Hindi: Rolled R's

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Birdcall, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Birdcall Senior Member

    English - American
    Is there any rule as to when ra is a tap or when it's rolled (as in the single and double r in Spanish, respectively)? I tend to roll the ra when there are two together, as in har-roz or kharraaTaa. But sometimes it comes out rolled even in other cases, but Hindi isn't my native language (Tamil/English are). Does the rolling of ra not affect meaning as it does in Spanish (pero vs perro, caro vs carro, etc)? In Tamil and I think in Marathi (ra with bindu) there are separate characters for single and double ra, but not in Hindi.
  2. Birdcall Senior Member

    English - American
    Anyone know the answer to this?
  3. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    In Hindi / Urdu the 'ra' is a single and elongated tap.... For this reason it makes it somehow close to a 'la' and distinctively different from Spanish, Italian or Arabic 'ra'.

    Listen carefully to Hindi songs to get the gist of it.... For instance jadugar o jadugar, where ar is almost pronounced as al.. or if the R is not completely rolled. You keep the tongue stuck behind the teeth and instead of releasing the air between the tongue and the teeth you just don't let it pass. (actually some air do pass but the tongue doesn't vibrate much as compared to other languages mostly the above ones)

    there is no 'rr' pronounciation in Urdu / Hindi the only difference is between 'ra' and (retroflex) 'Ra'

    THis pronounciation is very specific and gives away foreigners (including South Indians) in no time.
  4. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Cilqui, can you explain what you mean by this? Certainly the Urdu ra is no different from from the Arabic ra as far as we are concerned! In Hindi too the <r> sound is distinct.

    Actually, I can't quite recall any common Hindi-Urdu words at present where the <r> would be noticeably different. We do pronounce it distinctly, e.g. it is par (on / upon or wing); sar / sir (head). Same for xaraab (bad /off etc.); xaarish / xaraash (itching / itch) and xarraaTaa خَرّاٹا ख़र्राटा (खर्राटा) - Birdcall's example. In the latter of course the <r> sound is highly accentuated as it is doubled.

    I've always heard and pronounced jaaduugar as so, i.e. with an ar and never an al. The latter is heard only with a speech defect in adults we call tutlaanaa

    Children inevitably have trouble distinguishing between <re ر > and <laam ل > and other sounds (e.g. as also between <re ر > and <Re ڑ >; <te ت > and < Te ٹ > etc.)

  5. Birdcall Senior Member

    English - American
    I do hear ra pronounced as la in songs, but I assumed that was only on notes that were held out so the ra doesn't get unnecessarily rolled. For example, if jaaduugar were held out, the r at the end would naturally be roller, so it's pronounced like an l instead.

    Faylasoof, when you say the ra is doubled, like in kharraaTaa, what does this doubled ra sound like? I was assume a geminated tap would sound like a trill. I have often heard "har roz" and "har raat" pronounced with a trill because of the two ra's in contact. Wikipedia says the Hindi/Urdu double ra is trilled.

    ( Though in some accents, especially in Panjabi, single r's are sometimes rolled, like in trrrrrak (truck). )
  6. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Is this really so and not just a matter of acoustics? You can make a light <ra> sound to avoid it rolling, if there is a need, but without turning it into an <la>. I stress this because changing <ar> to <al> in the example we are discussing is what we typically call tutlaanaa तुत्लाना تُتْلانا!

    Precisely, Birdcall! We do trill the double <r>, i.e. a rapid vibration of the tongue. Applies to all your examples. Another good one is the rarely used onomatopoetic word <arraaTaa ارّاٹا अर्राटा>.

    We always trill the stressed <r>, i.e. one with a tashdiid = shaddah = stress = doubled, as in both these onomatopoetic and rhyming word: xarraaTaa and arraaTaa.

    تھا میدانِ کارزار میں طَبل و دَف کا ارّاٹا
    thhaa maydaan e kaar zaar* mei.n Tabal** o daf^ kaa arraTaa

    These <rr>s should be trilled!

    [*maydaan e kaar zaar = battlefield; ** Tabal = drum; ^ daf دَف= Daflii डफ्ली]
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2010
  7. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I was taught to trill the R when there is a gemination with a tashdeed. And Punjabi certainly does have that phoneme, but I can't yet list where and when it's used.
  8. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Yes PG, as I too stress this above.

    But even in Bridcall's examples (har rooz; har raat) you can hear the trill especially when some people (we) speak fast. The effect is the same as having a tashdiid on a single <r>.
  9. Birdcall Senior Member

    English - American
    I don't think it's possible to hold out a ra without holding it, since it's just a tap. Holding out a tap would cause more vibrations, causing a trill. The only alternatives would be to produce a trill or to change the sound to a la.

