Urdu-Hindi: karnii vs karnaa

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Qureshpor, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    To "karnii" or not to "karnii", that is the question! This topic has been discussed in various threads scattered in the forum including "Havas" and "desideratives". I thought it might be worth our while if we can consolidate our views in one place. This would no doubt be helpful for those seeking clarity on this topic.

    My understaning has been that Lucknow usage prefers the infinitive "karnaa" (or more accurately the gerund) whilst Delhi goes for "karnii" (gerundive?). In other threads, it has been suggested that the latter usage is Punjabi influenced. Punjabi does go for the "karnii" form but one must not loose sight of the fact that both Punjabi and Urdu have close grammatical ties. Indeed Professor Mahmood Sherani (father of the Urdu romantic poet Akhtar Sherani) went as far as to conclude his research by saying that Urdu was derived from Punjabi. Whether this is true or not is not important for us as far as this topic is concerned. But, allow me to provide you with a few examples of older Urdu poetry in which certain usages will be immediately recognised as also being used in Punjabi.

    nah Ghunche gul ke khile haiN, nah nargis kii khiliiN kaliyaaN
    chaman meN le ke Khamiyaazah kisii ne aNkhaRiyaaN maliyaaN


    (Punjabi would still use maliyaaN whereas in modern Urdu we now have "maliiN")

    sau baar dekhiyaaN maiN tirii be-vafaa'iyaaN
    tis par bhii nit Ghuruur hai dil meN nibaah kaa


    (Like Punjabi ne is missing)

    is chalne se bihtar hai ab maut pih dil dhariye
    jal bujhiye kahiiN jaa kar yaa Duub kahiiN mariye

    (dhariye/mariye form is still used in Punjabi in the second person plural but in Urdu, we would now use "dhareN/mareN")

    In other threads, I have provided examples of the "karnii" form from both the Delhi and Lucknow schools of poetry, quoting Bahadur Shah Zafar, Hali, Daya Shankar Naseem Lakhnavii, Nasikh as well as a modern poet (Iftikhar Arif). Here is another example, this time from Mushafi

    jo sair karnii hai kar le kih jab KhizaaN aa'ii
    nah gul rahe gaa chaman meN nah Khaar Thahre gaa

    I do possess Platts' "Grammar of the Urdu or Hindustani Language" but unfortunately it is currently out of reach stored in boxes in the loft! C.M.Naim, in his introduction to "Introductory Urdu, 3rd edition published in 1999 by University of Chicago" states the following when talking about differences between Hindi and Urdu. "In another indirect construction, Hindi usually has the infinitive, functioning as a complement, agreeing with the grammatical subject of the verb; Urdu, however, commonly has two more possibilities

    Hindi: mujhe kuchh kitaabeN Khariidnii haiN

    Urdu: mujhe kuchh kitaabeN Khariidnaa haiN
    : mujhe kuchh kitaabeN Khariidnaa hai
    : mujhe kuchh kitaabeN Khariidnii haiN

    Further in his book (sections 189-192), he says, "All are acceptable Urdu but the students are urged to adopt the third usage". I presume, he is suggesting this for it is possibly easier for beginners to go along with the gender alignment. He does not mention anything about any Punjabi influence.The purpose of all that I have said so far is to show that Urdu writers who have nothing to do with Punjabi have been using the "karnii" construction. I am not suggesting the superiority of one above the other but am merely saying that both forms are used and have been used. Here are examples from Insha's "Rani Ketkii"

    aur gaa'eN charaanii aur...*bajaanii aur go'iyoN se dhuumeN machaani..

    (* The word is illegible in my source)

    un kii vuh utaar aNguuthii lenii
    aur apnii aNguuthii un ko denii

    One must not also forget that the "karnii" form is part of our Urdu proverbs.

    karnii kare to kyuN bhare

    jaisii karnii vaisii bharnii

    Then there is aanii jaanii as well as honii

    Faiz says...tum apnii karnii kar guzro

    In case you are thinking that I am being totally biased towards "karnii", allow me to "turn the tables" and bring a smile to Faylasoof and BP SaaHibaan's faces! Of course, we will find many many examples of the "karnaa" form..as in Hasrat Mohani's famous Ghazal begining..

    chupke chuple raat-din aaNsuu bahaanaa yaad hai
    ham ko ab tak 'aashiqii kaa vuh zamaanah yaad hai

    But here is the acid test (I must give credit to a dear friend Roshan Kamat who sent me this information in March 2008 via e-mail). I shall just copy paste.


    (o) laRkE kA `irAda haE.
    (o) laRkE kI aOqAt haE.

    Here, in the direct case the noun remains unchanged; but in oblique it adopts the 'E' form (laRkA -laRkE)

    (I provided two oblique forms so that both the masculine possessive & feminine singular possessive will be covered to prevent any confusion arising from that.)

    Contrast with..

    (o) laRkI haE.
    (o) laRkI kA`irAda haE.
    (o) laRkI kI aOqAt haE.

    Here, the feminine noun retains its form regardless of whether it is direct or oblique.

    Now, for the sake of argument, assume that "bAt karnA" (or "bAtE.n karnA") is a singular masculine noun. If so, we should be able to drop it directly into the masculine declensions without flinching.

    (o) bAt karnA haE.
    (o) bAt karnE kA`irAda haE.
    (o) bAt karnE kI aOqAt haE.

    So far so good. This fits. But, let's see what happens if we assume "bAt karnI" is a singular feminine noun and drop it into the feminine declension.

