Urdu, Hindi: Indic F-words

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by marrish, Jul 4, 2012.

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  1. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Dear Forum friends,


    The discussion about f>ph, ph<p transitions and transcription has been already stirred up in various threads and we can await more threads on this phenomenon, so let us commence with a peculiar facet which could be portrayed as follows:


    While in Urdu, there is an abundance of Arabic and Persian words which contain the consonant "f", amongst which some Persian ones that borrowed their f's from Arabic, there is a commonly accepted belief about the absence of "f" in Prakrit/khaRii bolii-origin lexical stock. Whitth respect to Hindi, opinions regarding the foreigness of "f" can be heard.


    One does manage to hear 'f' in the speech of the ones who are normally not inclined to realize it where, say, an Urdu or Hindi speaker would expect them to do it, happen to pronounce it elsewhere. Apparently such words can be found which consist of a 'f' and Prakritic-khaRii-bolian genealogy. I'm particularily interested wheter such occurences can be called as quantitively worth mentioning and if any pattern or traces of a process could be distinguishable.

    As a starter, here is an entry from Platts:


    H سلفا sulfā, s.m. A small ball of tobacco smoked in a ḥuqqa without the intervention of a tile:—sulfā karnā, v.t. To burn to ashes; to consume:—sulfā honā or ho-jānā, v.n. To be consumed; to be utterly destroyed or ruined.
     
  2. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    I have heard fuul (phuul, flower) and fir (phir, then) from Hindi speakers.

    Also, this may be slang, but a popular Bollywood word ... lafRaa (as in kyaa lafRaa hai? -- what's the matter?)

    Two more: lafangaa (show-off, bully), and jaa'ifal (spice).
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  3. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
    Interesting! Might be a bit off-topic, but what kind of spice is this and what is it used in?

    Another word that I'd like to ask about is (getting this from GT, not sure if the spelling is correct) सफलता. Is the correct/original pronunciation saphalta (probably heard more from the South and/or in Bollywood movies from the "less educated/village" Hindi speakers) or safalta (seems to be more common in Hindi media) ?
     
  4. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    jaa'ifal is nutmeg. In an earlier thread I also recall it described as jaiphal (as in jai phal). So there's variance in pronunciation. I have always heard and said jaa'ifal.
     
  5. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    marrish SaaHib, I believe that within the Sanskritic tradition, there are no f, z and x (and q) sounds in the alphabetic repertoire. This is demonstrated by the fact that f, z, x etc are indicated by a subscript dot when there is a need for clarity. The subscript is used to depict R and Rh which also do not belong to Sanskrit sound system. If we do get words with these consonants and they are not of Perso-Arabic origins (or English), then it is more an "anomaly" than anything else.

    Take chaTaxnaa for example. In essence this is "chaTakhnaa". The same explanation can be offered for jaay-fal and others with f, z and x.

    We all know that the proper word for flower in Urdu and Hindi is "phuul" and not "fuul" hence..

    "bahaaro phuul barsaa'o meraa maHbuub aayaa hai"

    The film title "ek phool do maalii"

    Pakistani film song, "tuu phool mere gulshan kaa"

    In Pakistan, there is no ph/f confusion in Urdu or Punjabi. As far as the f words of Persian and Arabic origins are concerned, they are always f and never ph because there is no ph in these languages. faziiHat (ignonimy, disgrace, scandal) is always faziiHat and saphaltaa (success) is always saphaltaa.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  6. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    From a quick look at Wikipedia for Gujarati Phonology, I notice that the "f" sound exists there. Could such ph>f shift be due to Gujarati influence?
     
  7. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    The reason why I mentioned it in a recent thread ("uttke bajaanaa") is that I wanted to understand how do you understand that f/ph sound differently? To me, it's just the transliteration that is different: in a nutshell, what's the difference in pronouncing (lips, tongue, etc.) between "fazihat" and "phool"? If someone could explain that - if there is an explanation - then we can have the ball rolling, finally.
     
  8. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I see what you mean now..

    Well, firstly ph is just the breathed (aspirated) form of p. p seems to be formed with closed lips being opened together whereas an f involves the lower teeth digging into the lower lips and going through the same process. Never really thought of the mechanism, just the end result.
     
  9. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I appreciate this contribution, Qureshpor SaaHib.
     
  10. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    UrduMedium SaaHib, this is the kind of occurences I had in mind. Also, as a side note regarding the topic of this thread, I would wish to exclude the speech of people we know many of whom live in India, who don't pronounce "f" at all, for it deserves a new thread.
     
