Urdu: desideratives

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Faylasoof, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    This thread links to this one.
    No sir! Not just Luckhnow. The older Delhi idiom of Urdu also did the same!!

    In Urdu and Hindi desideratives are formed by the use of

    karnaa chaahnaa
    = to wish / desire / want to do.
    k-haanaa chaahnaa
    = to wish / desire / want to eat
    paRhnaa chaahnaa
    = to wish / desire / want to read / study
    jaanaa chaahnaa
    = to wish / desire / want to go
    dek-hnaa chaahnaa
    = to wish / desire / want to see

    In the older idiom of k-haRii bolii of Delhi, the same were formed slightly differently; by combining چاہنا chaahnaa with a perfect participle used as a verbal noun in the accusative and so uninflected:

    jaayaa chaahnaa
    paRhaa chaahnaa
    dek-haa chaahnaa

    Sounds odd? To some, very. But that is how it was.

    It seems that when the idiom changed to our modern forms above, both Lak-hnavii and Dehlavii Urduphones maintained an “uninflected” form of what now precedes chaahnaa to regularly give constructs like dek-hnaa chaahnaa, like the older form dek-haa chaahnaa, that were gender insensitive. This gender insensitivity is seen in the following verse of Mirza Nausha – a speaker of the Dehlavii dialect of Urdu:

    منحصر مرنے پہ ہو جس كی اُمید
    نا اُمیدی اُس كی دیكھا چاھیے


    munHaSir marne pah ho jis kii umiid*
    naa umiidii us kii dek-haa chaahiye


    [umiid = ummiid, but in verse sometimes the former is used for keeping to the rules of prosody]

    In our present form the second line would be: naa umiidii us kii dek-hnaa chaahiye

    umiid / ummiid is feminine but in the above we would never say:
    naa umiidii us kii dek-hnii chaahiye

    We Lakhnaviis have stuck to this convention but I think the guilty party were the Dillii waalaas.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2009
  2. omlick Senior Member

    Portland, Oregon, USA
    American English
    It still is, I have heard in BW films things like

    "mai.n use dekhaa nahii.n chaahtaa "

    because using the "masculine perfect participle" form (which can also be a noun, just like the infinitive can be a noun) is pefectly fine in that construct and is said to convey a more intense feeling on the part of the speaker. And that is the situation in which I heard this sentence, a father was being very emotional and did not want to see his daughter who was in a very bad mental condition at the hospital.

    So, if you say" mai.n jaayaa chaahtii huu.n, it means you really want to go. (learners shoud note that jaayaa is the "noun" not gayaa for jaanaa), and this shows that these forms are nouns, depending on context, one must take care to know the difference.

    The habitual construct with karnaa is another famous one that takes these "noun" forms that look like singular masculin perfect participles, but in that construct they are nouns, and so jaayaa too must be used in that construct.

    Many learners don't have a clue about this because text books don't explain this point. I found this information in a textbook from the late 19th century, early 20th century era.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2009
  3. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    This is very interesting.

    Faylasoof, could you post a translation of that sher? Here is my feeble attempt:

    منحصر مرنے پہ ہو جس كی اُمید
    نا اُمیدی اُس كی دیكھا چاھیے

    That hope upon which death is dependent,
    We should see that particular hopelessness.

    I immediately thought of other archaism in Hindi/Urdu. Example: kare hai.n for karte hai.n (line: <chāhte hai.n so āp kare hai.n, ham ko abas badnām kī'ā). Wonderful how the Ghazal and (apparently) Bollywood keep these relics alive.

    Faylasoof and others, have you heard this past participle + verb in regular speech? Can this be replicated in Panjabi?

    Omlink, which film did you find this line in?
  4. BP. Senior Member

    I agree with Faylasoof on the issue of the parent thread, though I've been guilty of the same mistake.

    I think something similar happens in this case.

    The remark on desireatives evoked a second idea: we use some verbs+chaahna to mean 'about to'+action of the verb. I'll give you some examples:

    wo aaya hii chaahataa hae - he's about to arrive
    chaar bajaa hii chaahata hae - the clock is about to strike four.
  5. omlick Senior Member

    Portland, Oregon, USA
    American English
    Thanks ver much for the example of this usage. I think I have run into this before in the literature and will make a note of it. Is it the "hii" that effects the meaning to be "about to"
  6. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I know it still exists! In fact I’ve heard the construction under discussion in real life, both in Lucknow and Karachi, though only from older (now very old) folks.

    We've of course never considered it grammatically incorrect. Just archaic to our modern ears. Hardly heard now and never amongst the younger generation – at least in the circles I move in.
    Yes, this is precisely the point I was making above. Many don't realise this.
    Unfortunately this is very true and furthermore many teachers seem unaware of this!

    A good attempt PG, but I would translate the first verse by moving around your translation to:

    That hope which is dependent on death,

    This is so because you can rephrase this <she3r> in the more “prosaic” following manner:

    jis kii umiid marne par munHaSir ho

    Similarly the second verse can be rephrased somewhat like:

    us kii naa umiidii dekhne waalii hai!

    So we now get:

    That hope which is dependent on death,
    We should see that particular hopelessness.

