Persian: Is there a nasal nuun in poetry?

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Qureshpor, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    When one recites Persian (and Urdu) poetry in Pakistan and India, the letter nuun, depending upon the "vazn" of a "shi'r" is nasalised. This nasalised nuun is called "nuun-i-Ghunnah" and in terms of rules of prosody, it is not counted when determining the vazn of a particular shi'r. To make it clear to the reader that this nuun is to be nasalised, the dot in the nuun in the final position is missed out. Here is a famous couplet from a Ghazal by Hafiz.

    اگر آن ترک شیرازی بدست آرد دل ما را
    بخال هندویش بخشم سمر قند و بخارا را

    The word "aan" would not have the dot in the nuun and it would be nasalised in pronunciation "aaN". In terms of " 'uruuz" (prosody), it will not be equal to aan but just aa! Are Iranians, Afghans and Tajiks amongst us in this forum aware of this phenomenon or is this just a part of Indo-Persian?
  2. searcher123

    searcher123 Senior Member

    My home ;-) /The Persian Gulf
    Just for your knowledge (because I know you love Persian poems and I thought might be interesting for you):

    اگر آن ترك شيرازي، به دست آرد دل ما را..........به خال هندويش بخشم، سمرقند و بخارا را

    صائب تبريزي:
    اگر آن ترك شيرازي، به دست آرد دل ما را........به خال هندويش بخشم، سر و دست و تن پا را
    هرآنكس چيز مي‌بخشد، ز مال خويش مي‌بخشد........نه چون حافظ كه مي‌بخشد، سمرقند و بخارا را

    استاد شهريار:
    اگر آن ترك شيرازي، به دست آرد دل ما را........به خال هندويش بخشم، تمام روح اجزا را
    هرآنكس چيز مي‌بخشد، بسان مرد مي‌بخشد......نه چون صائب كه مي‌بخشد سر و دست و تن و پا را
    سر و دست و تن و پا را به خاك گور مي‌بخشند........نه بر آن ترك شيرازي كه برده جمله دلها را

    محمد عيادزاده:
    اگر آن ترك شيرازي به دست آرد دل ما را.....خوشا بر حال خوشبختش، به دست آورد دنيا را
    نه جان و روحمي‌بخشم، نه املاك بخارا را.......مگر بنگاه املاكم؟ چه معني دارد اين كارا؟!
    و خال هندويش ديگر، ندارد ارزشي اصلا.......كه با جراحي صورت، عمل كردند، خالها را
    نه حافظ داد املاكي، نه صائب دست و پاها را.....فقط مي‌خواستند اينها، بگيرند وقت ماها را!!! :D
  3. واقعا لذت بردم و به آخری خیلی خندیدم ! :d
    ممنون به خاطر اشعار زیبا !
    تا حالا هیچ کدوم رو به جز نسخه اصلیش که واسه حافظ هست رو نشنیده بودم.

    مرسی,شب بخیر و سال 1390 مبارک.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2011
  4. searcher123

    searcher123 Senior Member

    My home ;-) /The Persian Gulf
    خوشحالم كه خوشتان آمد و شب سال نو شما را شادتر نمود. سال نو بر شما نيز مبارك باشد :)
  5. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    OK, I will assume that our Iranian, Afghan and Tajik friends are not aware of this phenomenon.
  6. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I’m a little surprised you ask this given that you seem to be reading Persian poetry widely, including Ruumii / Rumi (رومی). In another thread you asked about گشت پرساں and it is this and not گشت پرسان – I checked with two printed copies form Iran.

    Anyway, if you look at the verses both preceding and following it, you see more nasalized nuuns (nuun ghunnas).