    In Spanish songs (not including the dialects in which final r is pronounced as l anyway) an r held out in songs is trilled, even if it wouldn't be in the spoken language, but for some reason this is avoided in Hindi songs (baazigar, o baazigal)

    Faylasoof, so even though in Hindi I head the r trilled in kharraaTaa, should it be trilled in the name Musharraf? In Hindi I never hear this r trilled, even though the stress is properly places on the "sharr," but maybe that's b/c this isn't an Indic word.

    Also, Faylasoof, is this word "arraaTaa" the same as in this context:
    "Vo shor kya hai?"
    "'jackhammers' din bhar arraa rahe hain is muhalle me.n."
    As in the verb arraanaa (I'm guessing)?
  10. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I must say we never do this! Now I'm talking about Urdu ghazals and other kinds of poetry that are sung / recited to a tune and there the <r> is held without a sharp trill - which is possible. There is trill and trill!. I mean an <r> held doesn't have to be trilled strongly. There will be a level of trill but it can be very light. No need to turn it into <L>. I'm just recalling the famous film song baazigar and there too I remember hearing an <r>.

    In a word yes! The letter <re> in Musharraf مُشَرَّف (the name comes from the Arabic verb sharrafa شَرَّفَ) has a tashdiid (the small w like symbol shown above) meaning it is stressed and so trilled. We pronounce a tashdiid on the letter <re> like so, just as Punjabigator confirms in his post.
  11. Birdcall Senior Member

    English - American
    Faylasoof, there's no way you can listen carefully to the song Baazigar and tell me that the chorus doesn't sound like
    "baaziigar o baaziigal
    tuu hai baRaa jaaduugal"
    At the very least the ra changes to something like the English r, which can be held because it's an approximant and not a stop/tap.

    I don't see how it's physically possible to told out a tap. Stops (such as ta and da) also can't be held out, so this is delt with my elongating the vowel before the stop or pronouncing a short vowel after it, as in "Ae mohabbat zindabad" from Mughal-e-Aazam
    "muhabbat(a) shahiid hotii hai"
    There is a clear vowel after muhabbat
  12. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I guess some of us are just different! But I repeat, in many Urdu ghazals and Hindi-Urdu songs not just me but others I'm talking too are also saying any change of an <ar> to <al> here would be, as I mentioned earlier, called tutlaanaa!

    Well, the letter <re ر = र> is, I guess you already know, very different from <Re ڑ = ड़ >. The former is like the English <r>. The latter being a hard sound would be impossible to hold but the former (without a sharp trill) is possible.

    <re ر = र> when held at the end of a line is lightened <r> and sounds as <rrrrr>. There is no sharp trill. Only a very light <rrrrr> sound. This is not a tap.
    I agree <Re ڑ = ड़ > on the other hand would be impossible!

    This I do not dispute!
  13. Birdcall Senior Member

    English - American
    But the fact that it is a rrrr sound with multiple taps, regardless of how light the sound is, still makes it a trill and technically a different sound. Pronunciation is much more exact in Ghazals, I'm sure, than in Bollywood songs. Even singers like Udit Narayan who carefully usually pronounces the non-Indic sounds qa gha and kha tends to pronounce his ra's as la's sometimes. "halllll (har) hasiin chehre se ab yeh dil Daregaa" (aisa zakhm diya hai, from akele hum akele tum)

    An another note, wikipedia says that in some Dravidian languages a retroflex trill (as in the R in baRaa, but trilled) has been reported. I can't even imagine what that would sound like!
  14. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Well, that is one way of seeing it but this is still closer to <re ر = र> than changing the <re ر = र> to an <L>! That does make a wholly new sound! This is why we stick to <rrrr> at the end of the line.

    This we would definitely call tutlaanaa! We would say / sing it as: harrrr Hasiin
    chehre se ab ......

    Wow! Now this sounds impossible!
  15. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Does Tamil do anything like this?

    You know, I feel like lots of terminal R sounds almost are halfway between a trill and a retroflex. This is what makes the Hindi/Urdu R harder than the retroflex, for me at least.
  16. Birdcall Senior Member

    English - American
    I don't listen to Tamil music, but in the variety of Tamil I speak, dental and retroflex l are distinct from each other and from alveolar r tapped, alveolar r trilled, and the retroflex sound written in English as zh which sounds something like the English r. Flapped retroflex r as in baRaa doesn't exist in Tamil, only the retroflex stop D. In common (non-Brahman) Tamil, the zh sound is usually replaced by the retroflex L (tamiL instead of the correct tamizh) and trilled r is often replaced with tapped single r (r and rr are separate characters), but I've never heard an r replaced with an l.
  17. lcfatima Senior Member

    In a teapot
    English USA
    Cilqui is your information from some phonological study on Hindi and Urdu /r/ articulation?

