Punjabi: Retroflex L

francois_auffret

Banned
France, French
Hello,

As Panjabigator mentioned in an old thread, Punjabi has a retroflex 'L'.

I've only heard this sound with Punjabi mohajirs from India (from Hisar area), and in the word Hole-hole...

Has someone more information. In how many other words does it occur??? How is it spelt in Gurmukhi / Shahmukhi??? Is it actually retroflex 'R'????

Thanks for your input
 
  • panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    It's like the retroflex L sound found in Sanskrit. I think it's dialectual because my father never (at least to me) uses it, but I heard it plenty in India. The only words that come to mind are /hauLe/ for 'slowly' and /kaaLaa/ for 'black.' But then again, I don't really distinguish too much. Perhaps this sound prevails more in the village.

    For Shahmukhi, your guess is as good as mine! I wonder how Sindhi might distinguishes it...
    Gurumukhi:ਲ਼

    The sound is different from the retroflex R but it sounds very similar. I'm very interested to learn more about this phony.
     

    lcfatima

    Senior Member
    English USA
    That's an interesting sound. There are some words I can think of where an retroflex R can sometimes be substituted with L like naaRaa (zaarband/that drawstring thingy one ties a shalwar with), some people say naalaa. Did this word and others like it once contain the original retroflex L? I can't say I have ever heard that phoneme.
     

    libero30

    Member
    UK
    UK, English & Punjabi
    I actually use this when speaking Punjabi and I've been brought up in Britain. I can think of why in Punjabi where I use it as well although I don't know how to spell that in English. I would also say naala so maybe its related to where my family is from in India.

    I haven't really studied grammar so I don't understand the term that well but I think my name is also said with a retroflex l: Gurpal.
     

    libero30

    Member
    UK
    UK, English & Punjabi
    Just to confirm: is a retroflex constant one in which the tongue touches the palate? If it is then I am struggling to think of any word in Punjabi with an L that isn't retroflex.
     

    panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    It's the one where your tongue goes kind of behind the palate. It's similar to the position used when you say the retroflex D/R sound in the word /ghaD.ii/ (watch).
     

    libero30

    Member
    UK
    UK, English & Punjabi
    Thanks panjabigator, it makes a little more sense now. But trying to get back to francois_auffret's original question. I pronounce all punjabi words that contain an L as retroflex, while the sound I make for an R is slightly different. It's hard for me to explain as I haven't really studied languages or linguistics for very long, but I'll try.

    For a retroflex R my tongue is more flat when it touches my palate, while for a retroflex L only the tip of my tongue touches my palate. I haven't heard anyone pronounce any words that involve L differently to myself so I have to assume it is quite common, and I pronounce all words involving L in this way.

    I hope that this has helped.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Hello,

    As Panjabigator mentioned in an old thread, Punjabi has a retroflex 'L'.

    I've only heard this sound with Punjabi mohajirs from India (from Hisar area), and in the word Hole-hole...

    Has someone more information. In how many other words does it occur??? How is it spelt in Gurmukhi / Shahmukhi??? Is it actually retroflex 'R'????

    Thanks for your input

    I am participating in this thread not only for Francois_auffret SaaHib's query but also for the benefit of BP SaaHib who has asked me a direct question concerning the retroflex L in another thread.

    In the Punjabi that I speak, there is no "L" but my maternal side of the family use it all the time. I hasten to add that they have not migrated from the Indian side of the Punjab.

    I won't be able to inform readers how one can tell which word will have an ordinary "l" and which will have the retroflex "L". Only an "ahl-i-zabaan" will be able to do that!:) In Gurmukhi, a dot is placed under the "l"[ਲ਼] as in "kaalaa"ਕਾਲ਼ਾ. Shahmukhi does not differentiate one laam from the other. I have just been listening to a few of Shazia Manzoor's songs in which there are instances of the retroflex L occurrence. Apparently she had to learn to pronounce it as well. So, BP SaaHib, I hope your Punjabi friends are not "half-baked" Punjabis like me and are able to utter the L sound! {I can pronounce it, but I have to make a conscous effort:(}. I suggest you teach them the qaaf sound in return for the L!:)

    Here are a few examples, in addition to "kaaL
    aa".

    1) diivaa baLe saarii raat

    diyaa jaltaa hai saarii raat

    2) othe maiN vichhaavaaN pa
    LkaaN
    jitthe rakkhe maahiyaa aa ke pair

    vahaaN maiN bichhaa'uuN palkeN
    jahaaN rakkhe meraa maHbuub pair

    3) kamLii (naadaan laRkii)

    4) naaLii (drain). By the way "naaRaa" (izaar-band" is different from naaLaa (brook/ravine/gutter)

    5) taaLaa (lock)
    How does one pronounce it? Very easy! Pretend you are going to pronounce the "l" and the "R" at the same time and the result will be an "L"!


     
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    BP.

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    Sometimes such everyday words hide such treasures only if you know where to look. Thank you.

    I think I've heard that sound in languages further south from the Punjab.

    The first tries of saying the l and the R together are causing much hilarity. Good thing you can't hear me. I'd better get in touch with my neighbour who even speaks French in Punjabi.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    An issue has arisen in another thread about the representation of L in Shahmukhi.

