Hindi, Urdu: umr VS zindagi

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Centemare

New Member
English, French
Dear everyone,

I came across the sentences "aur jab jee chuke, to kahte the / umr guzri to zindagi guzri". I'm not sure about the difference in meaning between umr and zindagi here, as I would understand them both to mean life in this context? Or does umr refer to a specific age, and zindagi to life in general here?

Thank you very much in advance!
 
  • Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Last edited:

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    I think, in addition to "age", 'umr can also mean "lifetime", like in these famous lines by Ghalib:

    آہ کو چاہیے اک عمر اثر ہوتے تک
    کون جیتا ہے تری زلف کے سر ہوتے تک

    ...

    تا قیامت شب فرقت میں گزر جائے گی عمر
    سات دن ہم پہ بھی بھاری ہیں سحر ہوتے تک
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I think, in addition to "age", 'umr can also mean "lifetime", like in these famous lines by Ghalib:

    آہ کو چاہیے اک عمر اثر ہوتے تک
    کون جیتا ہے تری زلف کے سر ہوتے تک

    تا قیامت شب فرقت میں گزر جائے گی عمر
    سات دن ہم پہ بھی بھاری ہیں سحر ہوتے تک
    I would say it means "age" in both these couplets.
     

    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    In Platts, they do mention umar is also 'life-time':
    A عمر ʻumr (inf. n. of عمر 'to live,' &c.) , s.f. Life; life-time, period of life; age: — ʻumr-bhar, adv. During the term of natural life; for life: — ʻumr-bhar-kā, adj. (f. -), Life-long; sufficient for a lifetime: — ʻumr darāz, May (your) life (be) long: — ʻumr-rasīda, adj. & s.m. Advanced in years: — ʻumr-qaid, s.f. Imprisonment for life (syn. dāʼimuʼl-ḥabs): — ʻumr-qaidī, s.m. & f. Prisoner for life.
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    [Not to belabor the point, but other dictionaries, such as the Urdu Lughat or the Shabdsagar, also record the "lifetime" meaning, and it seems both senses of the word exist in Arabic as well.]

    Regarding the original question: both umr and zindagii are quite similar and there are situations where one could use either interchangeably (eg, kaam karte karte saarii umr/zindagii guzar gaii). The line umr guzrii to zindagii guzrii is a bit poetical and it feels to me like it's playing on the semantic similarities between the two words (sort of a semantic alliteration, if you will). My interpretation would be that the distinction between umr and zindagii that is being aimed at in this line is similar to the distinction between the English words "lifetime" and "life." The former refers to a period of time that one is alive, while the latter is somehow semantically broader and means more than just the period of time.

    For another example of the distinction between the two words... One might say something like

    ye merii zindagii hai. maiN jo chahe karuuN!​
    This is my life. I'll do what I want!​

    but replacing zindagii with umr here would probably be odd.
     
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    • Agree
    Reactions: Dib

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    I was read once that Hindustani speakers are very polite, and the wouldn't call someone "old", but say that he "umr maiN kaafii baRaa hai"
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    For another example of the distinction between the two words... One might say something like

    ye merii zindagii hai. maiN jo chahe karuuN!​
    This is my life. I'll do what I want!​

    but replacing zindagii with umr here would probably be odd.
    Excellent point!

    Similarly, in sentences such as "zindagii khaalii-khaalii sii lagtii hai", one cannot replace "zindagii" with "umr".

    I was read once that Hindustani speakers are very polite, and the wouldn't call someone "old", but say that he "umr maiN kaafii baRaa hai"
    That construction indeed exists, but Hindustani speakers may also call someone directly as "old" - there are several constructions for that. In addition, I don't even see why calling someone as old would be impolite: if anything, old(er) age often indicates a certain experience of life and hence wisdom. In Hindi, the word "buzurg" is heavily used for an old person - and, unless the speaker intends to be insulting, it is in general a "good" word.
     

    Centemare

    New Member
    English, French
    Thank you all for your help! I had a feeling the distinction was somewhat along those lines, but all the examples you provided have given me much to think about. It makes sense that the distinction would be somehow translated to "lifetime" VS "life".
     

    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    Relevant thread: Hindi/Urdu: Life
    Faylasoof said:
    BTW, 3umr عمر has more than one usage, as I'm sure you know:

    yeh kaam maiN ne 3umr bhar / zindagii bhar kiyaa hai = I've done this work all my life


    aap kii 3umr kyaa hai = What is your age?
    Relevant quote: Urdu and Hindi: kaheeN and ________ nah jaa'e kaheeN
    Qureshpor said:
    aur phir u'mr bhar nah jaa'e kaheeN = aur phir 3umr-bhar kahiiN nah jaa'e =And then for the rest of (my )life, you don't go anywhere.
     
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