Gujarati: Pronunciation of words starting with Z

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by panjabigator, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I have a question for you Gujarati speakers, but I think Linguist is the only one here. In Hindi and some of the other North Indian regional languages, there is a tendency to pronounce words that start with Z with a J. This is because the Z sound is not native to the Devanagri alphabet and so people use J as approximation. In some languages this pronunciation is considered rustic whereas in others its pretty standard and accepted, at least from what I gathered. For example, in Indian Punjabi, most people do not pronounce the Z. In Bengali (Bangla) and some of the eastern Hindi dialects, the Z is a J.
    However in Modern Standard Hindi (Khadi Boli) and in Urdu, the Z is there. I have noted that when my Urdu speaking friends speak in Urdu (and they are all Muslim), the Z is always pronounced and they laugh at my pronounciation.
    Here is my question: In Hindi, we have the word "mazaa" which means fun or enjoyment. Gujarati has the same word too, and it is pronounced with a J. So when Muslim Gujarati's speak Gujarati, is there a tendency to say words with a Z or J? Is there a distinction in this language? Would Mazaa maa work or is it just majaa ma?

  2. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    I like your interest in Gujarati - your question is thought provoking.

    If i'm honest, i don't really know why there is this tendency for Gujarati people to pronounce "Z's" as "J's", because there is actually a letter for the "Z" sound in Gujarati, which is . I actually find it funny myself when i hear it! (It sounds so freshie!! (I suppose you know what this means? If you don't ask me;))

    Weirdly though, some of these words (actually most of them) that are pronounced like a "Z" [e.g. Zindagee (life), Zindaabaad ("long live")] are spelt with a "J" in Gujarati - Zindagee is spelt with a "J" () So in Gujarati it would be spelt: જિન્દગી (spelt with a "J")

    In Gujarati, it would definitely be pronounced with a "J" (i.e. majaa maa)

    I do have to stress at this point that, even in Gujarati, there are different "types" of Gujarati (I'm not sure whether you'd call them dialects, but I'd rather not say that). The Gujarati that i speak at home is the Bharuchi Gujarati. There is also the Surti Gujarati (which us Bharuchis consider a little "posh" (not necessarily in a bad way)) And then there is the "standard" Gujarati, which Hindus mostly speak (at home). We call this Suddhar Gujarati (suddhar means something like "clean/clear"). The Suddhar Gujarati is the one that i use to answer questions here on WR.

    Just one thing - The standard pronunciation for this "J" () in Gujarati (the suddhar/standard Gujarati) is a proper "J", like in the English word "Jargon". But the way i say it (Bharuchi) is slightly different. It's a slightly "softer" J. I can't really describe it unless you hear me saying it. If you say it the proper way (like in Jargon), you would be touching the middle of the tongue with the upper part of the mouth - but the way i say it is if the tip of the tongue touches the back of the top two teeth, as well as a bit of the fleshy part. (geddit?? hmm.. that was hard to describe!) Just ask if you don't understand what i mean.

    To wrap this up, i'd just say that "mazaa" is Urdu/Hindi, and "majaa" is Gujarati. Why the two different pronunciations? Simply because they're different languages I'd say. (I agree with you it does sound funny when said by Gujarati people!!) and i myself would much prefer it if it was said as a "Z", but Gujarati is Gujarati!
  3. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Thanks! I am honestly really fond of Indian languages, and I want to learn a whole bunch of them hehe. You really should see my collection of books!
    Are you sure that letter is Z? It looks to me like the rarely used "nj" letter. Does it come after c ch j jh series in the alphabet (varanmala)? If so, thats what sound that letter produces in both Devanagri and Gurmukhi, but I have never seen it used. Most books just mention it for the sake of completion. But in the word "Panjab," it can technically be used. पञ्जाब (I think that is right). Do you mean Freshy as in off the boat hehe? Im with you there if thats what you mean.
    I believe it! Huu kare che? Mane thoda sa surti guju ave che lol....mari hinderati....tane samajh ave che;) Where is Bharuchi guju found in Gujarat? Are you familiar with Kachh Guju? I have heard its VERY different. Also how much Marwari and Rajasthani can you understand? are the different Gujarati's restricted to certain communities? Ie, could I tell you were a muslim by your speech (and Im not talking about using the word namaz over pooja, I mean like dialectually.
    All of sudden Marathi comes to mind. The "ja" sound is pronounced like the "zh" sound found in Persian and in French. The "jh" sound is pronounced like a typical "z" sound. Interesting hehe. Is the Bharuchi "j" similar to the Marathi one?
    Do Bharuchi Gujus participate in Nav ratri festivites?
    I always get the sense that the Muslims in India have had their loyalties to Urdu over the vernacular but its good to see pride in the other tongues. The other Gujarati muslim I met told me her father is from an Urdu speaking family and the mother is from a Gujarati speaking family. In this case though, the father actually changed his language for the family and thus they only speak in Gujarati. It is a rare thing to hear of when the guy changes his language for his wife in Indian society. But my friend told me that her mother is very serious about the Gujarati culture. THey are Bohra's too (I hope thats the correct spelling). Thanks for the information linguist:)
  4. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I meant to ask if Bharuchi Gujarati follows the Surti pattern of not pronouncing S's? My friends say "huu kare" in stead of "su." I have also been told that the proper written form is "shu." Also, the H for S sound is not used in all words, from what I gather. My friend still says Saraas, but also says haaru lol....when I tried to say haraas she said that was wrong.
  5. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu

