Hindi/Urdu: Use of the Bindi

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by tonyspeed, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    I would like to discuss the use of the bindi/nuqta in the Devanagari script. I have included Urdu because in India there are Urdu writings written in Devanagari.

    A paper by R Ahmad is a good starting point for discussing this subject : "Shifting Orthographic Practices and Muslim Identity in Delhi"
    It discusses the issue of representing Persian Characters in Devanagari and how Urdu relates to the Devanagari script.

    Some poignant quotes are:

    "Although the use of the bindi for representing the distinctive Urdu phonemes has
    been available since the nineteenth century
    , it has been historically contested. In
    1930, Madan Mohan Malaviya, a very prominent Hindu leader and a staunch sup-
    porter of Hindi, wrote an editorial in his weekly newspaper Abhyudaya entitled
    “hɪndi mẽ bɪndi kyõ ?” ‘Why use bindi in Hindi?’, arguing against the use of the dia-
    critic in Hindi for the distinctive Urdu phonemes (Mehrotra 2005). In practice also,
    the bindi diacritic is not used in Hindi publications

    In another thread, it is claimed however that the bindi forms are part of the official Hindi orthography.
    Where do we get this from? Is this indeed true?

    Also interesting to note is that there were early attempts to preserve Persian consonant sounds in the 1800s.

    Another interesting note is:

    "It is interesting to note that in Hindi the bindi is used over some graphemes to
    represent nasal consonants and nasalized vowels, for example, ,चं . [ʧəndr]
    ‘moon’ and ,माँ . [ma] ‘mother’. The diacritic is also used underneath some gra-
    phemes to represent retroflex sounds, for example, ,ड़., /ɽ/ and ,ढ़. /ɽh/. So the
    issue is more ideological than technological. Shahid Amin, a renowned Muslim his-
    torian, describes his frustration with Hindi publishers regarding the use of the bindi:
    “I have written a little bit in Hindi and every time it [the manuscript] comes back
    from the publisher all the bindis have systematically been taken off” (Mehrotra


    "The practice of not using bindis for the distinctive Urdu phonemes can be
    seen in Hindi books, magazines, and newspapers published from India. None of
    the most widely read Hindi newspapers use a bindi for these phonemes. "

    What evidence do we have if any that the bindi is more accepted now in Devanagari script?

    Another discussion that mentions some of the above information is also found at

    And finally a reaction piece in Hindi written by Balmukund Gupta in 1900 on the decision by the Nagari Pracharini Sabha
    to use the bindi to differentiate z and j : Hindi Men Bindi.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  2. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    I derived this claim from the Central Hindi Directorate (केन्द्रीय हिन्दी निदेशालय), which released a guideline in 2003 on Standard Hindi Orthography. The part you are interested in would be:

    2.14.1 उर्दू शब्द
    उर्दू से आए अरबी-फ़ारसी मूलक वे शब्द जो हिंदी के अंग बन चुके हैं और जिनकी विदेशी ध्वनियों का हिंदी ध्वनियों में रूपांतर हो चुका है, हिंदी रूप में ही स्वीकार किए जा सकते हैं। जैसे :– कलम, किला, दाग आदि (क़लम, क़िला, दाग़ नहीं)। पर जहाँ उनका शुद्‍ध विदेशी रूप में प्रयोग अभीष्ट हो अथवा उच्चारणगत भेद बताना आवश्‍यक हो, वहाँ उनके हिंदी में प्रचलित रूपों में यथास्थान नुक्‍ते लगाए जाएँ। जैसे :– खाना : ख़ाना, राज : राज़,

    Basically, you can use the nuqtah if there is a homograph and if "it's a better reflection of pronunciation". Which for the most part is silly and might explain why if you ever pick up a Hindi publication, you may see फ़क़त written in one spot, and फकत written in the sentence over. क़िला, for example, is very common, despite the Directorate's recommendation.
    Unlike their orthographic counterparts, the phonemes these letters represent are standard (most news broadcasters, talk show hosts etc. can and do produce them), despite the fact that many, many Indians do not pronounce x, q or G. I don't see how people can be expected to conform to a standard when the official guidelines are "just dot it when you think that's how you pronounce it!" (and seeing as many Indians pronounce xaana and khaana the same, their guideline to "use the nuqtah when homographs are concerned" becomes paradoxical).
    The guidelines do suggest, however, that फ़ ज़ ढ़ ड़ are the only ones that are compulsory. If you'd like to read more:

