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

Urdu: saahab/saahib

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by UrduMedium, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    I understand the proper Urdu pronunciation is saahib. However, saahab (not saab) is very commonly used by a large number of native speakers, in spoken language. In writing, it is hard to tell because both saahib and saahab are written the same way in Urdu script. I also noticed a number of instances of saahab on this forum (see here, here, and here, there are many more). Platts describes it as a corruption of saahib. Not sure if that legitimates it or not.

    My question is, is pronouncing/transcribing saahab considered wrong, or acceptable?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  2. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
    If you go by the dictionary (and what older generations have generally been saying), then it seems yes! It would be considered wrong to say SaaHab.

    Two of the three threads you linked to opened, the other wasn't working. It was interesting to note that a Lakhnawi member seems to have used "SaaHab"...this raises the question that was this just a typo or is SaaHab also considered acceptable?! (In the third thread, the member used both saahib and saahab in the same post...)

    In my opinion, if indeed the correct pronunciation is SaaHib, then it should be pronounced/transcribed as SaaHib. (Of course there are people who think that one shouldn't be very strict in following dictionaries/conventions, languages evolve, and shouldn't be constrained to dictionaries...)

    Edit: Also, people don't seem to pronounce SaaHibah as SaaHabah, so then it seems that SaaHib should be the correct form.....? :confused:
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  3. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو

    A good question and posed at an opportune moment as we have been recently discussing other words with a/i vowel change. saaHib/saaHab could be seen as the reverse case of "baahar" changing to "baahir". By the way, some non-natives also pronounce it as "saaHab".

    As Alfaaz has indicated, there is a problem with your second link. In the first one, I have two explanations.

    a) It is a typo because Faylasoof SaaHib always writes this word as SaaHib. It could be that he writes it in this manner to indicate that the word is actually SaaHib so that learners of Urdu pick the word in its true form.

    b) It is a "Faylasoofian slip" because he actually pronounces the word as "saaHab".

    The third clip is from BP SaaHib, another native. So, probably he too is writing it as he utters it.

    Which one is correct? Linguistically "saaHib" is of course correct just as "qaatil" is correct but "qaatal" is n't. However, in poetry both "kaafir" and "kaafar" are correct if the latter needs to be rhymed with a word such as saaGhar. I am not aware if "saaHab" ia acceptable in poetry. More to the point, if it (saaHab) is spoken by the natives in this manner, then it is correct. It is as simple as that! It is only the non-natives who are between a rock and a hard place!:)

    I think Alfaaz makes a valid point. We don't have "saaHabah" but it still remains "saaHibah". In terms of gender equality, perhaps we should have saaHib/saaHibah.
     
  4. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Thank you both Alfaaz and QP saahib, for your thoughts on the subject.

    My starting premise is that the correct pronunciation is indeed saahib. However, saahab may or may not be wrong. From my experience, I hear saahab a lot more than saahib, in everyday conversation, and saahib seems to indicate a level of formality of speech (takalluf) to my ears. saahab comes naturally to me in most cases.

    There are of course situations where I hear/say saahib exclusively used even in everyday speech. For example, saahib-e-xaanah, saahib-e-haisiyat, saahib-e-3ilm, saahibo (vocative), and as both friends identified, in saahibah.

    Sorry for the broken middle link. Let's try it again here. Also just search for "saahab" and you'll find many more.

    PS: I like the construct "Faylasoofian slip". Very funny, QP saahib! :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  5. BP. Senior Member

    Karachi
    Urdu
    Assumptions sahib e qarshi too many assumptions! "as he uttered it in 2008-09 while he was living along influence that used saab (and seeb among themselves) all the time" would be a more correct statement to make. Normal utterance* resumed as that influence ended and this one from here became stronger! It was both SaaHab and SaaHabah at that time, so Alfaaz sahiba has her bit of info too.

    * in fact, the normal orality of the word with us is both SaaHab and SaaHib, and with compound words the latter only.
     
  6. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    If I may call you over into a place called "tangent" and ask you this question. What would be the plural vocative for "saaHibah" thinking on same lines as "saaHibo"?
     
  7. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Interesting. That's a tough one! I suppose it could be saahibaa'o or saahibaa'oN. But either will sound too artificial. I suspect I would take the easy route and go for xawatiin!
     
  8. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
    (SaaHib, but would prefer only Alfaaz as indicated previously) Does this comment mean that both are valid according to you (only) BP..................... or does this mean that both are valid................or does this mean that the SaaHab form was and is considered correct by Urdu speakers overall/in general?
    Have heard saahibaa'oN once or twice, but not sure if it is correct....

