Urdu, Hindi: vo kitne maasuum the

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MonsieurGonzalito

Senior Member
Castellano de Argentina
Friends,

In the famous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan qawwali starting with the words "ja ke rulaayaa, raj ke haNsaayaa ..." (and known more commercially as "dekhte-dekhte"), assuming we are talking all the time about a single woman, why are all forms following "vo" consistently in masculine plural?

Sample extracts:
...
vo jo aaNkhoN se ik pal na ojhal hue
laaptaa ho gae dekhte-dekhte
...
sochtaa huN ki(h) vo kitne maasuum the
kyaa se kyaa ho gae dekhte-dekhte

...
and so on ...
Shouldn't all those be gaii, huii, thii, etc?
Is he maybe referring to her as "those" (dialectal vo for ve)?
 
  • marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    He is referring just exactly to "them" in the whole range of its English usage + Urdu plural honorific; "vo" is not dialectal but standard, ve is historical dialectal; there is no mention of a woman anywhere? That's my interpretation. BTW it is laa (A. no(t)) + pataa, so it's laa pataa; laaptaa seems like verb which doesn't exist!
    ma3suum/ma'suum.
     
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    amiramir

    Senior Member
    English-USA
    Marrishsaahib is knows for more than I do. But for me, if refers to a single person with the honorific. That it is masculine for me is neither here nor there-- for me it is like ghazals that refer to everything in the masculine, even if said person has kaalii zulfeN etc. From context it would seem odd to talk about how multiple people have been changing.
     

    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Except, I don't think it's new, @MonsieurGonzalito It isn't related to modern gender theory, if I recall correctly, they told us in university that a lot of Urdu poetry refers to the beloved/object of affection in the masculine so the love poem can also be read in a religious way with God as the object of affection. So having a plural masculine honorific object of affection, or a singular masculine object of affection, would be typical of the genre, from what I know.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Neither is this usage of ''them'' new in English, @Jashn.
    -
    So far I stand by my comment, adding that the Urdu wuh can express even more things simultaneously than "them in the whole range of its English usage" so, – all those approaches which have been pointed to or mentioned so far are valid but it is a fresh thread ;-)
    -
    What if a phenomenon manifests itself as a modern gender ideology in one place but is an old social custom and idiom elsewhere?
    -
    sochtaa huuN ki(h) vo kitne ma3Suum the
    kyaa se kyaa ho ga'e dekhte dekhte <-
    why not baal bachche (collective noun of unspecified gender/group of mixed gender/m.pl.)
    -
    BBC, today: (in a list of authors of books about Trump)

    Anonymous, an author who calls themselves a "senior Trump administration official". Their identity remains unknown but they've promised to come forward this year. Trump says he already knows who they are, and has called them a "fraud"
    ...
     

    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Of course, 'they'/'them', are not new words in English. The BBC article you mentioned uses the term because the sex of the individual is unknown. That's different from modern gender theorists who insist they are neither male nor female, but some other gender(s), and thus eschew 's/he' for 'they'.

    What if a phenomenon manifests itself as a modern gender ideology in one place but is an old social custom and idiom elsewhere?

    In abstract, I don't see why it isn't possible, and in the right situation, I don't doubt you're right it is used precisely that way. In the context of this particular song, though, and the movie it comes from, I think it is unlikely. That said, I suppose this is the stuff that subtext readings are made of. :)
     
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    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    I've got an anthology of Persian poetry by three fourteenth-century poets in English translation sitting on my bookshelf. The anthology is titled "Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz." The poetry was translated by Dick Davis, and it begins with an introduction by him.

    Below is an extended quote from this introduction. The quote is admittedly about Persian poetry, not Urdu-Hindi, and of course the arguments about the grammatical ungenderedness of Persian don't carry over to Hindi-Urdu verbatim. In any case, it seems to me to be quite conceivable that Urdu-Hindi poets might have drawn on Persian tradition and attempted to use a "default-masculine" vo in the same ways that Persian poets used their ungendered third-person pronoun.

    So far I have been referring, deliberately, to "he" rather than "she" when talking about the addressee in these poems. Persian pronouns have no gender distinctions, so that the same word may be translated as "he," "she," or "it." In addition, Persian poetry, when it focuses on physical appearances, only occasionally mentions sexual characteristics (such as a girl's breasts, or a boy's incipient beard). Descriptions of beauty tend to be androgynous, ambi-sexual; there is usually no way of telling whether a boy or a girl is being talked about. But scholars have generally assumed that, in reality, we are fairly safe in assuming that a medieval Persian ghazal's subject, if it is a beloved, is a boy. The Iranian scholar Sirus Shamisa goes so far as to write that, "the beloved in... the independent (Persian) love poem is a boy ninety percent of the time." ... Despite the fact that the conventions of short love poems in Persian presuppose a pederastic relationship (and it's true that, when on the rare occasions gender identity or sexual characteristics are mentioned in such poems, it's usually clear that a boy rather than a girl is being referred to), I believe it is a mistake to be too dogmatic about this. In the same way that Victorian commentators and translators tended to bowdlerize these poems by making them always about girls, a blanket insistence that they are always about boys seems to me to be equally tendentious. I believe the situation was [that] both genders are being talked about, sometimes one, sometimes the other, and sometimes it isn't of major importance which — the real subject is longing and desire, polymorphous and overwhelming — and the lack of gender specificity in Persian makes this not only possible but likely.

    ...