    My observation: /r/ is exactly as in Spanish. As Faylasoof mentioned, there are Arabic origin words with a tashdeed on the /r/ requiring a doubling, and it does sound like spanish /rr/ Musharraf, sharr (evil), Durriya (female name sparkles?), Khurram (male name don't know meaning), musarrat (joy,happiness, also a name) and on and on the /rr/ is definately rolled in common speech.

    You know, I noticed some people not trilling and r in some words like karna and mirch, and also in words ending in single r, like jaadugar. I didn't hear and /l/ there but that may just be because of my non-native perception. Rather, it sounds like a 'standard' English /r/. I thought for words like mirch it was because it is hard to trill the /r/ before the following consonants, which is why in some registers people insert another vowel in words with that type of phonemic patter (marad, mirich, etc.)

    I wonder if anyone else has noticed this phenomenon among urban elite youth in Pakistan: They sometimes make this Americanized English affected accent and don't trill final /r/.

    I have also noticed that with some non-native accents in Hindi/Urdu there is excessive /rr/ rolling, like South Indian accent and a kind of Punjabi accent. Like they would say computer as /kampootarrr/.
  18. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    Hindi / Urdu /r/ is a tapped / flapped consonant rather than a trilled one. (the tongue undergoes a very light vibration and in some specific environments like in the above mentioned baazigar / jaadugar, none at all)...

    Comparing it with the Arabic /r/ you'll see that the doubled /r/ of kharraTa (a trill) will be pronounced more or less like the single Arabic /r/ and there is nothing equivalent to the Arabic geminate /r/ in Urdu. Here the Arabic letter Râ is defined as a voiced dental trill, while here the Urdu Ra is classified as a tap/ flap. About the difference between a trill and a flap / tap, look over here.

    The fact that Urdu uses flaps / taps is the reason why it is often changed into a /l/ in dialects. (Look at Braj Bhasha or Awadhi for instance, hundreds of examples), or even in Pakistan (where the /r/ is a bit stronger or more trilled than in, let's say, Uttar Pradesh) , where we have the example of kaaro / kaarii (= kaala / kaali) in the Sindhi speaking area.

    As mentioned above, this pronounciation r > l becomes more common if you go East in the Indo-Aryan languages speaking area but this is just a rough idea, they are exceptions to this (it would be interesting to look at Bengali /r/'s here)

    Interestingly enough we observe more or less the same phenomenon in an Eastern language like Japanese but with much more intensity: the Japanese /r/ never becomes a trilled consonant and is often interpreted as /l/.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2010
  19. Birdcall Senior Member

    English - American
    If the Arabic ra is already trilled, is the geminate "extra" trilled?

    I still maintain that the geminate Hindi/Urdu r is trilled. Here is a quote from Wikipedia's article on Hindi-Urdu Phonology:

    "/ɾ/ can surface as a trill [r], and geminate /ɾː/ is always a trill, e.g. [zəɾaː] (ज़रा — زرا 'little') versus well-trilled [zəraː] (ज़र्रा — ذرّہ 'dust').[11]"
  20. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Hmmm... this goes back to my earlier point about us sticking to the <r> sound even at the terminal position when held, e.g. baazigar / jaadugar and never baazigal / jaadugal. We call such people totlaa توتلا(s), totle توتلے(pl), i.e. those who perform the <r> to <l> shift (and some other unacceptable shifts)!

    In our Urdu we trill to varying degrees of course, depending on the word, but we always seem to be trilling! For example, in words mentioned by Fatima (karnaa, mirch) we trill! Softer than in the geminate <r> - what we call tashdiid, as in Musharraf, Khurram (means cheerful / pleasant, in Farsi) etc.

    This where we differ! For us baazigar etc. is always an <r>.

    Here again we differ as we vary the trilling between single <r> (xaraab, xaraash, karnaa etc.) and geminate <r> (arraaTaa, Sarraaf صَرّاف etc.). This might well be due to the influence of Arabic on our pronunciation! In fact, as I recall this is not just our characteristic but talking to the older generation Lakhanvis I noticed that they too do this.

    I don't think this is true of the original Luckhnow Urdu pronunciation though.

    I agree, Japanese and those from other far eastern countries have a real problem with <r>. Unless trianed to do so they always make it into an <l>.