    Question:
    Are there Arabic plurals? (something like SaaHibeen-o-SaaHibaat......?)
     
  9. BP. Senior Member

    Karachi
    Urdu
    I think SaaHib is the correct pronunciation but both are fairly common in the oral tradition, the other one I think less so.
     
  10. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Let me try to answer this tough question (seemingly).

    plural voc. of saaHibah- saaHibaat! Also, I can't recall ever hearing saaHibo.
     
  11. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Thanks, Alfaaz. I like saaHibaat much better. Never heard saHibiin, but asHaab is common.
     
  12. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
    OK, Thanks for the reply!
     
  13. Alfaaz Senior Member

    English
    Thanks for the correction!
     
  14. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    You may have heard of the same pattern, like aye zaalimo, aye kaafiro, and so on. If not, I'll look for some examples. See also here (under vocative category).
     
  15. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
  16. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
  17. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Yes, zaalimo and kaafiro (why so negative?) I've heard this but it doesn't change the fact that I've never heard saaHibo. It is a correct form, though, but not saaHiboN, just in case someone thinks so. Thank you.
     
  18. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Haha! Unfortunately, Urdu shaa3irii pages are filled with exhortations to such sinister characters :)
     
  19. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    It is past, I hope...
     
  20. Abu Talha

    Abu Talha Senior Member

    Urdu
    I'm not sure but I think a corruption is a level higher than "vulg."
    If speaking about someone to a third person, I try to say saahib if I remember. But when addressing someone directly, I actually say something closer to saahb. Otherwise it sounds as if there is too much stress on the word, and that this stress is present for some reason, like effect or sarcasm, etc.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2012
  21. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    In Lucknow both SaaHab and SaaHib were accepted and the former was more common! In fact the latter, SaaHib, was often used for goraas (sufaid faam) and some used it with sarcasm esp. with the suffix –jii -> SaaHibjii!

    Also, some (may be most) associated usage of SaaHib with the less well educated / uneducated because of SaaHibjii - often used by servants for their British masters!

    This difference of pronunciation never became an issue!
    Also, always SaaHibaan and never SaaHabaan ! Shows how languages don't always follow a rigid, logical course!!
     
  22. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    QP SaaHib, as I explain above there was a certain stigma attached to SaaHib! Hence the use of SaaHab by many in Lucknow then. Both came to be used however and now that we no longer have to worry about that stigma some are reverting back to SaaHib. So I'd say the QPian explanation (a) above is well founded! But old habits die hard and many are still saying "saahab"! Iftikhar Arif SaaHib and his friend Ubaidullah Beg SaaHib also say "saahab"! Both native Urdu speakers!
     
  23. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Here's a strong evidence from Ghalib in support of saahab. The last misra3 has saahab rhyming with words like yaa rab, maktab, ab, shab, kaukab, mashrab, and matlab.

    یاد ہے شادی میں بھی ہنگامہ " یارب" مجھے
    سبحۂ زاہد ہوا ہے خندہ زیرِ لب مجھے
    دل لگا کر آپ بھی، غالبؔ، مجھی سے ہوگئے
    عشق سے آتے تھے مانع ، میرزا صاحب مجھے

    I'm beginning to feel saahab is more correct Urdu usage than saahib (in standalone form, not compounds). Any comments?
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  24. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    marrish SaaHib, I had in mind, say in a children's story, a group of doves being spoken to by someone like Dr.Dolittle..

    ai faaxtaa'o, tumheN "kuu kuu" ke sivaa ko'ii aur bhii ganaa aataa hai? (?)

    ai saaHibaa'o, ham saaHiboN kii taraf bas ek nazar! "ham bhii to paRe haiN raahoN meN"!
     
  25. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Good find! But this is a "zaruurat-i-shi3rii" just like "kaafir/kaafar". This does not of course mean that "saaHab" was/is not part of the normal speech.
     
  26. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Seems like Mirza Ghalib had foreseen recent threads ...

    چار سوۓ عشق میں صاحب دکانی مفت ہے
    نقد ہے داغِ دل، اور آتش
    زبانی مفت ہے

    He addressed saahib/saahab and aatish/aatash in one shi3r, and rhymed them too :)

    Since صاحب is used in a compound and not standalone, I assume Mirza Ghalib meant saahib, and by rhyme, aatish.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
  27. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Yes, of course! It just didn't cross my mind.
     