    There is no getting away from the fact that both wine and love were and are taboo in orthodox Islam, and equally there is no getting away from the fact that medieval Persian poems contain a great many references to both of them. One way of dealing with this was (and is) to say that the poems are not really about wine and boys at all, but about something much more respectable, such as the love of God... This strategy can seem both evasive and casuistic, but in our desire to call a spade a spade we have to tread with caution. The tradition of explaining the secular as an allegory of the spiritual is an ancient one in the Middle East, and it cannot be dismissed out of hand as inapplicable in this case... The interpretation of Persian poetry that apparently deals with secular love and wine as being in reality mystical and Sufi in its subject was well established by the fourteenth century. In the previous century the Sufi poet Eraqi had written a glossary of the secular terms he had used in his own poetry, explaining what was "actually" — that is, mystically/in Sufi terms — meant by them. A number of other commentaries, with the same intention of explaining apparently secular poetry in terms of a Sufi/mystical content, were subsequently written by other poets and mystics... If our poets were indeed interested in Sufism, they were heirs to this tradition, and could draw on it at will.

    And yet it is undeniable that a great deal of perfectly real wine was drunk in courts and cities where some of this supposedly Sufi poetry was written, and it's also undeniable that Sufis periodically got themselves into trouble over their excessive attachment to all too tangibly flesh-and-blood adolescents (including, it seems, Eraqi himself, for all his claims that the boys in his poems were allegorical). The assumption that the wine and boys were in many cases real wine and real boys, whatever else they might plausibly be in a Sufi context, could not be dismissed as mere obtuseness. And if a poet wished to write a poem that was, simply and plainly, about a sexual partner and wine, what vocabulary was available to him apart from that which the Sufi commentators were insisting must be allegorical? How would a poem that talked about a lover and wine look if it actually was about a lover and wine?

    The Anglosphere has only really begun emerging from its Victorian prudishness about gender and sexuality in the past several decades, so its understandable that this makes it seem like a modern phenomenon [I remember being surprised when I first read Davis's introduction]. That being said, it seems that there may be actually be good reasons to think that other places at other times may not have shared in this prudishness.
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Not wanting to go to much off-topic, I still believe it might be a little hurried to draw too many parallelisms between the current, gender-ideology, hyper-political-correctness-induced usage of "singular they", and the "genderlessness" of Hindustani mystic poetry.

    It is too simplistic, even if there is an evident substratum of homosexuality and societal conditioning in both phenomena. (Many famous Sufis were simply homosexual, no need to make complicated, scholarly explanations around the fact).

    For one, I don't buy that the "singular they", despite isolated examples, is something that "was always there" but was "repressed by the Anglosphere's Victorianism". It is obvious to me that it was never mainstream, despite BBC and recent Canadian legislation.

    Secondly, it is not unknown in mystic poetry, even Western one, to feminize the subject of adoration of a superior, male entity. For example, much of the beautiful poetry of Saint John of the Cross is written from a feminine point of view, and this in the much Catholic Spain of the XVI century.

    [Edit: remove offensive comment]
     
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    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    This post is addressed to aevynn SaaHib. I have not seen the film but listening to a few lines of this songs, I can say that the male lover is addressing his female beloved in the masculine gender. This is central part of Urdu poetry, especially the Ghazal. So, with due respect, this has nothing to do with Hindi poetry. Let me provide you a few examples from songs which are almost invariable called Hindi songs but that is another topic.

    1. Film "China Town". (Shammi Kapoor singing for Shakila)

    baar baar dekho, hazaar baar dekho
    kih dekhne kii chiiz hai hamaaraa dil-rubaa...instead of hamaarii dil-rubaa

    2. Film "Baat ek raat kii" (Dev Anand singing for Waheeda Rahman)

    nah tum hameN jaao
    nah ham tumheN jaaneN
    magar lagtaa hai kuchh aisaa
    meraa ham-dam mil gayaa .... instead of merii ham-dam mil ga'ii

    3. Film "HaNste zaxm" (Navin Nischol singing for Priya Rajvansh)

    tum jo mil ga'e ho.....

    baiTho nah duur ham se
    dekho xafaa nah ho
    qismat se mil ga'e ho..... instead of qismat se mil ga'ii ho
    mil ke judaa nah ho

    Jashn SaaHib has already hinted at this aspect of Urdu poetry.

    The opening line ..

    sochtaa huuN vuh kitne ma3suum the
    kyaa se kyaa ho ga'e dekhte dekhte

    is taken from Shakeb Jalali's nazm. He was a Pakistan Urdu poet who died in 1966. Further along the song, another line is taken from Jalali's poem..

    laa-patah ho ga'e dekhte dekhte

    It is Jalali's nazm that has been sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
     
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    amiramir

    Senior Member
    English-USA
    or one, I don't buy that the "singular they", despite isolated examples, is something that "was always there" but was "repressed by the Anglosphere's Victorianism". It is obvious to me that it was never mainstream, despite BBC and recent Canadian legislation.
    It is an established fact that singular they is very old in English and continues to this day. Of course this is a different phenomenon than singular they to describe nonbinary people. But that fact remains that singular they is part and parcel of many educated people's speech all over the Anglosphere.

    See the OED reference below to 'they':

    b. With an antecedent referring to an individual generically or indefinitely (e.g. someone, a person, the student), used esp. so as to make a general reference to such an individual without specifying gender. Cf. HE pron. 2b.
    In the 21st century, other th– pronouns (and the possessive adjective their) are sometimes used to refer to a named individual, so as to avoid revealing or making an assumption about that person's gender; cf. sense A. 2c, and quots. 2008 at THEIR adj. 2b, 2009 at THEM pron. 4b, 2009 at THEMSELF pron. 2b.
    a1450 in Neuphilol. Mitteilungen (1948) 49 154 (MED) If þou sall lofe, Þe person fyrste, I rede, þou proue Whether þat thay be fals or lele.
    1526 W. BONDE Pylgrimage of Perfection III. sig. IIIiiiiv If..a psalme scape any person, or a lesson, or els yt they omyt one verse or twayne.
    1653 Mercurius Pragmaticus No. 8. 61 If any one of them so elected members die, the part which they serve for, have liberty to chuse and present another.
    1759 Ld. CHESTERFIELD Let. 27 Apr. (1932) (modernized text) V. 2350 If a person is born of a..gloomy temper..they cannot help it.
    1818 H. B. FEARON Sketches Amer. 80 Servants, let me here observe, are called ‘helps’. If you call a servant by that name they leave you without notice.
    1877 J. RUSKIN Fors Clavigera VII. lxxx. 234 I am never angry with anybody unless they deserve it.
    1940 Educational Forum May 423/1 True education is based upon the needs of the pupil… The needs of the pupil are expressed in the activities in which they are engaged.
    1968 Listener 3 Oct. 440/3 When somebody becomes prime minister they're immediately put on a pedestal.
    2019 @_ShristiUprety 26 Aug. in twitter.com (accessed 28 Aug.) My personal rule is to never trust anyone who says that they had a good time in high school.


