Hindi/Urdu/ Punjabi: sundar / khubsurat

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Machlii5, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. Machlii5 Senior Member

    Supposedly synonymous words pose a big problem to learners of a language, as they hardly ever are totally interchangeable.
    E.g. the adjectives for physical beauty in German express different grades of beauty and also differ in gender and age of the person described. Some cannot be used for things or abstract notions. There is also the question of area as some dialects have their own words.
    So far I've learned that Hindi uses two different words for “beautiful“, from different origins:
    सुन्दर (sansk.) / ख़ूबसूरत (pers.)
    I would highly appreciate any comments on how they are used in Hindi
    - interchangeably?
    - one preferred over the other in different regions?
    - for male and female?
    - for things and abstract notions?
    Are there any other ways to express appreciation of beauty?

    Thank you very much for your answers.
  2. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    As far as I can recall they are used pretty much interchangeably!

    In Urdu and colloquial Hindi there is also the use of حَسِين हसीन Hasiin (Arabic) to express the idea of beauty. Urdu uses this intead of sundar सुन्दर! For us, حَسِين हसीन Hasiin has a higher meaning than خوبصورت xuubSuurat ख़ूबसूरत.

    There is also, حَسِينہ Hasiinah हसीना, the feminine of حَسِين हसीन Hasiin, used exclusively for a beautiful woman.

    Incidentally, ख़ूबसूरत is a hybrid of ख़ूब (Persian) + सूरत(Arabic).

    For abstract notions, I can only say about Urdu. We use both خوبصورت xuubSuurat ख़ूबसूरत and حَسِين हसीन Hasiin. For Hindi, you'd better wait for others.
  3. BP. Senior Member

    F, is Suurat in a generic manner synonymous to shakl-shape/form- rather than to face?
  4. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Yes BP! In fact from this we can go on to say that yet another term used in Urdu and colloquial Hindi is خوش شكل xush shakl ख़ुश शक्ल = handsome / beautiful. Used for both males and females.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2010
  5. BP. Senior Member

    Thanks for the reply, but it didn't answer the question I had in mind. Maybe I didn't pose it well. Let's take an example: we know an amoeba's shakl can keep on changing, but can we use Suurat as a synonym and say an amoeba's Suurat can keep on changing?
    Of course, Suurat has many other meanings too, but I'm not going there.

    And khuub ruu and khush jabiin too, if we're talking of the face alone. khush shakl, although not usually so, IMO can encompass the entire body, translating to shapely.
  6. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    In Punjabi there is a very nice word which in my experience is more common than khuubsuurat and that is = khush-numaa (=> ''nice looking''), which is also potentially an Urdu word... Never come across it in Urdu though...
  7. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    We seem to be getting off topic here, so I'll split this thread.

    I'd use the word روپ here (spontaneously), though I don't know if an Urduphone would do the same. I take صورت to mean "form" as well.
  8. BP. Senior Member

    It is used on a quotidian basis in Urdu as well.
  9. Machlii5 Senior Member

    Thank you very much for your valuable input, Faylasoof, BelligerentPacifist and Cilquiestsuens!

    If I may venture to sum up what you have written about the terms for “beautiful“, this is how I‘ve picked it up:

    sundar सुन्दर and xuubSuurat ख़ूबसूरत are used pretty much interchangeably.

    Hasiin हसीन (Arabic) is used in Urdu and colloquial Hindi. Hasiin हसीन has a higher meaning than xuubSuurat ख़ूबसूरत.

    Hasiinah हसीना, the feminine of हसीन Hasiin, is used exclusively for a beautiful woman.

    xush shakl ख़ुश शक्ल = handsome / beautiful is used for both males and females in Urdu and colloquial Hindi. It can encompass the entire body, translating to shapely.

    khuub ruu and khush jabiin refer to the beauty of the face alone.

    In Punjabi khush-numaa (=> ''nice looking'') is more common than khuubsuurat. It is used in Urdu as well.

    For abstract notions both xuubSuurat ख़ूबसूरत and Hasiin हसीन are used.

    Please excuse my not using Nastaliq - I can‘t read it and wouldn‘t be able to check if I paste-copied the words correctly.

    Thanks again!
  10. Koozagar Senior Member

    Hi All,
    I would beg to differ on the following:

    In Punjabi, in Pakistan at least, 'Sohna' (for male) and 'Sohni' (for female) are more often used to describe personal beauty. The use is extended to the entire body. A Punjabi using Khushnuma would be considered speaking Gulabi Punjabi :)

    xush shakl, khuub ruu and khush jabiin, all three of them are more often used for referring to facial beauty in Urdu ( ruu=face, jabiin=forehead). In Punjabi their use is less common, in fact I would say very rare. In written Punjabi it is more likely to be used to elevate the writing to a higher literary register.

    Hasinah has objectifying connotations to it. In polite conversations Haseen is used for both males and females. Hasinah is used in both Punjabi and Urdu but in more informal settings. for example:
    A: " yar woh hasinah sai kuch baat aagay barhi?"
    B: "kaunsi hasinah?"
    A:"yaar woh chammak challo jo us din concert pai mili thi"

    In a more polite setting:
    A: " yaar tum Amjad ki shadi pai gaye thay"
    B: " haan, us ki biwi mashallah bari haseen/khubsurat hay"

    if you use khush shakl here it will bring the praise down a notch.
  11. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I'd have to agree about "sohna" and "sohni" from the Indian Panjabi side: they are much more used.

