Similarity between Hindi and Persian

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by laurent485, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. laurent485 Member

    Hi everyone,
    I am learning Hindi now. I know that Hindi together with Urdu belong to the Indo-Iranian branch to which Persian is also attached. Thus, I am wondering whether there exists a great similarity between Hindi and Persian in grammar structure and vocabulary. By vocabulary, I mean words common to the both languages AND which can be traced back to Proto Indo-Iranian, BUT not loanwords (I know in Hindi there are a lot of words borrowed from Persian).

    As to Urdu, can we say Urdu is to Persian what English is to French? As Udu is heavily influenced by Persian for its vocabulary, which makes Urdu different from Hindi whose vocabulary is more based on Sanskrit.
  2. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    The basic vocabulary of these languages is similar and can easily be traced back to proto-Aryan. Here are some examples:

    to do--------kardan-------karnaa
    to give------daadan-------denaa

    The grammar of these languages differs in notable ways, however. While Persian has completely lost the Indo-Iranian case system, Hindi/Urdu has conserved a binary case system (direct case vs oblique case) and has retained two of the three grammatical genders of Proto-Aryan. The tense systems are also very different.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2009
  3. BP. Senior Member

    arshet you've got two words wrong in your list for Urdu. bhraataa and garma don't exist. The correct ones are baraadar and garm.
  4. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    Thanks for the remark! I'll correct my original post!

    Do you still have the aspirated bh in Hindi/Urdu?
  5. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    Corrected Version!
  6. BP. Senior Member

    Yes we do have the aspirated b, as well as aspirated p, T and D. Infact, the other word for brother, that Urdu shares with Hindi and most Pakistani languages, is bhaaii-بھائ-.
  7. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    Arsham, another correction to your post. I think the word garm / garam is borrowed from Persian in Urdu... The original Indic word was gharam in Sanskrit with an aspirate g, this sound is normally maintained in words of Sanskrit origin... Therefore it will be safer to assume garm is a Persian loan.

    As for biraadar, this is undoubtedly a Persian loan and it is not used in Hindi, only in Urdu.... I think the punjabi bhraa (often pronounced praa)is closer to the Persian than the Urdu / Hindi bhaai
  8. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I believe <bhrā> comes from the Sanskrit <bhrātā>, which is a cognate with the Persian <birādar>.
  9. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    The original form in Sanskrit would be bhraatri the last ri being not a consonant, but a vowel quite difficult to pronounce now.
  10. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    It is treated as so. I mean a Persian borrowing.

    True we use it only in Urdu! But some Hindi speakers, esp. in Lucknow, used to use it too. Not sure now. I wouldn't put it past it.

    Alhough many I hear many say <biraadar / biraaddarii>, we always say <baraadar بَرادَر / baraadarii بَرادَری> - Persian pronunciation.
  11. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    Thank you BP, Cilquiestsuens, panjabigator and Fayla for your comments. I think we should try to put together a list of true cognates. I have the impression that examining the basic verbs might be a good idea!
  12. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Good idea! But Arsham why restrict it to just verbs! Unless you feel the list of cognates would grow too long.
  13. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    Oh! I did mean that we should restrict the list to basic verbs, but it seems that it's easier to detect verbal cognates with certainty, since the Urdu/Hindi infinitives are primarily based on the original Aryan roots or present stems, while the Persian infinitives are similar to the perfect participles!
  14. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    I am not sure these forums are about making lists, but there are of course a number of words that show the common origin that Urdu / Hindi shares with Persian. Here are a few other ones (apart from verbs that you rightly mention) which just came to my mind:

    Persian Urdu / Hindi English
    pesar putra (puttar in Punjabi) son
    pusht piiTh back
    baazuu baa.nh arm
    ambah aam (amb in Punjabi) mango
    gaao gaay cow
    paa pao.N / pair foot
    dandan daa.Nt tooth
    gandum gehoo.N wheat
    niilii niilaa blue
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2009
  15. BP. Senior Member

    Please do understand that I'm not trying to criticize you knowledge nor your effort neither I'm saying something just for the heck of it, but this list falls to the same trap as most similar lists we find on the Internet - they suffer from the lack of fuzziness and talk in absolute terms.

    I'll explain...
    1- it compartmentalizes words as absolutes in one language (e.g gandum into Persian solely),
    2- it excludes synonyms (but for one instance) that might be common,
    3- it only reflects your experience with the languages (e.g. I'm used to calling blue aabii(-maael), which the list discounts), and finally
    4- I had chosen not to talk about this at first, but putting two languages in one column is a bad idea: in Urdu we never calls son putra and never except in poetry arm baa.nh.

