Hindi: Merger of <l> and <r>

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Athanasios, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. Athanasios Member

    English - US, Jamaican
    I learnt the pronunciations chaawar (uncooked rice) and hardii (turmeric) instead of chaaval and haldii. How common is this merger of <l> and <r> in India?

    I have heard that Bhojpuri-speakers do this as well. Is it done in Awadhi?

    My family originally came from a village in the district of Allahabad, but this may have been something that was picked up from others after coming to Jamaica...
  2. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I can't really speak for Hindi here because the Hindi I am familiar with uses "chaaval" and "haldii," but Gujarati, if I am not mistaken, uses "hardii." Sindhi uses an "r" for "kaaraa" where Hindi would use an "l."
  3. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    The Awadhi I've heard doesn't do this! I've always heard a distinct 'l' in both chaawal, haldii etc. and not as chaawar, hardii etc. But as we know the spoken language can vary a lot across a region so perhaps Awadhi speakers further east do this. In the parts of UP and Bihar I've visited, all the Hindi-Urdu speakers I've heard also keep the 'l' sound.

    We used to have an Awadhi speaker here but he / she hasn't posted for a long time. However, I can ask around and if I find anything I'll get back to you!
  4. rahulbemba

    rahulbemba Senior Member

    You are right that chaawar and hardi are spoken by many in India. You are right about Bhojpuri for sure. I am not sure about Awadhi though.

    It appears that even in Sindhi language it is spoken as chawar. See these pages on Sindhi cuisine mention the word "chawar" for "chaawal":

    Sabu dal chawar ( yellow daal with rice) [Link] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sindhi_cuisine

    Sabu dal chawar & Bugha Chawar http://www.indianetzone.com/53/sindhi_cuisine.htm

    Also, there is a hotel Kailash Parbat in Singapore which has on its menu:

    SEYAL CHAWAR (Rice flavoured with caramelized onion, tomatoes & fresh coriander) [Ref]
  5. Athanasios Member

    English - US, Jamaican
    Thank you!

    It is interesting that you mention Sindhi, and Panjabigator mentions both Sindhi and Gujarati. Those languages have their heartlands quite a distance from the Bhojpuri heartland, yet all three may exhibit the same tendency to use an <r> in words that have an <l> in their cognates in most dialects of Hindi. I wonder if the underlying reason is the same for all three languages.

    One another not, I see chaaval used to refered to what people eat all the time. Is it safe to assume that our use of chaawar only for uncooked rice, and bhaat for cooked rice, is a regional usage? Would bhaat be understood by all Hindi- and Urdu-speakers?
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011
  6. Athanasios Member

    English - US, Jamaican
    I checked Platts', and he lists hardii as a variant of haldii, as well as giving this etymology for haldii: [Prk. हलद्दी, or हलद्दा; S. हरिद्रा]. The original Sanskrit word had an <r>, which shifted to an <l> in Prakrit. Perhaps some Prakrit dialects retained the <r>, and that may explain the hardii (though it doesn't explain chaawar). IIRC, Gujarati, Sindhi, and Bhojpuri are descended from different Prakrits dialects than Khariboli is. I believe Bhojpuri is descended from the same Prakrit as Bengali.

    I looked up the words in Bengali to see if they are similar.

    হরিদ্রা (p. 1047) [ haridrā ] n turmeric. ̃বর্ণ n. & a. yellow. ˜ভ a. yellowish.
    হলদি (p. 1047) [ haladi ] n (dial.) turmeric.

    Bengali has both an <r>-version and an <l>-version, though the <r>-version seems to be the more standard one.
  7. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Athanasios, I think this is a regional usage. I hear "bhaat" from a lot of my friends to refer to cooked rice. For me, "bhaat" is just rice, though we never use the word.