    آں یكی می رفت در مسجد دروں
    مردم از مسجد ہمی آمد بروں
    گشت پرساں كہ جماعت را چہ بود
    كہ ز مسجد بروں آیند زود
    Here is another example:

    آں امام عاشقاں پور بتول
    سرو آزادے زبستان رسول
    اللّه اللّه بائے بسم اللہ پدر
    معنی ذبح عظیم آمد پسر
  7. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I was actually aware that the word was "pursaaN" and not "pursaan" but, as far as I know, Iranians and Afghans are oblivious of the existence of the nuun-i-Ghunnah. My suspicions have been confirmed by the lack of response to this thread from people hailing from that part of the world.

    I must say that I am surprised that you have books printed in Iran which indicate this nasal nuun. We have, on occasions, discussed this topic in another forum where it has been suggested that the Iranians, whilst reciting poetry and bearing the "vazn" of a shi'r in mind, shorten the vowel before the nasal n, and pronounce the n in the normal way. So..

    agar aaN turk-i-shiiraazii... would be pronounced as

    agar an turk-i-shiiraazii.

    A well known scholar (Finn Thiesen) in his "A Manual of Classical Persian Prosody..." has given support to the existence of nuun-i-ghunnah in Classical Persian system of prosodical reckoning. My Afghan and Iranian friends have shown utter surprise and unawareness when I showed them Persian books printed in India/Pakistan with the nuun-i-Ghunnah

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
  8. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
  9. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    This is almost correct but slightly off. When a nuun appears at the end of a word, that syllable is counted as short as far as determining vazn is concerned, but it is still pronounced the same by contemporary Iranians. That is, the second word in اگر آن ترک شیرازی is pronounced 'aan' (not 'an', nor 'aaN'), however the length (not quality) of the vowel may be slightly shortened. Using IPA, we could say that آن is normally pronounced [ɒːn], but here it is [ɒn]; the vowel is the same but not held as long, yet it does not become [æ] as in تن [tæn]. You can hear it in the recitation of this poem by an Iranian on Youtube (/watch?v=rR-xSRa_toQ).

    For another example, باران will be counted as /baaran/ when determining vazn, but read aloud as /baaraan/.

    As far as I am aware, this is basically the same for Afghans and Tajiks, at least to the extent that they also do not pronounce the nasal nuun as in South Asian Persian. It's interesting that this thread was topped now as I just asked my prosody tutor last week about the nasal nuun; like most Iranians, she had never heard of it. I will have to consult Sirus Shamisa's book on prosody to see if he mentions it anywhere.
  10. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    eskandar SaaHib. Thank you for this. Please do take a look at what Finn Thiesen has said in his book as well as other references that have been given in the link that I provided. I am convinced that nasal n did exist in Persian poetry but my feeling is that as Urdu had nasalisation any way, e.g. jahaaN (where) and it developed a dotless nuun to depict the final nasal vowel, we did n't loose this concept. On the other hand, it is quite possible the dotted nuun served a dual purpose in Persian, for both the normal nuun and the nasal nuun. Over time, this distiction has been lost by the native speakers of the language.
  11. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    It is true that, in Persian poetry, syllables ending in –ān count as long, not as over-long (long+short). Or to put it another way: in the sequence ان the nūn does not count as sākin. Many good scholars have explained this with the hypothesis that in Early New Persian /-ān/ was actually realised with a nasalised vowel. However, Persian and Afghan literati do not read it in this way, and it is possible that the long scansion of ān has some other rationale.
  12. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    This is what Professor Finn Thiesen states in his "A Manual of Classical Persian Prosody" 1982 Otto Harrassowitz Wiesbaden p 41) when he is tabulating his reasons for the presence of nuun-i-Ghunnah in Classical Persian poetry.

    a) The fact that the prosodists do not reckon the "nuun". Had "nuun" been pronounced as a distinct consonant and the preceding vowel been shortened--as in present day recitation-- we should have expected the prosodists to reckon the "nuun" and instead not to reckon the preceding alif, vaa'o, ye.

