Hindi: vah, ve, yah, ye

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by albondiga, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. albondiga Senior Member

    Hi all,

    I heard that the distant plural form veh is frequently used in place of yeh/vo even when referring to a single person (meaning "he/she"), and that this is a gesture of respect. Did I understand this wrong or is this accurate? How frequent is this usage? Would the rest of the verb conjugations stay in the singular, or match the plural of veh?

    I'm still a bit confused about the practical usage of yeh, vo, and veh, so any help would be greatly appreciated... thanks!
  2. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    I've never heard of "veh"! Do you have the word in Hindi? (Devanagari script). Can you give an example sentence?
  3. bonne amie New Member


    Your understanding about 'veh' is correct it is used instead of he/she if you are refering to somebody elder to you or somebody you dont know. In this context, it is normal to use veh instead of yeh/vo, and the rest of the verb conjugation changes to plural. This is a gesture of respect and a comman feature in almost all Indian Languages. It is exactly similar to the usage of "Vous", (for giving respect) in the French language if you are fimiliar with french language.
  4. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    bonne amie, can you give me an example sentence?
    I speak Urdu but have never heard this before! I'm sure Urdu doesn't have this. (I haven't heard it anyway)

    It may be one of those things which I don't actually notice people saying (and don't use myself), probably because it's such a "small" word that you don't really pay attention to.
  5. bonne amie New Member

    Hi linguist786,

    वे घर आये और मेज़ पर बैटे

    this is an example, though there are spelling mistakes in the above line as i dont have hindi key board . this is not used in urdu. Urdu & hindi are two different languages, though urdu words are often used in hindi language.
  6. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    I can't make any of that out - your formatting has gone horribly wrong.
    Any chance you could sort it out?

    edit - I've just worked it out. I suppose you are saying:

    वे घर आये और मेज़ पर बैठे
    (He came home and sat on the table)

    I have never known this use of "ve". I wonder if panjabigator has!
  7. bonne amie New Member


    That's correct. As I told you earlier this is a common feature in Hindi And Almost all Indian languages.
  8. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    This is one of few territories where I'd argue that Hindi and Urdu are different. Hindi differentiates (or should I say standard khadi boli) between number/formality with /ye/ and /vo/. Although many people do not distinguish between them in spoken Hindi, it is most certainly respected in literature and in formal discourse. I've seen it magazines and heard it news reports.

    Since it is not characteristic of spoken Hindi, odds are that you may not hear it too much since you are apart of the diaspora community. This is at least very true for me, and it took me a bit to really understand that Hindi has several features that my parents would never use.

    To address the first question,


    THe pronunciation of yeh, vah, and ve is different from the ye and vo in Urdu. Listen to bbchindi.com and see what you can pick up.
  9. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Panjabi is identical to the Urdu in this case; it only has /eh/ "/ye/" and /oh/ "/vo/."
  10. albondiga Senior Member

    Thanks, everyone...

    So just to be sure that I'm clear about this, the plural form is used for a single person only in formal situations and this is not typical in normal everyday spoken Hindi? Practically, if I am talking about someone is a not-too-formal context, I should just stick to the singular forms, right? Also, do you think this is the type of thing that might have some variation even within the Hindi-speaking world?
  11. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I'd say so, but it really does depend on the speaker. There are plenty of speakers who speak "proper" Hindi (whatever the entails) but I had never heard them before a couple years ago; remember, I am a diaspora Indian, so I never have exposure to pure-Hindi, if that is a factor in identifying this.
    Yes, /yah/ and /vah/ are perfectly alright. I personally never say them unless I am reading outloud. I always say ye and vo, irrespective of whether I am with a Hindi speaker or Urdu speaker.
    Definitely. You are sure to meet people who will speak with /ham/ instead of /mai.n/ for "I" and you may initially wonder how common that is. It is very common, but in certain areas.
  12. albondiga Senior Member

    Yes, that also confirms what I have heard (and you probably noticed from the thread title that I didn't even bother with the "correct" written forms! :D )

    I also just heard that in Mumbai they will sometimes use something like "apn" for "mai.n", although this sounds to me dangerously close to "aap," and it would probably be extremely confusing to anyone else hearing it...

