Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu: Can shir mean both tiger and lion?

Greetings everyone.

Is it correct that the word shir can be used for both a tiger and a lion?

I have Dari speaking Afghan friends who use the word shir to mean lion; I wonder if its roots may include tiger as well.

Thanks for your assistance.

Ben
 
  • greatbear

    Banned
    India - Hindi & English
    Welcome, Benyameen! It is true that in colloquial/spoken Hindi, "sher" (not "shir") can mean both tiger and lion; however, the actual words are "sher" for lion and "baagh" for tiger, thus different.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    In both Punjabi and Urdu, to the best of my knowledge we do use "sher" for both. But if we need to distinguish the two (lion vs tiger) we say "babar sher" for lion. Also "baagh" is used for tiger as well, but I don't believe this is all that common.
     

    UrduMedium

    Senior Member
    Urdu (Karachi)
    In Urdu, i believe sher is used for both. But it "feels" much more precise only for lion. I do not know such a precise word for Tiger in Urdu.

    Perhaps someone can enlighten. baagh is not commonly understood in Urdu.
     
    Thanks very much to you all.

    The reason that I'm asking about this is because of the nom de guerre of the Afghan mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, Shir-e-Panjshir, the Lion of the Panjshir (Five Lions). It has always been translated into English as lion, and the Afghan Dari speakers that I know also see it as meaning lion. I knew that there were at one time Caspian tigers in Afghanistan and also that Kipling called the tiger in the Jungle Book Shere Khan... so I thought the word tiger might be more appropriate. But now I've found that apparently there were Asiatic lions until very recently in Iran (and presumably Afghanistan) as well... so maybe shir really does mean lion...

    Anyhow, thanks for your time and for allowing me to participate in this amazing forum!

    Ben
     

    Wolverine9

    Senior Member
    American English
    Technically, babar/baagh is supposed to mean tiger, while sher is supposed to be lion; however, the two animals often get confounded in Indic languages and dictionaries list either or both meanings.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I am surprised no one has mentioned "singh" for a lion.

    Benyameen, in Dari, the pronunciation is "sher", same as us in the Subcontinent, and not "shiir" as in Tehrani Persian. We differentiate between a lion and milk. :)
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I thought about it but figured it's not common in spoken language. Mainly used as a part of names and in literature.
    Precisely for this reason, we could have the sentence ..

    singh jaNgal kaa raajaa hai. (I wonder if singh was ever used in this sense.)
     

    Wolverine9

    Senior Member
    American English
    Precisely for this reason, we could have the sentence ..

    singh jaNgal kaa raajaa hai. (I wonder if singh was ever used in this sense.)
    Yes, it can be used in this sense; however, I think it's generally written and pronounced as siNh when used in Hindi (singh in names).
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Yes, it can be used in this sense; however, I think it's generally written and pronounced as siNh when used in Hindi (singh in names).
    Yes, I should have pointed this out. Strangely enough my father never said "singh" for names. It was always "siNh" for him!
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    When used in Punjabi literature, is it usually siNh or singh?
    A very interesting question and I am not the right person to answer it purely because I've read very little Punjabi literature. Although I can read Gurmukhi, what I have read is in Shahmukhi, where I don't remember coming across the word in this form. However, if my memory serves me right, it was "shiiN" (lion). In everyday Punjabi, we use "sher".
     
    Seems to me like the lions are getting most of the attention here!:eek:...:) Please allow me to rectify that (and merrily traipse even further off into the weeds) by adding that Afghans (both Pashtu and Dari speakers) can apparently refer to a tiger as a palang:

    Shams e malang, shab e palang.
    In the daylight a holy man, in the night a tiger.

    Palang dar libasi malang.
    A tiger in the clothing of a holy man.

    Thanks to you all. Great site. Great participants.

    And now it's time for me to start working on my Dari pronunciation; I don't want to refer to one of Afghanistan's most famous valleys as Five Milks...
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Seems to me like the lions are getting most of the attention here!:eek:...:) Please allow me to rectify that (and merrily traipse even further off into the weeds) by adding that Afghans (both Pashtu and Dari speakers) can apparently refer to a tiger as a palang:

    Shams e malang, shab e palang.
    In the daylight a holy man, in the night a tiger.

