Urdu: Hawaa or Havaa

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Sheikh_14

Senior Member
English- United Kingdom, Urdu, Punjabi
Dear Foreros,

I was curious to know how individuals in the forum pronounce the letter wao in their daily conversations or for whatever reason, especially when its part of a word? I personally would pronounce the letter as wa'o and not va'o. I feel that, that is the general consensus which is why most renowned Urdu dictionaries opt for the w. My personal inkling and understanding is that Sanskrit veers towards a v but classical Persian from which we borrowed Perso-Arabic words tended to veer towards a w sound. This has changed, which is why whilst Dari has clung on to ws', modern Tehrani Persian has turned towards a v sound. However, it is believed that this occurred due to Turkish influences which didn't affect us in the same vein. Therefore the pattern of Persian that we follow as far as pronunciation is concerned is wildly different to that in modern-day Tehrani Farsi but comparable, if not identical to Dari. Platts along with quite a few other lexicons do well in elucidating how Urdu words are meant to be or tend to be pronounced, and whilst the Sanskrit derived Svaad is definitely with a v, the Arabic derived sawaad i.e. soot has a definitive w sound.

So without getting entangled into how this came to be, I am not an authority on the matter, I simply would like to know how you would pronounce hawaa or Halwa for example. I have never in my life heard an Urdu-phone pronounce Halwa as a Perso-phone would i.e. by actually enunciating the v sound. In fact, most Urdu-phones I know do not know how to produce a v sound unless they have been made to by their English tutors. It is a sound which is alien to us otherwise unless taught. For instance, as a kid, I was quite often told by an Irish tutor that most Urdu-phones pronounced van as wan but pronounced wagon correctly. Given that most of the people here are well-versed in English or any other language where the v is pronounced, I am sure every distinguished fellow member is aware of the difference.

آب و ہوا pronunciation: How to pronounce آب و ہوا in Urdu here's an example of an Urdu-phone pronouncing aab au hawaa. Now as far as I can gather he's pronouncing it as aab o hawaa rather than aab o havaa. Nonetheless, I would love to hear your take. Do respond be it in the affirmative or the negative, as I am genuinely interested in seeing where other Urdu-phones stand. Personally, I would pronounce hawaa as hawaa and not havaa, unless I was speaking Turkish! In Turkish, the v sound is distinctly visible and exaggerated. It isn't in Urdu, as far as I can tell. The w sound in Urdu is comparable to that in Arabic, as opposed to that uttered in modern-day Tehrani Persian.

1) هوا हौ hawā (p. 1240) P هوا hawā (1˚ for A. هَوَاءِ, fr. هَوَي 'to blow,' &c.;—2˚ for A. هَوًي, fr. هَوِيَ 'to love'), However, for the sake of this post not becoming multi-topic lets stick to the mere guinea pig, in this case, which is hawaa. We can draw our own conclusions, based on that. Another test case could be the popular folk song hawaa hawaa ay hawaa, xush-buu luTaa de. In Urdu we tend to speak softly, to get a V sound through during normal passage of speech you'd have to stress on the sound more than you do with a w.

Best Regards,
Sheikh
 
  • Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Sheikh SaaHib, my take is that Urdu و is neither the modern Persian/English "v" nor the Dari/Arabic/English "w", but somewhere in between. I remember going through a phase of pronouncing "wire" as "vire" (or close to it) and when corrected, I became quite self-conscious about this mispronunciation and every time I had to pronounce an English word that began with a v or w, I would think about it and try to pronounce it correctly.
     

    iskander e azam

    Senior Member
    English
    Gentlemen,

    I use the Standard 21st Century Dictionary (Urdu to English) compiled by Professor Bashir Ahmad Qureshi and revised and enlarged by Dr Abdul Haq. It is published in Delhi. va'o is the given pronunciation of و in it. There is only one instance in the whole dictionary (pp. 688) that I have discovered where w is used and that is with the word تواب. For me va'o is standard as per the dictionary and most Urdu speakers here in Britain are Pakistanis and that seems to be the norm in Pakistani Urdu - if I may use that term.

