Urdu-Hindi: Gender determination of borrowed words ...

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by UrduMedium, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. UrduMedium

    UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    I saw a few similar threads but none on this specific topic. What are the rules at work when assigning a gender to a borrowed word in Urdu and Hindi?

    Again, if possible I'd like to see the focus on deriving the rules that lead us to pick a specific gender, rather than just listing examples.

    From previous similar discussions, it seems this much at least is at work:

    1. Inherent gender: Obviously this takes precedence.

    2. Depends on the gender of the nearest word. For example, since saRak is feminine, so is Highway. How about Boulevard?

    3. Phonetic clues: For example, words with sound endings -ii may be overwhelmingly feminine. -aa/-o masculine. How about consonant endings? Always masculine?

    4. Size of the object: large objects masculine? chair/kursii is feminine, but taxt is masculine.

    5. Animate vs inanimate status?

    More rules? Changes to the above? Thoughts?
  2. hindiurdu Senior Member

    Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, Kashmiri
    Very interesting question. For me, highway is male. "jii haaN, highway paas se hi guzartaa hai." Another one is ticket (male for my family, definitely female for others). Maybe I just have this bias. For me:
    - phone kahaaN rakhaa hai
    - mujhe call aayaa thaa
    - Door khulaa hai
    - bell baji thii
    - joke buraa lagaa
    - list lambii hai
    - garden achchhaa hai
    - floor gandaa hai
    - station aa gaya
  3. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    Maybe in some cases they also take into account the gender of the words in the source language. For example, don't words directly borrowed from Sanskrit usually preserve the same gender? And what about words of Arabic origin, since Arabic also has gender for its words?
  4. greatbear Banned

    India - Hindi & English
    As far as English borrowings are concerned, I think it is often arbitrary. Only today, I heard Rameez Raja, a Pakistani former cricketer, saying "kyaa shot maarii hai!" in commentary, whereas a cricketing shot for me is masculine ("kyaa shot maaraa hai!"). This is not the first time that Raja's genders haven't matched with mine for English words (he says "aap kaa opinion", whereas I say "aap kii opinion"). I thought if it could be related to some internal mind-mapping of "opinion" to Hindi/Urdu, but that didn't give me any leads (in Hindi, this could be either of "aap kii raaye" or "aap kaa mat", not to mention other quasi-synonyms like "aap kaa khyaal" - so what is my mind mapping to? and if Raja's mind is mapping to "raaye" - which would be more probable than "mat" - then why is he rather using masculine? Or is his mind mapping the English word to some other word?)

    What is interesting is that there certainly seems an internal mechanism inside every speaker to determine "naturally" a gender, because even if I have to use an English word for the first time in Hindi, the assignment of gender occurs naturally. I don't have to "think" even for a second.
  5. UrduMedium

    UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
  6. UrduMedium

    UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Good observation. However, I think the source language gender is less of a driver than the receiving language words of the same meaning.

    For example, shams (sun) , qamar (moon), and qabiilah (tribe) are feminine (I believe) yet in Urdu all are masculine (since suuraj and chaand are masc.?). Also kursii (chair), kitaab (book), majlis (gathering), and nahr (river/canal) are masculine in Arabic, yet feminine in Urdu.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  7. UrduMedium

    UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    I agree with most of your usage. Others shown with an :cross:
  8. gagun Senior Member

    Telugu-TS, Deccani-TS
  9. UrduMedium

    UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    ^ modem is feminine for me :)
  10. UrduMedium

    UrduMedium Senior Member

    United States
    Urdu (Karachi)
    Correction to my earlier post: qamar is masculine in Arabic, not feminine, I am told.

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