Urdu: اولاد

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Khatmal, May 11, 2014.

  1. Khatmal New Member

    We know that اولاد is the Arabic plural of ولد, and refers to sons or any general group of boys.

    Does anyone know why اولاد is feminine in Urdu? I don't think I've heard of other Urdu words which do not carry the same gender over from Arabic.
  2. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    "walad"'s basic meaning is "child". It's plural "aulaad" would therefore be "children/off-springs". "boy/boys" is a secondary meaning.

    A guess. "santaan" is feminine. It is possible "aulaad" was given the same gender. I believe "aulaad" in Arabic is a feminine word.
    Last edited: May 11, 2014
  3. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    There are tons of Urdu words which have a different gender than their Arabic origins. Most Arabic words ending in taa marbuuTa are feminine and most of them become masculine in Urdu (cf. طریقة Ar F > طریقہ Ur M, مجموعة Ar F > مجموعہ Ur M, etc).

    I second this hypothesis. It seems that many Urdu words of non-Indic origin take their gender either from the sound at the end of the word (eg. طریقہ which ends in an 'a' which often comes at the end of a feminine noun in Urdu unlike Arabic) or from an Indic synonym (eg. ضدّ which is masculine in Arabic but feminine in Urdu, possibly on analogy with the feminine synonym ہٹ ).

    I think it is a masculine plural in Arabic.
  4. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Another common example that comes to mind is "kitaab". Another example similar to "aulaad" is "auqaat". On the other hand, "akhbaar" is masculine in Urdu.

    In case of "aulaad" ~ "santaan", however, the problem is a bit more complicated, because "santaan" itself is a Sanskrit borrowing (santaana), which is masculine/neuter in Sanskrit, and not feminine. This imposes another level of explaining to do.

    What I have read in the Arabic forum here on Wordreference suggests that there was quite a bit of variation in Classical Arabic (but not so much in Modern Standard Arabic) regarding syntactic gender of human plurals - both masculine plural and feminine singular are found. I hope, someone with real knowledge of Arabic could clarify it.
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  5. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    The gender of "santaan" more likely would have been taken from the relevant Prakrit as opposed to directly from Sanskrit. We know that in Urdu/Hindi, it is used as a feminine noun. I recall an old song from the film "Jugnu" (teraa khilonaa TuuTaa baalak teraa khilonaa TuuTaa) where one of the lines is "tuu hai Bhaarat kii santaan".
  6. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Sure, I have no doubt that "santaan" is feminine in Urdu/Hindi. My point is - it is a Sanskrit borrowing (and not through Prakrit, which would make it into *saaNtaaN or something like that in Hindi/Urdu), and its gender assignment is no less unexpected than that of aulaad. It might well have been influenced by other Prakritic/Sanskrit (e.g. "santati" fem. = offspring)/foreign words. But that needs to be explained.
  7. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I have opened a thread on this topic in the Arabic forum.

  8. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Thanks. And, you see the two replies so far - one suggesting feminine singular, the other broken plural of the adjective (so, masculine plural, I suppose, in this context). Maybe the variation/confusion (or whatever you call it) is still present.

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