Urdu-Hindi: What is "fasiiH" and "mustanad"? فصيح - مستند

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by Qureshpor, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I am starting this thread because this subject turns up in our discussions with remarkable frequency.Perhaps all that needs to be said has already been expressed by various people taking part in this forum over the years, yet, we and others may continue to do so. And there is no harm in this.

    From the Urdu perspective, it is a fact that Urdu is not just the name of a language but it represents a whole civilisation or way of life based on religious, ethnic, geographical and cultural diversity. It has been a language of secular ideals and because of it being spoken and understood across a very large area in undivided India, it became the language of the Freedom Struggle and the Progressive Writers' Movement and of course their slogans. Sadly, in more recent times, it has begun to be associated with Muslims only and there are of course reasons for this.

    Be that as it may, within this Urdu "tahziib" there is this concept of quoting, especially but not exclusively poetry, to make one's point in meetings, gatherings, social functions, dinners and dare I say even parliaments. Anyone who follows current affairs will know that this is a regular occurrence even in a country where the national language is Hindi. It seems that everyone wants to quote Urdu poets from the Prime Minister downwards.There must be something intrinsic in this language that people want to use its pithy quotes to serve their needs. I am not suggesting this is unique to Urdu. I am saying it is especially so in Urdu. Then there are of course "mushaa3irahs" (Poetry symposiums) which have a very long history and that is an Urdu institution in itself. Last but not least there is of course "bait-baazii", where one quotes a couplet from the treasure troves of Urdu poetry and the next person has to start his/her line with the last letter of the previous person's couplet. I don't know how old "antakshri" is, but "bait-baazii" goes back a long long time.

    A language gets to a state where it has become "settled", or shall I say "crystallised" and finds its happy equilibrium. Note, I have said "crystallised, not "petrified" or "set in stone." English language has its "Fowler's Modern English Usage" 1911 and Eric Partridge's Usage and Abusage (First published in 1942). In my own time we used a book called " The Queen's English". We may have similar books in Urdu but Urdu speakers have this concept of "istinaad" (authority), its adjective being "mustanad" (authoritative). The best prose and verse writers are considered the best authorities to emulate. As has been indicated by me and others, no one is asking or demanding others to follow this line of thinking. Just like there is Queen's or King's English, for us "mustanad" authors are our standards or "kasauTii". One of them has even said..

    saare 3aalam par huuN maiN chhaayaa hu'aa
    mustanad hai meraa farmaayaa hu'aa!

    fasiiH, from the title of this thread means "chaste", "fluent" and "eloquent" and its noun is "fasaaHat". In an interview with Ather Faruqi (entitled, "The Problem of Urdu in India-Political or Existential?") the renowned Urdu critic, scholar and poet Shamsur Rahman Faruqi says..

    "The same linguistic laxity is becoming rampant in Urdu under Hindi’s influence. This is because there is no tradition of a standard language (mi3yaarii zabaan) in KhaRii Bolii Hindii. Nor do Hindiwallahs have a concept of standard language which may work as a norm for determining the linguistic correctness and authenticity (fasaaHat aur istinaad) of words or phrases. The situation is different in Urdu. Any Urduwallah would know right away whether a sentence is or is not part of standard Urdu."

    Do "Hindiwallahs" have this concept for "mustanad" and fasiiH"? I have kept Hindi in the title so that equivalent terms from the Hindi perspective can be added to the title by the moderators.

    A lot is made of being "native" by some people. I have the utmost respect for native speakers of any language but not those who hide behind this notion of "nativeness" but have difficulty in putting together a semblance of a good sentence in their native tongue. A potion in which “being native” is the base ingredient with added constituents of incorrect information and gross exaggeration, will not, sadly, be effective as an antidote for a person’s inadequacies.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2012
  2. ihaveacomputer Member

    Canadian English
    Style guides most definitely exist in Hindi, the most famous being Ramchandra Varma's "Acchi Hindi". Varma's book is the best manual for those who favour heavy Sanskritization, and amongst these individuals, there is indeed an 'instinct' for what is and is not correct, assuming they have a background in Sanskrit. My own impression is that this style has much less to fall back upon than literary/academic Urdu simply because it hasn't been around as long and the literary culture is rather different. Urdu writers have more literary models which employ "shared language", whilst Hindi writers are more strongly pulled towards Sanskritization. The common man is very open minded to all sorts of vocabulary, but writers often think differently.

    These are, of course, trends. There are Urdu writers who go to great lengths to use Perso-Arabic alternatives and Hindi writers who use more shared vocabulary. I simply think Hindi needs another few decades to work out its stylistic preferences. Debates around the quality of language used in media are proof that such matters have yet to be settled.
  3. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ihaveacomputer, I am grateful for your reply. Is Ramchandra Verma's book easily available? I am curious to know his views on what constitutes "achchhii Hindi". It seems that Faruqi is right in what he says.