    I think it might be better to put up three words (or fewer if fewer exist) for each object under each language including those that are shared among languages.
    farsi urdu hindi panjabi english:
    baaraan?/* baarish/baaraan/mii.nh/* baarish/varsha/* mii.nh?/* rain
    (*:you_think_of_more ?:unsure)
  16. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    That should not be an issue. When you go on a forum, you should expect people to criticize you! so relax!

    This is something that needs to be checked in the process.

    We're mostly interested in the etymology of the words. It's possible that two etymologically cognate words would undergo different semantic evolutions! So the register a word belongs to or its current usage is not of primary importance. I agree with you that Hindi and Urdu should be treated seperately (although at first I put them in one column!). Adding Panjabi to the list is good idea too.
  17. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    BP sahib,

    aabii(-maael)? Could you spell this word in Urdu?

  18. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    BP, you are right this is and has to be over-simplified.... An other problem and a bigger one mentioned by Arsham is the different semantic evolution of two words from the same root.... Just one example : soz- in Persian as you all know is the root of the verb to burn, while in Urdu / Hindi : sooj- seem to be its equivalent - needs to be checked though - although it means inflammation / swelling....

    A list is not meant to describe a complex reality in its entirety...
  19. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Actuually, the Urdu-Hindi equivalent of the Persain suxtan / soz would be more like jalnaa / jalan - when used as intransient verbs. Conversely, the Persian equivalent of our soojnaa / soojan is aamaas (or baad) kardan / aamaas.

    Hardly similar!
  20. BP. Senior Member

    آبی مائِل.

    maael is optional, here meaning 'tending towards' (e.g. maael ba manzil-heading towards the destination), used for example as in aabii maael safaed - 'bluish white'.
  21. BP. Senior Member

    If we're into studying etymological evolution, adding Bengali to the list is a very interesting idea. We just need a Banglaphone...
  22. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    The truth is that Bengali will be even further away from Persian... Modern Indo-Aryan languages are actually quite dissimilar to Persian in their roots... If we would like to choose Indo-aryan languages which may be closer, then we should go for Kashmiri, Shina, Balochi, etc...
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2009
  23. UrduLover New Member

    Hindi and Persian are in fact connected to each other via Sanskrit. Urdu came in later as byproduct of Hindi due to use of Persian by the Mughals and others who came to India. Some basic words where similarity is obvious are:
    Saptah = Haftah = week
    Astitv = Hasti = existence
    Varsha = Baarish = rain
    Ashv = Isp = horse
    Pitr = Pidr = father
  24. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Some of the terms given in the previous lists were wrong, so I'm correcting them below and adding a few more similar terms that I can think of. I also agree that Hindi/Urdu should not be listed as a single language in an etymological discussion. Urdu is essentially a fusion language and, as such, cannot exist without Persian words. Given that the OP asked specifically about the similarities between Hindi and Persian, we should focus our discussion to those two languages.

    to do--------kardan-------karnaa
    to give------daadan-------denaa
    foot--------paa----------pao.N / pair
    hand--------dast---------haath (hasta in Sanskrit)
    new----------nau----------nayaa or nau
    horse---------asp or asb------ashva

    The Hindi etymological equivalent of Persian 'garm' is 'gharm', although it's used in a different sense.

    The Persian words for 'mango' and 'blue' in a previous list are borrowings from Hindi/Prakrit/Sanskrit and not cognates.

    As you can see in the above list, a few of the Hindi and Persian cognates are exactly the same (e.g. body, boat, color).

    In general, all of the family relationships and numbers will have similarities, too.
  25. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    What exactly do you mean by this?


  26. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    As nobody said anything about this, I though I’d have a go.

    It depends what you mean but strictly speaking no! English is a Germanic language with a large vocabulary input (~60%) from Norman French most directly, but also from Latin and Greek too, not to mention various other languages.

    Urdu and Colloquial Hindi bear very close relationship to each other as they are from the same immediate ancestor, KhaRii Bolii, but both ended up borrowing words from other languages. If you are referring to Modern High (shuddh) Hindi then it is a different matter. I say more about this below.

    I too am wondering what is this supposed to mean given that it is well known that Modern Persian is ultimately descended from Old Persian (a branch of Old Iranian which included Avestan), via Middle Persian (Pahlavi); while Hindi & Urdu are both most immediately from KhaRi Boli, which was from Prakrit and this in turn from Sanskrit. So we are talking about parallel lineages of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family when it comes to Persian and Hindi-Urdu rather than Sanskrit being a common link, as appears to be the suggestion above.