    Palang dar libasi malang.
    A tiger in the clothing of a holy man.

    Thanks to you all. Great site. Great participants.

    And now it's time for me to start working on my Dari pronunciation; I don't want to refer to one of Afghanistan's most famous valleys as Five Milks...
    Are you sure. It seems "babr" is a tiger and "palang" is a leopard.
     

    Wolverine9

    Senior Member
    American English
    palang kaa palang. The bed of a leopard.

    In Urdu, is the correct pronunciation babr or babar? I noticed in Farsi/Dari it's babr.

    Platts includes leopard, panther, and tiger in its definition of palang; however, it is properly a leopard/panther.
     

    Wolverine9

    Senior Member
    American English
    Two more words for leopard/panther: chiitaa and tenduaa. I don't think either of these terms is confounded with a lion or tiger, though.
     

    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Are you sure. It seems "babr" is a tiger and "palang" is a leopard.
    "palang" in Persian (and in Urdu borrowing for the animal) indeed stands for tendwaa تيندوا तेंदुआ = leopard / panther.

    Use of palang for a leopard in Urdu is not common, unlike in Persian where it is standard.

    بزنجیر هفتاد شیر و پلنگ
    بدیبای چین اندرون بسته تن
    فردوسی


    ز شاهین و از باز و پرّان عقاب
    ز شیر و پلنگ و نهنگ اندر آب
    فردوسی
     
    Last edited:

    Faylasoof

    Senior Member
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Two more words for leopard/panther: chiitaa and tenduaa. I don't think either of these terms is confounded with a lion or tiger, though.
    Actually, many of us (Urduphones) do distinguish between a chiitaa (=cheetah) and a tendwaa (= leopard). But you are right! Neither would be used for a lion or a tiger.
     

    Wolverine9

    Senior Member
    American English
    Yes, chiitaa and tenduaa are different. I was looking at an older source that referred to a chiitaa as a hunting-leopard.
     
    Here's a partial report on Afghanistan's carnivores:

    http://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Habibi_1977.pdf

    It does indeed sound like palang properly refers to leopards or panthers, not tigers.

    So, OK, I think that I have this much straight...

    Sher/Dari/Lion.

    Babr/Dari/Tiger

    Palang/Dari/Leopard or Panther
    (Prang/Pashtu/Leopard or Panther)

    Palang Barfey/Dari/Snow Leopard
    (Waawrin Prang/Pashtu/Snow Leopard)

    Sher can refer to lions and tigers in general.

    Palang can refer to tigers, panthers and leopards in general.

    Thanks again to you all for sharing your knowlege. It's been a pleasure!
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    palang kaa palang. The bed of a leopard.
    Here's a partial report on Afghanistan's carnivores:

    http://snowleopardnetwork.org/bibliography/Habibi_1977.pdf

    It does indeed sound like palang properly refers to leopards or panthers, not tigers.

    So, OK, I think that I have this much straight...

    Sher/Dari/Lion.

    Babr/Dari/Tiger

    Palang/Dari/Leopard or Panther
    (Prang/Pashtu/Leopard or Panther)

    Palang Barfey/Dari/Snow Leopard
    (Waawrin Prang/Pashtu/Snow Leopard)

    Sher can refer to lions and tigers in general.

    Palang can refer to tigers, panthers and leopards in general.

    Thanks again to you all for sharing your knowlege. It's been a pleasure!
    It is a pleasure to see such a summary of the thread, it does not happen frequently here,

    Wolverine9, you are right as to Urdu, since this case of homonymy is to be explained by the means of etymology, palaNg, bed is something different from palang, tiger. Not applicable to Persian.
     