  11. lcfatima Senior Member

    In a teapot
    English USA
    What about shareefa as siitaafal. Is it written siitaaphal or -fal? Also anaasfal/anaasphal (star anise/baadiyaan/baadiyaani).


    I didn't realize lafanga had a 'ph' variation.
     
  12. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    As I have pointed out earlier, f, z, x etc in purely Hindi (non-Urdu/English) words will not be seen unless some words such as "farraaTe bharnaa" (Urdu) have been coined. Let's take a look at words that have been mentioned so far.

    sulfah/sulfaa is of Persian origins,

    سلف sulf, A cough.(Steingass/Farhang-i-Asifiyyah)
    lafaNgaa is kinked to Persian "laaf zadan" (to boast)
    siitaa-fal = siitaa phal
    jaa'e fal = jaa'e-phal
    lafRaa = laphRaa

     
  13. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Very didactive feedback, QP SaaHib, which clears up many things in this thread. Please don't feel discouraged to come
    forward with other examples
    of the coined words, as they can contribute to the topic.
     
  14. lcfatima Senior Member

    In a teapot
    English USA
    What about faT-aa-faT?
     
  15. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I did think of this but my understanding is that this is Punjabi and our thread is more focused towards Urdu and Hindi. I don't know if there is phaTaaphaT in Punjabi (I'll have to check it in a dictionary) but even in Punjabi, the "genuine" f words are of Perso-Arabic and English origins.
     
  16. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
     
  17. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    You mean to say that in "ph" there is no lower teeth digging into the lips? If that is the case, then all my life I have only pronounced "f". I don't think I have even heard it ever. In any case, a "ph" without the teeth digging into the lips would resemble closely the "pah" in "pahaRe" (tables): is that what you mean? For I do not see any other way of aspirating the "p" if one were to exclude the possibility of the lower teeth digging into the lips.
     
  18. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    A "ph" as in "phuul" is totally different from "pahaa" (pahaaRe). Stand in front of a mirror and first try to say "p" and then "ph", "phuul". Now try a f, fuul and you'll see and hear the difference. This link might be of some help.

    http://web.uvic.ca/ling/resources/ipa/charts/IPAlab/IPAlab.htm
     
  19. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    I tried a search under Hindi for the letter ph (फ) on Forvo. Presumably this is from native Hindi speakers. I tried several recordings and each time found an "f" pronunciation in words like phaaTak (faaTak), pheNknaa (feNknaa), phir (fir) and so on. Seems like the standard fare in Hindi is "f" sound for "ph". Hard to find Urdu-style "ph" sound. Very interesting.

    See here
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012
  20. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
    ^ It is interesting, because isn't "ph" described as a Hindi/Indic sound....while the "f" is usually described as an Urdu/foreign sound. Another thing that is sometimes a bit odd is the ph <---> f switch. philim for film, but fir for phir etc....
     
  21. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Well, if you elide the schwa between "p" and "h" in "pahaaRe", then I don't see how it it different. It would be great if you could put some keywords for a video somewhere, so I can actually hear the "ph" you are talking about.
     
  22. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    If that is true, then it is very odd: for the sound where the teeth dig into the lower lips, "f" as per QP and not "ph", is the one spoken by Hindi speakers, at least by all that huge number I've interacted with so far or come across so far even in media, films, etc.
     
  23. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
    I'm not a Hindi scholar :) or a scholar of any language for that matter! My comment was just based upon what I have read in past threads in this forum-which might be wrong- (about Hindi having a letter for ph but not f, for which a bindi was added/is used). Another observation was (again might be wrong) that probably most of the words listed in the Urdu Dictionary with پھ / ph are given as derived from (سنسکرت، پراکرت، ہندی) = (Sanskrit, Prakrit, Hindi), while for ف / f there would obviously also be words derived from other languages like (عربی، فارسی، ترکی، انگلش) Arabi, Farsi, Turki, English, etc. etc.

    An example of the ph and f switch: YT: Jhalla Wallah - Song - Ishaqzaade...........1:40 "ik lesson meiN phail hogaya"

    Now I of course understand and you will also probably say that in this example/song, a certain style/atmosphere is being portrayed/depicted which does not hold true for all Hindi speakers. There is obviously a wide spectrum of Hindi speakers: some pronounce the words correctly (phir, phuul, phal), while others substitute the ph with an f (fir, fool, fal), while others might switch ph's and f's (phasaanah, philim, phail, faansi, fulkiyaaN, feray, etc.)
     
