Hindi/Urdu: shakhs/shaxs شخص masculine or feminine?

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by lafz_puchnevala, Mar 28, 2012.

  1. lafz_puchnevala Senior Member


    If I am talking about a lady, is it 'wah aurat acchaa/acchii shakhs hai'? I would still think that it will be masculine but not very sure about it...

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012
  2. greatbear Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English

    In Hindi, at least you cannot call a woman as a "shaqs". It is a word reserved for men.
  3. lafz_puchnevala Senior Member

    Ok, I see... That clears up everything!
  4. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Do you use "shaqs" for men in Hindi or is it some other word?
  5. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    So how is "shaXs" any different from "vyakti" which is used for both sexes?? Clarification s'il vous plait.
  6. lafz_puchnevala Senior Member

    Interesting word usages between the two languages but we might need more Hindi speakers to confirm... Meanwhile for Urdu at least, in my query above, is 'shakhs' always male regardless of the subject's gender?

  7. greatbear Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English
    Not all; "personne" (individual) is feminine in French, but is used easily for men as well, with the gender remaining feminine.
  8. lafz_puchnevala Senior Member

    How would greatbear's sentence be translated in Urdu?
  9. greatbear Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English
    And also would lafz's opening sentence be considered normal in Urdu? "Weh auraat achha shakhs hai" is correct and probable?
  10. Alfaaz Senior Member

    Interesting question and discussion going on! It seems some words are feminine/masculine, yet used for both genders, while others are not.

    jo shakhsiyat aaj humare paas studios mein maujuud haiN: (shakhsiyat is feminine, but also used for males....)
    Meere paas itni a'zeem hasti beThi hai (seems to be used for males and females, even though the grammar indicates a female...)
    Woh aik achhi insaan hai! (insaan is masculine, but used for females....)
    Woh aik acchi shakhs hai! (this probably wouldn't be correct, not sure....):confused:
    chaar (khawaateen/a'urteiN) (bazaar/farosh gaah) jaa rahi haiN
  11. greatbear Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English
    But will you be comfortable with "chaar shakhs bazaar jaa rahe haiN" when you know you're talking about four women?
    Forget whether it's grammatically correct or not: will you say that for women?
  12. BP. Senior Member

    As well as I can see, shaxS is someone (and dare I say, something) that has tashaxxus - identity. So what we're saying is things like "two identifiables are going to the market".*
    I find no reason for it to be not correct, except that shaxS could be supplanted by a better owrd.


    * maybe except if they were identical twins dressed the same??
  13. Alfaaz Senior Member

    Creative way of looking at it!
    :eek: Interesting! So achhi can be used with shakhs...? (it was used in a TV program once and sounded odd at first, which why I thought I would ask)
  14. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    I have not looked up, but acchii shaxs sound quite wrong to me. acchi shaxsiat would be fine. I cannot recall hearing/using shaxs grammatically feminine.
  15. Alfaaz Senior Member

    Sorry, but is this supposed to be rhetorical question to illustrate a point-that shakhs is masculine so only the first one would be correct..:confused:..or is this saying that the one in red is also correct...:eek:; This is probably the first time hearing shakhseN! Is shakhseN correct, or am I misunderstanding...?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2012
  16. greatbear Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English
    Neither do I, but opinions of speakers matter little on this forum - it's the grammar books that rule. So what about "achha shaxs" for a woman - would you use it?
  17. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Alfaaz, you are correct as to the first part.

    do shaxs jaa rahe the can be two women, a man and a woman, two men, a man and a jinn, a woman and a jinn, two jinns.
  18. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Good question. Normally not, but in poetic language, I suspect it is possible referring to one's lover (of undefined gender), but female implication.
  19. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    yes it would, if you have not to specify the sex.
  20. lafz_puchnevala Senior Member

    So to confirm and conclude, saying 'tum acche shakhs ho' to a lady is perfectly fine.
  21. JaiHind Senior Member

    India - Hindi
    I have always heard "shakhs" used for masculine only, though I am not sure if it can be used for feminine also.

    For the separate discussion part of this thread, again, "vyakti" is most of the times used only for masculine gender. For the feminine, the equivalent is "mahilaa".
  22. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Since the title of the thread is shakhs = shaxs in my transliteration, I shall restrict myself to mainly discussing how we use this word and leave the usage of vyakti to others.

    If you refer to a group where the gender of the individuals is either unknown or they are a mixture of males and females, and if this fact need not be specified, then as a group they are collectively treated as if they are all male:

    chaar shaxs / afraad / log baazaar jaa rahe haiN
    Four persons / individuals / people are going to the market
    (These four can be all male or mix of males and females)

    This, I think, is also what marrish SaaHib stated earlier (post #35)

    Both shaxs and insaan are grammatically masculine but depending on the gender for which they are being used, the accompanying adjective changes accordingly! This is standard Urdu grammar!