  3. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    I agree with the guidelines; since many of the sounds are not distinguished by Hindi speakers, why have them in the script? It is only necessary to have them to avoid confusion in case of two words that would otherwise look similar.
  4. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    I strongly agree with the guidelines. They make a lot of sense and this is also exactly what I had to say on the thread related to barkaraar. Though there is some freedom in how one interprets these guidelines, the message is clear.
    For me, if it doesn't change native speakers' pronunciation, why have them in the script except when there is another word with the same written form (and different meaning). In the latter case, it can also make it easier for natural language processing, automatic translation, etc.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  5. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    Should this not also apply to ष and ण when not combined with another retroflex character? The vast majority of people do no distinguish, so we should for practical reasons take those out as well.
  6. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    What do you mean? People don't distinguish ण from what?
  7. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    ण when isolated is pronounced as न by most people.

    and ष as श by most people when not in a conjunct. Therefore, since we are ignoring the minority in the case of the bindi, because there is a minority that makes the distinction in India, we should also ignore the minority that pronounces ण and ष.
    We cannot be biased can we?
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  8. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    This is completely false. I don't feel the need to respond to it on this thread.
  9. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    I don't think you should confuse your personal pronunciation with the majority pronunciation. As someone who learned Hindi, I distinguish them as well even though I realise the majority of mother-tongue Hindi speakers do not.


    Just to take this a step further, if the reason for eliminating the bindi is majority pronunciation, we have other things to remove as well.

    visarga - Does anyone really pronounce the visarga in दुःख or should we just not write दुख ?

    halant - Any word written with halant at the end is invalid as well. विद्वान् should be विद्वान.

    ऋ - no one can pronounce this correctly. In fact it is not even a vowel anymore. It should be substituted with रि in Hindi unless where there is another word in the same form. कृपा should be क्रिपा.

    These steps would also simplify the Hindi spelling and are my personal recommendation based on majority pronunciation. But why does the government not make recommendations about these things so that if we are really cleaning up the script, we can clean it up fully? If cleaning out the Sanskritic cruft is not high on the government agenda then should we even be concerned with bindi? I agree with GB however, if the majority don't pronounce it, none of it should be in the script.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  10. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Where are your data about this vast majority? As an Indian who has lived among Hindi speakers, I know that the vast majority does distinguish with regards to ष and ण, especially the latter (it's laughable to imagine that ण is not spoken, especially considering that there are many similar sounds in most Indian languages, including Kannada, Marathi and Gujarati); however, if you can produce some data to back up your sweeping, unfounded statement otherwise, I would reconsider. Even then, it would be difficult, since then one has to consider also the educated Hindi people, who however do not distinguish between all those "q" and "k" of barqaraar/barkaraar.

    Most of us do write दुख, and the visarg in such words is obsolete though still found, and I anyway didn't advocate to keep the visarg, so the same logic of course applies; it is only you who are bent on seeing bias where none exists. Hardly anyone writes a word with halant; many are not even aware of it, even if in many books you still find it. It is also becoming obsolete, and I will have no regrets for it.

    As for the ऋ, many Hindi speakers do pronounce it correctly, and even if not always correctly, they pronounce it differently from रि.

    To reiterate, if you can produce a statistic or corpus of spoken language that backs up your statement on ष and ण, then one might continue this argument; otherwise, it's useless. Remember, I am asking about statistic, since you spoke about a majority, not a citation from some "renowned" scholar. In the absence of these, I'm afraid one has to go by the opinions of Hindi speakers.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  11. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    If you can give me a statistic for this (or even proof), I can give you as statistic for mine. This by far is the most ludicrous statement I think you've ever made.

    And in any case, I prefer the renowned scholars to the opinion of someone off the street. The renowned scholar has to back up his arguments because they are in print, and one is subject to ridicule from ones peers and all of India if one is wrong. The man off the street can say anything he wants and relies on the power of the mob or on one's supposed "Indian-ness" as a touchstone but has done little if no research. The scholar who writes the book has probably investigated the matter at the ground level from different perspectives and in different areas of India. If one argues otherwise, then we might as well burn the books I suppose and all text message GB when we have a question.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  12. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    I'm afraid your logic is not quite there, here. It is you who are saying that what exists in Hindi is useless, that Hindi speakers like me and nineth are only exceptions; the onus on proof lies on you, not us.
    I'm also afraid that language is not something elitist; people off and on the street also speak Hindi. Your statement only clearly points to the inherent bias in your reasoning, having failed to produce any statistic to back up your statements.
    That said, I refrain from arguing further here; as I said, it's utterly useless when someone argues merely in order to be better able to keep sticking to his or her opinions. nineth took a wiser course than me, having stopped much earlier.
  13. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    I am sorry but even eugenics is justified in print. And a true scholar justifies his arguments with data; all I am asking you is to reproduce that data given by your renowned scholars.
  14. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica

    And I asked you to give your data as well. I am learner willing to learn. I just need some convincing.
  15. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    Let's not move from issue to another while you freely propagate false information; I can't let you get away with what you said about na / ण issue. In fact, greatbear asks you about statistics that prove your claim, while I actually say that such statistics are very difficult to find, and the best and the most accurate information can be directly obtained from native speakers and those have interacted with them. No study can provide more valuable data than a group of native speakers - let's say from different areas. I myself grew up in a unique setting - (in a military base with native speakers from just *all* over north India and went to school all the way up to college with such people). You have your facts wrong here just because of the simple reason that *I* say they are wrong, period. Wait for other Hindi speakers to confirm.
  16. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica

    As you see, *I* say nothing. I have been relying on "renowned authors" to give me my information before now. When I get contradictory information from what is in print, I have to be cautious. I have not really paid attention with consistency before in my personal experience (but I will be sure to listen carefully from now on!). I would believe the claim if more Hindi speakers confirm that have shown in the past to lack bias. But considering there are precious few on this board, I fear I may be waiting a long time.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  17. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    Unfortunately for you, greatbear is right here. Not only do I pronounce the ऋ correctly (I don't pronounce it like ri), many speakers pronounce it correctly as well and the symbol should prevail (at least there is no other symbol that captures the way they pronounce it). So, I am the proof you need. If you say you prefer renowned scholars to me, *you* have to show me a renowned scholar who claims what you said - "no one can pronounce ऋ correctly". I will be ready to kick his ****.
  18. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    As I Telugu speaker, I do not expect you to pronounce it as ri but as ru. This is already a known issue. But I have already created a new thread on this subject so let's not continue here.
  19. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    So, you think you know better than me how *I* pronounce it and you think I don't know who ru sounds?

    I'm still waiting which "renowned authors" you got both of these statements from:
    1. "(sic) most people don't distinguish between na / ण"
    2. "(sic) No one can pronounce ऋ correctly"
    Since you started and stuck with it for some time, either mention your source or take them back. As I said, I can't let you get away while propagating such false information.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  20. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    On the matter of other characters

    we also have

    ज्ञ - which we know is really pronounced ग्य. This like the Bindi should probably also be removed.
  21. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    No, it shouldn't be removed. Ever wonder why क्ष,त्र,ज्ञ are called संयुक्त व्यंजन (joint/conjunct consonants) ?
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  22. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Wait a minute! Don't let's try to hide now behind a mass of unjustified statements, ok? First answer me and nineth, produce those renowned scholars who say ण is not pronounced correctly by a majority of Hindi speakers, ok? You've made a sweeping statement, you need to justify it.

    Like nineth, I don't need your learned sources to tell me my own language. Agree that since you see bias whenever an opinion doesn't fit in with yours, you automatically think nineth and me as biased sources: ok, so just produce your renowned scholars and data, right?
  23. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica

    Thank you, both you and GB have proved to me that in Hindi I need to fastidiously make sure to always include my nuqtas based on the Persian pronunciation. This idea is now solidified in my mind. If SanskRt borrowings cannot be dropped, then Persian borrowings cannot be either. Even if it is only a fraction of the population that learns accurate SanskRt pronunciation or Farsi pronunciation we should have respect for history whether or not it conflicts with our own personal ideology.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  24. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Thank you also for letting us know more about what kind of statements you can make without bothering to provide any justifications. You can live in your own world of nuqtas :D
  25. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    This makes it clearer, thanks. It would have really helped if you had made this statement earlier before you piled up things one after the other (na/aNa, ऋ, gya) - we wouldn't have gone off-topic nor would there have been any false information. On the other hand, I actually had already guessed this (though you have made it explicit now) when you first posted about the na / aNa - your real/hidden agenda was clear to me.
  26. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    No actually if you look at my first post, I wanted to discuss any evidence that people were actually using the nuqta more these days, but you and GB hijacked the thread to talk about why the nuqta shouldn't be used and why the guidelines were correct.