    I think "r" and "l" flip between many languages, even within a single language. In Punjabi, some speakers retroflex the L whereas others do not.
  8. rahulbemba

    rahulbemba Senior Member

    "bhaat" is used for boiled rice by all Hindi speakers, but in the cities they use more of "chaawal" than "bhaat". Ideally, "bhaat" should be used for cooked/bolied rice and "chaawal" for uncooked, but "chaawal" is now used for both. So to be safe if one is new to the language, one can say "chaawal" for both and it would look more natural... If you notice someone saying "bhaat" then you can use it in conversation with that person...
  9. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    Is [r] at the end of a Hindi/Urdu word pronounced closer to [l]? For example, in Ghulam Ali's rendition of "Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa" (listen here), the way he pronounces 'kaafir' in 'but humko kahiN kaafir' (at 3:39 in the video I linked) sounds just like it was "kaafil" with an L. I have noticed this phenomenon elsewhere, often with the same word 'kaafir' (a common enough word in Urdu poetry). What's the reason?
  10. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو

    eskandar SaaHib. I listened to your above mentioned Ghazal (Akbar Allahabadi) very attentively. He repeats the word "kaafir". The first time it is quite clearly "kaafir" but the second time, it does sound as if he is saying "kaafil".

    This is how I would try to explain your query. No, in Urdu/Hindi the final "r" is not pronounced as an "l". When this sound is "held" for a longer period, it may appear to sound as if an "l" is being uttered. Where you and I are hearing an "l" (when kaafir is repeated), could it be the quality of recording causing this interference? I can not imagine that he is pronouncing "r" in the first kaaifr and "l" in the second. Furthermore, I am hesitant in saying this, but could it be a Ghulam Ali thing? I am definitely hearing an "r" in the first instance.
  11. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    It's not an L you are hearing, it is an elongated R. Under normal circumstances r are trilled r's, but when elongated in Hindi, r's become similar to English r's with the tongue somewhat suspended near the aveolar ridge. Depending on
    the exact positioning of the tongue, you may get something that could be mistaken for an L. There is not much difference between the Hindi R and an L as far as tongue position goes. The only difference is one is trilled and one is
    held firm on the aveolar ridge. Therefore, in certain languages such as Japanese the R and the L sound are one.
  12. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو

    Tony SaaHib. Thank you for the clarification. And there I was blaming poor Ghulam Ali Sahib!
  13. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    Excellent explanation, thank you!
  14. rahulbemba

    rahulbemba Senior Member

    For the discussion in this thread, the pronunciations in Hindi for words ending with "r" or "l" seems not to be related anyhow to the pronunciations of Urdu words "kaafir" ending with r or l. "chaawar" is pronounced with a clear "ra" sound. And "chaawal" is pronounced with a clear "la" sound. र and ल. चावर and चावल.
  15. rahulbemba

    rahulbemba Senior Member

    You are right that the root word for haldi or hardi is Haridra हरिद्रा from Sanskrit. All these languages are sister-languages coming out ultimately from Sanskrit and hence while their words carry a certain distinctions, those can be traced back to the original word.


    हरिद्रा , की परिभाषा हरिद्रा , का अर्थ हरिद्रा - हरिद्रासंज्ञा स्त्री० [सं०] १. हलदी । २. एक नदी का नाम । ३. वन । जंगल ।—अनेकार्थ (शब्द०)। ४. मंगल ।—अनेकार्थ (शब्द०)। ५. सीसा धातु ।—अनेकार्थ (शब्द०)। ६. निशा । उ०—कहत हरिद्रा बनथली, निशा हरिद्रा होइ । बहुरि हरिद्रा मंगली, हरद हरिद्रा सोइ ।—अनेकार्थ०, पृ० १६१ । [Ref]

    There are some related words coming out of the word Haridra:

    हरिद्राभ वि० [सं०] पीतवर्ण का । पीला ।

    It is so since Haldi/Hardi/Haridra is yellow in color.

    हरिद्रागणपतिसंज्ञा पुं० [सं०] गणपति या गणेश जी की एक मूर्ति जिनपर मंत्र पढ़कर हलदी चढ़ाई जाती है ।

    There is another interesting fact: While हरिद्रा or Haldi/Hardi is yellow, हरि, which is Lord Vishnu's name, has also got the color associated with Him as yellow. Lord Vishnu is represented wearing yellow clothes. As this page says, "The color yellow is associated with earthly existence and the yellow clothes of the Lord signify that He incarnates Himself on this earth to uphold righteousness and destroy evil and unrighteousness." [Ref] And Hari is a name of Vishnu himself! Hari, as in Haridra! Or Hardi which came from it! It is so interesting to see how things are related to each other...