    Could you please furnish any examples of this, from both sides if possible but especially from the Urdu perspective.
  4. ihaveacomputer Member

    Canadian English
    Qureshpor Sahib, the book seems to be hard to come by! I do recall that you happen to live in the UK, however, and a search in the British Library's main catalogue turns up two copies of Varma's text. I believe one can order the book for delivery, but I warn you that the book is quite "shuddh" indeed! I am looking to purchase a copy for myself and will send you a personal message if I am successful in tracking it down.

    Examples of Hyper-Arabicized Urdu text can be found in religious materials, and "common-ground" Hindi is most often found in poetry. I also find that the BBC's Hindi service often does a rather good job of mixing Shuddh technical vocabulary with many Perso-Arabic words.
  5. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you for your prompt response. I have commentaries on the Qur'an in Urdu and in my humble opinion, the language in them is no more "Hyper-Arabicized Urdu" than say some of the most difficult Ghazals of Ghalib or nazms of Iqbal. But we won't dwell on this.

    After writing my response to your initial reply, I looked up the book in question. It was written in 1946 and for this reason I am not sure if the writer would have taken into account such matters as "ph" to "f" change or other possibly more recent developments. I shall see if I can find a copy of it on the net. I shall let you know.
  6. ihaveacomputer Member

    Canadian English
    Thank you, Qureshpor! It's always a pleasure.

    We may dwell on it, if you wish, because I think we are ultimately still in agreement! Indeed, I am sure that most writers did not have to go to great lengths to incorporate Arabic or Persian material into their vocabulary given their educational backgrounds, much like those with a Sanskritic education have no trouble with writing Shuddh Hindi. What I perhaps didn't properly communicate was that there is a stronger heritage of literature which is very comfortable using shared vocabulary in Urdu as compared to Hindi. Manto is quite an excellent example. My sense is that there are many Hindi writers who might stop themselves and reflect on style before writing in a similar way, simply because no single school of thought has won out amongst the current literary elite.

    Honestly, I severely doubt that hyper-Sanskritised Hindi will rise to the same level of prestige as its counterpart in Urdu, simply because the heritage isn't as strong, and attempts to introduce this kind of language haven't been as successful as many had originally hoped. Much Sanskritic technical vocabulary has already been successfully introduced, but I don't expect Sanskritic neologisms to replace Perso-Arabic counterparts to the degree that they have in the writings of, say, Varma.

    In summary, I expect Hindi will settle in a state of "Semi-Sanskritisation" with the possible exception, at least in the short run, of academic (but not literary) registers.
  7. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ Thank you for above once again. What equivalent Hindi terms would you suggest for the title of this thread. Would the terms you might suggest be commonly known amongst the Hindi speakers who are acquainted with their linguistic and literary heritage?
  8. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Maybe words like praamaaNRik could be used to express the idea of ''mustanad''. For ''fasiiH'' - parimaarjik. A lexicon I consulted, describes ''fasaaHat'' as saaf-sundar bhaashaa.
  9. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you marrish SaaHib. Let's see what the views of Hindi speakers are regarding the questions posed in this thread and your suggestions. It goes without saying that ihaveacomputer has probably summed up the situation pretty accurately.
  10. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    Apparently Faruqi isn't aware that Hindi is a standard language. It is regulated by the Central Hindi Directorate, which oversees the standard usage, grammar, and spelling of the language. There are many grammar books and dictionaries pertaining to Hindi, in addition to it being the medium of instruction (or second language) in most Indian states. Of course, there are also many prominent literary figures in Hindi (e.g Premchand, Harivansh Rai Bachchan) who serve as examples of correct, authentic, and proper linguistic usage.

    Secondly, the grammar of Urdu is nearly identical to that of Hindi. It seems that Faruqi is simply trying to "blame" Hindi for the deterioration of Urdu in India, instead of looking at Urdu education itself. It is also suspect for him to say "Any Urduwallah would know...". I highly doubt an uneducated, illiterate Urdu speaker would know the difference between standard and nonstandard usage when educated speakers themselves make mistakes.

