Hindi, Urdu: Use of honorific plural

tonyspeed

Senior Member
English & Creole - Jamaica
In Hindi and Urdu, the honorific plural is usually associated with the use of aap. But in addition, people often refer to others in plural.
For instance, "mere pati (shauhar) aa rahe haiN".

It is this usage of plural for others even in their absence (not in front of them) that I am interested in.

1) Who is this done for consistently? (i.e. husband, older relatives, boss...)

2) Are there situations where you would use plural to refer to a person and other situations when you would not?

For instance, if I am talking about someone's son in front of them would I use the honorific plural (i.e aap ke beTe kahaaN haiN?),
but when talking about that same person to my friends use the singular form (i.e. un kaa beTa baRaa ho gayaa)?
 
  • Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Urdu:

    1) For anyone you wish to impart respect to. Note that in Urdu "aap" is also used for a third person for a revered personality, e.g.

    aap makkah meN paidaa hu'e (He was born in Mecca.)

    2) Your sentence of course could imply "Where are your sons?". In Urdu, often a euphemism would be used in this context.

    aap ke farzand kahaaN haiN? (Where is your son?)

    If I wanted to show respect to the father, it would n't matter if the father was present or not. I would still use the plural.
     

    tonyspeed

    Senior Member
    English & Creole - Jamaica
    If I wanted to show respect to the father, it would n't matter if the father was present or not. I would still use the plural.

    I found it surprising that I saw someone on a serial use the honorific plural for their boss while not in his presence.
     

    amiramir

    Senior Member
    English-USA
    I'm not a native Hindi speaker per se, but I am very liberal in my use of the honorific plural in the third person, as that's fairly standard in my family, and we're not one of these Lukhnawi adaab-conscious families-- just a very run of the mill family that doesn't spend too much time thinking about the quality of their Hindi. To answer your second question, depending on the context there are definitely people whom I refer to in the plural in the third person in some contexts and not others. For example, when I'm with my in-laws, I refer to my husband in the plural-- and even to his friends. Whereas when talking to my parents, I use the 3rd person singular. Same when talking to very close friends. But when talking to friends of mine whom I'm not so close with, I would still use the 3rd person honorific when talking about my husband-- I would just come across as rude if I didn't.
     
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