Hindi: Ma

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  • Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    1. Yes, it means mother. In Hinduism, goddesses are believed to be and referred to as divine mother, hence 'ma', e.g. Saraswati ma or ma Saraswati, the counterpart of the goddess Muse in Hinduism.
    2. No, it's not derived from English, but it's almost the other way round. 'Ma' in Hindi is instead derived from the Sanskrit word 'matra', also meaning mother. The same Sanskrit word was accepted into Latin as 'mater' and then from Latin into German as 'mutter', into Dutch as 'moedor' and into old English 'modor'. 'Mater' from Latin was also accepted into French as 'maternel' and into English as 'maternal'.
    'Ma' in English is the short form of 'mama', which the OALD says originated from 'ma ma', the first syllables a baby speaks.
    The word 'father' also came to English indirectly from Sanskrit 'pitra' (=father) to Latin 'pater' to German 'vater' to Dutch 'vader' to old English 'faeder', while 'paternal' in English came direct from Latin 'pater', which as you know, was derived from Sanskrit 'pitra'.

    I hope it helps.:)
     

    Wolverine9

    Senior Member
    American English
    ^ You're right about point 1, but you're off on point 2. The Hindi word does have its ultimate origin in Sanskrit (or other Old Indic dialect) via a Middle Indic Prakrit. However, the Sanskrit mātr̥, English mother, and Latin mater are cognates; as are Sanskrit pitr̥, English father, and Latin pater. One is not derived from the other directly or indirectly, but rather they all have their origin in Proto Indo-European.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    But I disagree, Wolverine. 'Matra', 'mother' and 'mater' are not actually cognates, at least not 'matra'. I have read in the book "History of the English Language" that Latin 'mater' and 'pater' were derived from Sanskrit 'matra' and 'pitra' respectively. You can check in the OALD that 'mother' ( a comparatively very modern word)was indirectly derived from Latin 'mater'.
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    But I disagree, Wolverine. 'Matra', 'mother' and 'mater' are not actually cognates, at least not 'matra'. I have read in the book "History of the English Language" that Latin 'mater' and 'pater' were derived from Sanskrit 'matra' and 'pitra' respectively.
    Could you kindly quote exactly what the book said? As far as I can tell, Wolverine is certainly right, and you probably misunderstood the book.

    You can check in the OALD that 'mother' ( a comparatively very modern word)was indirectly derived from Latin 'mater'.
    This is what the online version of OALD says:
    "Old English mōdor, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch moeder and German Mutter, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin mater and Greek mētēr."
    As you can see, it simply says Latin, Greek and English (and other Germanic) words share a common Indo-European root. There is no claim about derivation from any of these ones to any other. The claim is that the Germanic words (and implicitly, also the Latin and Greek ones) are derived from this common Indo-European root. The Sanskrit words also fit together into the same scheme, though not mentioned by OALD.
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Wolverine jii is indeed right, and I don't see anyway how Sanskrit could have lent the word for "mother" to Latin.

    The word maa/maaN seems to be an ancient word that spans languages. It is also maa in Chinese.
    I guess you mean Mandarin, tonyspeed jii; "Chinese" is a group of languages, and I have many doubts if all of them have the word "mama" for mother (by the way, as far as I knew, it's "mama" in Mandarin; "maa" is just the short form). I have no idea why the word for mother in Mandarin should be of any concern in this post. There is no "ancient word" in question across the different language families of this world: the more probable reason is a baby's first prattle. See here. (There are still languages like Gujarati, where mother is "baa", and not "maaN".)
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    Dib, I haven't misunderstood the book at all and it does say the Latin words in question originated from Sanskrit. However, the OALD just refers to it as Indo-European root, which, to be precise, is Sanskrit, the most perfect, grammatical, logical and clear language in the world. You seem to be supporting the Proto-Indo-European theory in denying the fact. For that and for the confirmation that actually Sanskrit is the most ancient and perfect language and the source of many words in the languages of the Indo-European family, read these articles by Stephen Knapp: 1. Sanskrit: Its Importance to Language, 2. The Proto Indo- European Language. Here the theory of PIE falls flat.

    littlepond, why is it impossible for Sanskrit to have lent a word to Latin (or any other language)??? You simply search Sanskrit words in Latin/English/ etc. and you will come to know of it.
     
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    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    littlepond, why is it impossible for Sanskrit to have lent a word to Latin (or any other language)??? You simply search Sanskrit words in Latin/English/ etc. and you will come to know of it.
    Because borrowing between languages happens not in thin air: rather, there has to be some history. I do not recall such great bonhomie in history between the Romans and ancient Indians that the former would start borrowing words from India!