    I would venture that for most native speakers, the last 4 citations (to take the modern ones) above don't sound jarring at all, even if they might have internalized school-boy rules of singular antecedents. The OED then has a paragraph C, which reflects the non-binary usage of singular they.
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    I must be very obtuse, but don't see how a slip in the number agreement with a "someone, somebody" antecedent, which is essentially a grammar mistake, can be cited to lend legitimacy to pushing, ideologically, for a gender-neutral "they".

    But not to stray too much from the OP, in any case, I gather that, in Urdu, the respectful plural for a singular person is a well-established feature of the language.

    I reserve judgement on whether or not this would indicate some degree of sexual progressivism by the authors. Essentially, I don't care, but it seems to me too much of a simplistic and anachronic explanation. It is a complex subject with many more nuances, in my opinion.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    It is an established fact that singular they is very old in English and continues to this day. Of course this is a different phenomenon than singular they to describe nonbinary people. But that fact remains that singular they is part and parcel of many educated people's speech all over the Anglosphere.

    See the OED reference below to 'they':

    b. With an antecedent referring to an individual generically or indefinitely (e.g. someone, a person, the student), used esp. so as to make a general reference to such an individual without specifying gender. Cf. HE pron. 2b.
    In the 21st century, other th– pronouns (and the possessive adjective their) are sometimes used to refer to a named individual, so as to avoid revealing or making an assumption about that person's gender; cf. sense A. 2c, and quots. 2008 at THEIR adj. 2b, 2009 at THEM pron. 4b, 2009 at THEMSELF pron. 2b.
    a1450 in Neuphilol. Mitteilungen (1948) 49 154 (MED) If þou sall lofe, Þe person fyrste, I rede, þou proue Whether þat thay be fals or lele.
    1526 W. BONDE Pylgrimage of Perfection III. sig. IIIiiiiv If..a psalme scape any person, or a lesson, or els yt they omyt one verse or twayne.
    1653 Mercurius Pragmaticus No. 8. 61 If any one of them so elected members die, the part which they serve for, have liberty to chuse and present another.
    1759 Ld. CHESTERFIELD Let. 27 Apr. (1932) (modernized text) V. 2350 If a person is born of a..gloomy temper..they cannot help it.
    1818 H. B. FEARON Sketches Amer. 80 Servants, let me here observe, are called ‘helps’. If you call a servant by that name they leave you without notice.
    1877 J. RUSKIN Fors Clavigera VII. lxxx. 234 I am never angry with anybody unless they deserve it.
    1940 Educational Forum May 423/1 True education is based upon the needs of the pupil… The needs of the pupil are expressed in the activities in which they are engaged.
    1968 Listener 3 Oct. 440/3 When somebody becomes prime minister they're immediately put on a pedestal.
    2019 @_ShristiUprety 26 Aug. in twitter.com (accessed 28 Aug.) My personal rule is to never trust anyone who says that they had a good time in high school.


    I would venture that for most native speakers, the last 4 citations (to take the modern ones) above don't sound jarring at all, even if they might have internalized school-boy rules of singular antecedents. The OED then has a paragraph C, which reflects the non-binary usage of singular they.
    I have no idea how all this is linked to the question posed in post 1.
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    But not to stray too much from the OP, in any case, I gather that, in Urdu, the respectful plural for a singular person is a well-established feature of the language.
    And that is the same for Hindi, too, which in fact doesn't differ from Urdu in the registers quoted so far. Qureshpor jii illuminates these forums often with his wisdom, but he has also an unfortunate, old habit of making some strange distinctions between Urdu and Hindi.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    And that is the same for Hindi, too, which in fact doesn't differ from Urdu in the registers quoted so far. Qureshpor jii illuminates these forums often with his wisdom, but he has also an unfortunate, old habit of making some strange distinctions between Urdu and Hindi.
    My #11 simply demonstrates the fact that in Urdu literature, especially the Ghazal, the masculine gender is used even if the subject being addressed is a female. The songs I quoted are not Ghazals but the lyric writers Majrooh Sultanpuri for the first two and Kaifi Azami for the third song were Urdu poets in their own right outside Bollywood film industry and well versed with the Urdu literary tadition.

    I have not said anything about any difference in the two languages Urdu and Hindi for the use of the plural verb for the singular to show respect.

    Perhaps you would be kind enough to quote me examples from genuine Hindi literature where the masculine gender is being used to addressed a female.

    Three lines have been taken verbatum from Shakeb Jalali's poem and he too was an Urdu poet. The two opening lines of the song mentioned in the OP, namely

    sochtaa huuN vuh kitne ma3suum the
    kyaa se kyaa ho ga'e dekhte dekhte

    set the scene for the masculine gender.
     
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    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    Just to clarify where I think we're at and how it all ties together...

    There are two usages of a singular "they": (1) an indefinite usage, and (2) a specific usage. The indefinite usage is when "they" is used to refer to an indefinite individual whose gender may not be known, and @amiramir's quote from the OED shows this indefinite usage has a long history. The specific usage is when "they" is used to refer to a specific known individual in a gender-neutral way. This usage may be newer, and some may find it objectionable. When people object, the indefinite usage is sometimes cited as justification for the specific usage.