    My questions was :"What evidence do we have if any that the bindi is more accepted now in Devanagari script?"

    But now that the thread has been derailed forcefully I will have to stop. I guess I shouldn't say it has been derailed but you have proven that the same ideas upon which the spread of Devanagari was founded (Sanskrit is real/Persian is unreal) are still valid until the old-guard dies off of natural deaths.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  27. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    If you've a colorful imagination, keep it to yourself: there is no need of making false accusations against members when you were unable to back up your statements. It was souminwe who provided some guidelines pertaining to Hindi, not me or nineth, and it was you who thereafter started the debate with your completely baseless statement "Should this not also apply to ष and ण when not combined with another retroflex character? The vast majority of people do no distinguish, so we should for practical reasons take those out as well," for which you would be struggling all your life to get any native Hindi speaker to agree with. If you think that the thread was derailed, then it was maybe unwittingly by souminwe and wittingly by you; you cannot make false statements one after the other and get off lightly.
  28. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I believe the member of this forum whom you refered to is souminwé - take it as a nuqtah thing. Sloppiness is this called.
  29. nineth Senior Member

    Hindi, Telugu
    You are twisting things and making a meaningless comparison ignoring all context. Please go through the posts one by one.
  30. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Bindi or an 'accent acute' is no different: just a diacritical sign.
  31. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I would like to begin by thanking Tony SaaHib for starting this thread. From the sources you and souminwe SaaHib have presented, it does not look as if the nuqtah to represent Urdu words is doing well at all!

    souminwe SaaHib's quotation from Standard Hindi Spelling (as far as I can understand and I paraphrase) seems to say that those words of Arabic and Persian origins that have entered Hindi through Urdu and have become an integral part of Hindi and whose foreign sounds have metamorphosised into Hindi sounds can only be accepted in their Hindi format, i.e without nuqtas. However, nuqtas can be used in the prevalent Hindi forms when it is desirable to employ these words in their pure foreign form or when it is important to make a distinction. What I conclude from this recommendation is that writers should not indulge in these diacritics unless there is an absolute necessity to point to their origins.

    souminwe SaaHib goes on to say that,"The guidelines do suggest, however, that फ़ ज़ ढ़ ड़ are the only ones that are compulsory". Question now arises, "What is so holy about these consonants that they have been afforded a privileged position but x, Gh, and q have been excluded from this favoured status?

    Couple of members have made the following statements.

    1) Many of the sounds are not distinguished by Hindi speakers, so why have them in the script.

    (Implication here is why have the words with nuqtas if the speakers don't pronounce them in the first place)

    2) If it does n't change native speakers' pronunciation, why have them in the script.

    (I think the same thought process is being expressed as in 1.)

    I would like to approach this whole issue from a slightly different angle. Languages sometimes have vowels and consonants which to all intent and purposes are redundant. For Devanagri, tonyspeed has already highlighted a few. I believe they are being kept because they link Hindi with Sanskrit and to remove them would, to a large extent, severe this bond. Sanskrit is a matter of national pride and heritage, especially for Hindi. I don't think anyone should have an issue with this. But Hindi has thousands of Persian and Arabic words in its coffers too, which as the above quote shows have entered it by way of Urdu. Should these words not also form part of the heritage of the language especially when they have been around for more than a millennium, just as English words of the more recent vintage also contribute to this heritage?

    You might say, "Well, these words are all there! What's the problem?" The problem is that there is a compulsion to preserve फ़ ज़ and ढ़ ड़, the former I would suggest because of the English "f" and "z" and the latter, even though they are not of Sanskrit origins and are just as "foreign" to the repertoire of Hindi as the English "f" and "z" consonants. So, why this double standard against x, Gh and q? Should they not be preserved for the same reasons behind the preservation of the redundant Sanskrit vowels and consonants? Why should they continue to carry the "foreign" label? The chances are that there are far more words formed with these three consonats in Hindi than those which I have termed as "redundant". It is not as if new symbols need to be invented for them. It is just a matter of a subscript dot. If there is no bias of any kind against words originating from Urdu, then what is the problem with placing these dots? But if the current trend continues, one can only conclude that this "
    issue is more ideological than technological one" as suggested by Rizwan Ahmad.

    Hindi will certainly not lose anything by incorporating the subscript dot under ph, j, kh, g and k. But what will it gain?