    Fatima, as you probably know by now, we do trill these! Sounds like an <r> always.

    Hmm... which might be the reason why as children we were drilled to pronounce mirch and mard properly - without the intervening <a>!

    We do refrain from this!
  21. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member


    Birdcall, every single point you mention above is actually what I meant to say in my post.

    Urdu normal /r/ = flap/tap (but in some environments, like between two vowels, it is a very slight trill, as in mentioned by Faylas in Kharaab, etc... ; on the other hand, before consonants it is a flap, sometimes a very weak one as in karnaa, mirch... Here in Lahore, the popular pronounciation of the English word PaarTii (= party) is Paaltii.... Or you may ask a rickshe wala to take you to libelTii (=Liberty) Market.). After consonants, it is almost always a trill, especially after a retroflex, as in Tren (=train), Dra'ivar (=driver), Traalii (=trolley) these are rare occurences which appear in the prononciation of foreign words and are sometimes changed by adding a short vowel in the middle.

    Urdu geminate /rr/ = trill

    Arabic normal /r/ = trill

    Arabic geminate /rr/ elongated trill.

    And Faylasoof, yes, your language may have been influenced by Arabic, but not necessarily... I think that pronouncing the /r/ in Urdu as a trilled consonant is typical of the Urdu speaking elite as opposed to the popular pronounciation of /r/ as a flap. (I am wondering it seems I have read ages ago something about this, maybe in darya-e lataafat or some other text....???)
  22. Koozagar Senior Member

    I think this is a great discussion and everyone has contributed very knowledgeably on the matter. I just wish to add that I got really concerned when I read in Birdcall's post above that Udit pronounces 'har' as 'halll' in the Akele hum Akele tum song. So I listened to it very carefully and did not find any 'l' sounds in there. A 'totlaa' singer in Bollywood would be pretty interesting :) I believe in singing and recitation of poetry, it is a mark of sophistication to keep the trill controlled. Listen to Mehdi Hassan for a masterful command over trill. You will find a wide variation in resonance when he pronounces his 'rs' depending on the note, and the expression of the line.
  23. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica

    I would also like to add that in fast speech a word ending in r followed by a word beginning with r can also be trilled.

    example: kar raha hai -> karraha hai
  24. BP. Senior Member

    ^Did you get that from a book? It was one of the better kept secrets! because you don't find it [usually] among people who speak Urdu as a studied-at-school-only language. From my experience of hearing this idgham, since I don't do this myself, the h gets murdered too and you end up with karraaee to mean kar rahaa haee.
  25. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو

    I have n't read the rest of the thread (yet), so please forgive me if my comment here is out of place. Yesterday whilst searching for the retroflex L, I was watching on Youtube "Morning with Farah" where the guest was Shazia Manzoor. The host said, or I thought she said..

    aap aa jaa'iyo!

    I immediately got that part of my brain that deals with grammar matters
    into over drive to see if I could work out the structure of this sentence. I was surprised that my old grey cells came with an immediate "re-alignment" of the sentence. She had actually said..

    aap aaj aa'ii ho!! It's not just the murder of "h", but the language containing the h!!!
  26. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica

    No, they won't teach you that in a book. I just heard it and picked it up.

    I myself am a firm believer in the murder of the 'H', maybe unfortunately, since it makes conversation much more fluid. Maybe I am biased because we murder h's in my mother tongue as well.
  27. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    May I ask what your mother tonge is and why the consonat "h" is being discriminated against?:) Are there any other consonants which could be removed to enhance the fluidity further?
  28. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Guilty as charged! It was tough to unlearn this.
  29. BP. Senior Member

    All consonants:)
  30. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    "Har roz" are two different words, so there's no rolling involved: there's a very small pause in between. And a rolled "r", like that in "kharrata", is of course written as well: खर्राटा is the way the word is written!
  31. BP. Senior Member

    ^Philosophically should we call the rr in kharraaTaa a rolled r or two rs pronounced in quick succession or one r that has become two (I think this is how we see it in Urdu i.e. tashdiid-accentuation)?

    It is definitely not a rolled rolled r like in Español or Western Arabic dialects (or languages masquerading as Arabic if you wish).
  32. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    I do pronounce it like the rolled rolled "r" in Spanish!
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  33. rahulbemba

    rahulbemba Senior Member

    I am not sure if the question was very clear to me, but from what I make out I would say that "har roj" and "kharrataa" are very differently pronounced. खर्राटा has a recurring rrrr sound, which is different than when we say हर रोज or हर ओर...

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