    In Urdu-Hindi[^1], the verb endings -aa/-e have the same indefinite and specific usages that the singular "they" does in English. What's more, the specific usages seem to have a long enough history in Hindi-Urdu that it is rarely found objectionable, especially in poetry. I hypothesized that this tradition may derive from an attempt to achieve the same effect as Persian's natural syntactic gender-neutrality. I might also hypothesize that the reason the specific usage caught on was because the indefinite usage was already well-established.

    Of course, the social circumstances surrounding the gender-neutral specific usages are not exactly the same. One thing that does seem decidedly novel about the modern Anglophone phenomenon is the fact that people inform others what pronouns they would like others to use when talking about them. People say things like "My pronouns are they, them, theirs" in English nowadays with an expectation that others will use these pronouns when talking about them in the third-person (at least, this is the case in the social circles that I inhabit). In contrast, I have never heard anyone say something like "My verb ending is -e" in an Urdu-Hindi context [^2] [^3]. Then again, I'm not very well acquainted with South Asian social justice scenes, so please do tell me if you've heard someone say something like this! :)

    Despite some of these differences in social circumstances, it still seems to me that there are noteworthy similarities in the end linguistic result: both "they" and the -aa/-e are used to refer to specific known individuals in a gender-neutral way.

    -----
    Footnotes:

    [^1]: I will continue my practice of citing both "Hindi" and "Urdu" because I think the two names designate one and the same linguistic entity, @Qureshpor jii. It may be true that the two names designate distinct sociocultural entities, but I find myself slightly more interested in language than in sociopolitics. I hope you'll forgive me if you disagree :) In any case, as far as your request for an example from the other side of Hindi-Urdu divide is concerned... Harivansh Rai Bachchan self-identified as a Hindi poet rather than an Urdu poet, so probably his poetry would be classified as "genuine Hindi literature." In his poem madhushaalaa, one finds the following:

    प्रियतम, तू मेरी हाला है, मैं तेरा प्यासा प्याला,
    अपने को मुझमें भरकर तू बनता है पीनेवाला,
    मैं तुझको छक छलका करता, मस्त मुझे पी तू होता,
    एक दूसरे की हम दोनों आज परस्पर मधुशाला

    In red we have a phrase where the speaker is using -aa for himself. In green are the phrases where we can see that the speaker is using -aa for his priyatam. I don't know what evidence one could possibly muster to argue that Bachchan intended this verse to be gay. More likely is that he just intended it to be gender-neutral.

    [^2]: If a Urdu-Hindi speaker really identified with a particular verb ending, they would probably just use it when talking about themselves in the first-person too and anyone listening could catch on to this. In contrast, there isn't an obvious way that the third-person pronoun an English speaker prefers would come up when they're talking about themselves. This points to to why Anglophones might feel the need to say what their preferred pronouns are.

    [^3]: There's also another strangeness with a Hindi-Urdu speaker saying "My verb ending is -e," which is that it could be construed as a self-aggrandizing insistence that other people refer to you in the honorific!
     
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    Jashn

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    प्रियतम, तू मेरी हाला है, मैं तेरा प्यासा प्याला,
    अपने को मुझमें भरकर तू बनता है पीनेवाला,
    मैं तुझको छक छलका करता, मस्त मुझे पी तू होता,
    एक दूसरे की हम दोनों आज परस्पर मधुशाला

    In red we have a phrase where the speaker is using -aa for himself. In green are the phrases where we can see that the speaker is using -aa for his priyatam. I don't know what evidence one could possibly muster to argue that Bachchan intended this verse to be gay. More likely is that he just intended it to be gender-neutral.
    Well, it's hard to know for certain since we can't ask him. It is something that was mentioned to me by my professor in university, and something I've heard others say, too, that his autobiography contains the first confession of a homosexual relationship in Hindi literature. You can see a reference to this in this encyclopedia entry, just to be clear I didn't invent this. It's also passingly mentioned by Dr. Rupert Snell in the youtube video Rupert Snell - Autobiography is Another Story: "Lives" in Hindi on the Hindi-Urdu flagship channel about 21 minutes in (I haven't linked directly because I think it's still not permitted here?). He quotes the same source as the encyclopedia entry, and is the translator of Harivansh Rai Bachchan's autobiography into English.

    So who knows?

    I'll mention again, for whatever it's worth to anyone here, that my Hindi/Urdu prof had told us that Urdu had a tradition of referring to the beloved in its poetry as a male figure so the poem could be seen as both secular and spiritual, depending upon the inclination of the reader. I'm sure we could find examples of the beloved being a male figure in Hindi poetry written by men, but is it a common device? To my knowledge it's not, but my knowledge is admittedly limited!
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    Thanks for these references! I remember reading an abridged version of Bachchan's autobiography a while ago, which included the bit that the encyclopedia entry cites, but it was all apparently too "between the lines" for me to catch it... :)

    I don't know how to date the origins of this tradition of using the -aa/-e in the gender-neutral sense in Urdu-Hindi poetry, but it almost certainly predates the Hindi Language Movement's instigation of the Hindi-Urdu fissure in the late 1800s. In other words, it's a grammatical device that's a part of the common Urdu-Hindi linguistic heritage, and the Hindi Language Movement wasn't interested in grammar as much script and vocabulary as far as I understand. So, I'm rather skeptical of the claim that this construction might be uncommon on either side of the "divide." But I don't know how one would collect data to check this, in part because the "divide" is so fuzzy to begin with!