    Interesting to hear this about "khushnuma" and "Gulabi Panjabi."
  12. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    No doubt sohna > sohnii is the preferred word - by far - in the PK Punjab too...

    It is also an endearing and respectful way of addressing children you don't know = sohne.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  13. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    It is interesting that we’ve shifted the discussion to Punjabi usage as well. I have therefore changed the thread-title to include this language.

    sohnii is indeed common in Punjabi and even used in some Urdu poetic forms though it is not used in our Urdu, i.e. where we come from.

    I do remember the Pakistani song from the 70s:

    سوہنی دھرتی اللہ رکھے قدم قدم آباد
    sohnii dhartii Allah rakhkhe qadam qadam aabaad

    Here and here.

    Urdu does however use سہانا sohaanaa (masc.) and سہانی sohaanii (fem.) to mean delectable, pleasant, nice, pretty.

    Here is Platts:

    H سہانا सुहाना suhānā (i.q. suhāwan, suhāwnā, and next), adj. (f. -ī), Pleasing, pleasant, agreeable, charming, becoming, graceful.

    … and this too:
    H سہانا सुहाना suhānā, (dialec) सिहाना sihānā [suhā˚ = suhāw˚ = Prk. सोहाव() or सोहावे()=S. शोभय (ति), fr. शोभ; or caus. of rt. शुभ्], v.n. To shine, &c. (=sohnā, q.v.); to be beautiful;—v.t. To make beautiful; to ornament, adorn, grace

    … and just to clarify, regarding the use of حَسِينہ vs حَسِين what I said was:

    This means that حَسِينہ Hasiinah हसीना can used only for a woman, never a man (!), but it doesn’t mean that the word حَسِين हसीन Hasiin cannot be for both in Urdu. In fact it is used this way.

    Also, apart from xush ruu , xush shakl and xush jabii.n, used for facial beauty, there is also خوش صُورَت xush Suurat – used for both males and females…. and there is even خوش ظاہِر xush Zaahir too, meaning both حسین Hasiin and خوش نما xush numaa.

    We have many ways to describe "beauty"!
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2010
  14. Sheikh_14 Senior Member

    English- United Kingdom, Urdu, Punjabi
    I would side with BP's take here that xush shakl is synonymous with well-shaped and shapely as opposed to xush ruu and jabiin which remain confined to facial features. Where do other members stand in this regard and how would they differentiate a pretty face from being shapely in form (in Urdu distinctly)?
  15. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    xush andaam, gul-badan = about the body as a whole [Urdu]
  16. Sheikh_14 Senior Member

    English- United Kingdom, Urdu, Punjabi
    Thank you Marrish saahib for your valuable insight. Infact your alternatives are quite unambiguous. Nevertheless coming back to the initial question using posts 3,4 and 5 offer a good bench-mark. What they clarify is that shakl although very often used for face in Urdu as an alternative to chehra does in fact originally mean shape. In fact the best synonym for shape within the Urdu language for shape is shakl. Similarly Persian applies suurat in a similar manner as we do shakl in terms of facial connotations. However, this doesn't take detract away from their original denotation. Thus in that light would you not agree that yes shakl is quite often confined to the face in common parlance but its actual definition is far more generic and open to interpretation? In fact it is similar but admittedly a notch lower than xuub suurat which is merely a synonym for beautiful and thus quite generic. In that light xush shakl would mean shapely but provided further elaboration or context we would be able to decipher its purpose at a given moment and time?
    There is little reason to believe you disagree with BP's premise at this moment and time since you merely proffered clear alternatives as requested. In that light what would you think of the following xush tan,badan & suurat to define either a well proportioned body composition or merely being shapely?

    My understanding:
    Xush jabiin & xush ruu= pretty face
    Xush numaa, xush shakl= well-shaped, pleasing to the eye.
    Xuub suurat= beautiful rather than just a pretty face.

    A good way of tackling this problem would be by addressing the clichéd compound word in shakl-suurat. Although, both mean form in this case one I believe suggests facial features whilst the other the entire form.
  17. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    خوش وضع xush-waz3 (generic-body)
    وضع دار waz3-daar (generic-body)
    ڈھب دار Dhab-daar (generic-body)
    خوش قطع xush-qat3 (generic-body)
    خوش ہیئت xush-hay'at (generic-body)
    خوب رو xuub-ruu (face)
    خوب صورت xuub-suurat (face+generic. This became the most popular and generic word for 'beautiful', regardless of the composite words).
    خوب/خوش شکل xuub-/xush-shakl (generic).
    شکیل \ شکیلہ shakiil/shakiilah (generic)
    زیبا zebaa (generic)
    جمیل \ جمیلہ jamiil/jamiilah (generic+face)
    سندر sundar (generic)
    حسین \ حسینہ Hasiin/Hasiinah (generic+face)
    رعنا ra3naa (generic)
    سڈول suDaul (generic, body)
    دیدہ زیب diidah-zeb (generic)
    خوش نما xush-numaa (generic)
    پھبتا phabtaa (generic)
    سوہنا sohnaa (generic)
    سہاؤنا suhaa'onaa (generic)
    ملوک maluuk (generic)

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