    1) Zail Singh, the 7th President of India would have been saved from the humiliation of his name being spelt in Hindi as "Jail Singh". Another president of India and a Congress Party member during the Freedom Struggle would have his name spelt as "Azad" and not "Ajad"

    2) The man who wrote "saare jahaaN se achchhaa Hindustaan hamaaraa" would have his name written correctly as Iqbal and not Ikbal! In the anthem he uses such words as "Ghurbat" and "baaqii". If these words are written as "gurbat" and "baakii", that is not what he wrote.

    3) Just as Taj Mahal is a jewel in the crown for India, Ghalib is considered a unique poet of India. He too deserves to be remembered as "Ghalib" and not "gaalib" just as the Great Mughal or muGhal-i-Azam (Akbar) needs to be referred to as a muGhal and not a mugal.

    4) The man known as "Sarhadi Gandhi" namely Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan should have his memory respected by getting his name right in the literature.

    5) By incorporating the dot in these consonants will bring into the psyche of the Hindi speaking peoples the knowledge and correct pronunciation of these words. This will bring Urdu and Hindi speaking communities together and who knows, the languages themselves inching closer and closer to each other.

    6) It will help stop people committing such howlers as writing "fool" for "phool" (flower), "azeeb" for "ajeeb" and the like.

    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  32. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    I've given up in trying to reason with people that Urdu is not foreign. The foreign invaders argument is part and parcel of the nationally-backed motto, and many Indians have bought that argument hook-line-and sinker. But it is a fallacy that has been so ingrained into the mind that people cannot realise it is false anymore. Even those who accept Urdu as indeed Indian as well, seem to think we can have foreign sounds!

    If anything India should be angry at Pakistan for taking possession of a language that was born on its soil and is part of its rich cultural heritage. Without India, Urdu would just be Persian!

    As for the "fool", I don't think that is going anywhere as Kellog stated that even at his time (1870s), the "F" sound had been readily accepted by Hindustanis, replacing their own "Ph" without prejudice.
  33. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    At least you made me and QP (see post 31 before QP edits it!) agree somewhere, since we both were sloppy :D
    The discussion meanwhile was not about sloppiness, since correctly writing nuqtahs is of course being very much "careful" but unfortunately is as much meaningless in Hindi as an acute accent is in English or Hindi, so maybe you inadvertently only backed what I was saying all along, LOL!
  34. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    You are right! I've noticed it already.
    I've no trouble backing anyone who is right and to say what is wrong.
  35. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    As usual, you've missed the whole point, QP, and your long post is nothing but instruction in the art of stuffing an argument. There is nothing holy or unholy about keeping and discarding nuqtahs; the guidelines are trying to retain where Hindi speakers in general make a difference in pronunciation, and discard dots where there are none. By the way, of the four listed, I would also discard the dot under "f".
  36. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Good spirit!
  37. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I wish you had just an ounce of gentlemanliness. If you had taken the slightest trouble to see how I have been spelling this gentleman's name even before this thread, you would have noticed that it is always without the accent. The reason is quite simple. I do not wish any disrespect to him but I do not know how one types this accent.
  38. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Sorry to drop in but dropping the dot under ''f'', I would say ''ph'' is indeed desirable, since some speakers of Hindi pronounce ''ph'' as ''f'' even when the dot is not there.
  39. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    All I can say that it is not so difficult for someone residing in France.
  40. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Neither do I mean any disrespect to this gentleman!

    You're right, also considering that I am usually busy writing in French the whole day! However, I've two keyboards: one English, one French. When I use the former one, I cannot type accents, because otherwise I'd have to open MS Word, which is extremely slow to open on my computer and makes everything hang for a few minutes; of course, if I use the latter, the question of not employing the acute accent does not arise.

    So, before making hasty judgements, marrish, you should consider that it is not always about sloppiness: QP (who, I don't know why, accuses me of being ungentlemanly, when the sloppiness accusation didn't even come from me, but you! and it it's about my remark for editing, well then he does keep on editing his posts even days after, which is a fact) doesn't know how to type this accent (though he could have copy-pasted, as I could also have) and I have technical issues. So, you see, both of us are not sloppy.
  41. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    This is double standard. As far as I know, there are a great many people that distinguish between 'f' and 'ph', TV and movies often make the distinction, and a great many more that pronounce 'f' as 'PH' and can't say 'f' at all. Now we are getting into regionalism. The pronunciation of Delhi and Bombay are more important than the rest of upper India?