    Another interesting quote. This one is from the immensely respected Guru Granth Sahib taken from here [Link]

    ਕਬੀਰ ਹਰਦੀ ਪੀਰਤਨੁ ਹਰੈ ਚੂਨ ਚਿਹਨੁ ਰਹਾਇ
    कबीर हरदी पीरतनु हरै चून चिहनु न रहाइ ॥
    Kabīr harḏī pīrṯan harai cẖūn cẖihan na rahā▫e.
    Kabeer, turmeric has lost its yellow color, and no trace of lime's whiteness remains.

    Here also, turmeric is called "hardi"...
  16. aruniyan Senior Member

    Is there a connection between south Indian ChOru and Chawar ? or this word has any Sanskrit or Persian connection?
  17. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Doing a little search reveals that "choru" is the word for rice in Kerala. So, yes choru and chawar are connected.
  18. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    The Gujarati word for turmeric is by the way not "hardi" but "hadzad" or "hadzdar" (હળદર), and I am transliterating the Gujarati ળ with "dz" here, since it's not the "r" sound.
  19. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    If anyone is interested, the word for rice and turmeric in TheTh Punjabi are chaaval (also in some areas pronounced as chauL with a retroflex L) and hardal.
  20. jakubisek Member

    In what variety of Gujarati is the letter ળ pronounced "dz"?
    As far as I know, this is the retroflex L (same as occurs Marathi, Oriya and Dravidian languages)
    So it is haLdar. Is it not?
  21. jakubisek Member

    In Bengali "chaal" is uncooked rice, "bhaat" is cooked rice (and, by extension, "meal" too)

    Bhat comes from Sanskrit "bhakta" (of course, not meaning "devoutee" in this context, but more like "cooked")

    Chaval must be inherited from non-IA languages.

    (It is quite understandable that in cities they tend to cease making the difference as the contact with agriculture is lost and the difference between raw rice and boiled rice is not culturaly so significant. )
  22. jakubisek Member

    Why the r-l shifts?

    1) changes of (flapped!) r into l or vice versa are common all over the world, in general

    e.g. Spanish (parts of Andalucía and I think also somewhere in America), e.g. in flamenco I heard "erke" instead of standard el que)

    Btw, in Czech it is a common speech defect in early childhood: Kids usually say "l" for both l and r phonemes, and take time to learn the r-flap. (Wonder is that is the case in all languages with r-flap, like Spanish, Swedish, etc, with kids?)

    2) r-l was always fluctuating in the history of Indo-Aryan languages, in particular

    I am a Sanskritist with not much knowledge of the later developments of MIA and NIA, but if I remember well it went somewhat like this:
    While in Sanskrit those were 2 different phonemes, in the early Prakrits there was a tendency to merge both of them into one (either "l" or "r", which one of them it became, depended mostly on East-West distinction), if we can believe the spelling used in Ashoka's inscriptions (of course, as soon as 2 sounds get perceived as alophones, you cannot be sure the scribes kept sticking to the original distinction of two given letters). But that merger never got completed. As we see in modern NIA, the two different sounds were preserved, or re-introduced, as distinct phonemes, but clearly with dialectal fluctuation.

    With loanwords from non-IA lggs it gets further complicated by the fact that many of them had several other different phonemes, which both Sanskrit and Prakrits could only approximate either by "r" or by "l" (cf. Tamil which has 5 phonemes, and letters, that get treated as r or l in IA lggs, or sometimes as D as well). Just as phala (fruit) is a clear loan-word from pre-IA lggs into sanskrit, haridraa must have been one as well. And chaval is another one.
  23. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Yes, that is what I meant: the retroflex L as in Dravidian languages. I wrote it like "dz" (just a made-up thing) to distinguish it from Hindi's "NR" (as in "vaaNRii", voice).
  24. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    The same is true for Gujarati as far as "bhaat" is concerned.

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