Urdu-Hindi: la3l لعل or laal لال लाल

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Qureshpor, Sep 16, 2011.

  1. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    We know that the first Prime Minister of India was Jawaharlal Nehru (son of Motilal Nehru). I am curious in finding out whether the word "lal" in these names is "la3l" (لعل) or "laal" ( लाल لال). This is my line of thinking.

    Urdu speakers, especially, will know the origins of the word "javaahir". It is the plural of "jauhar" which in turn comes from the Persian "gauhar" and as the (Classical) Arabic language did not possess a "g" sound in its repertoire, it adopted the Persian word with the letter "j". The meaning of the word is "jewel" or "gem". We all know that a "jauharii" is a "jeweler". We also know that in fables one comes across terms such as "hiire javaahiraat" as well as "la3l javaahir" as a collective terms for precious stones. "la3l" once again from Arabic means a "ruby". "laal" on the other hand is an Indic word meaning "son".

    My logic for thinking that the "lal" part of these names is "la3l" (ruby) and not "laal"(son) because jewels, pearl (motii) and ruby go hand in hand whereas "son" does not fit into the context. In Urdu, almost invariably these names are written with "la3l" (لعل) as the component. In Devanagri, it is understandable why it would be written as "लाल" both for "ruby" and "son", as the Devanagri alphabet does not have an 3ain. Your views please.

    PS. We also know that "Nehru" is linked to the Urdu word "nahr" (canal) which in its original Arabic meant a stream or a river.

  2. flyinfishjoe Senior Member

    American English
    Please see this link. Apparently, the "ruby" meaning reinforced the name's popularity.
  3. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    The often-found suffix "-laal" in north Indian names has nothing to do with rubies and red, I believe; it is added after the first name of a person just like some others add, for example, "-kumar--kumari", "-pati", "-ba/-bai", and "-singh" (note I'm not talking about the last name "Singh").

    I believe that the suffix "-laal" to north Indian names comes from the word "lala", associated with a respectable merchant:
    refer to http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/getobject.pl?c.7:1:2616.platts
  4. rahulbemba

    rahulbemba Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English
    The meaning may be getting confused because of similar words "laal", but in India "laal" is a common word for "son" and there are lots of literature full of such use, without any reference to "ruby" etc.

    In the name "Jawaharlal Nehru", the last name is believed to have come from the word "nahar" नहर which is Hindi word for canal, but another similar word "naahar" नाहर means "lion" / शेर.

    These websites which expertise in telling meaning of Hindi names, explain:

    1) Name: Jawaharlal; Meaning: Triumph http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/meaning_of_Jawaharlal.html

    2) Jawaharlal's language of origin is Sanskrit and it is predominantly used in Indian. The name Jawaharlal means 'victory'. http://www.babynamespedia.com/meaning/Jawaharlal

    Now coming to the word "laal" or "लाल":

    1) laal लाल Indian (northern states): Hindu name found in several communities, meaning ‘darling’, from Sanskrit lala ‘cajoling’ (related to Sanskrit lalana ‘caressing’). In several modern Indian languages lal is a term of endearment for a child; it is also an epithet of the god Krishna. http://www.ancestry.com/facts/lal-name-meaning.ashx

    This explanation seems very credible because it tells how the word originated. Babies make a "la la" sound without even knowing a language, so the word "lal" would have come from that for small kids. Also note that the Sanskrit word lalana लालन or लालना meaning caressing (for babies) indicates towards the meaning too.

    This is why "lal" is used in compound names like Brajlal ब्रज लाल for Krishna where ब्रज / Braj is the place where Krishna lived during childhood and hence he was called as ब्रजलाल (Braj's son / Braj's kid).

    Brajlal is also a common name in India and one can google search to read many news with persons with this name. For example here is one:अफसरों की पीठ ठोंक गए ब्रजलाल

    Krishna was also called "lalla" मेरे लल्ला by his mother, as it appears in this poem:

    पाँच साल का लल्ला मेरा
    जा रहा है मधुवन में
    गैया नही, बछड़े है साथ
    बछड़े ही चरायेगा न बचपन में


    ऐसे ही अटखेलियाँ करते
    लल्ला लौट रहा है घर को
    वही श्यामल-सी रंगत,मोहिनी सूरत
    और सजी है वंशी उसके अधर को.

    I also agree with what greatbear says:

  5. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Agree with rahulbemba. Another very common expression using "laal" as son is a mother saying "mere laal": my darling. Names like Kanhaiyalal, Gendanlaal and Bihaarilaal were common in the India of seventy years ago and earlier.
  6. flyinfishjoe Senior Member

    American English
    This is what Wikipedia has to say about the origins of Nehru:
    "The name "Nehru" is derived from the Hindi "nehar", meaning canal, when the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiar had allotted the land adjacent to a canal or "nehr" to Raj Kaul who originated from Kashmir."
  7. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Well, the topic here is the meaning of "lal (laal)" in names such as Motilal (moti-laal), Jawaharlal (jawaahar-laal) ...

    ...and as as has been mentioned above, it is the Indic term laal = son and not the Arabic la3l = ruby. The former (laal) is used through much of northern India amongst both Hindiphones and Urduphones, as well as by native Urdu speakers in Pakistan.

    The origin of the name Nehru was already explained by Qureshpor:
    This derivation of Nehru from nahr / neher seems to be very well established but here we are discussing what 'laal' meant, which seems to have been explained.
  8. flyinfishjoe Senior Member

    American English
    Yes, I was just adding on to it with a bit of history.
  9. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you everybody for your responses. As I have indicated in my opening post, my logic for assuming the "laal" of "Jawahrlal" to be "la3l" (ruby) and not "laal" (son, as in laaloN kaa laal [favourite child]) was because of the occurrence of "javaahir/javaahar" (gems) and "motii" (pearl/s) with the word "laal" and therefore la3l (ruby) seemed logical in the context. If "javaahar" proves to be of Sanskrit origins, then my logic would go out of the window altogether!

