean lion; I wonder if its roots may include tiger as well.

    Thanks for your assistance.

    Ben
     
  2. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Welcome, Benyameen! It is true that in colloquial/spoken Hindi, "sher" (not "shir") can mean both tiger and lion; however, the actual words are "sher" for lion and "baagh" for tiger, thus different.
     
  3. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    In both Punjabi and Urdu, to the best of my knowledge we do use "sher" for both. But if we need to distinguish the two (lion vs tiger) we say "babar sher" for lion. Also "baagh" is used for tiger as well, but I don't believe this is all that common.
     
  4. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    ^ Note, Ben, that as far as Hindi is concerned, it's "babbar", not "babar".
     
  5. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    In Urdu, i believe sher is used for both. But it "feels" much more precise only for lion. I do not know such a precise word for Tiger in Urdu.

    Perhaps someone can enlighten. baagh is not commonly understood in Urdu.
     
  6. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Both babar and babbar used in Urdu.
     
  7. Benyameen Junior Member

    Thanks very much to you all.

    The reason that I'm asking about this is because of the nom de guerre of the Afghan mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, Shir-e-Panjshir, the Lion of the Panjshir (Five Lions). It has always been translated into English as lion, and the Afghan Dari speakers that I know also see it as meaning lion. I knew that there were at one time Caspian tigers in Afghanistan and also that Kipling called the tiger in the Jungle Book Shere Khan... so I thought the word tiger might be more appropriate. But now I've found that apparently there were Asiatic lions until very recently in Iran (and presumably Afghanistan) as well... so maybe shir really does mean lion...

    Anyhow, thanks for your time and for allowing me to participate in this amazing forum!

    Ben
     
  8. Benyameen Junior Member

    According to one online dictionary, the Dari word for tiger is also beber. I don't know if shir covers both tiger and lion in Dari; that will be one for the Dari forum. Thanks again!
     
  9. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Please have look at this thread too!
     
  10. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Actually, both forms are used. See here and here.
     
  11. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Technically, babar/baagh is supposed to mean tiger, while sher is supposed to be lion; however, the two animals often get confounded in Indic languages and dictionaries list either or both meanings.
     
  12. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I am surprised no one has mentioned "singh" for a lion.

    Benyameen, in Dari, the pronunciation is "sher", same as us in the Subcontinent, and not "shiir" as in Tehrani Persian. We differentiate between a lion and milk. :)
     
  13. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    I thought about it but figured it's not common in spoken language. Mainly used as a part of names and in literature.
     
  14. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Precisely for this reason, we could have the sentence ..

    singh jaNgal kaa raajaa hai. (I wonder if singh was ever used in this sense.)
     
  15. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Yes, it can be used in this sense; however, I think it's generally written and pronounced as siNh when used in Hindi (singh in names).
     
  16. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Yes, I should have pointed this out. Strangely enough my father never said "singh" for names. It was always "siNh" for him!
     
  17. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    When used in Punjabi literature, is it usually siNh or singh?
     
  18. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    A very interesting question and I am not the right person to answer it purely because I've read very little Punjabi literature. Although I can read Gurmukhi, what I have read is in Shahmukhi, where I don't remember coming across the word in this form. However, if my memory serves me right, it was "shiiN" (lion). In everyday Punjabi, we use "sher".
     
  19. Benyameen Junior Member

    Seems to me like the lions are getting most of the attention here!:eek:...:) Please allow me to rectify that (and merrily traipse even further off into the weeds) by adding that Afghans (both Pashtu and Dari speakers) can apparently refer to a tiger as a palang:

    Shams e malang, shab e palang.
    In the daylight a holy man, in the night a tiger.

    Palang dar libasi malang.
    A tiger in the clothing of a holy man.

    Thanks to you all. Great site. Great participants.

    And now it's time for me to start working on my Dari pronunciation; I don't want to refer to one of Afghanistan's most famous valleys as Five Milks...
     
  20. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Are you sure. It seems "babr" is a tiger and "palang" is a leopard.
     
  21. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    palang kaa palang. The bed of a leopard.

    In Urdu, is the correct pronunciation babr or babar? I noticed in Farsi/Dari it's babr.

    Platts includes leopard, panther, and tiger in its definition of palang; however, it is properly a leopard/panther.
     
  22. Benyameen Junior Member

  23. Benyameen Junior Member

  24. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
  25. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Two more words for leopard/panther: chiitaa and tenduaa. I don't think either of these terms is confounded with a lion or tiger, though.
     
  26. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    "palang" in Persian (and in Urdu borrowing for the animal) indeed stands for tendwaa تيندوا तेंदुआ = leopard / panther.

    Use of palang for a leopard in Urdu is not common, unlike in Persian where it is standard.

    بزنجیر هفتاد شیر و پلنگ
    بدیبای چین اندرون بسته تن
    فردوسی


    ز شاهین و از باز و پرّان عقاب
    ز شیر و پلنگ و نهنگ اندر آب
    فردوسی
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  27. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Actually, many of us (Urduphones) do distinguish between a chiitaa (=cheetah) and a tendwaa (= leopard). But you are right! Neither would be used for a lion or a tiger.
     
  28. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Yes, chiitaa and tenduaa are different. I was looking at an older source that referred to a chiitaa as a hunting-leopard.
     
  29. Benyameen Junior Member

    Here's a partial report on Afghanistan's carnivores:

    http://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Habibi_1977.pdf

    It does indeed sound like palang properly refers to leopards or panthers, not tigers.

    So, OK, I think that I have this much straight...

    Sher/Dari/Lion.

    Babr/Dari/Tiger

    Palang/Dari/Leopard or Panther
    (Prang/Pashtu/Leopard or Panther)

    Palang Barfey/Dari/Snow Leopard
    (Waawrin Prang/Pashtu/Snow Leopard)

    Sher can refer to lions and tigers in general.

    Palang can refer to tigers, panthers and leopards in general.

    Thanks again to you all for sharing your knowlege. It's been a pleasure!
     
  30. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    It is a pleasure to see such a summary of the thread, it does not happen frequently here,

    Wolverine9, you are right as to Urdu, since this case of homonymy is to be explained by the means of etymology, palaNg, bed is something different from palang, tiger. Not applicable to Persian.
     
  31. Benyameen Junior Member

    Kheyli mamnoonam, marrish!
     
  32. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    xwaahesh miikonam, Benyameen!
     

Share This Page