    CM Naim, another Urdu scholar, has an alternative and more prudent view than Faruqi. Naim attributes the deterioration to a lack of proper education among Urdu-speaking Muslims in this assessment:

    'According to R. K. Sharma, Director National Council for Educational Research and Training, a state institution of utmost importance in the field of Education, of a total of 90,000 schools in UP, only 400 were Urdu-medium, all at the primary level (i.e. upto grade 5), and 70 percent of Muslim students never reached the 10th grade.Also, according to Mr. Sharma, "in some schools near the Jama Masjid at Delhi there were Urdu teachers who didn't know Urdu at all."'
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  11. littlepond Senior Member

    ^ In my view, part of the deterioration in Urdu's quality is also because of the lack of deterioration: that is, Urdu is cotton-balled. It has been made a preserve of purists, with not much play happening in the language, not much absorbing from languages except Arabic, and an attitude of don't-touch-me. On the other hand, Hindi has a wide spectrum between that of the Central Hindi Directorate and that of "Gandi Baat" via Gulzar's "Chhod Aaye Hum": that is what keeps a language breathing. I think this is an Urdu-wide issue, not limited to Indian Urdu. One has to only listen to PTV news ...
  12. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I don't know if anyone has said this. Welcome to the forum, littlepond jii.

    I am not sure you have answered the pertinent part of the opening post. Perhaps, you could look into it now.
  13. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Welcome to the forum, mundiya jii and thank you for your detailed reply including your views on what is considered "Standard Hindi". Perhaps you would be kind enough to answer my query below which is part of my opening post.
    Sometimes in Urdu posts,questions are asked about usage of particular words. We try to quote our best authors to illustrate their usage. This is called producing an "isnaad" or authority. Rarely if ever we see a quotation from Hindi masters, be they poets or prose writers. It would be nice if you and others would start a trend in this direction and start quoting the likes of Premchand and Bachchan.
    Well, "To err is human...", independent of whether one is educated or not. But I do know one thing from my own experience. Even an uneducated person, depending on the environment s/he has grown up in, is able to discern the quality of language being spoken. My parents' command over language was far far better than mine.
  14. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    Thank you for the welcome, Qureshpor ji. I have been lurking for quite a while but finally decided to join.

    Based on the description provided of "mustanad" and "fasiiH" I can say that the concepts certainly do exist in Hindi, but I can't think of the appropriate terms at the moment that would be found in Hindi.

    I think we need to differentiate between standard usage and quality of language. Standard usage is a set of invented rules or boundaries for the language usually by academics or other experts. An educated speaker is more likely to have this knowledge about the language. A word can be nonstandard according to experts but commonly used by speakers and even writers. Nonstandard words become standardised over time due to popularity of use. That doesn't necessarily mean such words are poor in quality. Quality of language includes correct pronunciation, correct spelling, use of appropriate verb tenses and vocabulary that makes sense, among other things. Every fluent speaker of a language (especially a native speaker) should be able to judge quality. But if you are more educated in Urdu than your parents and grew up in the same environment, I would expect your command over Urdu, including standard usage, to be better than theirs.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  15. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ Thank you for your reply. If you do think of equivalent words, please do return to the thread and add them here.

    With regard to the last paragraph, I do not agree with everything you have said but we would be going off topic if we were to continue. So, it would be best to leave the discussion here.
  16. littlepond Senior Member

    And which country is that? If you mean India, you are very wrong: India has no national language! The Indian Constitution recognizes many languages as its state languges. Presently, India has 22 state languages, among which Hindi, Urdu, English and Punjabi all four are included and have equal status.

    Svaagat ke liye shukriya, Quresh jii. Urdu ke baare mein to mujhe malum nahin, parantu itna zarur keh sakta hun ki mujhe nahin lagta ki aap angrezi ko "crystallised" keh sakte hain: koi bhi jeeti-jaagti bhaashaa crystallised ho hi nahin sakti. Na sirf logon ke chaal-chalan badalte hain, balki adarsh bhi. Aap chaahen kitne hi vaakyon ke aage "it's a fact" likh den, par us se ve fact ban nahin jaate. Yeh zaroor ek fact ke taur pe liya jaa sakta hai. Baaki mujhe kuchh khaas aapki baat samajh nahin aayi - yaa kahiye, baat to samajh aayi, par uddeshya nahin aaya. Is liye is afsane ko yeh mod dekar hi yahaan chhodna main uchit samajhta hoon.
  17. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    chaliye aap kahte haiN to maan lete haiN!
    aap "crystalised" ke ma3ne "nikhrii hu'ii" leN to shaayad ziyaadah bihtar ho. is se ziyaadah yahaaN tafsiil meN jaanaa munaasib nahiiN.

    ek baar phir aap asl baat kaa javaab denaa to bhuul ga'e haiN!

    "Do "Hindi walas" have this concept for "mustanad" and fasiiH"? I have kept Hindi in the title so that equivalent terms from the Hindi perspective can be added to the title by the moderators"
  18. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    This is correct. "praamaaNik" expresses the concept of "mustanad". There are many books related to praamaaNik Hindi. You can find a listing of several on Google books.