  28. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Given the plural of faaxtah is faaxtaa'oN, following the general rule of dropping the nasal for vocative, faaxtaa'o sounds pretty good to me.
     
  29. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Here's some more unscientific evidence in support of saahab. Faiz Ahmed Faiz is almost universally remembered by his fans as Faiz saahab. I've heard many literary luminaries refer to him with this name and I can only recall hearing Faiz saahab. That does not exclude Faiz saahib, but it would certainly be an exception, at least to my ears.

    Just tried a few videos on youtube and heard "Faiz saahab" by Iftikhar Arif, Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi, Dileep Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Zehra Nigah, and Zia Mohyeddin. No instance of Faiz saahib found.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  30. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    As I said above, both SaaHab and SaaHib are accepted and although the former in our speech too was more common, as it appears to have been in Ghalib's, in some terms we always use SaaHib-, as in SaaHibah and never SaaHabah, but you also hear both SaaHab-zaadah and SaaHib-zaadah.

    All these are matters of convention and certain forms becoming accepted which is why we are not allowed to change every zer to a zabar and vice versa! That is the theory. However, quite a few non-native Urdu speakers seem to break this convention often!

    For the vast majority of words good lexicons give a reliable guide as to how a word ought to be pronounced and it is best to consult more than one Urdu dictionary for this purpose, preferably both modern and classical.
     
  31. eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    Could shortening /saahib/ or /saahab/ to /saab/ when using the word as a form of address could be considered impolite or overly familiar in Urdu? Or maybe the reverse could be true: could pronouncing the word fully as /saahib/ sound at all stilted or overly formal? In my limited experience with speaking Urdu, my Persian accent has sometimes been perceived as proper, maybe even quaint (I'm guessing), which is partly why I ask.
     
  32. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    ^ Although personal tastes may vary here, for me saahib sounds overly formal indeed, and SaaHib even more so, while addressing someone. saab when said due to speed may represent saahab, and may come out as saahb. But saying it saab explicitly in its own right sounds incorrect to me. Not trying to sound elitist or anything, but many household workers* address their male employers as saab. Many of them speaking Urdu as their second language.

    For me, saahab (with second syllable said quite softly) strikes the perfect balance between formality, informality, and correct usage.

    * Observation based in Karachi.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  33. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I did n't know Swedes were in employment in Karachi households!:)
     
  34. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    eskandar SaaHib, I have gone through all the posts in this thread so that I am able to absorb the views of all the participants who have taken part. This is how I would answer your query.

    1) I think plain "saab" could be taken as "uneducated" or even linked to any one of non-native Urdu speaking ethnicities. However, I can also imagine, even the best of Urdu speakers, in rapid utterence, to say "saab". I don't think it would necessarily be considered as "impolite". After all, someone saying "saab" is being nothing but polite merely by employing "saab".

    2) In one of the posts I said the following:

    In another Faylasoof SaaHib said this:
    I hope you are able to draw your own conclusions. Native speakers often say "baahir", "vaapis" and "aatish".
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  35. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    I can see your mind is still running a background job on the wordplay thread :)
     
  36. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    ''saab'' is quite common among native Urdu speakers as well. May be that it is not as neat as saaHib is, though.
     
  37. greatbear Senior Member

    India
    India - Hindi & English
    "saahib" in India does have the slight pejorative touch to it as already explained by Faylasoof in posts 21 and 22. Urdu speakers here say "saahab" much more than "saahib"; meanwhile, "saab" is a very well accepted shortened form, used throughout by both native Urdu speakers and non-native speakers. There is nothing impolite or informal about "saab": it is as formal as "saahab", sometimes even more formal!
     
  38. eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    Thanks all for your helpful responses.
     
  39. hindiurdu Senior Member

    Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri
    I agree there is nothing impolite or unusual about it. It's one example of generic deaspiration in colloquial language, e.g. bohot (a lot) > bo'ot/ba'ot, kehnaa (to say) > ke'naa, aiham (important, that's non-diphthongal 'ai') > ai'm, aahaT (rustling or tiny sound of the presence of someone - no English equivalent) > aa'aT. However, in formal situations, I would say saahab/saaHab (normal) or saahib/saaHib (also normal, but has begun to seem archaic in some circles) is the way to go. My opinion only, your mileage may vary.
     
  40. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    I don't know if a consensus was reached, but saahib (SaaHib) would be closest to the original Arabic pronunciation, though the other variations are common and well-accepted.
     
  41. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
    That you said colloquial language is very important in my opinion. Colloquial to me means less formal / more ease in conversation.
     

Share This Page