    Both Urdu and Colloquial Hindi represent fusion dialects and neither can really exist without their Persio-Arabic vocabulary or Prakrit grammar and vocabulary! If one is talking of shuddh Hindi, then it should be noted that it is an invention of the late 19th , developed under the aegis ofJohn Borthwick Gilchrist of Fort William College, and formed by removing Persian and Arabic words and replacing them with Sanskrit or Sanskrit-derived substitutes.

    In everyday Hindi and Urdu: son is betaa – used all the time. The word is of Sanskrit etymology but has no Persian cognate. (Of course some dialects use putr, for which of course has a Persian cognate). Similarly, for a horse we use g-hoRaa (from Prakrit, and pronounced with an aspirated g)and not ashva, which again is Sanskrit. Once again, g-hoRaa has no Persian cognate, as far as I know. It does on depend which languages and which examples one chooses for these comparisons.

    Perhaps the thread should have been better titled: Similarities between Sanskrit-Prakrit and Persian.
  27. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    By Hindi I was referring to 'shuddh' Hindi and not colloquial. And, yes, it was standardized in its modern form during the 19th century, but 'shuddh' forms of the language had been used in various dialects for centuries. Tulsidas, a famous poet from the 16th century, uses a form of shuddh Hindi (Awadhi dialect), virtually free of Perso-Arabic vocabulary. Same goes for many other medieval poets.

    It would be a more fair assesment to compare etymolgies of pure forms of languages, such as 'shuddh' Hindi and pure Persian (minus Arabic loans), because their genetic relationship can be easier to see without the interference of loan words.
  28. Not.A.Linguist Member

    New York
    That statement is misleading. The word "invention" makes it give an entirely incorrect meaning. The effort by John Borthwick Gilchrist was a mere compilation of dictionary rather than an invention.

    Hindi in its pure form existed since much ago. There is enough history available to support this.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  29. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Firstly, just a word about word comparisons. We really should be comparing the earliest forms of the languages here. What I mentioned earlier was:

    I’d like to improve on this by saying that for etymologies we ought to be comparing Sanskrit and Old Iranian (Old Persian and Avestan). As for shuddh Hindi, we might as well look at Sanskrit first. This is where we need to begin as many words we use are from Sanskrit and that is where we see the most cognates. But even here there are many words we use daily in Hindi and Urdu which have no apparent Old Iranian cognates. Then we also use words from Prakrit and other Indic languages which have diverged considerably making it even less likely that we find Old Iranian cognates.

    I understand the arguments being made about shuddh Hindi origin. I don’t wish to be misunderstood about this, so please let me clarify.

    Lallu Ji Lal and Sadal Misra are the two persons who figure large in the story of the creation of modern High Hindi at Fort William College whose head was John Gilchrist. So one cannot dismiss Gilchrist’s role. In fact, we owe him a debt. Please see Keay’s book and the article by Tara Chand – both linked below.

    Gilchrist was involved in both Urdu and modern High Hindi lexicography and literature, as it started to appear at the end of the 19th century. He employed the finest scholars he could find in India for both these languages.

    For the circumstances surrounding modern High Hindi, I specifically refer to pages 4 and 88 of the book: “A History of Hindi Literature” by F. E. Keay, here.

    The noted Indian writer and scholar, Ram Babu Saxena in his book, A History Of Urdu Literature (available form many online bookstores) also says the same about the “generation” / “creation” of modern High Hindi from Urdu by Sanskritization.

    Here is an article (by Tara Chand) worth reading. Very informative. Looks at the split that occurred over Sankritization and also revealing the complex issue of terminology / nomenclature of Hindivi / Hindavi vs. Hindi vs. Hindustani vs. Urdu and the fact that Hindi, which means Indian, has been used as a generic term too for a group of 7-8 North Indian dialects.

    So when we ask questions about similarities between “Persian” and “Hindi” we’d better know what exactly we are dealing with.

    (BTW, I’m a great fan of Tulsidas, Kabir Das, Amir Khusrau, Abdur Rahim Khan, Meera Bai (and others) who composed wonderful poetry in various Hindi dialects. Braj poetry is one of my favourites. It is also popular with many qawwals in both India and Paksitan).
  30. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Thanks for posting the historical background. Essentially, Urdu was formed from the large influx of Perso-Arabic words into the original Khariboli of the Delhi region, and modern High Hindi was formed by eliminating the bulk of Perso-Arabic words found in Urdu in an attempt to return to a "pure Indian" form of the language.

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