  24. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Well, my question has been exactly this: what is this "ph", since all my life I have only heard one type of f sound. To me, all "fail", "fuul" and "farhan" are spoken with the same consonant. Can you or any other member point out to me any link where a Hindi/Urdu word is being spoken with this mysterious "ph"? (English word examples are irrelevant IMO, as English is spoken in a wide manner of ways.)
     
  25. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Try "Phal Ya Phool" on YT. It sounds like a Hindi recording but has the "ph" sound for phal and phuul, rather than fal and fuul. Starting at 0:16.
     
  26. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Find also on Youtube "Hindi Language vowels and consonants pronunciation key table.mp4" and start at 6:00. Interestingly the guy starts with "ph" sound but half way down the row switches to "f" sounds, and then toward the end goes back to "ph".
     
  27. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Thanks a lot, UM! Now I do get it, thanks to your link to the Phal Ya Phool video. (And it is indeed what would a schwa-deleted "pahaaRaa" would be.) I must say that not many Hindi speakers speak "ph": most speak "f". "ph" even carries notions of rustic background or illiteracy among many Hindi speakers!
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  28. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Well, there is nothing mysterious about "ph". Listen to Youtube song entitled "Chehre Pe Giri Zilfen" (the song is from film Suraj, duration being 5:34).

    First line is:

    chihre pih giriiN zufeN, kah do haTaa duuN maiN, gustaaxii mu3aaf, gustaaxii mu3aaf
    ik phuul tere juuRe meN, kah do to lagaa duuN maiN, gustaaxii mu3aaf, gustaaxii mu3aaf

    Some typical ph words.

    phaaNsii, pheNknaa, phaaTak, phal, phaaNk, phaaNsnaa, phaphuuNdii, phiikaa, phaa'oRaa (shovel), phaTnaa, phurtii, phaRaknaa, phaRphaRaanaa, phisalnaa, phuslaanaa, phalii, phulvaaRii, pherii-vaalaa, phere. Do you know the month of "phaagun"?
     
  29. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    And all of them, including "phaagun"/"faguun", are spoken by most Hindi speakers with "f". I find your post quite irrelevant after my previous post, in which I have already indicated the pronunciation preferences of a majority of Hindi speakers. To me, just to remind of you of a longstanding quibble between us, language is dynamic and what's spoken en masse is also the language for me. After understanding what's "ph", I find your previous ridicule of members using "f" for flower ("fuul"/"fool") quite unnecessary, rude and pedantic, at best.

    Thanks anyway for another link!
     
  30. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I know courtesy and gratitude is not in your nature but could there be a possibility that I did n't see UM SaaHib's and your posts? In trying to search for helpful audio/videos (because I thought for once you were sincere in your quest for accurate information), it is obvious that these posts came in the interim period. And yes, "bahaaro fool barsaa'o" is ridiculous! At least with your newly gained insight, now you should have the ability to distinguish between "phan" of a snake and "fan" as in "art".

    Whether most Hindi speakers pronounce "ph" as "f", that is up to Hindi speakers to agree or disagree with your sweeping statement. I do know that a lot of them do confuse "f" with "ph".
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012
  31. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Isn't this more of a class/education level issue, and less so in terms of Hindi/Urdu dichotomy? I can recall this from Pakistan, from Urdu-speakers and speakers of other regional languages, typically when they are not well-educated or have rural background.
     
  32. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I'm aware of the fact that there are many Hindi speakers who pronounce f in place of ph but I hadn't got any quantitative idea so thanks for the information. One thing that I might add to the discussion and response to lcfatima's post is that i.a. speakers of Gujarati background have the predilection to f, but I wouldn't consider them the sole culprits because also some Punjabi speakers indulge too much in f.

    You are right as to how ph would sound like. Another suggestion which you can find useful is to substitute b for p in a word like, say, bhuulnaa (to forget) to phuulnaa (to flourish; blossom; swell etc.).

    On the other hand my exposure to Hindi, how limited it might be, indicates that quite a sizeable number of Hindi speakers, amongst whom there are dwellers of villages but also educated urban class who pronounce ph whenever one would expect f, in words like faujii, form, faaluudah.
     
  33. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
    Now that you have gotten the desired adequate examples and have even stated yourself that use of ph carries notions of rustic background or illiteracy (which I was hesitating to say beforehand), I'd like to take it a step further and ask: Is it because the "f" sound was foreign (according to my limited and probably wrong knowledge about Hindi), that it is considered to be better/a sign of education....even when mispronouncing words like fuul, faansi...?
     