    Here's another example, this time from Jaishankar Prasad, another poet who self-identified with "Hindi" rather than "Urdu," as is abundantly evident from his diction below. He seems to have died in 1937, well before Bachchan's autobiography began to be published in 1969, so if Bachchan's autobiography is "the first published confession in Hindi of a homosexual relationship," as the encyclopedia entry suggests, then presumably Prasad did not confess any such thing (in writing, at least). Same color scheme: red where we see the speaker self-identifying with -aa verb endings, and green where we see him identifying his praaNR-priya with -e verb endings.
    सुनो प्राण-प्रिय, हृदय-वेदना विकल हुई क्या कहती है​
    तव दुःसह यह विरह रात-दिन जैसे सुख से सहती है​
    मैं तो रहता मस्त रात-दिन पाकर यही मधुर पीड़ा
    वह होकर स्वच्छन्द तुम्हारे साथ किया करती क्रीड़ा​
    हृदय-वेदना मधुर मूर्ति तब सदा नवीन बनाती है​
    तुम्हें न पाकर भी छाया में अपना दिवस बिताती है​
    कभी समझकर रुष्ट तुम्हें वह करके विनय मनाती है​
    तिरछी चितवन भी पा करके तुरंत तुष्ट हो जाती है​
    जब तुम सदय नवल नीरद से मन-पट पर छा जाते हो
    पीड़ास्थल पर शीतल बनकर तब आँसू बरसाते हो
    मूर्ति तुम्हारी सदय और निर्दय दोनो ही भाती है​
    किसी भाँति भी पा जाने पर तुमको यह सुख पाती है​
    Note: I don't have a paper copy of this poem. The above is copy-pasted from Kavitakosh, except it looked to me that there were a couple of typos there (two missing bindis, and a long uu on रुष्ट instead of a short u), so I "fixed" them. I hope I did this correctly and/or caught all of the typos! The diction is a bit much for me to be entirely sure. None of this changes the genders displayed on the verb endings.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ........

    Footnotes:

    [^1]: I will continue my practice of citing both "Hindi" and "Urdu" because I think the two names designate one and the same linguistic entity, @Qureshpor jii. It may be true that the two names designate distinct sociocultural entities, but I find myself slightly more interested in language than in sociopolitics. I hope you'll forgive me if you disagree :) In any case, as far as your request for an example from the other side of Hindi-Urdu divide is concerned... Harivansh Rai Bachchan self-identified as a Hindi poet rather than an Urdu poet, so probably his poetry would be classified as "genuine Hindi literature." In his poem madhushaalaa, one finds the following:

    प्रियतम, तू मेरी हाला है, मैं तेरा प्यासा प्याला,
    अपने को मुझमें भरकर तू बनता है पीनेवाला,
    मैं तुझको छक छलका करता, मस्त मुझे पी तू होता,
    एक दूसरे की हम दोनों आज परस्पर मधुशाला

    In red we have a phrase where the speaker is using -aa for himself. In green are the phrases where we can see that the speaker is using -aa for his priyatam. I don't know what evidence one could possibly muster to argue that Bachchan intended this verse to be gay. More likely is that he just intended it to be gender-neutral.
    aevynn SaaHib, for your first two sentences, we'll leave this discussion altogether.

    For your example from Harivansh Rai bachchan's "Madhushala", I am afraid you have chosen a very poor illustration. If you read about Hindi literature, you will find it has no place for masculine gender for a female person. This is one of the factors which distinguishes the Urdu Ghazal from the rest of genres of Urdu poetry.

    Harivansh Rai Bachchan's Madhushala was published in 1935. This was inspired by his deep interest (verging on an obsession) in Fitzgerald's "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam" which he translated into Hindi and published it, also in 1935, but before "Madhushala".

    Bachchan belonged to the "Kayasth" caste and as we all know, the Kayasth caste played a significant role in Persian and Urdu literature in India.

    I know that he learnt Urdu from his mother* and a Maulavi Sahib came to his house on a daily basis for his education. See pages 18-21 of the link below (Madhushala-Maikhana- compiled and translated by Farooq Argali) as well as Professor Pritchett's short article.

    * http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00urduhindilinks/shacklesnell/321bachchan.pdf

    Madhushala Maikhana Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan Fan-o-Shakhsiyat Aur Lazawal Takhleeq by Harivansh Rai Bachchan | Rekhta

    In the same link above, we are told that he was a friend of an Urdu poet called Badri Nath Shaatir and that he (Bachchan) also had composed Urdu Ghazals and used the taxallus "Shankar". Bachchan provides the maqta3 (the last couplet) of one such Ghazal

    jaan pahchaan ho nah ho Shankar
    Husn dekhaa, salaam kar baiThe

    He was a colleague of Firaq Gorakhpuri and it would not be out of question that they discussed Urdu poetry. They both lived in Allahabad.

    Here is a link from Rupert Snell's article, on translating his biography.

    https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/1869/1/HindiPoetFromAllahabad.pdf

    * http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00urduhindilinks/shacklesnell/321bachchan.pdf

    In summary, Bachchan not only once composed Urdu poetry, he would have been well versed in its traditions and symbolism taking into account his associations with the Urdu poets Badri Nath Shaatir and Firaq Gorakhpuri. His childhood education in Persian and Urdu along with his later life interest in Omar Khayyam's rubaa3iyaat is another important factor. Professor Pritchett says..

    "Among his most popular compositions is his Madhushala, which borrows from Persian and Urdu poetry the traditional images of wine-cup and wine bearer...."

    Is it a pure coincident that for "Madhushala" (which translates as "Maixaanah", a common word in Urdu poetry) he employs 4-liner (rubaa3ii genre) and uses words such as "piyaalah", "saaqii", "aNguur", "mast", "mai-xaanah", "nashah", "kaafir", "shaix"... just to name a few? On top of this, he uses the Persian and Urdu "harf-i-rabt" (conjunction) "va" which is pronounced as "-o-" in poetry.

