Hindi-Urdu: subah صبح सुबह pronunciation

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HenchardTheGreat

New Member
Hindi, English, Punjabi - India
I have heard many pronunciations of the word सुबह, such as su - ba - ha, su - b - ha, su - be - he, su - bai, su - baa, and even su - bhaa. Which of these is the correct pronunciaton in Standard Hindi and Standard Urdu?
 
  • HZKhan

    Senior Member
    Persian (Cultural Language)
    It's sub'h in standard Urdu, and that is how it is used in Urdu poetry, although in colloquial speech 'subah' is a more common variant.
     

    tonyspeed

    Senior Member
    English & Creole - Jamaica
    I have heard many pronunciations of the word सुबह, such as su - ba - ha, su - b - ha, su - be - he, su - bai, su - baa, and even su - bhaa. Which of these is the correct pronunciaton in Standard Hindi and Standard Urdu?

    What is standard Hindi? If you go by the reading Nazis that claim absolute phonetic reading you would say "subaha". In real life people either say subaa or subɛ (where ɛ is the short-e sound for which there is no commonly used symbol in Hindi, but it does exist ऎ)

    I usually leave out the h in this because I believe h is a carry-over from Urdu spelling and not intended to represent an h-sound. This is the pronunciation suggested by "Colloquial Hindi" - Bhatia

    Although I feel like I have heard subhaa and subaah before.

    See: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2574400&highlight=subah
     
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    tarkshya

    Senior Member
    Marwari
    It's sub'h in standard Urdu, and that is how it is used in Urdu poetry, although in colloquial speech 'subah' is a more common variant.
    sub'h is just a literal transliteration. Most likely the pronunciation goes like sub'ha. The a after h is a short a vowel, i.e. the schwa.

    The reason is that if you don't pronounce a vowel between b and h, then you will have to pronounce one after h. You can't avoid that.

    Hindi speakers typically mispronounce the word as subah. Meaning they drop the schwa habitually after h, but put it between b and h.
     
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    gagun

    Senior Member
    Telugu-TS, Deccani-TS
    in urdu subha is different from subaah/sabaah/subah/sabah/sahar/saher/sabEraa/savEraa(morning).
    Thank you
     
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    HZKhan

    Senior Member
    Persian (Cultural Language)
    sub'h is just a literal transliteration. Most likely the pronunciation goes like sub'ha.
    No, that is not true. The word is indeed a monosyllabic word in Standard Urdu and that is how it is treated in Urdu poetic tradition, whose meter is measured by long and short syllables.

    Ghalib says:
    zindagaanii nahiiN besh az nafas e chand asad
    ghaflat-aaraamii e yaaraaN pe haiN xandaaN gul o sub'h
    (mirzaa ghaalib)

    Now, if someone mispronounce the word as subah or sub'ha, then the meter will certainly be disturbed.
     
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    tarkshya

    Senior Member
    Marwari
    Search you tube with this search text "subah na aayi shaam na aayi "

    Rafi clearly sings it with "sub-ha". Now I understand it is a song and demands of meter can modify the pronunciation, still I find it difficult to pronounce it in monosyllabic fashion (sub'h).
     

    mundiya

    Senior Member
    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    ^ PKhan saahib already indicated that the monosyllabic pronunciation is similar to "subh", by which I believe he means सुभ.

    Also, listen to the famous song "dam maro dam", where Zeenat Aman's character sings the line "subh shaam" if my memory is right.
     
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    amiramir

    Senior Member
    English-USA
    Hello,

    For years I have been plagued with doubts about the pronunciation of this word. For me, the canonical pronunciation is subaa(h) or sub-haa, I can't make up my mind.

    But very often I hear sub-he or sube. I've tried to find some sort of logic for when the pronunciation changes to sube/sub-he -- but I haven't come up with anything consistent.

    Any guidance?

    Many thanks.
     

    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    Relevant thread: Pronunciation of सुबह in Hindi/Urdu
    • As mentioned in the thread, the Urdu (and Arabic) pronunciation of صبح is actually monosyllabic - SubH, which can be heard in poetry, lyrics, etc. as well as the speech of some speakers. Those who are not aware of the correct pronunciation/spelling or are unable to pronounce it in a monosyllabic manner might pronounce it as SubHa or SubaH. Please note, the plural would be SubHeN.
    HZKhan said:
    It's sub'h in standard Urdu, and that is how it is used in Urdu poetry, although in colloquial speech 'subah' is a more common variant.
    HZKhan said:
    No, that is not true. The word is indeed a monosyllabic word in Standard Urdu and that is how it is treated in Urdu poetic tradition, whose meter is measured by long and short syllables.Ghalib says:
    zindagaanii nahiiN besh az nafas e chand asad
    ghaflat-aaraamii e yaaraaN pe haiN xandaaN gul o sub'h
    (mirzaa ghaalib)

    Now, if someone mispronounce the word as subah or sub'ha, then the meter will certainly be disturbed.
    HZKhan said:
    Colloquially, the most common pronunciation in Urdu is subah.
     