    کجھ نھیں نبھݨا بندیاں نالؕ
    kʊ́d͡ʒ nĩ́ː nɪ́bᵇɳɑː bə̃dɪɑ̃ː nɑːɭ
    ਕੁਝ ਨ੍ਹੀੰ ਨਿਭਣਾ ਬੰਦਿਆਂ ਨਾਲ਼
    I also need to find a practical way of writing لؕ too, but that's another subject.
    I actually don't know whether there is a way of Shahmukhi notation for <L>, I made up لؕ on the spot. Any thoughts?
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Wow! Unbelievable, and that in 2019! I'm very indebted for this contribution. Let's see if it catches on.
     

    lingopro

    New Member
    Odiya
    The Dravidian languages and Indo-Aryan languages below the Vindhyas also have retroflex l viz. Marathi, Odia and Gujarati but it is more palatal than the Punjabi one. The tongue touches the back palate and not front in case of Punjabi.
     

    cHr0mChIk

    Member
    Serbian (maternal); Slovak (paternal)
    My Doabi friend uses this sound frequently and consistently, however my Punjabi friend from Pakistan wasn't even aware of such a sound existing in Punjabi, so I suppose it's a regional thing, also more common in Indian Punjab.

    Similar thing with the retroflex N, but kinda other way around. It seems that all Pakistani Punjabis consistently use this sound, however in certain parts of Indian Punjab, they seem to substitute it with a regular n. My friend told me this is one of the ways to spot a kind of an "Indian Punjabi" accent.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    My Doabi friend uses this sound frequently and consistently, however my Punjabi friend from Pakistan wasn't even aware of such a sound existing in Punjabi, so I suppose it's a regional thing, also more common in Indian Punjab.

    Similar thing with the retroflex N, but kinda other way around. It seems that all Pakistani Punjabis consistently use this sound, however in certain parts of Indian Punjab, they seem to substitute it with a regular n. My friend told me this is one of the ways to spot a kind of an "Indian Punjabi" accent.
    Not quite accurate, I am afraid.

    "L" is quite widespread in Pakistani Punjab. Only 20 miles or so away from me, people use this "L". I don't know if there is a survey on this topic. I have had an acqaintence with many many Indian Punjabis over the years and I can't recall even one of them using this retroflex L sound.

    The retroflex N is part and parcel of Punjabi. Unfortunately, for example, I have heard Muhammed Rafi (from India) and Nur Jahan (from pakistan) "softening" this N to n. So, this process seems to be taking place on both sides.
     

    cHr0mChIk

    Member
    Serbian (maternal); Slovak (paternal)
    "L" is quite widespread in Pakistani Punjab. Only 20 miles or so away from me, people use this "L". I don't know if there is a survey on this topic. I have had an acqaintence with many many Indian Punjabis over the years and I can't recall even one of them using this retroflex L sound.

    This is quite interesting that we've had opposite experiences. My friend which didn't know about the retroflex L is from Rawalpindi, and speaks Pothwari alongside (standard) Punjabi. He also told me he isn't aware of this sound being used in Lahore as well. Perhaps it's used in other parts of Pakistani Punjab.

    When my friend told me he didn't even know about this, it got me confused because since then I've always associated this sound with Punjabi, and also my Indian Punjabi friends (both are actually Doabi...) use this sound frequently. I've also heard it used in the languages of Rajasthan, India as well.

    So, because it got me confused I asked a few more Pakistani Punjabi acquaintances about it (at the time) and some of them knew about this sound but still told me this isn't used much in there.

    Perhaps all of these people were from that similar area which doesn't use it so that's what made me think it's not common in Pakistani Punjab.

    I'd definitely love to see a survey on this topic, since this is very interesting to me and makes me quite curious!
     

    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Would anyone be aware of an audio link to someone saying this sound? I'm very curious. If so, thanks. :)
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Would anyone be aware of an audio link to someone saying this sound? I'm very curious. If so, thanks. :)
    @Jashn, if you search on Youtube under the name of "Shazia Manzoor", a Pakistani singer, you will see an audio "batiyan bujai rakhdi" which in fact should be..

    battiyaaN bujhaa'ii rakhdii ve, diivaa baLe saarii raat

    (battiyaaN bujhaa'e rakhtii huuN, diyaa jale saarii raat)

    If you concentrate on the word "baLe", you might be able to discern the "L" from the "l".

    Another example, by Masood Rana (another Pakistani singer) in the song "Taange Wala Khair" (taaNge vaalaa xair/bhalaa'ii maaNgtaa hai). This is also an audio. If you concerntrate on the word "vaaLe" and "vaaLiyaaN" (around 1:40) in contrast with "paaliye", you will hopefully hear the difference.

    Finally the same singer around 1.00 minute into the video "chik taan lai(live) by Great Legend Masood Rana - Youtube.flv", notice how he pronounces "goLii maar de".

    Edit:

    Please see the below link for Punjabi pronunciations, including لؕ / ਲ਼ under "Letters With A Dot".

    Learn Punjabi/ Gurmukhi Alphabet | Discover Sikhism

    I am not impressed with the depiction of the tones.
     
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    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    On Youtube there is a video (The sound that's missing from Hindi and Bengali). This covers the retroflex L in Indian languages. There is an inaccuracy when the presenter of the video says that "Originally, there was no L sound in Punjabi at all". Well the sound suddenly did not appear suddenly from nowhere but what is more accurate is that in both the Shahmukhi (12th century) and Gurumukukhi (16th century) scripts, there was no symbol to depict this sound. This is a relatively recent innovation in Gurmukhi.
     
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