    I guess it's just your personal belief that PIE is a theory, and conceding to that, you are even forcing words in the Oxford Dictionary's mouth! Please try to separate your pet beliefs from known facts. PIE may or may not be a reality for you, but do not try to say that OALD means "Sanskrit" by PIE, please!
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    In Hinduism, ma mean goddesses
    That's wrong, nizamuddin jii. "MaaN" simply means "mother"; goddess is "devi". By the way, I guess you meant "Hindi" rather than Hinduism, since Mary, the mother of Jesus, is also "Mary maaN" (or, more often, "Mary ammaa").
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    littlepond, to find the connection, you will have to study world history, in which you will also find about Alexander's invasion of India. You don't believe that there was any connection between the people of Greece, India, etc. then how can the words be even cognates? You don't believe in any connection between Indians and Greek, etc, but you believe that Sanskrit, Greek and Latin all developed from an imaginary language which has no written record whatsoever! That PIE is a theory is not my personal belief but a fact. It was postulated by Sir William Jones as late as the 18th century. According to Wikipedia "The most popular hypothesis for the origin and spread of the language is the Kurgan hypothesis, which postulates an origin in the Pontic-Caspian steppe of Eastern Europe."
    To confirm that many Latin words are derived from Sanskrit words, you can just search on Google.
    However, I don't want to waste any more time on such an apparent thing as Latin borrowing some words from Sanskrit.
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    ^ Englishmypassion jii, I also don't desire to waste any further time on such an apparent thing as where you are coming from. Alexander? Haha.
     

    tonyspeed

    Senior Member
    English & Creole - Jamaica
    to be precise, is Sanskrit, the most perfect, grammatical, logical and clear language in the world. .
    1) This is an opinion. A language is perfect or most precise according to whose standard? Your own?
    2) Such superlatives and descriptions are religiously influenced. In a similar way Roman Catholics could claim latin, Buddhists Pali, Mulims Arabi etc...Separate religious ideology and dogma from truth. It will save you a lot of grief when you are not talking to uneducated people who will blindly believe your statements.
    3) The reason Sanskrit is so logical is because Panini changed it and made it logical. When it was a normal spoken language it was not so and evolved organically like every other language,
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Dib, I haven't misunderstood the book at all and it does say the Latin words in question originated from Sanskrit.
    I am not saying that Latin cannot have absolutely no loanwords from Sanskrit. It is possible, though I'd expect them to be very few, contextually specific and late. It will be interesting to find some. Actually, I know a close example - not exactly a loanword, but a (mis)-translation which gave our modern words of sine and cosine in mathematics, via Arabic (Original Skt: jyā/jīvā ~ koṭijīvā).

    On the other hand, I'll be really surprised if anybody can actually argue convincingly that "māter" and "pater" are loanwords from Sanskrit. So, irrespective of whether you misunderstood or not, some quotation from the book, or if it is too long to quote, a paraphrase of the argument would be highly appreciated.

    However, the OALD just refers to it as Indo-European root, which, to be precise, is Sanskrit
    Actually, calling Sanskrit "Indo-European root" is equivalent to ignoring a couple of centuries of scholarship. I am sure, OALD knows better. There are very obvious problems with calling Sanskrit the "IE root". Vedic literature already gives ample evidence that (Vedic) Sanskrit was undergoing normal evolution, like any other language in the world. So, it would be absurd to use the name Sanskrit for the form of the language a couple of millenia older than Rgvedic. Yet, by the middle of 2nd millenium BCE we have ample attestation of a very divergent form of Indo-European speech (Hittite), which should be an age similar to some form of Vedic. Now, you do the math. How long ago they must have diverged, and whether it would be reasonable to call that ancestral common form Sanskrit.

    ... Sanskrit, the most perfect, grammatical, logical and clear language in the world.
    I agree with tonyspeed here. There is no reason other than religious and cultural for such a claim. Within the limited scope of this forum, I'll just take two points ("logical" and "clear") for illustration - I don't even know what it means for a language to be the "most perfect" or "most grammatical" (all languages are grammatical, duh!):
    1) Logic: Please explain the logic behind the distribution of the Sanskrit verbs into 10 classes (गण) in the present system (सार्वधातुक).
    2) Clarity: Translate unambiguously - पिता मातरं दर्शयति पुत्रम्‌।

    You seem to be supporting the Proto-Indo-European theory in denying the fact.
    I do find PIE a reasonable explanation of a set of observations in a set of languages, of which I am reasonably familiar with a significant subset.

    For that and for the confirmation that actually Sanskrit is the most ancient and perfect language and the source of many words in the languages of the Indo-European family, read these articles by Stephen Knapp: 1. Sanskrit: Its Importance to Language, 2. The Proto Indo- European Language. Here the theory of PIE falls flat.
    Okay, about the ancient bit. What is his argument for calling Sanskrit more "ancient" (whatever that means) than, e.g. Ancient Egyptian and Sumerian, which had been written down already in early to middle 3rd millenium BCE? What is the definition of "perfect language" used? (I am just doing my due-dilligence check, before I spend time and energy in reading him. I hope, you are familiar enough with his writings to answer these seemingly basic questions on his behalf.)
     