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    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    You're welcome.
    Alfaaz said:
    Those who are not aware of the correct pronunciation/spelling ... Please note, the plural would be SubHeN.
    The reason for mentioning the point above was the discussion in Urdu: inflection of nouns ending in he or ain? and similar threads:
    Faylasoof said:
    The other rules have already been given but for words with an 3ayn ع ending, we do this:

    sham3 شمع (s); sham3e.n شمعیں (pl) = candle

    شمع روشن كرو
    شمع كو روشن كرو
    Light the candle!

    شمعیں روشن كرو
    شمعوں كو روشن كرو
    Light the candles!

    For the singular, there is no change with the post position, but the plural of the noun changes as above to give an 3o.n عوں ending!
    Birdcall said:
    In Hindi I have always heard the plural of candle (shamaa in Hindi)to be shamaae.N, since most Hindi speakers (including myself until just now) don't know that it's an Arabic word that ends in 'ain.
    Qureshpor said:
    It has just dawned on me why you have asked about the inflection of شمع. I think your question possibly arises from the common pronunciation of the word and the Devanagri way of writing it, शमा. Naturally one would then assume an -e inflection just like "laRkaa". But, the correct pronunciation of this word is "sham'" where the final consonant 'ain does not have any vowel after it. So one would say..

    sham' kii raushanii

    sham'oN kii raushanii

    sham'eN jal rahii haiN
     

    BP.

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    Alfaaz has a great, detailed response. Thank you.

    This is similar to people inserting a extra vowel for ease if pronunciation. Example - I get confused looks if I say wajh, i.e. the correct way, instead of wajah.
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Relevant thread: Pronunciation of सुबह in Hindi/Urdu
    • As mentioned in the thread, the Urdu (and Arabic) pronunciation of صبح is actually monosyllabic - SubH, which can be heard in poetry, lyrics, etc. as well as the speech of some speakers. Those who are not aware of the correct pronunciation/spelling or are unable to pronounce it in a monosyllabic manner might pronounce it as SubHa or SubaH. Please note, the plural would be SubHeN.
    I don't think the awareness or ability matters here: it's rather the ease of pronouncing "subah" or "subeh". (One also hears "sub-he" and "sub-ha".)

    The poet Habib Jalib in his great Urdu poem "Aise dastoor ko maiN nahiiN maantaa" pronounces "subeh-e-benoor" repeatedly, even though he could easily have pronounced "subh-e-benoor".

    Meanwhile, Birdcall's quoted comment is strange: the plural of "shamaa" I have heard in Hindi is always "shameN". "shamaaeN" would be strange, as it wouldn't follow any Hindi grammatical rules!
     

    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    I don't think the awareness or ability matters here: it's rather the ease of pronouncing "subah" or "subeh". (One also hears "sub-he" and "sub-ha".)

    The poet Habib Jalib in his great Urdu poem "Aise dastoor ko maiN nahiiN maantaa" pronounces "subeh-e-benoor" repeatedly, even though he could easily have pronounced "subh-e-benoor".

    Meanwhile, Birdcall's quoted comment is strange: the plural of "shamaa" I have heard in Hindi is always "shameN". "shamaaeN" would be strange, as it wouldn't follow any Hindi grammatical rules!
    It seems that “shamaa” is mostly used as a feminine noun in Hindi, hence the plural “shamaaeN”.
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    I've tried to find some sort of logic for when the pronunciation changes to sube/sub-he -- but I haven't come up with anything consistent.
    There might not be a really consistent rule since there's so much variation in how this word is pronounced. That being said, I think my family's pronunciation typically alternates between [sʊbheː] and [sʊbhɑː]. When I try to reflect on situations when I might expect to hear one pronunciation versus the other, I'm tempted to suggest that maybe there are two (semantically closely related, and orthographically identical) words in the lexicon: a singular feminine noun with phonemic representation /sʊbhɑː/ meaning "morning," and an adverb with phonemic representation /sʊbheː/ meaning "in the morning."