    Sheikh_14

    Senior Member
    English- United Kingdom, Urdu, Punjabi
    Palang so far as Urdu is concerned is merely used for a panther. I would assume the same is the case for both Pashto and Dari since the British named one of their operations in Qandahar as panjah e palang and have translated it as the Panther's claw/s. Similarly Leopard is explicitly tendwaa/tendu'aa. Would highly appreciate it if someone could tell me how the word for leopard above is meant to be pronounced. Lastly one thing I do not get is that whilst babar alone means a tiger why does a babar-Sher equate to a lion? Similarly in that case would babarii be leonine or tigerish? Considering Tigers and not Lions are native to the region at least in greater numbers there ought to be a clear distinction between the two. As far as I am aware like Persian its babar and via Indic roots baagh, I quite like nimr too since a tiger could quite easily be called a nimrnii and a cub nimr-chah. Platts includes it as an entry but messes up on its actual meaning. Perhaps there has been an evolution over time.
     

    rituparnahoymoy

    Senior Member
    Assamese -India
    Palang so far as Urdu is concerned is merely used for a panther. I would assume the same is the case for both Pashto and Dari since the British named one of their operations in Qandahar as panjah e palang and have translated it as the Panther's claw/s. Similarly Leopard is explicitly tendwaa/tendu'aa. Would highly appreciate it if someone could tell me how the word for leopard above is meant to be pronounced. Lastly one thing I do not get is that whilst babar alone means a tiger why does a babar-Sher equate to a lion? Similarly in that case would babarii be leonine or tigerish? Considering Tigers and not Lions are native to the region at least in greater numbers there ought to be a clear distinction between the two. As far as I am aware like Persian its babar and via Indic roots baagh, I quite like nimr too since a tiger could quite easily be called a nimrnii and a cub nimr-chah. Platts includes it as an entry but messes up on its actual meaning. Perhaps there has been an evolution over time.
    Actually, Singh is for Lion. And Bagh is for tiger.

    Sher was used by the middle eastern people to describe lion and Tiger. and Perhaps it became too confusing as In India both lions and tigers are found even cheetah( before they were killed to extinction) and leopard. They added Babbar Sher which means Sher with the mane.

    In my opinion.
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    Sher was used by the middle eastern people to describe lion and Tiger. and Perhaps it became too confusing as In...
    Since Iran is firmly in the Middle East, I would like to clarify that in Persian we have shir/شیر for lion, babr/ببر for tiger, palang/پلنگ for leopard and yuzpalang/یوزپلنگ for cheetah, the two former cats became extinct in the early to middle of last century.
     

    rituparnahoymoy

    Senior Member
    Assamese -India
    Since Iran is firmly in the Middle East, I would like to clarify that in Persian we have shir/شیر for lion, babr/ببر for tiger, palang/پلنگ for leopard and yuzpalang/یوزپلنگ for cheetah, the two former cats became extinct in the early to middle of last century.
    You guys still have Cheetah in your area? We no longer have those fantastic animals.

    So this is very confusing.

    Babbar here means Lion. And sher can either mean a Lion or a Tiger.

    That is why I used sanskrit terms to describe these two.

    Singh= Lion, Baagh= Tiger.
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    You guys still have Cheetah in your area?
    Yes and they are on the critically endangered list, for now we have 80-90 left in the wild. Look up ‘Asiatic cheetah‘ on Wikipedia.

    As a matter of interest, who did you specifically mean by ‘middle eastern people’ in post #34?
     

    rituparnahoymoy

    Senior Member
    Assamese -India
    Yes and they are on the critically endangered list, for now we have 80-90 left in the wild. Look up ‘Asiatic cheetah‘ on Wikipedia.

    As a matter of interest, who did you specifically mean by ‘middle eastern people’ in post #34?

    Everyone who lives there. I don't think when we call someone middle eastern we refer to Iranians. Here in India we call Iranians as persians.

    In ancient time people who lived in the west and middle eastern called people living the Indian sub-continent as Hindus.

    Hindus= Sindhu and in English "Indus". And from Indus river " the Inhabitants of Indus valley". Now known as "India".
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Technically, babar/baagh is supposed to mean tiger, while sher is supposed to be lion; however, the two animals often get confounded in Indic languages and dictionaries list either or both meanings.
    I seriously doubt there is any confusion outside North-Western India and Pakistan.
     
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