Persian: Use of an indefinite marker in a sentence with a determiner

Anglia767

New Member
English
I saw this sentence on page 41 of 'Persian: A Comprehensive Grammar' by Saeed Yousef:

ان دختر جوانی را که با مینا حرف می زند نمی شناسم
The translation is 'I do not know that young girl who is talking to Mina'. Notice the use of دختر جوانی. My understanding is that جوان is an adjective meaning 'young'. Therefore, دختر جوانی translates to 'a young girl'. But the determiner ان is also used, which implies a word-for-word translation of 'that a young girl' which does not make sense to me. I imagine I am missing something here. I would have no issue with the sentence if the author wrote:

ان دختر جوان را که با مینا حرف می زند نمی شناسم​

Can anyone explain the use of جوانی in this case? Which of the two Persian sentences above sounds more natural to a Persian speaker?

Any help is appreciated.
 
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  • Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I shall try and then leave it to mother tongue speakers to correct me if I am wrong and add anything further.

    جوانی is context dependent since the "indefinite marker" is much more than meets the eye. It can mean...

    a) a young girl

    b) one young girl

    c) a particular young girl/ a specified young girl

    When the meaning of دختر جوانی inclines towards c) and is followed by که, the meaning becomes "The young girl that/who".

    In the srntence that you have provided, دختر جوانی is preceded by آن is somewhat different from آن دُخترِ جوان. The latter implies only "That young girl" where as آن دختر جوانی would mean "That specified young girl". I hope this helps.

    I think your sentence could be re-written as below although the norm is as you have provided.

    آن دختر جوانی که با مینا حرف میزند اورا نمی شناسم۔
     
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    Anglia767

    New Member
    English
    I shall try and then leave it to mother tongue speakers to correct me if I am wrong and add anything further.

    جوانی is context dependent since the "indefinite marker" is much more than meets the eye. It can mean...

    a) a young girl

    b) one young girl

    c) a particular young girl/ a specified young girl

    When the meaning of دختر جوانی inclines towards c) and is followed by که, the meaning becomes "The young girl that/who".

    In the srntence that you have provided, دختر جوانی is preceded by آن is somewhat different from آن دُخترِ جوان. The latter implies only "That young girl" where as آن دختر جوانی would mean "That specified young girl". I hope this helps.

    I think your sentence could be re-written as below although the norm is as you have provided.

    آن دختر جوانی که با مینا حرف میزند اورا نمی شناسم۔
    That does make sense, thanks very much! So as another example, is the following sentence an acceptable way to say 'look at that specified/particular man'?

    به ان مردی نگاه کن​
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    ان دختر جوانی را که با مینا حرف می زند نمی شناسم
    "I don't know that young girl who's speaking to Mina" (that particular young girl)
    so addition of ی makes that girl a particular one.

    As a native would say: آن دختر جوانی که با مینا حرف می زند را نمی شناسم

    In colloquial Persian the same sentence is expressed this way:
    اون دختر جوانه که با مینا حرف می زنه رو نمی شناسم
    You notice جوانی changes to جوانه where ه is a definite marker and in formal Persian it is changed to a ی (don't know why) and that causes this confusion. So ی in the above is a definite marker.

    You could equally say:
    اون دختره/ی که با مینا حرف می زنه رو نمی شناسم
    I don't know that girl who's speaking to Mina (that particular girl)
    ان دختر جوان را که با مینا حرف می زند نمی شناسم
    I don't know that young girl who's speaking to Mina

    as a native would say:
    آن دختر جوان که با مینا حرف می زند را نمی شناسم (the young girl)


    ان دختر جوان را که با مینا حرف می زند نمی شناسم
    This is correct too but را here adds stress on the 'young girl' e.g. if some asks: "which young girl don't know?" In answer you can say: آن دختر جوان را, with or without the rest of it.
     
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    Aryamp

    Senior Member
    Persian
    It’s a matter of restrictive vs nonrestrictive relative clause. Also note that “آن” and “that” are not perfect equivalents. There’s no “the” in Persian so “آن” sometimes acts as “the” and in any case their grammatical functions cannot be equated.

    With ...آن دختر جوان را you are not forced to add a relative clause, the sentence is perfectly fine without one:
    آن دختر جوان را نمی شناسم:tick:

    But with ی a relative clause is needed and without one the sentence would be wrong :
    آن دختر جوانی را نمی شناسم:cross:

    So with ی the listener is primed to expect a relative clause.

    Maybe there’s not much of a practical difference between the sentences you’ve given, but in other contexts the difference could be more significant, for example:

    اولین نفر که چپ دست بود را انتخاب کردم

    If read with correct intonation, this sentence means: I chose the first person, who was (happened to be) left-handed.

    However,

    اولین نفری که چپ دست بود را انتخاب کردم

    This sentence can only mean: I chose the first left-handed person
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    That does make sense, thanks very much! So as another example, is the following sentence an acceptable way to say 'look at that specified/particular man'?
    به ان مردی نگاه کن

    a qualified yes, as long as you use the definite marker ه instead, as in
    به آن مرده نگاه کن/look at that man, context: known/identified man as a result of a previous conversation
    or
    به مرده نگاه کن look at the man, context: known/identified man as a result of a previous conversation

    به آن مرد نگاه کن/look at that man, context: unknown man but becomes specific because of that/آن (by pointing or a gesture)

    There are many variations of saying the same thing which is no different in English & other languages.
     
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