    As for "laal", I am fully aware of its occurrence and usage. As a matter of fact, one of my close relatices is named "laal" and "laal" as a name is quite common amongst the older genaeration in the Punjab (amongst Muslims).

    Thank you once again for your contributions.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  10. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I think the problem might be the various spellings you may have come across - I certainly have. Persian websites / articles always seem to give the name as جواهر لعل نهرو jawaahar / jawaahir la3l nehru but many Urdu and Arabic websites give it as جواهر لال نهرو jawaahar / jawaahir laal nehru. Names can be at times difficult as they do not always follow any logic!
  11. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you, Faylasoof SaaHib. This morning I was flicking through the pages of Dr.Farman Fatehpuri's "Urdu-Hindi tanaazu3" and came across Jawaharlal Nehru's name in the "laal" form. So, as you and others have said, the word is indeed "laal".
  12. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو

    From your biodata, it appears that you have knowledge of Sanskrit language. Based on your familiarity with Sanskrit, do you believe these are, to use your words, "credible references" for the derivtion of the word "javaahar"?
  13. jakubisek Member

    I do not see how you could etymologize jawahar from Sanskrit!

    (OK, it is common to come accross attempts of etymologizing just anything from Sanskrit for emotional/chauvinistic reasons. I can imagine someone trying to say that "jawa" stems from S. "jaya" which means "victory" and perhaps "har" from S. "hara", a root meaning "carry, move..." and also a name of God Shiva. But that is - linguistically speaking - a sheer nonsense :)

    So jawahar certainly IS the Arabic word.

    Although it is so, do not take the Indic "laal" added to it as illogical. Why not "(my) Gem-kid", "Gem-darling"? Remeber that the Indian names such as this are compounds. They follow the pattern inherited from Sanskrit (even if using words of other origin) where compounds often are ambiguous as they allow several types of interpretation. In this case, it could be interpreted both as "Gem-like kid", "A kid who is a gem", "A darling of the gem", "A darling of all gems" and even (so called bahuvrihi compound) "One for whom gems are his darlings", "One who has gems as kids" an so on. (Classical Sanskrit poetry often plays with such ambiguity).

    The question of the spelling in Urdu-Persian script is irrelevant: When Persian came to be the administrative language, the spelling depended, ofcourse, on someone's own understanding (or doubt) of the etymology of a given name.

    Btw, also the "surnames" like Singh, Varma, Sharma, and many other, come from what was originally were last part of a compound word (and in Sanskrit they were still treated so, e.g. in names of medieval Sanskrit writing authors). But they become to be kind of independent in the minds of the people and thus combinable with almost anything. I'm sure you can find many names where the connection between -sinha = "lion (of)", or -sharman "(one) whose refuge (is)" and the first part of the name do not make much sence. (Like in McDonalds food specialties, where the "Mac" originally meaning "son" makes no sense :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2013
  14. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Is la3l (ruby/red) of Persian origin or Arabic? I thought Arabic had borrowed it from Persian.

    Also, laal (son, beloved, dear) isn't connected to laalaa as previously suggested. The latter is of Persian origin.
  15. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    The consonant 3 does not exist in Persian. Unless the Persian "laal" for ruby has become la3l in Arabic. I can't say.
  16. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Platts appears to suggest that the Persian laal became la3l (presumably through Arabic influence).
  17. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    The word laal indeed appears to be Persian but its primary meaning is completely unrelated to what we are discussing, i.e. bii-zabaan, being an antonym of guuyaa. All about not speaking/inability to speak. But below on the same page (here) the meaning of la3l is given by loghatnaameh-dehkhoda as of Persian origin which in Arabic became la3l from laal according to some:

    || (لعل . بلخش . بدخشی ۞ . نام جوهری است گرانمایه که رنگ آن سرخ باشد و بهترین اجناس آن از کوه بدخشان حاصل شود و معرب آن لعل است . (جهانگیری ). لعل و آن گوهری است گرانمایه که معدن آن در بدخشان است و به عربی لعل گویند و بعضی گویند لعل معرب لال است

    So la3l is supposed to be a mu3arrab (Arabicized form) of laal, as argued here.

    BTW, jawaahar is a corruption of jawaahir, the Arabic broken plural of jauhar - also a Persian borrowing into Arabic, i.e. it is mu3arrab as well. The original Persian is gauhar (also shortened to guhar in Urdu). The Persian ‘g’ was rendered ‘j’ in Arabic since Classical Arabic lacks the ‘g’ sound.
    Here is the source:

    جوهر. [ ج َ هََ ] (معرب ، اِ) گوهر. (مهذب الاسماء). هر سنگ که از آن منفعتی برآید همچو الماس و یاقوت و لعل و امثال آن ، معرب گوهر است که مروارید باشد. (منتهی الارب ) (ناظم الاطباء) (اقرب الموارد) (برهان ). هر یک از سنگهای نفیسه همچون الماس و یاقوت و امثال آن . (برهان ). جوهرة یکی آن . ج ، جواهر. (منتهی الارب ) (اقرب الموارد). || اصل . (منتهی الارب ) (اقرب الموارد) (برهان ). نژاد. (منتهی الارب ) (برهان ):
    بنی آدم اعضای یکدیگرند
    که درآفرینش ز یک گوهرند.

Share This Page