  34. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    FYI, "BBC Hindi Interview with Priya Gonsalves And Prosenjit Kundu from Syntheskillz." on Youtube:

    0:36+ saphaltaa said with a clear ph
    1:45+ phailii said clearly with ph

    Could it be that in high-register Hindi (broadcast, BBC Hindi, etc), it is indeed "ph" for ph, but in colloquial usage it is mostly "f"?
     
  35. flyinfishjoe Senior Member

    American English
    I strongly disagree with the claim that most Hindi speakers pronounce फ as फ़ in words such as phaaNsii, phephRaa, pheNknaa, etc., if that is what is being claimed. There is some confusion surrounding the words guphaa, phir, phal, and saphal, but even in those cases I would hesitate to say the majority of Hindi speakers pronounce these words with a फ़ sound.

    BTW, if it counts for anything, I often hear fir, fal, safal, gufaa, etc., from young, anglophone, upper-class people usually in big cities like Delhi.
     
  36. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Someone told me that people who confuse these sounds normally can't tell the difference between them.
     
  37. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Indeed, the possibility did not cross my mind, and my apologies for reacting in a way I shouldn't have.

    Yes, with the newly gained insight, I can distinguish between "phan" and "fan", and it would also make me more conscious of people's f's and ph's now (not that anything's going to change in my own pronunciation - it's too bedded now - I would continue pronouncing both as "fan").
     
  38. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    Well, I do disagree. Not just fir, fal, safal or gufaa, but I also hear faaNsii, fefRaa, and feNknaa all the time - including from people who neither young, nor even know English. Maybe in certains states like Rajasthan - where one can can also hear more Hindi like "dhanyvaad" rather than "shukriya" - the distinction is more maintained, but in rest of the Hindi belt there are not many who are even aware of the difference.

    I suggest one thing for those who don't agree with me regarding the prevalence of "ph": why not carry out a counter search or listen to Indian media and focus on "f" when it should have been "ph"? Maybe the results would be astonishing ...
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  39. hindiurdu Senior Member

    Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri
    There is little doubt that there's a broad ph > f shift underway in many Indian speakers of Hindi. I don't know why this is happening and I find it really annoying myself. I disagree it's upper class people also. It's way too broad for that. My best guess is Marathi influence from the movies because Marathi diction has a lot of 'f' in it, just like Gujarati. You also see p > f in Gujarati too (paTaaxa > faTaaka). Marathi also seems to have a strong jh > z tendency. My name = mera naam = maazaa naav. 'Phal' has become 'fal' for a substantial section of Hindi speakers. I am not at all surprised that some younger Hindi speakers nowadays find the 'ph' sound to be alien for them to try and pronounce it.

    In general, I think this 'Indic' x/f/z thing is overdone a bit. x exists in Vedic Sanskrit and there was also a weird 'f' (made with both lips). I'm guessing that orientalists made a Classical Sanskrit = Indic equivalence and it hasn't been updated. Assamese has x too. So does Kurux (including its very name), which is a Dravidian tribal language in Bihar. Kashmiri does j > z all the time (but also f > ph and x > kh).
     
  40. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I am curious about the existence of x and f in Vedic Sanskrit. What was the alphabetical symbol that was used to represent these consonants? Did Gh (as in Ghalib) also exist? Any theories on their demise?
     
  41. hindiurdu Senior Member

    Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri
    They are pronunciations of the visarg. All sounds had names and the x was called "jihvamuliya" (google it). The 'f' (which is not the English/Arabic 'f') but a bilabial one (pronounced according to Wikipedia in Turkmen for 'fabrik') that was called "upadhmaniya". Gh didn't exist afaik. I am not sure actually that they really ever died in all of Indic and certainly looking at modern Indic languages it would be tough to make the case that they entirely died out. However, they died (or were possibly removed to standardize) in Classical Sanskrit which, remember, was a very designed language. Remember also that ड़/ڑ didn't exist in Classical Sanskrit either. We wouldn't call that non-Indic today. As far as writing is concerned, Devnagari is very young compared to these languages. Look for some Brahmic representations at http://books.google.com/books?id=ZAu6xhfb4bUC&pg=PA132.
     
  42. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    It is a proven an accepted fact that F did not exist in the sub-continent before Persian and, later, English. However, in at least one book I have read from the 1800s states that at that time, f had already begun to be synonymous with ph in some regions.