    So, this is how we say it according to our standard grammar:

    For singular
    woh ek achhii shaxs / insaan hai - informal / impolite address to a woman
    woh ek achhaa shaxs / insaan hai - informal / impolite address to a man

    woh ek achhii shaxs / insaan haiN – formal / polite address to a single woman
    woh ek achhe shaxs / insaan haiN – formal / polite address to a single man

    For plural
    woh 3aurateN achhii shaxs / insaan haiN – for women
    woh mard achhe shaxs / insaan haiN – for men

    woh log achhe shaxs / insaan haiN

    We use shaxs (and insaan) for both men and women and both for singular and plural, as shown above in Urdu – and in Colloquial Hindi, I hasten to add – as far as this usage of shaxs and insaan go!
  23. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Many thanks, Faylasoof SaaHib, for this clear-cut analysis and good examples!
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2015
  24. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Thanks for the detailed response, Faylasoof saahib. However, I still cannot get my head around seeing shaxs used grammatically feminine (acchii shaxs, ... shaxs thii). If it is not too much trouble, can you quote an example or two of this usage from prose or poetry?

    Also, you seem to have completely ignored the plural form ashxaas. In a sentence like "chaar shaxs / afraad / log baazaar jaa rahe haiN". I wonder why? You do use afraad, but not ashxaas? It seems to me that ashxaas would be more apropos in this case. I agree that log remains unchanged, but shaxs should be treated similar to fard, in my view. Again, a quote/example would be most appreciated.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2015
  25. lafz_puchnevala Senior Member

    So, it should be 'chaar shakhs bazaar jaa rahii haiN', if it is known that those are women. But then shakhs should be changed to 'shakhseiN' if it becomes feminine now right?
  26. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    UM Sb, I don’t have references from Urdu literature ready to hand and trawling through them might take a while so I shall say this much.

    I think the point to remember is that though shaxs is grammatically a male noun and gets used for males a lot, it also has gender-independent meanings of : a person, a being, an individual. This meaning can be used for either males or females in general remarks and esp. in legal terminology where shaxs means person (man or woman) though sentences using it are seen using male-specific grammar:

    jo shaxs yeh 3amal kare gaa, woh mujrim qaraar kar diyaa jaa’e gaa!
    Any person committing this act, he / she (that person) would be declared a criminal!

    As you know, this declaration in Urdu is not restricted to men only but applies to females too. This is similar to the use of the word aadamii. Many use it in a male-specific manner and assume that is so and can’t be used for women! But aadamii also has the gender-independent meanings of: a human being ; an individual.

    In dialects, aadamii = husband, man-servant etc. However, aadamii is from aadam (Adam) and really means all his progeny which includes women! Which is why in our speech even for females we can use aadamii just like shaxs:

    woh to ek 3ajiib shaxs / aadamii niklii / nikliiN !
    She turned out to be a strange person!

    This is just another way of saying: woh to ek 3ajiib 3aurat niklii / nikliiN ! = She turned out to be a strange woman!

    In fact, we consider the use here of shaxs / aadamii instead of 3aurat a more polite way of saying this. Using 3aurat in this context would actually imply rudeness!

    As to your objection of me not using the plural ashxaas in the original sentence, you are in a sense right! But quite often we use shaxs in a sentence with a plural meaning!

    wahaaN tiin shaxs maujuud the
    There were three individuals there

    This is quite idiomatic to our ears! A conventional usage I imagine! Incidentally, and for reasons that I can not recall clearly at the moment, the usage of afraad is more common at least for us than ashxaas, generally!
  27. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Thanks, Faylasoof saahib, for the elaboration. I am very familiar with the first and third para above, and your first example. Also, I can appreciate the differences across various flavors of the language. Thanks, again.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2015
  28. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Welcome, UM SaaHib!
  29. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Moderator note:

    All posts for "vyakti" have been moved to
    this thread. Please post all discussions about vyakti there from now on.

    Inevitably both threads have some posts that mention both vyakti and shakhs but posts mainly discussing one or the other topic are now in the appropriate threads.

    Please reserve this thread for discussions about “shakhs / shaxs” only.
  30. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I have not as yet come across anything in literature for achchhii shaxs but in the very first episode of the Pakistani serial "shahzorii", written hy Haseena Moin (Hasiinah Mu3iin), the main character played by Neelofar Abbasi (Niilofar 3abbaasii) says..

    dekho, mere muNh mat lagnaa! maiN bahut burii aadamii huuN! samjhe?

    Those interested in listening to some quality Urdu, will find this series of interest. Chhaatr SaaHib, some good material for you indeed!
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  31. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
  32. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
  33. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole

    Those are URLs. Clicking them will lead you to the source. I went back and transliterated the important portions.
  34. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you TS for the transliteration. These may not be literary examples but this language of journalism nevertheless is far better than some of the written Hindi we have been unfortunate enough to be subjected to on this forum. There will no doubt be examples of this usage within quality literature but just because we have n't been able to locate these usages, does not mean they do not exist.
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
  35. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I agree with this stance but in the meanwhile I have been able to locate one example from Hindi literature, a book with a nice title ''Dilli duur hai'' by Shivprasad Sinh:

    मेरी मझली बहन ही
    ऐसी शख्स है जो कहा करे है कि बाशा कोई राहभूले फरिश्ते हैं । merii majhlii bahan hii aisii shakhs hai jo kahaa kare hai ki baashaa koii raahbhuule farishte haiN.

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