    मुसलमान औ' हिन्दू है दो, एक, मगर, उनका प्याला,
    एक, मगर, उनका मदिरालय, एक, मगर, उनकी हाला,
    दोनों रहते एक न जब तक मस्जिद मन्दिर में जाते,
    बैर बढ़ाते मस्जिद मन्दिर मेल कराती मधुशाला



     
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    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Well, it's hard to know for certain since we can't ask him. It is something that was mentioned to me by my professor in university, and something I've heard others say, too, that his autobiography contains the first confession of a homosexual relationship in Hindi literature. You can see a reference to this in this encyclopedia entry, just to be clear I didn't invent this. It's also passingly mentioned by Dr. Rupert Snell in the youtube video Rupert Snell - Autobiography is Another Story: "Lives" in Hindi on the Hindi-Urdu flagship channel about 21 minutes in (I haven't linked directly because I think it's still not permitted here?). He quotes the same source as the encyclopedia entry, and is the translator of Harivansh Rai Bachchan's autobiography into English.

    So who knows?

    I'll mention again, for whatever it's worth to anyone here, that my Hindi/Urdu prof had told us that Urdu had a tradition of referring to the beloved in its poetry as a male figure so the poem could be seen as both secular and spiritual, depending upon the inclination of the reader. I'm sure we could find examples of the beloved being a male figure in Hindi poetry written by men, but is it a common device? To my knowledge it's not, but my knowledge is admittedly limited!
    I feel that the sexuality of the writer is irrlevant in this case, when we are discussing about a piece of poetry employing masculine gender for the female beloved. Persian has no gender as Urdu and Hindi have, yet in both in Persian (which has no choice but to use masculine gender [verb endings] for males and females) and Urdu, the masculine gender in the Ghazal is for both males and females. This does not mean that Perian and Urdu literature is replete with authors who are homosexual! Someone has remarked earlier that "Many famous Sufis were simply homosexual.." which could not be further from the truth!
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    .....
    I don't know how to date the origins of this tradition of using the -aa/-e in the gender-neutral sense in Urdu-Hindi poetry, but it almost certainly predates the Hindi Language Movement's instigation of the Hindi-Urdu fissure in the late 1800s. In other words, it's a grammatical device that's a part of the common Urdu-Hindi linguistic heritage, and the Hindi Language Movement wasn't interested in grammar as much script and vocabulary as far as I understand. So, I'm rather skeptical of the claim that this construction might be uncommon on either side of the "divide." But I don't know how one would collect data to check this, in part because the "divide" is so fuzzy to begin with!

    Here's another example, this time from Jaishankar Prasad, another poet who self-identified with "Hindi" rather than "Urdu," as is abundantly evident from his diction below. He seems to have died in 1937, well before Bachchan's autobiography began to be published in 1969, so if Bachchan's autobiography is "the first published confession in Hindi of a homosexual relationship," as the encyclopedia entry suggests, then presumably Prasad did not confess any such thing (in writing, at least). Same color scheme: red where we see the speaker self-identifying with -aa verb endings, and green where we see him identifying his praaNR-priya with -e verb endings.
    सुनो प्राण-प्रिय, हृदय-वेदना विकल हुई क्या कहती है​
    तव दुःसह यह विरह रात-दिन जैसे सुख से सहती है​
    मैं तो रहता मस्त रात-दिन पाकर यही मधुर पीड़ा
    वह होकर स्वच्छन्द तुम्हारे साथ किया करती क्रीड़ा​
    जब तुम सदय नवल नीरद से मन-पट पर छा जाते हो
    पीड़ास्थल पर शीतल बनकर तब आँसू बरसाते हो
    मूर्ति तुम्हारी सदय और निर्दय दोनो ही भाती है​
    किसी भाँति भी पा जाने पर तुमको यह सुख पाती है​
    First paragraph. I have already mentioned that this is a phenomenon of Urdu poetry especially Ghazal which goes back a long way away in history. Hindi does not have this tradition.

    Second paragraph. The poet could be following the Urdu Ghazal tradition or and it is not beyond the realm of impossibility, he has a male person in mind. One can surely love a male without being homosexual, can't one? If you search for the Muhammad Rafi song, "ai mere dost ai mere ham-dam" (Ae Mere Dost) on youtube, you will see Ashok Kumar (a male person) singing for Sunil Datt (another male person), referring to him as both "Sudata" and "Kanhaya" both males in Hindu dharm. If we just had the words, would we know that both the speaker and the addressed are males or females? Would we be asking, "Was Rajinder Krishan, the lyric writer a homosexual?" You can look at some of his Ghazals on Rekhta.
     
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    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    Well, I at least agree with Qureshpor jii in that it was probably questionable of me to bring up author's intent regarding madhushaalaa. Whatever Bachchan intended, most *readers* of his poem read the verse in a gender-neutral way, so the fact remains that it exhibits a gender-neutral usage ot -aa/-e, I think.

    As far as this game is concerned of ruling out Bollywood, and Bachchan, and Prasad, as too influenced by Urdu to be "genuine Hindi" --- I suspect there may exist no "genuine Hindi" by this standard, but *shrug*. It's fine by me if that's the case :)
     
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    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    It should be noted that the Ghazal genre isn’t restricted to Persian and Urdu. The Ghazal has been adopted in many languages, including Hindi, Punjabi, and Gujarati.
     
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    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Perhaps you would be kind enough to quote me examples from genuine Hindi literature where the masculine gender is being used to addressed a female.
    I'm sure we could find examples of the beloved being a male figure in Hindi poetry written by men, but is it a common device? To my knowledge it's not, but my knowledge is admittedly limited!
    @Qureshpor jii himself had found some Hindi examples in his post no. 11 (and now @aevynn jii has found some more). Just because Qureshpor jii has the old habit of subsuming everything under Urdu, that doesn't make it so!