    No!! lol you've completely mistook it for another letter. This letter is "za" whereas the one you're thinking of is "nya". So:
    ઝ = za
    ઞ = nya
    I can understand why you got mixed up - it's a very subtle difference and they look quite similar.
    As for the पञ्जाब which you wrote (which is Hindi by the way, not Gujarati), that is wrong. Yours reads "Panyjab" (i can't even pronounce that properly tbh!) Panjab in Hindi would be:
    पन्जाब (Full "pa", then half "na", then a "ja", then a line to make it "jaa", then a "ba")
    The Gujarati would be:
    પન્જાબ (same explanation as the Hindi)

    And a "freshie" is a derogatory expression which means someone who is Indian, and speaks little or no English, and whose Gujarati is very "ugly" and doesn't sound very.. nice :p. It's kind of hard to explain, but it's like, these "freshies" use words that us Gujarati teenagers would never use, because we were brought up here in England.
    héhé.. your Gujarati is quite funny!! A bit urdufied tho :p.. Just to correct you (if you don't mind!):
    Huu kare che? Mane thoduu sa surti guju avre che lol....maru hinderati....tane samajh ave che?
    My reply: Arey Bhai, manai kem naa samaj parey? Atlu saras Gujarati to bole che tu! :p
    Bharuchi Gujarati, as is suggested by the name, is called that because of the place "Bharuch" in Gujarat. However, it is not only spoken there, but also in these villages that are situated near Bharuch. (which is where the majority of Gujarati Muslims that live in England come from, including me) I come from a village called "Manubar".
    uumm.. no! lol i've never heard of that one. I guess i would do if i lived in India..
    Tbh, i've never heard it!! So i don't actually know.
    tbh, not really. There are certain words we use i guess, which would give away that i am a muslim. For example, for "Thank You", i always say "Jazaakallah" (from Arabic meaning "May God reward you") Apart from, i don't think there is anything which would give away that i am a muslim (apart from the way i dress and stuff!)
    No, the "J" in Gujarati is not like the French "zh" (e.g in "Je m'appelle") In Gujarati, the "J" is pronounced like a hard "J" (like in "Jaguar") The way I say it (Bharuchi Gujarati) is very hard to explain.. you wouldn't know what i'm talking about unless you hear me say it. If i had a microphone, i'd attach a sound file, but i haven't!

    *looks totally puzzled* lol i have never heard of this! To be honest, i don't really know much about what goes on in Gujarat, since i have never been there! (I'd love to check it out though!) As for the festival, i've never heard of it.
    I guess all Gujarati people (well at-least about 98%) living in India would know Hindi (at-least to an average-level). Some Gujaratis' pronunciation of Hindi can be very funny though! (Have you ever seen Munaf Patel, the cricketer, speaking Hindi? it's hilarious!) He comes from near to where i originally come from. (called Ikher)
    About your friend - I find that rather surprising to be honest. I would think if a Gujarati-speaker and an Urdu-speaker get married, they would most certainly communicate in Urdu. In my personal opinion, Urdu is a much nicer language. It's clean, expressive and polite. However, it's nice to see the father being so passionate about Gujarati language/culture! :p

