Hindi: itself

albondiga

Senior Member
English/USA
OK, here's a strange one:

I've noticed that Indians (when speaking English) will frequently add the word "itself" to sentences that talk about something being done at a particular time (e.g., "I will go there tomorrow itself"; "I saw him today itself"; etc.)

It's actually more native Gujarati-speakers than Hindi-speakers that I know, but it seems to me that this weird English construction is a result of some grammatical construction that probably exists in Hindi and other north Indian languages.

Can someone explain what it is in Hindi (or other such languages) that causes a native speaker of that language to have this odd use of the word "itself" when speaking English?

Thanks!
 
  • linguist786

    Senior Member
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    Hmm, I can't say I've noticed Indians saying this. But mind you, I've never been to India! I will take your word for it though.

    Anyway, thinking about it, it might be the construction "hii" that causes this. (In Gujarati it would be the suffix "j", often written as a word on its own). So in your examples:

    (Hindi)
    - "I will go there tomorrow itself"
    - maiN wahaaN kal hii jaaungaa (मैं वहां कल ही जाऊंगा)
    (the position of "hii" is very important! Here it indicates that he will definitely go there tomorrow - as opposed to any other day)

    - "I saw him today itself"
    - maine usko aaj hii dekhaa thaa (मैंने उसको आज ही देखा था)
    (I definitely saw him today, not any other day)

    The same in Gujarati:

    - "I will go there tomorrow itself"
    - huN tyaaN kaale j jash (હું ત્યાં કાલે જશ)

    - "I saw him today itself"
    - meN ene aaje j joyo hato. (મેં એને આજે જોયો હતો)

    So maybe it is this direct translation from /hii/ (or in Gujarati /j/) -> "itself" that causes this.
     

    albondiga

    Senior Member
    English/USA
    Anyway, thinking about it, it might be the construction "hii" that causes this. (In Gujarati it would be the suffix "j", often written as a word on its own). So in your examples:

    (Hindi)
    - "I will go there tomorrow itself"
    - maiN wahaaN kal hii jaaungaa (मैं वहां कल ही जाऊंगा)
    (the position of "hii" is very important! Here it indicates that he will definitely go there tomorrow - as opposed to any other day)

    - "I saw him today itself"
    - maine usko aaj hii dekhaa thaa (मैंने उसको आज ही देखा था)
    (I definitely saw him today, not any other day)

    ...

    So maybe it is this direct translation from /hii/ (or in Gujarati /j/) -> "itself" that causes this.
    Thanks, Linguist, I think that sounds exactly right... I've also heard some odd uses of the word "only" in English, which I think come from "translating" the Hindi word "to"...

    (Hehe.. don't you just love this "hii" construction!)
    No, not really :p , it's tough to grasp... but hearing it translated into these funny English constructions is actually helping me understand how to use it in Hindi! :D
     
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