    As far as this game is concerned of ruling out Bollywood, and Bachchan, and Prasad, as too influenced by Urdu to be "genuine Hindi" --- I suspect there may exist no "genuine Hindi" by this standard, but *shrug*. It's fine by me if that's the case :)
    :thumbsup:
     
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    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    I don't know what standard there is for genuine Hindi literature but I happen to know a thing or two about Urdu literature. Everybody was able to interpret the text to their liking and what a richness has this aspect of Urdu poetry proven to be! Apparently it matters not what the poet wanted to say but what it does to the reader. It happens the text in the OP is Urdu poetry so let me continue. I can share a couple of points, taking a position on *all* what has been claimed would be too much and I don't think it is needed to clarify the problem.

    The introduction of Ghazal tradition as a Persian and Urdu literary genre was necessary because it is the answer to why masculine is there. NOT because of claims to authors' sexuality.

    Of course, 'they'/'them', are not new words in English. The BBC article you mentioned uses the term because the sex of the individual is unknown. That's different from modern gender theorists who insist they are neither male nor female, but some other gender(s), and thus eschew 's/he' for 'they'.
    I was talking about the specific (singular) usage of "they/them" which is old in English, I wasn't arguing about the age of the word "they" itself, naturally.
    The example from the BBC served as an illustration of a kind of usage unrelated to any ideology.
    The reason for the masculine plural is exactly this: because the sex of the individual is unknown.
    The poet's love-interest, "the beloved", doesn't inhabit the material world with its norms of language and gender, in the internal world of Ghazal, the figurehead of a beloved is a well-defined background prop which together with other regular characters of this literary kind provides the poet with expression possibilities.

    Were it the wish of the poet to state the gender outright he would have no doubt known how to do it and I think that as far as the context doesn't give any definite clue to the love-interest's sex, we must not forcibly try to assign a gender to the beloved when the writer chose not to do so and simply accept the fact that the gender of the beloved is unstated thus irrelevant.
    Not wanting to go to much off-topic,

    [Edit: remove offensive comment]
    The post remains aggressive.
    To set the record straight :p :
    "Gender ideology" was introduced to the discussion by none other than yourself yet you continue to go that path in order to display intolerant views.
    From "gender ideology" you managed to single-handedly glide onto homosexuality, so that you could out a historic religious group collectively with the Western 20th C. term "homosexuals".
    This much about being on topic.
    ---
    Just to add to the thread:

    The non-binary usage of "wuh"="they" is equally relevant and there is no need to exclude it arbitrarily just because of one's personal disapproval; it doesn't matter if you like it or not. The social phenomenon has strong and ancient rooting in South Asia. ''Third sex'' enjoys legal recognition in Pakistan, to take an example.
    ---
    The matter of plural is liable to interpretation as well, because a lyrical subject is not bound to be a monogamist. This poem or similar can be very well understood to be speaking about a plural number, with or without the honorific aspect of the plural verbs.
    ---
    Amongst the people on the receiving end of the literary process are women.
    Do you think a male poet would never write a piece in which a woman could recognise herself?
    ---
    Is it really so hard to imagine a male being the object of love by a male? Or a transgender?
    ---
    A woman? Sure! If respectable ladies can talk like old gentlemen (in Urdu) using the masculine endings?
    ---
    I have been reading the collected works by the above mentioned Shakeb Jalali and I've read the first half already looking for definite clues towards the beloved being feminine and I haven't met with any.
    ---
    I'm OK with mentioning Hindi when speaking of Urdu whenever linguistically relevant but since Shakeb Jalali did not write in Hindi... On the other hand it's depressing one can't use simply "Urdu" in a thread on a piece of Urdu poetry situated in the Urdu literary tradition without the obligate "Hindi".
    ---
    Qureshpor SaaHib is right pointing out the mindset which unnecessarily seeks sexualizing matters.

    The film with its song had missed me, I regret I've had a listen. Made so banal and literal. (U) Poetry is not literal.
    ---
    ae miir, yaaroN se kaih do, kih aatii hae urduu zabaan aate aate
     
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    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Is it a pure coincident that for "Madhushala" (which translates as "Maixaanah", a common word in Urdu poetry) he employs 4-liner (rubaa3ii genre) and uses words such as "piyaalah", "saaqii", "aNguur", "mast", "mai-xaanah", "nashah", "kaafir", "shaix"... just to name a few? On top of this, he uses the Persian and Urdu "harf-i-rabt" (conjunction) "va" which is pronounced as "-o-" in poetry.

    मुसलमान औ' हिन्दू है दो, एक, मगर, उनका प्याला,
    एक, मगर, उनका मदिरालय, एक, मगर, उनकी हाला,
    दोनों रहते एक न जब तक मस्जिद मन्दिर में जाते,
    बैर बढ़ाते मस्जिद मन्दिर मेल कराती मधुशाला
    Q SaaHib, not only it is a 4-liner, it also follows the rubaa3ii rhyming pattern, so if it looks like a duck... then it probably is a rubaa3ii :).
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    The post remains aggressive.
    To set the record straight :p :
    "Gender ideology" was introduced to the discussion by none other than yourself yet you continue to go that path in order to display intolerant views.
    Actually, I found your "full meaning of the English they" quite curious.
    Yes, I consider it gender-ideology induced. How is that aggressive?
    It doesn't get more intolerant that framing dissension into feeling "aggressed", in my opinion.
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    From "gender ideology" you managed to single-handedly glide onto homosexuality, so that you could out a historic religious group collectively with the Western 20th C. term "homosexuals".
    This much about being on topic.
    I won't let that pass.

    Firstly, I didn't extemporaneously or single-handedly "out" anybody or group. Please re-read the post before mine, #11, which says exactly what I say, only more obliquely.
    Secondly, I am not "labelling collectively" Sufis as homosexuals, that is your quite disingenuous interpretation.
    Thirdly, homosexuality is pretty recognizable behavior, I think, and it didn't start in the 20th century or in "the West". Or do things exist only once we name them?