    Best wishes,

    Alex
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    ^ I'm afraid the above is not exactly correct and that there's much more to it than meets the eye:

    Pronunciation:
    • the Urdu sound is most frequently [ʋ] (in phonetic transcription), called labiodental approximant.
    • (Br.) English has the consonant [v], voiced labiodental fricative.
    Spelling:
    • Urdu letter و (for a consonantal sound) stands most frequently for [ʋ] which on its turn is transliterated by Roman v or w.
    • English letter "v" is pronounced in (Br.) English as [v].
    In Urdu, the sound is a conditional allophone, with changing articulation in different positions and both individual as well as regional variations.

    Wikipedia - Allophony of v and w

    Accoustic Investigation of Approximants in Urdu
     

    iskander e azam

    Senior Member
    English
    ^ I'm afraid the above is not exactly correct and that there's much more to it than meets the eye...
    marrish SaaHIb,

    Thank you very, very much. You have done me a great service.

    Now I will try to distinguish between the two sounds, [ʋ] and [v] and produce the former to give my Urdu a greater authenticity.

    Best wishes,

    Alex
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    ^ Your're welcome, my post was also a reply to the opening post.
    ... produce the former to give my Urdu a greater authenticity.
    ... but both are present in Urdu, it's only that [ʋ] is more frequent (in one person's speech or groupwise). There are 'in between' variants, too. It's an allophone, after all, and an 'approximant'. This sound is a common feature of, at least, the modern West-Indic languages, like Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Marathi.
     

    iskander e azam

    Senior Member
    English
    ^ Your're welcome, my post was also a reply to the opening post.
    ... but both are present in Urdu, it's only that [ʋ] is more frequent (in one person's speech or groupwise). There are 'in between' variants, too. It's an allophone, after all, and an 'approximant'. This sound is a common feature of, at least, the modern West-Indic languages, like Punjabi, Sindhi, Gujarati, Marathi.
    marrish SaaHIb,

    Are you familiar with the Urdu dictionary I mentioned? I am trying to keep my accent consistent with that found there.

    It would be most helpful if there was a link that showed two Urdu word being pronounced: one with [ʋ] and one with [v].

    Best wishes,

    Alex
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    I don't know of such a link!

    The dictionary, which I am well familiar with, IeA SaaHib, says: "pronunciation has been indicated by the following transliteration symbols". The letter "و" when it represents a consonant, has been transliterated by means of a "v". That's all I can read into it.

    Generally, the dictionary uses quite a consistent and consequent system to indicate the pronunciation but it doesn't delve into phonetics really.

    Under "و", it states that it's equivalent to English "v", while I've been trying to convey that the Indic [ʋ] is different from English "v" [v].

    However, in the foreword the compiler hints at the pronunciation and writes that Western Urdu has been the base of its transliterations, it being in harmony with other Indic languages. I've already mentioned the West Indic languages. That would be [ʋ].

    Do follow the links I shared about the phonetics, perhaps they can lead you further, that being said, unfortunately I don't have more information about it.
     
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    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Platts along with quite a few other lexicons do well in elucidating how Urdu words are meant to be or tend to be pronounced, and whilst the Sanskrit derived Svaad is definitely with a v, the Arabic derived sawaad i.e. soot has a definitive w sound.
    In 1874 John T. Platts wrote in ‹A Grammar of the Hindustani or Urdu Language› the following:

    و and ي generally have the sound of our w and y; but in most Persian words و is pronounced like v. In a few Persian words, moreover, و preceded by خ kh is scarcely, if at all, audible : e.g. خواہ khẉāh, 'whether', 'or'; خُود khẉud, 'self'; خُوراک khẉurāk, 'food', خویش khẉesh, 'own', which are pronounced as though written khāh, khud, khurāk, khesh. This و is termed 'distorted' (معْدُوله maʿdūla).
    [all emphasis mine]
     

    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    Platts' dictionary also has a description and is shown in part as follows:

    و wāw or wāʼo , is the thirty-third letter of the Urdū alphabet (the thirtieth of the Persian, and the twenty-sixth of the Arabic alphabet). As a consonant (that is to say, when it stands at the beginning of a word or syllable) it has the sound of the English w (or, occasionally, of v), and corresponds to व wa or va, the twenty-ninth consonant of the Nāgarī or Hindī alphabet. This letter is very commonly interchanged with b; for all words therefore beginning with w or v, but not found in the following pages, see under the letter b.
     