    What is this for? To mask the incorrect pronunciation of the two regions?
    I'd be more for going back to everyone saying 'ph' properly and tossing 'f' completely.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
  42. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    So as far as I understand it is easy for you to use the French keyboard or if it is not so you are aware of accents and any diacritical marks, at least in French.
    I'm far from delivering any judgements - and refraining to do so with your grievances concerning the other member - all I can say is that as far as I know he is not based in France. My point really wasn't to tell anything about your French, but about the carefulness as to any diacritical signs - be it French, English, undefined or Hindi - it is easier to drop such things but it doesn't mean they don't exist.

    In order not to be accused being partial let me tell you and other members that many Urdu writing people make mistakes like dropping Hamzah's.

    Sloppiness, that's all. No need to put it into a rule which ratifies it!
  43. flyinfishjoe Senior Member

    American English
    I haven't had the time to go through the thread completely and come up with a detailed response to the points of view presented here, but I agree with marrish's post above. It's like the difference between "naive" and "naïve" or "facade" and "façade." All four are accepted by the Oxford dictionary, with the anglicized variants listed first. It's the same thing with the Hindi nuqtaa. It's simply a matter of style and personal preference. I assure you that most Hindi speakers would be bewildered by this debate. This is just a tiny subscript dot and a completely trivial issue. The nuqtaa has always been completely optional. हजार, खुद, and बगीचा are all perfectly acceptable spellings. I don't understand why this is such a big deal. There aren't any ideological schemes or hidden motives behind this.
  44. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Indeed, but if you don't put the trema above "i" in naive when writing in English, it's not sloppiness, it's neither wrong - it is merely preference. Similarly, the absence of many of those dots in Hindi is not sloppiness, since they are irrelevant in Hindi - which is what we have been discussing. Thanks for the great examples you have enabled me to serve for reinforcing what I've been saying all along. I never said that the dots don't exist; however, since Hindi speakers don't make many of those pronunciation differences, a spelling reform removing those unnecessary dots is welcome. (Of course, the dots may be essential to Urdu speakers, and they do need them, but we are discussing Nagari script here.)
  45. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Professor Omkar N. Koul, the author of Modern Hindi Grammar (2008 Dunwoody Press) does not distinguish between and in his book. Where in the Devanagri script and words are accurately represented as one would expect, the Roman transcription gives the equivalent sounds as "s" with a little superscript "v", without any further explanation. The obvious conclusion that one can draw is that according to him, a linguist, who says that his book is based on "authentic data from spoken and written Hindi", Hindi speakers do not differentiate between the two sounds. In addition his book has no place for ञ either.

    With regard to consonants that have come into Hindi from Urdu, he distinguishes f, z AND x. I am somewhat surprised at the omission of Gh, since this is the voiced form of the consonant x. q is also not included.

    I have seen another Urdu sound represented in Hindi varNRamaalaa tables on the net, namely the voiced "sh". It is represented by a dot under the "jha" consonant. I believe this would be a good addition to the Hindi consonant system as it would provide a way to express this sound as in "vision" and by so doing will put an end to the "viyyan" pronunciation.

    In the Rizwan Ahmad link that tonyspeed had provided in his opening post, Ahmad says, "I argue that in the absence of Arabic script, the bindi serves as an orthographic contextualization cue for readers that the text in question is Urdu and not Hindi"..He then goes on to say, "..the bindi has now become invested with the meaning that was indicated by Arabic script before". All this is linked to the style in which the Urdu magizine "Anchal" is being written using Devanagri script with the Urdu consonants being shown with a bindi. I would suggest that those people who are against the use of the bindi in Hindi (Devanagri script) to depict Urdu sounds have a morbid fear that these dots will link the Hindi back to its Urdu past!

    Last edited: Feb 23, 2012
  46. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Sometime back, I remember Tony SaaHib mentioning someone who would send his manuscripts, with bindis, to the publishers but they would publish his material without them. This gentleman is professor Shahid Amin of Delhi University. He and Palash Krishna Mehrotra interviewed Professor Alok Rai, also of Delhi University and the author of "Hindi Nationalism". The link below with the title "A Debate between Alok Rai and Shahid Amin Regarding Hindi" has the whole interview for interested parties.