    Anyway, thanks for your help!
  13. James Bates Banned

    English America
    Mod note:
    This was the begining of a new thread. Now both are merged into one.

    I once read that Hindi distinguishes between singular and plural forms of the demonstrative pronouns; hence yah and ye (this), and vah and ve (that). I found this quite surprising, as Urdu lacks yah, vah, and ve. All it has is ye and vo. Do Hindi speakers actually distinguish between the singular and plural forms? And do they really not use vo? Could a native help out?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 2, 2009
  14. Illuminatus Senior Member

    Mumbai, India
    India, Hindi, English, Marathi
    Yah kitaab (s)- Common in written Hindi.
    Ye kitaab (s)- Frequently heard in Spoken Hindi

    Yah kitaabein (p) - WRONG
    Yeh kitaabein (p) - Right. Only version in both written and spoken.

    Vah kitaab (s) - Common in written Hindi.
    Vo kitaab (s) - Frequently heard in Spoken Hindi

    Vah kitaabein (p) - WRONG
    Ve kitaabein (p) - Correct
    Woh kitaabein (p) - I think it is gramatically incorrect but is widely used in Spoken Hindi. In fact, ve kitaabein sounds awkward to me while speaking... I will clarify this and come back to you.
  15. BP. Senior Member

    Thanks for clarifying that Illuminatus.
    In Urdu <KiTaabayN> is the 'easier way out' replacement for the more proper <kuTub>.

    James, many of the v sounds tend towards o and w in Urdu.

    Examples: 1-the hindi <gaanv> - village - is <gaaoN> in Urdu.

    2- When saying <vo> the lips don't quiet touch each other so most people like to write it <wo>.

    Its a softer w than English. Going westwards in the subcontinent it progressively becomes more pronounced (in origial Pukhto and Farsi speakers' Urdu) and eventually becomes much more distinct to v than the English w.
  16. Illuminatus Senior Member

    Mumbai, India
    India, Hindi, English, Marathi
    Terminals Vs like those in Gaanv or Chhaanv are almost always pronounced as <gaaoN> and <chhaaoN>...
    Though, the V of Chhaanv is more pronounced than that of Gaanv; depends on the word.
  17. James Bates Banned

    English America
    Thanks, but this really has nothing to do with what I asked.
  18. BP. Senior Member

    I actually heard gaanv somewhere and found it pretty interesting.

    JB you're welcome. It never hurts to know more than you need to!
  19. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Hi James,

    We talked about this subject once before over here. Perhaps a moderator can join these threads.

  20. James Bates Banned

    English America
    I see. So basically, written Hindi employs "vah", "ve", and "yah", as well as "ye", while spoken Hindi employs only "vo"' and "ye". Am I correct?
  21. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English

    There may be some speakers who distinguish, but I've never met one...
  22. Illuminatus Senior Member

    Mumbai, India
    India, Hindi, English, Marathi
    By spoken Hindi, I meant the colloquial, informal style of speaking. A newsreader, for example, will use all the forms.
  23. BP. Senior Member

    I think the Urdu wo and ye follow the Persian oo and ee, hence the difference with the (more numerous) Hindi equivalents.
  24. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member


    I would rather think that Urdu follows Punjabi... (ê / ô).... My opinion.

    I wonder where this ve came from (I mean from any specific dialect?)
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2008
  25. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Perhaps the "ve" has its provenance in Braj Bhasha. If I remember correctly, their are several levels of pronouns and they correspond to formal Hindi. I'll have to check up on my grammar manuals to confirm - Prof. Rupert Snell has a chapter on this subject.
  26. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    Or so they say.