    For example, in the following situations, I sort of expect that the word that I've transcribed below as subah would probably be pronounced [sʊbheː].
    (1) maiN subah kaufii piitaa huuN.​
    (2) usne aaj subah kaufii pii.​
    (3) aap kal subah kitne baje uThoge?​
    ...​

    That kind of adverbial usage with the meaning "in the morning" is probably the most common usage (?). But, in sentences where subah is used in a position where a noun might be expected, I sort of expect that I'd hear it pronounced [sʊbhɑː]. This includes situations where we have a bare oblique without a postposition if there's a prenominal modifier preceding the word (a genitive phrase, an adjective, etc) --- distributionally, that kind position is forced to be occupied by a noun and not an adverb. For example:

    (4) itnii khuubsuurat subah maiNne kabhii nahiiN dekhii.​
    (5) maiN kal kii subah aaTh baje uThuungaa.​
    ...​
    In (4), the word is clearly just a noun in the direct case. In (5), it's a noun in the oblique case, without a postposition --- but it's not an adverb, since an adverb can't be preceded by the prenominal modifier kal kii. These are both situations where [sʊbhɑː] sounds slightly better to me than [sʊbheː].

    Anyway, just a thought :) I'm sure this analysis won't hold for all Hindi-Urdu speakers since there's so much variation in pronunciation. In fact, I would also not be that surprised if even speakers who often follow the division I've described above don't consistently follow it!
     
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    amiramir

    Senior Member
    English-USA
    Thanks, @aevynn .

    Yes, that was the dichotomy I was going for. But the only consistently followed one was your sentence 4. I have never ever heard sub-he for that. However with the others, I kept hearing either option. But to your point, maybe mostly it follows your above logic, even if some people don't adhere to it all the time.

    Many thanks again for your extensive thoughts.
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I can easily use both "subah" and "subhe" for all those sentences (1)-(5) in post 21 depending on my mood, without even being conscious of it. So I don't think there is any subconscious discrimination going on.
     

    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    Also, listen to the famous song "dam maro dam", where Zeenat Aman's character sings the line "subh shaam" if my memory is right.
    The pronunciation used in the song is [sʊ.bəʱ].

    There might not be a really consistent rule since there's so much variation in how this word is pronounced. That being said, I think my family's pronunciation typically alternates between [sʊbheː] and [sʊbhɑː].
    In colloquial usage I’ve mostly heard [sʊ.bʱɑː], [sʊ.bəʱ], and [sʊ.bɑː], though [sʊ.bʱeː] and [sʊ.beː] are also used. I haven’t heard the monosyllabic [sʊbʱ] as of yet.
     
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    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    The poet Habib Jalib in his great Urdu poem "Aise dastoor ko maiN nahiiN maantaa" pronounces "subeh-e-benoor" repeatedly, even though he could easily have pronounced "subh-e-benoor".
    I've checked a recording of Habib Jalib reciting the poem – which is an excellent reference – but I'm afraid I must say it's to the contrary!
    The pronunciation used in the song is [sʊ.bəʱ].
    In colloquial usage I’ve mostly heard [sʊ.bʱɑː], [sʊ.bəʱ], and [sʊ.bɑː], though [sʊ.bʱeː] and [sʊ.beː] are also used. I haven’t heard the monosyllabic [sʊbʱ] as of yet.
    Same here, never heard [sʊbʱ]. For the rest, I'm not going to contradict your experience, but I assume a misconception lies at the root of the matter which's been affecting the discussion to a certain extent (Re. Habib Jalib's pronunciation, too), either about the (phonetic) notation or due to the influence of the Hindi background, because I don't think there is any aspirated/(breathy) consonant "bh" of the Indic system in SubH, to the contrary, the consonants are supposed to come in a sequence, but separately, as Habib Jalib does – (this is my impression).
    pronunciation of صبح is actually monosyllabic - SubH,
    Let me also take the opportunity here to mention that it is not a correct statement about SubH being a monosyllabic word, at least as far as its treatment in Urdu poetry is concerned, since it's divided into sub+H, resulting in 1½ syllable.
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Let me also take the opportunity here to mention that it is not a correct statement about SubH being a monosyllabic word, at least as far as its treatment in Urdu poetry is concerned, since it's divided into sub+H, resulting in 1½ syllable.
    I agree with you, @marrish jii and also, it's indeed "sub + H" one hears in Habib Jalib's poem. I had got lost in transliterations.
     

    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    marrish said:
    I've checked a recording of Habib Jalib reciting the poem – which is an excellent reference – but I'm afraid I must say it's to the contrary!
    Thanks for confirming this!
    marrish said:
    Let me also take the opportunity here to mention that it is not a correct statement about SubH being a monosyllabic word, at least as far as its treatment in Urdu poetry is concerned, since it's divided into sub+H, resulting in 1½ syllable.
    Thanks for this correction! The reasons for mentioning the point above were to clarify that:
    • In an izaafat, the pronunciation would Sub-He-_________ and not Suba-He-___________.
    • The plural forms are SubHeN and SubHoN, not SubaHeN, SubHa'eN, Subaa'eN, Subaa'oN.
      • The example of sham3 was quoted, and jagaa'eN/jagaa'oN for jagheN/jaghoN has also been discussed in the past.
     
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