    The subject matter is "bindis" in the Devanagri script, Hindi, Urdu, Hindustani and a host of other things. Regarding the deliberate omission of bindis/nuqtas for Urdu words Professor Alok Rai describes this process as " a kind of vandalism" (p190, 1st and second paragraphs) and on page 189 he writes, "The ultimate irony is that till the day he died, Zail Singh, the President of India could never get his name written properly in Hindi. They would never put a bindi under "ja", it would always be "Jail Singh"...

    On page 190, second paragraph, he says, "I have also described Hindi as a neurotic formation" and on the next page p191, paragraph 5, he repeats the same idea, "Hindi is laden with neurosis. In fact very little literary creation happens in Hindi".

    Now, coming to what is meant by "Hindustani", and further to my posts (33 & 51) in the "Hindi-Urdu: Origin of the Division" thread and Faylasoof SaaHib's post (no. 28) and mine no. 60) in the thread "Best way to learn Hindustani: Learn Urdu or Hindi?", I would like to draw readers' attention to page 186 (last para) and page 187 (first para). He is quoting Shri. R.V.Dhulekar, a Hindi stalwart and an MP from UP addressing Maulana Hifzur Rahman, indirectly, and I quote..

    Today if you speak for Hindustani, it will not be heard. You will be misrepresented, you will be misunderstood and therefore my honest advice to Maulana Hifzur Rahman is that he should wait for two or three years and he will find that he will have his Urdu language...

    Alok Rai then adds, "In his mind Urdu and Hindustani are identical". Who is this man (Dhulekar) and what does he know about Urdu? To answer this question, it is best to continue with the quote. This, you will find in CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIA DEBATES (PROCEEDINGS) - VOLUME IX, dated Tuesday, 13th September 1949

    Shri R. V. Dhulekar: I am very happy at the thought that I have spoken the mind of my honourable Friend the Prime Minister. Certainly if their efforts had succeeded, whatever they said, or whatever the Father of the Nation said had succeeded, no person could have been happier than myself. Do not conceive for a moment that I am a communal-minded man. When I oppose Hindustani I do so, not on account of my lack of love for those people, but because of my love and affection for them, the honest love that an honest man has for his brethren. Today if you speak for Hindustani, it will not be heard. You will be misrepresented, you will be misunderstood and therefore my honest advice to Maulana Hifzur Rahman is that he should wait for two or three years and he will find that he will have his Urdu language, he will have his Persian script; but today let him not try to oppose this, because our nation. the nation which has undergone so many sufferings is not in a mood to hear him.I have heard him, I appreciate him and I know how he feels. I am myself a Persian scholar and I have read Urdu and I have loved it. I can say that I have written more in Persian and Urdu than my Friend Maulana Hifzur Rahman..

    If this still is n't sufficient proof that Hindustani is nothing but Urdu, perhaps this copy of the bible printed in 1878 (in Roman) might be helpful.


  47. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    Zail Singh was named since he spent some time in a jail! The English pronunciation of a "jail" isn't "zail"! You could refer to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jail for how a jail is pronounced in English and to http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/545853/Zail-Singh for how he was called by this name. Your author really needs to improve his general knowledge!
  48. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica

    Yes, please tell native Hindi speakers that they really speak a form of Urdu and not Hindi. Then get back to me and let me know how the argument went. The terms Urdu and Hindi mean little of nothing anymore. It's like when Punjabis who were Hindu claimed that they did not speak Punjabi but Hindi because Hindi was linked with Hinduism. Did that change the fact that they actually spoke Punjabi as a mother tongue because they called it something different?

    When do words stop having any meaning because one person's definition of the word is not someone else's definition of the word?

    In otherwords, no one in India stopped speaking Hindustani because someone invented a new word for it. But their vocabulary did grow to incorporate more words. And I will also argue, and you will also inkar kareNge, that Urdu speakers also incorporated more words into theirs.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
  49. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    It would help me a great deal Tony SaaHib, if you did not speak in riddles but simply came out with clearly formulated thoughts. Frankly, I don't really know for sure what you have said. (I shall reply to your post in the "chai" thread in due course. Currently, I have some pressing engagements.)
  50. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    In other words, people in India never stopped speaking Hindustani (your Urdu). They simply called it another name, Hindi, and gradually incorporated borrowed words from the official high-register Sanskritised Hindi over a very long period of time.

    I don't want to open another argument, but I believe that the official high-register Persianised Urdu spread into the common-folks vocabulary over time as well.

    In essence Hindi is nothing new at all. You cannot get masses of people to speak something new very successfully without widespread, government-sponsored schooling.

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