Persian: The ye of indefiniteness

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Qureshpor

Senior Member
Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
There seem to be many ways to make a noun indefinite in Classical Persian. I am wondering if there are any subtle differences between the various forms.

kitaab: a book/the book/books depending on context

yak kitaab

kitaab-e ( the -e is the majhuul vowel, now days pronounced -ii in Iran)

yak kitaab-e

yak-e kitaab
yak-e kitaab-e

Do these all mean a book or are there other factors at play?

Also, in "kitaab-e kih", is the -e (or-ii) the same ye as above. If yes, how come it ends up meaning both " A book which..." as well as "The book which.."?

Qureshpor
 
  • Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    There seem to be many ways to make a noun indefinite in Classical Persian. I am wondering if there are any subtle differences between the various forms.

    kitaab: a book/the book/books depending on context

    yak kitaab

    kitaab-e ( the -e is the majhuul vowel, now days pronounced -ii in Iran)

    yak kitaab-e

    yak-e kitaab
    yak-e kitaab-e

    Do these all mean a book or are there other factors at play?

    Also, in "kitaab-e kih", is the -e (or-ii) the same ye as above. If yes, how come it ends up meaning both " A book which..." as well as "The book which.."?

    Qureshpor
    Any takers or is this topic somewhat "tangled" up?
     

    eskandar

    Moderator
    English (US)
    It may help to write these in the Perso-Arabic script alongside their romanizations:


    kitaab (کتاب): a book/the book/books depending on context

    yak kitaab (یک کتاب)

    kitaab-e (کتابی) ( the -e is the majhuul vowel, now days pronounced -ii in Iran)

    yak kitaab-e (یک کتابی)

    yak-e kitaab (یکی کتاب)
    yak-e kitaab-e (یکی کتابی)

    Do these all mean a book or are there other factors at play?

    Also, in "kitaab-e kih", (کتابی که) is the -e (or-ii) the same ye as above. If yes, how come it ends up meaning both " A book which..." as well as "The book which.."?
    Now to your question: to my ears there is no real difference between یک کتاب and کتابی. There are be some subtle difference between the others. For instance (in my opinion) either یک کتاب or کتابی expresses something concrete: a book. On the other hand یک کتابی is less concrete: some book, as in "I had seen it in some book or other" (در یک کتابی آنرا دیده بودم). The others are often restricted to more specific situations like that, maybe one of our native speakers can elucidate on their use.

    As for the 'ye' used in کتابی که, I don't know to what extent it's possible to say whether it's the same 'ye' as used above or different, any more than we can say whether the 'the' in "the day before yesterday" (indicating a very specific day) is the same 'the' in "the day you grow up, I'll consider seeing you again" (indicating a hypothetical day).
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    It may help to write these in the Perso-Arabic script alongside their romanizations:



    Now to your question: to my ears there is no real difference between یک کتاب and کتابی. There are be some subtle difference between the others. For instance (in my opinion) either یک کتاب or کتابی expresses something concrete: a book. On the other hand یک کتابی is less concrete: some book, as in "I had seen it in some book or other" (در یک کتابی آنرا دیده بودم). The others are often restricted to more specific situations like that, maybe one of our native speakers can elucidate on their use.

    As for the 'ye' used in کتابی که, I don't know to what extent it's possible to say whether it's the same 'ye' as used above or different, any more than we can say whether the 'the' in "the day before yesterday" (indicating a very specific day) is the same 'the' in "the day you grow up, I'll consider seeing you again" (indicating a hypothetical day).
    Thank you for your response. There appear to be contradictory explanations depending on which text book one has access to.

    Yes native speakers of Persian, theoratically at least, should be the best people to "elucidate" questions on Persian matters but it has been four months since I posted this query. There was a gentleman with great amount of knowledge in the field of Classical Persian who frequented this forum but, unfortunately, he has not been around for a while.

    Regarding the last part of your reply, in the English phrase "the day", "the" is not a suffix which can mean all the following depending on context. "A day" (one day), "a certain day", some day or other", "such a day", "the day". It just means "The day" full stop!
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Now that arsham is back in the fold, I wonder if he would be kind enough to look at this and other "Classical Persian" threads?
     

    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    There is no difference between those indefinite forms.
    in ketaab-i ke yaa is called yaa-e neshaane it is a contrast marker or marker of definiteness.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    There is no difference between those indefinite forms.
    in ketaab-i ke yaa is called yaa-e neshaane it is a contrast marker or marker of definiteness.

    Thank you. To say the least, I am somewhat surprised to learn that all the indefinite forms that I have listed in my initial post have the very same meaning!

    Regarding the "kitaabii ke" construction, would you say that in the two couplets quoted below, the meaning is definite, indefinite or both.

    خوش هوائی ست فرح بخش خدایا بفرست
    نازنینی که به رویش می گلگون نوشیم

    حافظ

    کافر بیدار دل پیش صنم
    به از دین داری که خفت اندر حرم

    اقبال
     

    arsham

    Senior Member
    Persian
    خوش هوائی ست فرح بخش خدایا بفرست
    نازنینی که به رویش می گلگون نوشیم

    here it's indefinite.

    In the second one from Eqbaal, it's a contrast marker.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    خوش هوائی ست فرح بخش خدایا بفرست
    نازنینی که به رویش می گلگون نوشیم

    here it's indefinite.

    In the second one from Eqbaal, it's a contrast marker.

    Thank you. Could you please elaborate a little on the point of "contrast" marker. How do the meanings differ in the two couplets? In the first one, I would say " A sweet heart, before whose face..." and for the second one, " Better than a Muslim who...".
     

    mannoushka

    Senior Member
    Iran/Persian
    Firstly, a common noun used as it is, i.e. without a 'y' affixed to it, and also without the article 'yek', does not mean 'one of that object'. It is indefinite in the sense of being the generic name, the concept, or what it is, namely the common noun.

    Secondly, 'yek' and 'yeki' used before the noun with or without the suffix 'y' all equally convey the indefinite sense of 'one of that object'. 'Yeki gol' _ and here I will just add as an aside that I've never come across 'yeki goli', but I wouldn't put it past the odd over-cautious scribe to have used this construction just to make sure no mistake is made about the number being only one! _ as an old way of saying 'a flower'. It's very rarely used today and certainly never in the spoken Persian of Iran.

    Finally, in the construction 'ketaabi ke ...', the sense is that of definiteness. There is no equivalent word for the English 'the' in Persian, but the idea of it does exist in the mind of every native speaker.
     
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    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ Here is an example from Firdausi

    چو او رفت و آمد سپاهی بزرگ

    یکی پهلوانی بکردار بزرگ
     

    mannoushka

    Senior Member
    Iran/Persian
    ^ Here is an example from Firdausi<BR><BR><FONT color=#000000><SPAN style="FONT-FAMILY: Tahoma">چو او رفت و آمد سپاهی بزرگ</SPAN></FONT><BR><BR><FONT size=4>یکی پهلوانی</FONT> بکردار بزرگ
    Oops! Ah, but maybe, just maybe, this is not an example at all. I mean, Ferdossi did the whole book in verse, and he took poetic licence wherever and whenever he felt he had to in order to maintain the meter or to create some effect. That was Ferdossi! He could do whatever he wanted! We have to search for an example in, say, Beihaghi, to know for sure. In the meantime, I am quite prepared to admit I've not read the Shah-naameh save for very short passages, and that you are in the right! Thanks!
     
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