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    MansiMX

    New Member
    "India- Hindi & English
    ^ Englishmypassion jii, I also don't desire to waste any further time on such an apparent thing as where you are coming from. Alexander? Haha.
    Just to say, "OMG"!!! I bet I am younger than you but surely in my school in 5th standard, we learnt about Alexandra, The Great's invasion in India, I seriously can't believe you didn't know that.

    I am sorry if I sounded rude by any chance :) I just think you should know.
     
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    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Alexander's invasion is an interesting linguistic event. I don't know which words Greek borrowed from Sanskrit as a result (Greek meter and pater already existed in Homeric poetry, predating Alexander by a couple of centuries at least), but Sanskrit took a few words from Greek, e.g.
    kendra- (<kentron) = centre (of a circle)
    hora- (<hora) = hour (time)
    dramma- (<drachme) = a particular coin (from where modern "daam" = price)
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    3) The reason Sanskrit is so logical is because Panini changed it and made it logical. When it was a normal spoken language it was not so and evolved organically like every other language,
    I object to the first part of the statement. I don't see really much evidence to suggest that Panini deliberately "changed" and made Sanskrit "logical". It is quite obvious looking at the grammar of Classical Sanskrit that it defies just as much "logic" as any other natural language. I think it is reasonable to assume that he was simply describing the educated "speech/talk" (bhāṣā < bhāṣ- = to speak/talk, as he calls it) of his day (and region). To take one small example: He certainly didn't try to logically "rectify" the gender of "bhaya-" (fear) from the popular neuter (as attested since the Vedic days, e.g. RV 9.67.21) to a more logical (from the point of view of Paninian scheme of derivations) masculine. For that matter, he also retained (i.e. simply documented) many paradigmatic irregularities without trying to make Sanskrit grammar look more logical.

    Where Panini aces pretty much all known grammarians in all cultures is in his methodology and thoroughness. He could arguably achieve the same for any other language, if he happened to be speaking them (everything else remaining constant).
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Just to say, "OMG"!!! I bet I am younger than you but surely in my school in 5th standard, we learnt about Alexandra, The Great's invasion in India, I seriously can't believe you didn't know that.
    I didn't have to study in a school to know that, Mansi jii: but how Alexander fits into this discussion is what was amusing. It is no suprise though that people who claim some language to be the "most grammatical" would also bring in a curry of half-baked knowledge. Like Dib jii, I am also wondering how any language in the world can be "more grammatical" than any other.
     

    MansiMX

    New Member
    "India- Hindi & English
    I didn't have to study in a school to know that, Mansi jii: but how Alexander fits into this discussion is what was amusing. It is no suprise though that people who claim some language to be the "most grammatical" would also bring in a curry of half-baked knowledge. Like Dib jii, I am also wondering how any language in the world can be "more grammatical" than any other.
    Oh.... K, tht makes more sense to me now, thx for clarifying :)
     

    MansiMX

    New Member
    "India- Hindi & English
    I don't think any language is more grammatical than the other simply because each language has its own grammar and we are no one to judge it as, if we were to be brought up speaking that language, we wouldn't find anything weird about it. It's only because if it is a new language to us when we are able to understand and judge, that we find it odd. Believe me, I know a few languages and I can give an example as well. In English one would say "a red dress" whereas in French one would say "une robe rouge" which literary translates to "a dress red" and is grammatically right in French but not English because even if they at some extent have the same root language, they still are individual languages with their own grammar.
     

    MansiMX

    New Member
    "India- Hindi & English
    Anyways why does it matter which language took which word from which other language? At the end of the day,whoever speaks that language has adapted to the borrowed words and in most cases wouldn't really care about its root language. Unfortunately it takes a mass movement in accepting or declining those words and therefore if one accepts or declines a word into the language, they will have to convince as well as make sure a considerably large portion of its speaking population and a very large region accept or decline the word to make it a part of or remove it from the language. :idea:o_O:p;):)

    [USUALLY]
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    There is no word "ma" in Hindi, Isidore jii; the word is "maaN". Yes, it means "mother" again, though the more usual wording in this context is "Kali maataa" ("maataa" again means mother).
    Coming back to the core issue of the topic, I am quite certain that maaN is the standard word or perhaps the most used nowadays however there is MAA too. I heard it in several bhajans and also it is there in Urdu, even in Platts you can find maa-baap along with maaN-baap. The bhajans I can't recall at this moment but "he maa" is certainly there. So according to my observations and experience, I would say that there are both variations, maaN and maa in Hindi (Urduu too).
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    In English one would say "a red dress" whereas in French one would say "une robe rouge" which literary translates to "a dress red" and is grammatically right in French but not English ...
    I don't think there is any need to discuss an off-topic thing further. But just pointing out that there is nothing (grammatically) wrong in "a dress red" in English (or "une rouge robe" in French): context can very well dictate those choices.
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Does "maa", without any nasalization, have any other value in everyday Hindi?
    I am deliberately leaving out:
    • all Arabic-based possibilities that might come via Urdu: someone, something, no
    • the "ma" note on the Indian gamut
    • Persian "I", "our", "us"