    b) Words like "ziiraa" (because) where the "nuun" has disappeared. Classical Persian for "az iin raa". ( Here, Thiesen is implying that az iin raa >>>> az iiN raa >>> ziiraa)

    c) Turkish loanwords where "n" has disappeared, e.g. "jomerd" "generous" corresponding to javaan-mard "generous youth". Classical Persian "javaaN-mard" and "juvaaN-mard". The latter must be the source of the Turkish word.

    d) Indo-Persian* pronunciation which preserves the nasalised vowels.

    e) Most important of all, the numerous Persian loan words in Urdu and Hindi which have nasalised vowels. Thus "maaNdaa" tired from Persian "maandah". It is important to notice that there is nothing in the phonetic system of Hindi to prevent a form like "maandaa".
    "He acknowledges" is always "maantaa hai", never "maaNtaa hai; thorn is always "kaaNTaa" never "kaanTaa". Hence, when the Indians pronounce "maaNdaa", not "maandaa", the reason for this must be sought in Persian itself.

    Thiesen goes onto say (page 50)

    "Persian does not admit of triple consonant clusters, and even if the poetry of Moulavi is known to be "sangiin" (heavy), it is not probable that he should have produced verses with such clusters. Examples of the above type are therefore very strong evidence for nuun being
    realised as suprasegmental nasalisation in the position between long vowel and consonant, since with that pronunciation the question of triple consonant clusters no longer arises. The Classical Persian pronunciation of "pinhaanst" must therefore have been "pinhaaNst".

    Another Classical Persian scholar, Professor Wheeler.M.Thackston in his"A Millenium of Classical Persian Poetry" has this to say about this issue of nasalisation. "Syllable-final n preceded by a long vowel is generally not reckoned in scansion. Formerly this must have resulted in nasalisation of the vowel; but it is not done in reciting Persian poetry in Iran today, although the practice is general in the Indian subcontinent....".

    Who are the "prosodists" which Thiesen has in mind? Here is a link to Professor L.P. Elwall-Sutton's "Persian Meters".

    Pages 1-4 are the most relevant to our topic. Along with other authors, he mentions the following:

    1) Shamsu_ddiin Muhammad bin Qais Raazii
    (al-mu'jam fi ma'aayiri ash'aari_l'ajam...written in 1217)

    2) Nasiiru_ddiin Tuusii ( mi'yaaru_lash'aar 1251)

    3) Saifii (of BuKhara) ('aruuz-i-Saifii..1491)

    4) Abdu_rraHmaan Jaamii (Note: This is the famous poet Jami) (rasaa'il-i-'aruuz..1480)

    The author says that his resume is based on all these sources. On page 4, he goes onto mention the letters which are of no phonetic value and I quote:

    A) Letters that are always omitted

    1) Silent v after Kh
    2) n after a long vowel (aa, ii, uu) (Ghunna)....

    An objective observer looking at the evidence presented above will most certainly come with the verdict that nuun-i-Ghunnah was indeed part of the Classical Persian poetry. How the modern Persian/Dari speakers recite the masters may be open to debate. If the "n" is pronounced fully by them along with the preceding long vowel where we would nasalise the vowel, then one or two questions come to mind. Does the shi3r still remain in meter? If yes, if they are not shortening the vowel, then what other device are they employing to keep it in meter? Perhaps, this is where eskandar SaaHib’s explanation comes into effect.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  13. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    I should update my comment: it turns out I simply hadn't explained myself well, and my tutor is well aware of the 'nuun-e ghoneh'. She said the concept is known in Iran by the educated, though of course not used in contemporary pronunciation of poetry. We then speculated on the presence or absence of such a sound in Middle Persian. I don't know how much is known (or even how much can be known) about MP phonology, but I wonder if someone like fdb might be able to comment on this.
  14. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    We know quite a lot about the phonology of Middle Persian, but not all that much about its phonetics. But in so-called Pazend (that is: Middle Persian written in Avestan script) the group /-ān/ is normally written with the letter that we transcribe as ą, which is a nasalised vowel.
  15. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    Thanks for your response. That, along with the other factors discussed above, seems to indicate that most likely /-ān/ remained nasalized in early New Persian and thus corroborates Qureshpor saheb's theory that it remained so in Indo-Persian and in Persian vocabulary borrowed into Hindi/Urdu.
  16. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I don't have any theories with regard to this, eskandar SaaHib. It just stands to reason that this nasalisation would not have been invented by people of India but they must have inherited this concept from mother tongue speakers of the language.