    héhé.. you've got the idea! The main difference between Bharuchi Gujarati and Surti Gujarati is this whole "S" and "H" business. Like you said, we'd say "Haaru che" whereas Surtis would say "Saaru che". (and suddhar Gujarati-speakers would say "Shaaru che" (which is how it's spelt)) It doesn't work for every word though.
    Like the word for "Saturday" is "Sanivaar", and even Bharuchis wouldn'y say "Hanivaar". There's no "rule" for this though. It's just that some words can be turned into a "H" and others can't.
  6. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Damn! I thought I was on to something chief!
    Do you have a copy or have access to a copy of Teach Yourself Hindi by Rupert Snell? On page 15, he explains these weird letters (ङ ञ) and words that can be spelled with the bindi on the top or these letters. He spelled Panjab they way I did, although it really is never written like that. I would write a bindi on top. Anyway, if you do not have access to the book, I can scan in a copy of the page and send it to you if you like. Im not to sure of Gujarati rules, but I assume (making an ass out of you and me ;)) that they are simlar to devanagri rules.
    lol...I didnt know words so I just stuck Hindi in hoping for corrections. Thanks! Of course I do not mind...ALWAYS up for learning something new!
    Hehe...well its the festival were you do Garba and Raas. This year Ramzaan conincided with it.
    Yeah...I was suprised too. Surti friends said the H though and my Ahmdabaad friends said it with an S. I better go back and re-listen ;) Thanks for the info:)
  7. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    I won't bother replying to all of what you said like i did before, but i've found something interesting out.

    When you copy and paste the Hindi "Punjab" (the way i've written it) into Hindi google, you do get results - which suggests to me that that is the correct way of spelling it.

    However, when you copy and paste the Gujarati "Punjab" (the way i've written it) into the Gujarati google, you get no results! (even though it's exactly the same as the Hindi.

    Then what i tried is, i spelt it the way you spelt it (with the "nya" (ઞ)) and still nothing came up.

    Moving on from that, something weird happened (not related to the above) - when i got half of the letter "nya" (in Gujarati that is) and combined it with a full "J" (the way you wrote "Punjab" in Hindi) i got this weird and wonderful letter:


    That is one weird looking letter which i have never seen before!!

    And that didn't produce any results either (on Google)

    So the question still remains - how do you write "Punjab" in Gujarati. hmmm.. lol

    As for that book you mentioned - no i don't have it. Shame, it seems like a good book!
  8. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    That makes sense.
    Im not is never used. But its a correct possibility, albeit strange.
    Are you referring to the little dash underneath the first letter? If so, I can explain it. (You may not be seeing a dash though...I am using Mozilla so it sometimes looks different).
    Probably with either the half na or a bindi....but try it with a bindi and see what you get.
    It is a good book to you want me to send you that page? Look for it on will definitely find it.
  9. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    What do you mean by "Bindi"? Do you mean the thing on top of this letter, for example?: हूँ

    I tried "Punjab" in Gujarati using half the "n" already, and it didn't work.

    I tried "પઁજાબ" too, and that didn't work either.

    edit - oh! i got it!! hehe. It's પંજાબ (with the dot on top of the "pa" instead of half the "n".. but i always thought that's the same thing really! which is why i didn't try it)

    Even the Hindi one is better written as: पंजाब

    As for that weird-looking letter i somehow produced, it looks like this: (see attachment)

    but to be honest, there's no point discussing that 'cause it'd never be used. I can't even pronounce it! It's like "nyj"

    As for the book, yes please, send me the link! Thanks ;)
  10. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I meant to ask you a question about Gujarati days of the week.
    In Urdu, the days are (from sunday to saturday):

    I always assumed the Muslim speakers all over the sub continent said the bolded ones regardless of language, because of religious significance. But the word you used for Saturday, Sanichar (the same one I use btw), stems from Hinduism as the planet Saturn, and I cant think of one culture where Saturn is lucky. I read in my Teach Yourself Urdu book that Sanichar is used by somespeakers, but not often because it is percieved as unlucky.
    Can you tell me what days of the week you use?
    Btw, for Panjabi's, it is (again sunday through saturday)

    (In hindi, the only difference is thursday: they say brahaspativaar or guruvar. Also, for sunday, you may hear ravivaar).
  11. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    From Sunday to Saturday:

    Somvaar (same!)
    Mangalvaar (same!)
    Buddhvaar (same!)
    Shukravaar (same!) (or Jummah if you're Muslim)

    you said "sanicharvaar" for saturday.. that sounds very funny to me!!
  12. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Hehe...well, as it turns out, Shanivar is Hindi, and Shanicarvaar is bad! Thanks for the days.

    Are you're parents fluent in Urdu, or do they place any emphasis on Urdu? I always feel like everyone I meet (musalmaanon mein se) always puts an emphasis on Urdu, but the Bohra Guju's I know are very serious about maintaining their Guju identity, and being Muslim, which I like.
  13. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Just adding here in this old thread so that new members, when referring here, do not get misguided by post 2: ઝ is "jh" and not "z". There is no letter (and sound) for "z" in Gujarati.

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