Hindi/Urdu: syllable-final "r"

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by souminwé, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    This is more of a socio-linguistic question.

    In many songs I hear r at the end of words pronounced somewhere between the Hindustani flap and the English approximant. This is also the way I talk sometimes, but I always thought it was just the English influence on my part. However, as suggested by this thread http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1720468&highlight=trill , and by the many Bollywood songs I hear, it seems to be an acceptable pronunciation.

    I have a few questions:

    1) Do people actually speak this way? I've heard a decent number of people on TV who just say a "normal" flap in words like karna (granted, the vast majority were either Rakhi Sawant or uneducated)

    2) Do you talk like this?

    Some songs you might want to listen to (with appropriate lines) if you're not sure what I mean:

    Aap ki nazaroM ne samjha: banda parvar shukriya
    Dil jalta hai to jalne de: parda nashiiM; bedaad kar

  2. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    I think we need to make a distinction between singing and speech because in the Hindi/Urdu language there is a BIG difference because of tradition.
    Yes, the 'R' sound is usually pronounced somewhat like an English R in songs but ONLY at the end of a line (sentence) when the last word is extended. So rather than do a Spanish trill, Hindi singers prefer to remove
    the flap all-together and extend the sound by pronouncing it like an English r. This is a tradition that is coming from who knows where.

    Secondly, we cannot take this fact and say that it is appropriate to pronounce the R sound like this in regular speech. If that's the case then we can also start
    adding back in the inherent randomly. Rather than saying din, I can now say dina in regular speech or rather than saying kushbuu, I can now say kushabuu.
    I think we would all agree that is wrong. Similarly I would argue that pronouncing the R as an english r in normal speech is also wrong.

    Neither have I heard any one who was born and raised speaking Hindi with no outside influence speak this way.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011
  3. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I have given considerable thought to this topic and have read the linked thread with some considerable interest. I have even tried to find the songs on Youtube and have listened to them. I had been pondering over this matter and then Tony SaaHib replied. I believe he is quite right in stating that singing and speaking are two different things altogether and pronunciation is bound to differ between them.

    I do believe that in both banda parvar and bedaad nah kar, the final r is being articulated quite correctly. The reason we notice a slight variation in the pronunciation is because (I think) the final r in these circumstances is being held a wee bit longer than normal. This gives us the impression that this r is being pronounced just like the r in the English word "blur".

    Try listing to "mere maHbuub tujhe merii muHabbat kii qasam" in both Rafi and Lata's voices. You will no doubt notice that each singer pronounces "nar
    gisii differently. Rafi appears to pronounce it in the English approximant manner whilst Lata's is a flap. At least this is how I have perceived the two. In others, like "yih reshmii zulfeN, yih sharbatii aaNkheN", Rafi pronounces the r as a flap! Sames goes with "vuh marmariiN se haath vuh mahkaa hu'aa badan" from mere Huzuur. So, I don't know why "nargisii" should be an exception!

    Finally, I can not say that I have ever heard any song where r appears to sound like an l. But I have come across the "phenomenon" where, to my ears, some of the young generation appears to pronounce the l more like a R. Amongst Punjabi children of the younger generation (both brought up in England and Pakistan), I have noticed that they confuse r/R and would say pakoraa instead of pakoRaa.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2011
  4. BP. Senior Member

    I gave it a listen at the time when Birdcall mentioned it, and I remember hearing a distinct r and no l at both places. I believe the person's hearing was playing tricks with them.
  5. Machlii5 Senior Member

    and (quote) BelligerentPacifist: I believe the person's hearing was playing tricks with them. (unquote)
    Perhaps what you hear may depend on whether you know the language or not.
    I remember that my very first CD of Bollywood Songs figured the song
    jaaduu terii nazar“ from Darr, sung by Udit Narayan, and without any knowledge of Hindi, let alone Hindi phonetics, I used to sing along “Jadoo terii nazal“, as I heard it like that.
    Now, since I've learned some Hindi, I know how the sound in question comes about, and I don't misinterpret it any longer.
  6. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Machlii5 SaaHibah. I just played the song you mention. I am afraid to say that I don't hear an l in nazar! It could be that along with my sight my ears are packing up as well! I am trying to eat more carrots but I don't know if there is anything which will help my hearing!:) But you make a very valid point. Maybe I want to hear an r because I know that nazar has an r.
  7. rahulbemba

    rahulbemba Senior Member

    For the other thread, my comment would be: "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... "

    For this point, while usual conversation in Hindi, the "r" is not stretched in a continuity for too long. It would be done so perhaps in songs in order to create a rhyme...

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