    The situation is even more unclear now because there are very large cities where this distinction has been lost in colloquial speech. Two of such major cities seem to be Delhi and Mumbai. I have also met a man from Bhopal who said 'f' instead of 'ph'.

    As this loss-of-distinction has spread, some of the changed pronunciations seem to be encroaching on the original pronunciations. So that even though someone may say phal, in another sentence he/se might say fatafat (even though this is really phataphat). So it seems there are also people who mix between the two variations.

    That being said, I have come across people that make the distinction. And I also have come across people that cannot pronounce 'f' at all, even in English! One older Gujurati gentleman I know pronounces all fa's as pha's (not to mention also all za's as ja's). On TV and movies we still often hear the pha and fa distinction (unless the character is supposed to be from a 'f' pronouncing region - You can see a conspicuous example of this in Dhoom). I beleive this is how someone formally trained in Hindi/Urdu (as opposed to just Hindi) speech will speak. One thing that amazes me is that pha appears so often on TV/Movies, and yet there are Indians who insist that the letter is fa and there is no such thing as pha. It would seem that such people change pha to fa in their mind when they hear it based on what they expect to hear!

    In any case, you are beginning to find that pha is limited to certain out-lying Hindi speaking areas (one that I have not been able to fully define). I would not be suprised to find that most of the (non-Urdu) Indian pha speakers cannot pronounce fa at all these days. But I have no proof of this.


    If you look up the movie "Do Phool - Hindi Comedy Film- Mahmood" on Youtube, you realise that not understanding the difference between ph and f can also be a source of comedy in Hindi pop culture. See minute 13:02 - 13:20.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2012
  43. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    I never knew faTaafaT is supposed to be phaTaaphaT. Is this true? For me it's always been faTaafaT (meaning very quickly). And phal is phal for me, not fal.
     
  44. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I will have to agree with my learned friend on this point. I don't believe Urdu speakers use "phaTaaphaT", if this word is indeed being used anywhere. And "phal" it is for "fruit", e.g. jaa'e-phal, siitaa-phal.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2012
  45. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    ^ Thanks, QP saahab. faTaafaT is very much a part of the spoken language.
     
  46. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I agree, it's quite widespread. And always with ''F''s.
     
  47. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    I think English has a lot to do with the ph>f transition. The influence of English has steadily increased after independence to the point where it's affecting even the pronunciation of native words. Although you might find the ph>f transition among all education levels as some have suggested, I think it's most prevalent among the educated, urban youth since they are most influenced by English vocabulary. Moreover, English words spelled with ph are pronounced as f, which probably further contributes to the same treatment of ph in Hindi. And no, I don't believe all educated people follow the ph>f transition. From my experience, many accurately differentiate between the 2 sounds. I believe it's only considered rustic for ph to be pronounced as f for Perso-Arabic and English words, not for native ones.

    There are very few native words, in my opinion, in which the only acceptable pronunciation is with an f instead of ph. Besides the ones already mentioned, there is also 'saunf' (fennel).
     
  48. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I would consider even English but especially Perso-Arabic words as "native". Could you please provide any examples of these rare specimens.
     
  49. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    It is a matter of sensitivity: after raising this topic on this forum, since when UM gave me some good examples to hear the difference online, I now hear "ph" as "ph" and "f" as "f": earlier, to me, both were "f". Of course, since in my mind both were "f", I have to now hear a word and then it gets slowly registered, that ok this is with "ph" and not "f" (e.g., some people raised a hue and cry about my "fuufii" recently; at least, because of that, I could learn something more).

    Well, it's the "pha" that's not so much pronounced; "fa" is the universal pronunciation in India (excepting some speakers who speak everything as "pha", including in English words).

    Maybe, English education, or rather, a growing urbanisation and consequent neglect of languages, is partly the culprit, but I don't at all think that it is the sole culprit. I personally know many relatives and friends, including very old people, who have never had any English education and who hardly use any English words (except the ubiquitous ones like "station"), who are saying "f" instead of "ph".
     
  50. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    I see what you mean. I guess I should've said Indo-Aryan words (including the words incorporated from pre-Aryan languages such as Dravidian and Munda).

    The examples include:
    saunf (rather than saunph): fennel
    faTaafaT (rather than phaTaaphaT)(I've seen it listed in Hindi/Urdu dictionaries so it's not just Punjabi): quickly
    faaltuu (rather than phaaltuu): surplus, additional, useless

    Those are the only ones I can think of.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
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