    OR simply,

    One desires to see that hopelessness

    Since we are trying to translate this, I feel I should add the following points since the meaning may not be clear even in a good translation. And we are just doing it off-the cuff!
    As with many an Urdu verse, and esp. with the likes of Ghalib, I think there is more than one way to read this. If we take it as Ghalib The Cynic, then the translation would mean something like this:
    Though Galib believed in the existence of the soul, he was very cautious about all the hopes and promises that clerics assured believers they’ll have in the afterlife. If we see it this way, then it would imply that here he in his cynical manner is trying to say that what you are hoping to get after death might a hope too much and will make you despondent. When you leaved this world your hopes shall remain unfulfilled including what you hoped for in the next world. It is this unfulfilled hope that is implied by the 2nd vers: نا اُمیدی اُس كی دیكھا چاھیے

    But there may be another way to understand this if we assume it is Ghalib The Empathiser speaking. Then it could mean that in this unfair and unforgiving world we suffer (some more than others) and live in the hope that only death will relieve us of our misery and it is that misery (pertaining to our lives here) we ought to try to see.
    Yes! I have heard these too!
    … as for Punjabi? I’m sure others can answer.
  7. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Could this thread be extended to include Hindi/Panjabi as well?

    I have searched my sources but I can't find a grammatical explanation for this in Ruth Laila Shmidt. Could someone see if Jain has an explanation?

    I'm still unsure how to produce this myself and have it sound idiomatic. Could we perhaps go through some more examples?
  8. omlick Senior Member

    Portland, Oregon, USA
    American English
    Yes, that would be nice to have some more examples of this usage.

    Also, I assume the noun before "hii" is always spelt like the past participle masculine singular form and that "jaayaa" would apply here as well.
  9. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member


    Well indeed this use maybe considered high register now, but they still use it on TV in PK, such as : is prograam ke iKHtataam kaa waqt huaa chaahtaa hai, etc... I guess it is considered the most elegant way of expressing this idea.
  10. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    If you allow me interfere in the translation of the she3r you quote, let me suggest another translation :

    he whose hope is dependent on death
    his hopelessness ought to be seen

    An elegant and Ghalibian way of showing : na-ummiidi kii intehaa.
  11. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    There are indeed different ways to translate, esp. our poets.
    ... and yes he shows here what the extent of naa ummiidii can be.
  12. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    Sorry I was not clear enough... I just meant to say that translating :

    By :

    Is not right, because hope is not the grammatical subject here. Therefore :

    Now, apart from that, translating Urdu poetry is normally impossible....

    Italians rightly say, traduttore tradittore (translating is to betray).
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
  13. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    For a literal translation, I would agree. But as I don't always do literal translations then it is diifferent. The idea is also very important!

    l also see your point about the impossibility of translating Urdu poetry. But I'd go further and say poetry in general (in any language) can be extremely difficult if not impossible to translate. The same I've seen for Arabic and Persian poetry. And for the latter, FitzGerald had to do non-literal translations of the rubaa3iyyaat of Omar Khayyaam. Otherwise he would have had a hard time.
  14. Cilquiestsuens Senior Member

    Well, I don't want to discuss this anymore because we're drifting off-topic now, but still, one last point ...

    COME ON ! Be a gentleman ! Just surrender this once. :)

    How can you maintain that translating " منحصر مرنے پہ ہو جس كی اُمید " by "That hope which is dependent on death" translates the idea while a 'literal - I should say correct - translation doesn't ?????? It is exactly the other way round.

    Please let's not have a fight on this, let's uphold some kind of intellectual honesty and when a mistake was made, let's just accept it acknowledge it and let it go.

    I love discussing poetry and I feel we should do more often on this forum, and your input is much needed and muqaddam in that matter.

    ma3 i7tiraam
  15. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Janaab-e-waalaa, I never said yours was wrong (nor is mine for that matter) but I too have no intention to carry on with this here. We can do this by PM if you like.

    Here is another example of the desiderative:

    گفتگو شعر كی ہو لطف آمیز، وہ منظر دیكھا چاہئے

    guft o goo she3r ki ho luTf aamez, woh manZar dek-haa chaa


  16. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو

    I am not quite sure Faylasoof SaaHib!

    jaanaa yih zulf kaf meN lenii
    hai saaNp ke muNh meN uNglii denii

    Dayaa Shankar Naseem Lakhnavi

    Khvaab meN aane kaa kyuN ab kare va'dah
    ya'nii kab judaa'ii meN muj ko niiNd aanii hai

    Nasikh (Faizabadi/Lakhnavi)

    Iftikhar Arif, a well known Pakistani poet and a man of letters was born in Lucknow in 1943 and migrated to Pakistan in 1965. He has since visited his ancestoral home several times. On Youtube there are five videos entitled "Jashn-e-Iftikhar Arif".

    In III

    0:46:40 jab ham baRe ho ga'e aur ham ne kuchh chiizeN is tarH kii kahnii shuruu3 kiiN..

    1:06:12 Pakistan meN nisbat-an yih kaam aasaan thaa is liye kih us meN baateN hii karnii hotii thiiN..

    {I was utterly surprised to hear janaab-i-Iftikhar Arif Sahib say the following: 1:04:32 aap dunyaa ko Khuub-suurat dekhnaa chaahte ho...aap dunyaa ko tabdiil karnaa chaah rahe ho... I can not imagine a Punjabi poet, say Faiz saying something like this!}

    In V

    0:05:37 maiN ne KhabreN paRhnii shuruu3 kiiN.

    By the way in V, 0:08:00 he talks about his pronunciation of "umiid/ummiid" as "umaid". This is how illiterate/rustic Punjabis would pronounce it (actually, they would miss out the "u" and just pronounce it as "maid"). I suppose, like Khurshaid, umed must have been "umaid" at one stage.
  17. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    QP Sahib, I was curious if you can expound upon the above construction ("dekhaa chahiye" and "dekhaa chahtaa") in Punjabi. Is there anything parallel that exists? Archaisms perhaps?
  18. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I am not aware of parallel Punjabi formations. However, there is one tense in Punjabi which, as far as I know, does not exist in Urdu/Hindi. I shall start a seperate thread on that.

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