Hindi: Inflection of भाई-बहन

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Anatoli

Senior Member
Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
Hello,

How should some compound words, such as भाई-बहन be inflected?

It seems sometimes both parts are declined, sometimes the second part only.

Version #1 (2nd part only is declined)
Oblique: भाई-बहनों
Vocative: भाई-बहनो

Version #2 (both parts are declined)
Oblique: भाइयों-बहनों
Vocative: भाइयो-बहनो

You can find cases of both on the Internet. Both paradigms are valid? Which one is better or sounds more literate?
 
  • MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    I will try to answer this.
    I believe your question can be divided in 2 parts:

    1) Is there any genera rule as to whether or not inflect the individual parts of a composite word?
    2) why the variability observed in bhaaii-bahan specifically?

    In answer to 1), I believe no global rule can be extracted. Hindustani is know to allow inflection in both terms of a composite word, but there are too many variables, for example:

    - are both words of the same semantic level?
    - do they participate in a fixed construction requiring specific inflections?
    - do they exist independently in the language?
    - are they imports from another language?
    - if so, since when? have they been "hindustanized" enough?
    - do speakers often use those two particular words as a composite word, or is it an infrequent, ad-hoc union?

    So, I believe the decision of whether or not to inflect both members is a totally idiomatic, case-by-case one. Moreover, I would assume the same goes for any language even modestly inflected.
    For example, in English, by what "rule" would you chose to say "brother-sister relation" versus "the relation between brothers and sisters"?

    In answer to 2), the only thing I can say is that sometimes the hyphen is not so much a joining device but an abbreviation for " ... aur ...".
    A quick Internet search shows that "भाइयो-बहनो" is used for example at the beginning of several political speeches, addresses, etc, equivalent to "Friends", "Ladies and Gentlemen", "men and women", etc.

    So the variability between bhaaiii-bahnōN and bhāiyōN-bahnōN could be that, in the first case, it is used as a real conjunct, say, "bhaaiii-bahnōN ke pyaar" and in the second case it is simply an abbreviation of "bhāiyōN aur bahnōN".

    asam kr bhaaiiyoN-bahnoN Darne kii zaruurat nahiiN hai ...

    The brothers and sisters of Assam need not fear ...


    These are just common sense assumptions. Competent speakers please correct me.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Thank you, MonsieurGonzalito. I can't say yes or no, since I don't know enough but I appreciate the answer. It makes sense.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Hello,

    How should some compound words, such as भाई-बहन be inflected?

    It seems sometimes both parts are declined, sometimes the second part only.

    Version #1 (2nd part only is declined)
    Oblique: भाई-बहनों
    Vocative: भाई-बहनो

    Version #2 (both parts are declined)
    Oblique: भाइयों-बहनों
    Vocative: भाइयो-बहनो

    You can find cases of both on the Internet. Both paradigms are valid? Which one is better or sounds more literate?
    Good question Anatoli. I don't think many of us would have given much thought to this.

    If we take भाई-बहन as a compound, I would say the following.

    Oblique: भाई-बहनों

    e.g. apne bhaa'ii-bahnoN se pahle puuchh lo. (Ask your brothers and sisters first.)

    Vocative: भाई-बहनो

    A politician in her/his speech would normally say भाइयो और बहनो (Brother and sisters)
     
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