    For "fasiiH" I would use "shaaleen".
  19. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    I don't mean to derail the conversation at all, but just a question: do we even see the same concern for "mustanad" or "fasiiH" Hindi as we do with Urdu? Is there even a parallel?
  20. mundiya Senior Member

    Hindi, English, Punjabi
    Good question. I would say yes, there is the same concern. A standardised language by definition has a "standard" that is to be followed with books and other sources that serve as an authority. Hindi is no exception to this. When a standard is not followed, in my opinion it either has to do with a lack of proper education or is intentional (for example, the use of slang by the younger generation). A lot also depends on the beliefs and values of an individual speaker. A linguistic conservative is more likely to eschew incorrect or nonstandard phrases, while a linguistic liberal may have a nonchalant attitude.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2013
  21. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    I am not a native Hindi speaker - I learnt Hindi in my late teens/post-teen years. Though I think, my linguistic command is now quite good after more than a decade of using it regularly, I am not intimately acquainted with the culture around it. In any case - I hear a lot about "shuddh Hindi" from the "Hindiwalas". Does that map to any of these concepts?
  22. littlepond Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum, Dib! About shuddhata, there are already many threads, it seems: a couple of them are here and here.
  23. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Thank you!
  24. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद मुन्डिया जी. अब से लेकर जब कभी किसी शब्द की चर्चा हो रही हो गी तो आप और दुसरे हिन्दी बोल्ने वालों से प्रमाणिक उप्योग देखना चाहें गे और वह भी किसी चोटी के लिखने वाले की क़लम से! फिर पता चले गा क्या शालीन है और क्या नहीं:)

    I hope I have not made too many errors in this sort piece!
  25. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    This topic came under discussion in the thread given below. Unfortunately, you won't be able to add anything there. If you wish to start a new thread, by all means do so but please give examples of PTV's Urdu usage that you have in mind.


    Perhaps another thread for this too?

  26. littlepond Senior Member

    I recently came across the trailer of "Bobby Jasoos" (another delightful Vidya Balan film in the offing), which is largely spoken in Urdu. It was funny to me that there doesn't seem to be any fasiih authority even for Urdu, judging by the way Urdu has been spoken for decades in Hyderabad: "mere ko", absence of "hai", etc.

    I wonder what is this "fasiih", except a political tool to impose your own dialect on other people's dialect? Thankfully, Hindi doesn't have it; thankfully, the Urdu speakers of Hyderabad also don't have it, as "Bobby Jasoos" and numerous dialogues of the old times' comedian Mahmood have shown.

    Disclaimer: The writer of this message loves Hyderabadi Urdu.
  27. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    All language standardizations are socio-political tools to "impose" (actually often freely accepted by a large number of speakers) uniformity. It happens also in Hindi. Listen to Lalu Prasad Yadav's free speech and prepared speech, for example and notice the differences. They are also artifacts of standardization vs his natural Hindi.
  28. littlepond Senior Member

    I do agree, Dib jii, but one must remember that a politician's work is to address masses, all of which do not speak the same dialect as the concerned politico. So in my personal view, I wouldn't say it as imposition; it's just finding a middle ground to reach a larger audience (esp. since Lalu considers himself as a national-level leader). On the other hand, asking (or expecting) a Hyderabadi person to speak Lakhnavi Urdu is not seeking a middle ground in my opinion: rather, it is trying to simply ignore his existence, her identity!
  29. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I don't believe in politics as related to language matters before 1947 so I truncated your message and left out what I wished to respond to. About authorities. anjuman-e-taraqqiy-e-Urdu (Hind) up to 1947, then the same institution after being burnt down in Delhi but not in other cities of India shifted to Karachi, then in modern India, qaumii kaunsil baraa'e furoGh-e-Urdu zabaan (National Council for Promotion of the Urdu language), Ministry of Human Resource Development, India, and before Byuuro-e-taraqii-e-Urdu zabaan ( the same Ministry under Education) and of course re-risen from ashes Anjuman-e-taraqqi-ye-Urdu Hind http://www.anjumantaraqqiurduhind.org/index1.html. On top of that, muqtadarah-e-qaumii-zabaan with its seat in Pakistan. Anjuman had or has a branch in Hyderabad too, NCPUL too. (Perhaps these remarks are not important to the discussion but they are facts).
  30. littlepond Senior Member

    ^ You have only reconfirmed what is being said, marrish jii: the attempt to impose this so-called fasiih Urdu on the Hyderabadi tongue. If you thought that anyone was saying that there is a dearth of such political institutions, then you got it wrong: this very forum is the perfect example where some members keep monitoring others' Urdu usage (even extending it to transcription!).

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