    I object to the whole tone of your replies in this regard. If you think that "they" is an ancient, deep-rooted tradition in English to indicate progressiveness regarding gender, or that Sufi-inspired poetry of males romantically adoring other males is always mystic and "Platonic" (quite unfortunate choice of words in this case, considering Plato's own writings :)), that is your right. But don't try to stigmatize me for thinking the exact opposite. That is intolerant.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Actually, I found your "full meaning of the English they" quite curious.
    It is exactly as curious as the usage of wuh with masculine plural nouns or even with clear-cut singular masculine. They both refer to several things but the humble plural they is the primary meaning. When the sex/gender/identity/number/social position... is unknown/unstated, both pronouns are used similarly, and even there are parallels in their usage as social forms of interaction with sexual minorities. While in English it's the personal pronouns which betray the gender/sex, in Urdu "wuh" as a personal pronoun is not meant to convey anything more than that a certain animate being or a group of people is the designate. In that way it is similar to they/them which can refer to the primary designation (plural) or other usages (undefined singular). To the contrary some (but not all) verbal endings are gender-sensitive so the only grammatical person a poet can use to refer to a loved one without the need of narrowing down the options available for interpretation is this one. We are speaking poetry, not legal documents.
     
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    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    I won't let that pass.

    Firstly, I didn't extemporaneously or single-handedly "out" anybody or group. Please re-read the post before mine, #11, which says exactly what I say, only more obliquely.
    With your permission, perhaps I might have misunderstood something. I'll re-read the whole thread again and respond later to this one and to the rest.
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    I'm OK with mentioning Hindi when speaking of Urdu whenever linguistically relevant but since Shakeb Jalali did not write in Hindi... On the other hand it's depressing one can't use simply "Urdu" in a thread on a piece of Urdu poetry situated in the Urdu literary tradition without the obligate "Hindi".
    This is on me I suppose, since I first used the word "Hindi" in this thread and then proceeded to double down on it. My reason for doing it was because it seemed to me that the original question was about a grammatical device rather than a literary tradition, and the same grammatical device would probably not be found foreign to people who self-identify with the word "Hindi" rather than the word "Urdu." To use some words by Aashufta Changezi,

    ham to samajhe the kih is se faaSile miT jaa'eN ge
    xud ko zaahir bhii kiyaa lekin pashemaanii hu'ii

    I have caused grievances I did not want to cause. maiN apnii is gustaaxii ke liye mu3aafii chaahtaa huuN.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    This is on me I suppose, since I first used the word "Hindi" in this thread and then proceeded to double down on it.
    No, but yes. Hindi was introduced already in the thread title about an Urdu poem from the pen of a Pakistani poet Shakeb Jalali presented as a qawwaalii by the famous Pakistani performer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
    On many points, the Hindi literary tradition seems exact opposite to the Urdu literary heritage and some of its traditions. The similarities naturally overweigh but in this case, the said feature constitutes an overwhelming point of historical and present divergence, and deserves a topic of its own, so the broadening of the language denomination here is redundant if not incorrect.
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    No, but yes. Hindi was introduced already in the thread title about an Urdu poem from the pen of a Pakistani poet Shakeb Jalali presented as a qawwaalii by the famous Pakistani performer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
    I don't think anyone is denying that the poem is an Urdu poem, but it is at once a Hindi poem too, for most, if not all, Hindi speakers would understand it and relate to it: there are no words or other elements in it that make it incomprehensible to them. Nusrat saahab may self-identify as an Urdu speaker, but a work once launched in the public sphere is for the public to interpret, and the concerned poem is Hindi for many of its speakers (and both Hindi and Urdu for some learned Hindi speakers, and only Urdu for another set of learned Hindi speakers). I find nothing wrong with the thread title, since it is not intended to label such and such as exclusively Urdu or Hindi: this is not the OP's job nor any forum member's job here, that is in fact no one's job. The thread title is to elicit views from forum members, and since both Urdu and Hindi speakers can relate to the poem, and since both have the feature in question in the poetry they have grown up on (whether classified as exclusively Urdu, exclusively Hindi, or Hindustani, or Hindi-Urdu), both will have something to say.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Yes, you didn't, Qureshpor jii, but your labelling does not remove their Hindi-ness from them. You are of course free to follow your chosen labels for yourself.
    Yes, I agree wholeheartedly with you. My point of view does not remove the Indian-ness from the songs and this was never intended of course. :)
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    My point of view does not remove the Indian-ness from the songs and this was never intended of course. :)
    I don't understand what this sparring is going to achieve. I didn't mean Indian-ness: I don't think a Tulu or Tamil speaker has much to do with the concerned songs. I meant Hindi, the language of the songs. You do not want to recognise them as such, that's fine by me; there's no need to spar further.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    A correction...

    I had said that the song in question is based on Shikeb Jalali's nazm. It is not in fact a nazm but a Ghazal after all, which makes the use of masculine gender for the beloved even more pertinent. The rhyme pattern of a Ghazal is AA, BA, CA etc

    sochtaa huuN kih vuh kitne ma3suum the, kyaa se kyaa ho ga'e dekhte dekhte (A)
    maiN ne patthar se jin ko banaayaa sanam, vuh xudaa ho ga'e dekhte dekhte (A)

    Hashr hai vaHshat-i-dil kii aavaaragii, ham se puuchho muHabbat kii diivaanagii (B)
    jo patah puuchhte the kisii kaa kabhii, laa-pataa ho ga'e dekhte dekhte (A)

    There are two more couplets to this Ghazal. The part that is repeated is called the "radiif" (ho ga'e dekhte dekhte) and the rhyme before the radiif is known as qaafiyah. (kyaa, xudaa, pataa, vafaa, judaa etc)
     
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