    Sheikh_14

    Senior Member
    English- United Kingdom, Urdu, Punjabi
    Sheikh SaaHib, my take is that Urdu و is neither the modern Persian/English "v" nor the Dari/Arabic/English "w", but somewhere in between. I remember going through a phase of pronouncing "wire" as "vire" (or close to it) and when corrected, I became quite self-conscious about this mispronunciation and every time I had to pronounce an English word that began with a v or w, I would think about it and try to pronounce it correctly.
    Really I have always been told the opposite. That Urdu-phones don't know how to pronounce a v as opposed to a w. In fact I would say this were accurate. Most Urdu-phones I know don't know how to pronounce a v but do know how to pronounce a w. For instance they will pronounce van as wan. There was a recent British Airways advert that also light-heartedly quipped about this in an air-safety commercial. I've always found that to utter a V sound people have to make an effort. W is more natural and lighter. With a v you have to have your teeth touch the inside of the lower lip. This is very unnatural to both Urdu and Dari speakers. I would however, agree that it is difficult to pigeonhole pronunciations across languages. Nonetheless to most the letter wao would be pronounced as the English word wow and not vow. Seldom would people joke about the proximity of vow and wao but they do relate it to wow because the initial sound is reminiscent.

    Pronunciation

    Wau – Some people pronounce it like a “w” in “wow”, a “v” in “vowel”, or a combination of both, somewhere in the middle. It can also represent vowels sounds, like u, oo, o, and au (ow).

    The above link claims people swap and shift, which may be the case but most Urdu-phones I have come across couldn't pronounce a v to save their lives.

    Is the letter W always pronounced as V in Urdu? What about the word Woh? Surprisingly I couldn't even find the answer to this on Google. - Quora

    This link is a little more helpful and a few of the comments are quite credible.

    "Urdu HARF WO'W is sometimes written with English letter w and sometimes with English letter v.

    Like the name JAWWAD is also some time written as JAVVAD .

    Both are pronounce same in Urdu language .but mostly Urdu speaking people prefer W rather than the letter V."

    &


    There's no “V” (w+h) sound in Urdu.

    "Urdu has only “W” (व/و) sound.

    Although it is written as “Woh/وہ/वोह), it is always pronounced as “Wo/वो.”

    There is no “wh/وھ” sound in Urdu.

    The Aspirated Sounds (ہائیہ آوازیں) are required in Urdu to accommodate Sanskrit/Hindi words only; and since there is no “wh/व्ह” sound in Sanskrit/Hindi, no “wh” was ever required in Urdu.

    Following are the Aspirated Letters (ہائیہ) in Urdu:

    भ (بھ), फ (پھ), थ (تھ), ठ (ٹھ), झ (جھ),

    छ (چھ), ध (دھ), ढ़ (ڈھ), र्+ह (‌‌رھ), ख (کھ),

    घ (گھ), ल्ह (لھ), म्ह (۔مھ), न्ह (نھ)"



    My own two cents would be that when the Wao sound entered the subcontinent it was adopted in Urdu as a Quranic 'W' as opposed to the Sanskrit 'V'. This is purely conjecture, but from what I can tell Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures most definitely do have a V sound whereas Arabic and Dari as opposed to Iranian Persian, have a pronounced W sound. For instance, it's Ayurveda, not Ayurweda but Urdu-phones pronounce Samaaj-vaadi as Samaaj-waadii. Nor would they pronounce waadii i.e. valley as vaadii. Why the Persians readopted the V sound and potentially exported or reimported it from the Turks is something that is quite often suggested. I am not an etymologist, thence I couldn't answer those questions with a high level of certainty, but the quoted suggestions above make a lot of sense to me. Most Urdu and Punjabi-phones will pronounce Valley as walley, vent as went. With water, the mispronunciation tends to be with an extended a i.e. waaTer.

    Thence being the stickler that I am to me it's always Woh, Waadii, Wa'dah, Warnaa, Waghairah and so on. The v sound requires considerable effort unnatural to the fluid course of the language.
     
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    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    ^ The Sanskrit phoneme is pronounced [ʋ], which is the same as in Hindi-Urdu. The pronunciation of [ʋ] resembles [w] but is articulated from the same position as [v]. Thus to English trained ears, [ʋ] may sound like [w] rather than [v].
     
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