Urdu: Why kh/k replaced with x (خ)?

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by UrduMedium, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    In words like Tarxaanaa, chaTxanii, chaTax, and many more, it seems like the native (Indic) k/kh sounds were replaced with a x (خ) sound. Also, in may more words, k/kh was clearly left unchanged.

    I wonder why this replacement was done and what was any documented justification for it. Perhaps there are a few specific situations that call for it. If so what are they?
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
  2. tonyspeed Senior Member

    JA- English & Creole
  3. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I don't think we have discussed this topic separately, so thank you for starting this thread. I did mention it in passing in post 58 of this thread.


    I shall just add the words I mentioned there in this thread.

    axroT= walnut

    xarraaTe lenaa= to snore
    chaTxaare lenaa= to relish food
    Tarxaanaa=to work carelessly/to prevaricate
    paTaxnaa= to slam
    kalii kaa chaTaxnaa = for bud to sprout open

    There are also some "Ghain" words too. A couple of examples of these are..

    GHaTaa-GHaT pii jaanaa= to gulp down

    And of course "z" words too. One example that comes to mind is

    zannaaTaa as in zannaaTe-daar thappaR

    I don't know the reason behind replacement of an Indic consonant with a Persian/arabic one but it seem as if most of the words have a T in them!

    There is also XushHaal Xaan XaTTak, but I think this is Pashto.
  4. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
  5. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I'm seeing GHaTaa-Ghat for the first time now, for me it is ghaTaa-ghaT.
  6. greatbear Senior Member

    India - Hindi & English
    ^ And for me it is gaTaa-gaT.
  7. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    GHaTaa-GHaT for me too like QP saahab.
  8. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Perhaps you would care to turn the pages of "Farhang-i-Asifiyyah" or our "piir-murshid", janaab-i-Platts.

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013
  9. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Thanks for the ´reprimand´! And so I did, very inspiring lecture, especially the first one. There is also a shi3r from Insha for illustration of GHaTaa-GHaT.

    GHaTar-GHuuN is of course known to me only in this form as it would be impossible to substitute [GH] with [gh] as such switch would annihilate the superb onomatopoeic effect :).

    In reference to GhunDaa that you´ve mentioned above, the Farhang says: ''گُنڈا زیادہ بولتے ہیں guNDaa ziyaadah bolte haiN''. I've never heard guNDaa in Urdu with a [g].
  10. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    ^I always thought it was GHuTar GHuuN.
  11. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Also possible.
  12. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    You are absolutely right. I am mistaken.
  13. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Acutally again I didn't pay attention and copied the above post BUT the variant with a zabar is also heard, and Farhang-e-Aasafiyyah has to say that ''lakhna'uu waale GhuTGhuuN bolte haiN''.
    Of course UM SaaHib is right, Farhang-e-Aasafiyyah has it as GHuTar-GhuuN.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  14. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    janaab-e-3aaliyaan, this lakhnau-waalaa has heard more than one form but for us GhaTar-GhuuN and GhaTaa-Ghat sound best, as QP SaaHib mentioned above.

    But aren't we going off-topic now? I thought we are supposed to be discussing the k/kh shift to x rather than the Gh phoneme.
  15. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Coming back to this old thread .. had this thought.

    Could this switch perhaps be to unwittingly reduce the number of "Indic-only" sounds in words for: the ease of delivery, or to reduce the "alien-ness" of the sound of these words, among the newcomer primarily-Persian speakers? That too normally in favor of keeping the retroflex sounds and replacing aspirated sounds with the closest Persian sound available.

    So GhaTaaGhaT is one degree more familiar to a Persian speaker than ghaTaaghaT.
  16. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    ^ As a theory it may be right, UM SaaHib, perhaps it more economical to pronounce a single sound like x or Gh, than k+h or g+h.

    Whatever be the reason, there is nothing against such change as both gh and kh as well as Gh and x have belonged to the consonantal repertoire of Urdu speakers. And congratulations on your first 1000 posts!
  17. UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Thank you marrish saahab! Time flies when one's having fun :)
  18. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    marrish SaaHib, kh and gh are one sound each, just like x and Gh are. In addition, in GhaTaa-GhaT, the original g is not an aspirated sound but a voiced sound.

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