    (o) bAt karnI haE.
    (o) bAt karnI kA`irAda haE
    (o) bAt karnI kI aOqAt haE.

    I'm sure you must have found the last two sentences revolting! Even if you have been using the first line on a daily basis.Based on this, it is pretty clear which form fits the grammatical model better. In terms of 'lateral compatibility' with current grammar, the "bAt karnA" as singular masculine wins hands down.

    One could ofcourse say that "bAt karnI" (and indeed all infinitive verbs of this nature) should be treated as a special (new?) category of declensions. I couldn't argue against that. But, as the current grammar stands, the feminine form doesn't align to the established declentions.



    He does go onto say..

    Personally, I think that admitting feminine forms for infinitives simplifies a lot of sentence construction & "conjugation". Unfortunately, Hinduustaani hasn't completely evolved in that direction yet.


    Watch this space for "chaahiye vs chaahiyeN"!
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  2. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Rekindling an old thread without any answer, perhaps there has not been any response due to the complex nature of the topic or maybe because of lack of clearly formulated question. As you know, I go for the second variant of Prof. CM Naim.
  3. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    This topic has already been addressed, as mentioned above, in various threads!
  4. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I accept that no question has been posed. Otherwise, I believe the subject matter is crystal clear. Also, yes this issue has been discussed in various threads scattered here and there but in this thread all the material has been brought neatly into one place.
  5. Wolverine9 Senior Member

    American English
    It's interesting that your friend chose to use 'Hindustani' in a linguistic sense. Is he saying that baat karnaa is grammatically more correct than baat karnii?
  6. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    @ Qureshpor jii: Awesome first post. Hats off.

    Of course, "baat karnaa hai" still sounds odd to me, because I am not used to it (outside ungendered versions of Hindi, e.g. Bihari). But interesting to know, that it is actually a part of the standard Urdu diction. I wonder if it is a piece of Awadhi heritage, the surrounding language of Lucknow, as it seems that Delhi (the home turf of Khadi Boli) prefers "baat karnii hai" (as apparently does Punjabi) ... or, maybe the things were different in the formative years of Urdu... I am thinking aloud here, but I'd like to know if anybody knows the answers to these...

    Actually, I may, under some rare circumstances, need "baat karnaa hai", but the sense will be distinct:
    Prof's friend: bhai, tuu itnii kya kitaabeN likhe jaa rahaa hai? thoDii baateN-shaateN bhii kar liyaa kar!
    Professor: dekh yaar, kitaabeN likhnaa hii meraa baateN karnaa hai.

    In my mind, when it shows agreement with the logical object, it is a gerundive (syntactically an adjective) - "to be done" (karnaa = Skt. kartavya/kRtya/karaNIya; Lat. facendum). When there is no agreement with the object, it is an infinitive (syntactically the head of a noun phrase) - "to do" (karnaa = approx. Skt. karaNa; Lat. facere). And they are semantically distinct.


    To make it explicit: I am not trying to downplay the "baat karnaa hai" usage. I perfectly accept it. I just wanted to propose a grammatical analysis of the structure I am used to.
  7. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
  8. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you Dib SaaHib for your kind remarks.

    Here is just a short quote from Maulavi Abdul Haq's "Qavaa'id-i-Urdu".

    "...muta2axxiriin-i-Lakhnau har Haalat meN masdar ko aslii hii suurat meN rakhte haiN agarxhih asaatizah-i-Lakhnau is ke paa-band nahiiN".

    ...the inhabitants of Lucknow of more modern times keep the infinitive/gerund in its original form although the Lucknow masters did not adhere to this".

    The poets may be influenced by prosody constraints. Here is another example from a poet born in Faizabad in 1927 (Mi'raj Faizabadi) who would be put in the category of "more modern times".

    apne ka3bah kii Hifaazat hameN xud karnii hai
    ab abaabiiloN kaa lashkar nahiiN aane vaalaa

    Frankly, I don't know if Awadhi has had any influence on the "karnaa" format.

    My understanding is that "baateN shaateN" (roTii-shoTii) is Punjabi style. Urdu-Hindi would have it as "baateN-vaateN" (roTii-voTii).
  9. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Thank you for your post. :)

    Might well be. I'd say, it is rather Delhi-style colloquial language, which does have Punjabi influence. That reminds me of the colloquial word "aiviiN" or "aiveiiN" in Delhi for Standard "aise hii" ("just like that!" = "without effort/reason, etc."). I assume it is from Punjabi "eveN" + "(h)ii".

    In the far east (Bihar/Jharkhand), on the other hand, you'll hear "baat-uut". I believe, I have also heard "baat-buut" - probably in Delhi, again.
  10. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ "Might well be" to use your phrase!:)

    ham to ga'e baazaar meN lene ko roTii
    roTii-voTii kuchh nah milii piichhe paR ga'ii moTii

    re maamaa re maamaa re maamaa re..

    Hasrat Jaipuri (1922-1999)
  11. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    haha :D :D
  12. littlepond Senior Member

    In fact, I've mostly heard only "baat-uut" in my life, so it might be much more common than Bihar/Jharkhand (considering that I do not know many people from there). Of course, I have also heard the other three - "baatein-shaatein", "baat-vaat" and "baat-v/buut" - in Hindi.
  13. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Interesting. Thanks for pointing this out. Most of the Hindi speakers, I know, are from either the far west - Delhi (and a few from Haryana), or far east - Bihar/Jharkhand. So, my idea of the language in between (i.e. UP) is pretty sketchy. Sorry about that.

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