    Specifically, I found "maa" in the Song "Kamariyaa", (the one from the 2018 Indian horror movie "Stree"), which can't be accused of any sophistication, really.

    aaj bijlii bhii girvaanii hai / [fire] bhii lagvaanii hai
    jo tuu aa ke [baby] hamaare saath maa, aa, aa, aa ke
    kamariyaa
    hilaa de, hilaa de ...
    [etc ..]

    Maybe it is vulgar for "maan", verbal root of "maannaa"?

    [I reckon it's virtually impossible for that maa to mean "mother']
    [2:32 in most youtube videos]
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I just listened to the (terrible) song at the time frame you indicated. The line is "hamre saath-maa" - that "maa" is not a separate word, but rather just a suffix to "saath" here, trying to give a rustic feel to the song. The usage of "hamre" instead of "hamaare" should've given you a clue.

    "-maa" or "-vaa" or "-baa" is a common suffix added to a word (mostly when it ends with a consonant), just to make the word feel more "casual" (e.g., "skuulvaa" for school). The suffix doesn't mean anything in itself.
     
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    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Really? I just thought it was 'maa.n', the variant for 'me.n'/'in'.
    e.g. 'mere saath mein'/'mere saath maa.n'
    So yes, rustic, but not meaningless.

    aaj bijlii bhii girvaanii hai / [fire] bhii lagvaanii hai
    jo tuu aa ke [baby] hamaare saath maa

    Today lightning will strike/a fire will also break out
    if you were to come close to me...

    And agreed about the quality of the song, but I think its charm is supposed to lay more in the dancing of the lady. :)
     
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    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Not to stray too much from the main subject, but that particular song has -vaa's sprinkled all over it, which seems to support @littlepond's view:

    आज बिजली भी गिरवानी है
    फ़ायर भी लगवानी है ... etc
     

    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Not to stray too much from the main subject, but that particular song has -vaa's sprinkled all over it, which seems to support @littlepond's view:

    आज बिजली भी गिरवानी है
    फ़ायर भी लगवानी है ... etc
    But those aren't meaningless, either, they're causatives:

    लगवाना
    गिरवाना

    I think what Littlepond-ji was referring to was when it appears at the end of words, though? Like how the 'ma' was at the end of the sentence?
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    But those aren't meaningless, either, they're causatives:

    लगवाना
    गिरवाना

    I think what Littlepond-ji was referring to was when it appears at the end of words, though? Like how the 'ma' was at the end of the sentence?
    Oh, my ignorance is infinite.

    so, "mere saath maa" == "mere saath maaN" == "mere saath meiN" == "mere saath", like: "in my company"?
     
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    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    That's right, 'मां' is a widespread, non-standard variant of 'में', so, 'मेरे साथ मां', has the same meaning as, 'मेरे साथ में', i.e., 'in my company'.

    Sorry if my post was confusing at all, I tried to translate to as natural an English as I could muster, though perhaps it didn't express the original Hindi as well as it could have. Like you, I'm a student of Hindi and try to share whatever I think might be useful. We're both learning, and rather than either of us being ignorant, I'd rather think we still have farther to go in our Hindi journey! ;) :) And thankfully, Littlepond, Qureshpor, and many others, help us on the way. :)
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I do not hear nasalisation in the song: I think it's "maa", not "maaN". If there were Gujarati words in the song, I'd have thought of "maa(N)" in the sense of "in", and for a Hindi song to have the sense of "in", I'd require nasalisation.

    In addition, "hamaare saath meN" is not a very much used construction in such a sentence: the typical Taporii or lafangaa would prefer "aa jaa hamaare saath" rather than "aa jaa hamaare saath meN".

    All that leads me to believe it's the usual "-maa" suffix one finds at times to make speech sound casual or rustic. Of course, I am not in the mind of the lyrics writer, so @Jashn jii may also be correct.
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    I am with Jashn on this one. This "mA(~)" is a common dialectal variant of "me~".

    The "-(v)A" used in the Eastern reaches of the Hindi belt, taken over from the definite article (also serving for pejoration, etc.) in Bhojpuri, Magahi, etc. typically retains its semantics also when used in (non-standard) Hindi, and is not used after postpositions - at least, I have never heard it in that position, and half my Hindi speaking friends are Bihari. I am also completely unaware of a variant "mA" of this Eastern "-(v)A".
     
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