    You may find it interesting to note that there is only one solitary exception where an Indic word "paan" has been nasalised by our Classical Urdu poets. The Indic words that are nasalised anyway (e.g maaN/mother) remain nasalised. Only words of Persian and Arabic origins ending in long vowels (-aa, -ii, -uu) are nasalised when meter demands it.

    jaaN, shiriiN, beruuN

    shaaN, makiiN, sukuuN

    This nasalisation has disappeared from Modern Persian along with the majhuul vowels.
  17. souminwé Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    North American English, Hindi
    I don't think that the practice has completely disappeared. If you type "استاد محمد رضا لطفی و زویا ثابت گفتم غمِ تو دارم " into Youtube and listen to the song that comes up, you may hear, as I heard, مهرورزان pronounced as مهرورزاں

    EDIT: and
    خوبـرویان pronounced as خوبـرویاں
  18. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    I feel like that might be more a product of Zoya Sabet pronouncing many ending consonants lightly, not just nuun (compare with other words ending with a consonant bearing a sokuun, ie آید ). Meanwhile, the nuun in 'man' (گفتم که ماه من شو) or 'kon' (گفتا تو بندگی کن) remains audibly pronounced.

    Edit: I should add that I'm not convinced either way on this question - maybe there are indeed nasal nuuns in the above song. If you search for 'amad no bahar delkash' on Youtube and listen to the first song that comes up, it does sound like Delkash sings می نوشم به جای خون خوردن with a nasal nuun (that is, mey nuusham be jaa-ye xuuN xordan) at 1:32.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  19. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I have listened to the song. I would like to say that I hear a fully fledged nuun-i-Ghunnah but I am not 100% certain.

    Do you mean that you are not convinced that nuun-i-Ghunnah was part of Classical Persian poetry's repertoire or whether Zoya pronounces nuun as a nasal in a couple of places? If it is the former, do you know if your tutor is convinced of its past existence?

  20. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    I only meant I am not convinced that Zoya pronounces a nasal nuun in some places; it's hard for me to tell. It doesn't sound as clearly identifiable as when I hear a nasal sound in Urdu, French, Portuguese, etc. I do think that the nasal nuun was most likely present in classical Persian.
  21. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    If the nasal nuun was present in classical Persian, shouldn't there be examples of it in Steingass' dictionary? Is theof the entry below considered a nasal nuun?

    غنبه g̠ẖuṃba, Clamour; reproach, defamation.
  22. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    Not necessarily. He could have ignored it in transliteration, it could have died out by the time he was writing, etc.; there are a number of possible explanations.

    I think this is a different phenomenon than the topic of discussion here. As Steingass notes, nuun or /n/ is realized as [m] before labial consonants, for example [p] or [ b ]. I believe that is altogether separate from the 'nasal nuun' or 'nuun-e ghonneh' which as we discussed happens when a syllable ends with a long vowel followed by nuun. However, I do wonder if the nuun in a word like رنگ should be described as 'ghonneh' in Persian - it is certainly nasal, as it has been realized as [ŋ] rather than [n] before the velar [g].
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
  23. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I am not conversant with prosody rules but I know from good authority that the "n" in "rang" is reckoned both in Urdu and Persian poetry. In other words, it is not considered a nasal.
  24. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    Yes, the 'n' in 'rang' is counted in prosody, but I am talking about the quality of the vowel itself, from a linguistic perspective. The sound is nasal. Though I suppose [n] itself is already nasal in that sense so I don't know why I felt I needed to point that out in my post above.

Share This Page