    Remember that panj is five in Punjabi too... Panjab is quite a recent name... And as far as root are concerned, they are necessarily, as a matter of fact old.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2008
  27. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    You can also argue that its name is Sanskritic. I know very little Sanskrit, so perhaps someone more knowledgeable can correct this.
    1) Panj from the number 5 in Sanskrit
    2) <āb> from ap, Sanskrit for water.

    Has anyone compared the personal pronouns with those of Braj? It be interesting to examine this historically with the development of Hindi and Urdu as standardized written languages. I'll look into this.
  28. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    BP SaaHib, in Sauda's works you will find the plurals "ye" and "ve".
  29. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    1) number 5 in Sanskrit is either पञ्च pańća
    2) water (one of hundred words) in Sanskrit: आपस् aapas; अप् ap
  30. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    Can anyone think of any other contexts (other than reading and newsreading) in which a Hindi speaker would use ve, yehe, and vehe style pronunciations? Would anyone ever do this when talking face to face with someone?

    If used in the wrong context what impression would these pronunciations give?
  31. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I'm quite certain it is taught so at school; then you can have speeches, religious discourses etc, which require formality. I can't evaluate it if used out of this context.

    EDIT: ye I heard and it is quite normal (you can't tell the difference between what we say in Urdu as "yih": pronounce ye with a short vowel and yeee with a long one). In colloquial speech I mean there is no difference in Hindi. It is not long. The question is more about vé - never heard in Urdu and in Hindi when someone was reading a text out. Otherwise never, never, never. But I didn't go to a Hindi school and those who went told me they were taught to speak so.
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  32. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    The question of how to pronounce yah when reading in Hindi is quite complicated in reality. It seems there are different schools of pronunciation as I have heard yə, və - yəhə, vəhə - yɛhɛ, vɛhɛ by various speakers.

    However, that aside, there seems to be variation on when to use these in speaking. In one religious discourse I heard, the man clearly said ye and vo. However, I did hear yɛhɛ, vɛhɛ in a discourse on Yoga. I want to know, in practice, not hypothetically where Indians use them. Secondly, when used in everyday speech what impression they would give to the average Hindi speaker.
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  33. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I heard all these pronunciations too for the singular. My aim is not to be controversial but still I have the feeling it is induced by the spelling otherwise they would know how to say it. It's not about plurals then. I'm not a Hindi speaker (I am but not a real Indian native speaker) so i leave it at this point. I'm also curious to know what you are asking! BTW yoga is a good thing and that person said it like Urdu or colloquial Hindi.
  34. littlepond Senior Member

    tonyspeed jii, in different regions of India, you will find different pronunciations, so in practice itself, of the common man not necessarily motivated by any ideological factors, there will still be all kinds of pronunciation: and such pronunciations lead the listener to surmise about the speaker's background (where he grew up or in which family, which dialect he speaks at home, etc.).
  35. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    "Panjaab" is the Persian translation of the ancient Sanskrit name for the region: Panchanada "five rivers". It is mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The "Panj" of "Panjaab" is considered to be Persian and not Punjabi because the compound as a whole is Persian.

    I believe Brajbhakha has the same four personal pronouns as standard Hindi.

    Using all four personal pronouns could sound overly pedantic in certain informal contexts.

    I don't know whether the pronunciation of "ye" is considered long or short, but it's the same "e" as in "ke, pe, se, le, de" etc.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  36. tonyspeed Senior Member

    English & Creole - Jamaica
    Continuing from thread : http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2887591

    I would be interested to know 1) who you have heard use honorific ve (were they a teacher, chaiwala etc..) 2) for whom was it used (God, the PM, Ghandi, etc...) 3) the context in which it was used (from a stage, in everyday conversation, on the news, etc..) 4) Does that person also use ve for plural other than in honorific contexts? 5) Was that person a mother tongue speaker or a learner (Gujurati, Punjabi, Bengali, English etc..)

    On Hindi TV, I have never heard them use honorific ve in colloquial speech. Neither have I met someone do so who was a mother-tongue Hindi speaker. ye and vo have been consistently used for both singular and plural pronouns. I have been searching for an exception a long time.
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014

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