Urdu: plural of ustaad

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by panjabigator, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Would the plural of <ustād> be <ustāzah>? Here are my planned sentences. I'd like to know if it sounds OK. The "X SaHib" is the program head and he has a team of instructors that work with him as well.

    <'aalī janāb X SāHib aur tamām ustāzah. xidmat me.n ādāb pesh kartā hū.n. umīd hai keh mizāj e girāmī baxer ho.nge>.
  2. lcfatima Senior Member

    In a teapot
    English USA
    It is asaatiza. For whatever reason, ustaad is spelled with daal and asaatiza with a zaal (retains the Arabic spelling). This has also perplexed me, perhaps the singular and plural forms entered the language at different times. I had meant to ask about this, too, but you beat me to it.
  3. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    And would you say that this plural is ist'amāl shudah?
  4. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    An interesting point you both have raised! This was once a subject of debate, given that in the plural <asātizah أساتِذہ>, as Icf has pointed out, the original Arabic <zaal ذ> is kept, but it was considered pedestrian to keep the <zaal ذ> in the singular and say <ustāz أستاذ>!! Instead the proper singular was deemed to be <ustād أستاد>. There is no logic to this but then languages can be erratic in their development. I wish we had kept the <zaal ذ> in the singular to keep it all consistent.
  5. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Really? By whom and in what time frame?

    A very odd pluralization indeed.
  6. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I can’t say who decided this but can, for the moment, give you only an approximate period.

    By the time of Ghālib, it was exclusively <ustād>, hence the use of this form in these verses praising Mīr:

    Rīxtā ke tumhi.n ustād nahī ho Ghālib
    kahte hai.n agle zamāne me.n koi bhī Mīr thhā

    [You are not the only master of Rīxtā*, Ghālib
    They say there was once someone called

    - * Rīxtā = Urdu

    I have to check all of Mīr’s 6 divāns to see what he used. I get the feeling he too might have used <ustād> - the reason is the original etymology from Farsi (see below).

    PG, I don’t think the pluralization is odd per se. It falls in one of the recognised categories of Arabic broken plurals. My point was about the replacement of <zaal ذ> in the singular of the Arabic < ustāz> and replacing it with <daal د > to give <ustād> but at the same time using the Arabic broken plural with <zaal ذ>.

    The original etymology of <ustād> is not Arabic but Persian!

    Platts has this to say:
    استاد ustād

    Pers. استاد ustād [old Pers.. vśtāt; Pehlavi uśtāt; Zend aiwisti, masculine noun]:

    -A master; crafts master, skilful man, expert; preceptor, tutor, teacher; professor;
    -Clever rogue, sharper; tutor of a dancing, musician;

    -(adj.) Expert, proficient, skilful, clever:—ustād honā, To become or make onself master (of), to master, be or become proficient.

    In other words, in Urdu we go back to the original Persian but in the plural we use the Arabic form. That to me is odd:

    In idiomatic Urdu the singular is always <ustād> – from Persian- and not <ustāz> (the Arabic singular form of a loan word), but the plural is usually the Arabic broken plural <asātizah> !

    However, we also use the Prakrit pluralizing rules to give < ustādo.n> for accusative / genitive / dative.

    The feminine is <ustānī> - irregular!
  7. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Never saw <ustānī> before! Very interesting. I assume its usage is limited to written Urdu.

    I was just thrown off by the daal to zaal switch. It seemed a bit much, even for a broken Arabic plural.

    So the word went from Persian to both the Indo subcontinent and Arabic?
  8. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Firstly, I need to make a small correction (in bold, maroon below) to Ghālib’s verse:

    Rīxtā ke tumhi.n ustād nahī ho Ghālib
    kahte hai.n agle zamāne me.n koi Mīr bhī thhā

    - <
    bhī> comes after <Mīr>. I mistyped.

    No, <ust
    āni > is used in idiomatic, everyday Urdu speech as well.

    Well yes, but at very different times. <ustād> was borrowed by Classical Arabic (-> ustāz) in ancient times. Most likely post-Islamic but I’ll need to look at pre-Islamic poetry to be completely sure. In fact, I do not really recall coming across this word in the <mu3allaqāt> = the (seven) hanging odes of pre-Islamic poetry. But need to look again.

    Even if it is post-Islamic, the borrowing into Arabic would predate the existence of Urdu by several centuries! At the supposed time of borrowing (7th/ 8th century AD??) the languages in northern India were more like, Braj Bhāshā, Awadhi, early Punjābi (you’ll know better), some form of Bhojpuri and early Khari Boli of Delhi. Urdu and Hindi as we understand them weren’t there.

    However, I imagine that following the founding of the Sultanate of Delhi and most surely with the coming of the Mughals and the concomitant rise in the use of Persian, words like <ustād> came into the Delhi dialect. But I’m still puzzled as to why the plural is taken from Arabic –asātizah.
  9. lcfatima Senior Member

    In a teapot
    English USA
    PG: The way that last phoneme in ustaaz is pronounced according to prescriptive pronunciation in Classical Arabic sounds much closer to /d/ than a /z/. As you may know, usted is Spanish has the same root. Perhaps the Persians took the word in as it sounded, approximating it as a /d/ and it passed on to S. Asia in that way?
  10. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    Few potentially clarifying remarks:

    In late Middle Persian, intervocalic w,g and d were pronounced as the fricatives B(like Spanish b), gh(ghein) and dh (interdental d as in that). In the south western or Perside dialects (lori,lari,baxtiari,Fars and Kerman dialects) the first becomes "v" (as in standard Persian), the second remains gh in some cases (as in aaghosh vs older aagosh, but aaghandan has been superseded by aakandan, the older form being aagandan, you can find plenty of other examples in Dehxodaa's) while the third (dh) usually switches back to d (occasionally to z as in aazar for early aadhar, older form aadur) in standard Persian, but it becomes "y" in bunch of Perside dialects (cf. Nahavandi baayem for Tehraani baadom, both from some early classical form baadhem with a neutral e vowel, standard Persian baadaam classical Persian baadhaam) and it remains dh in Northen Fars dialects like Davaani (cf. Tehrani uumadam, Nahavandi aamayem/aamaayem, Davaani uumadhe classical Persian aamadham standard Persian aamadam) and switches back to d in other dialects (but to z in some Ispahani dialects e.g. gombad->gombadh-> gombaz also in Old Tehrani and Raazi (Ray) dialect,which are now extinct, gombaz). In classical Persian, however, probably up to late Middle Ages, the standard pronunciation was similar to that of northern Fars dialects, that is all postvocalic and intervocalic d's were pronounced dh (hence old spellings such as kwdhk for kuudak pronounced kodhak or xdhay for xudhaay now xodaa). This is evident in many classical texts from the rhymes for example Sa'di, in his Golestan, rhymes diid and shaniid with ladhiidh, because he actually pronounced them diidh and shaniidh (or perhaps even sheniidh with a neutral e). Arabic has borrowed ustaad and other Persian words like xodh/xuud(helmet) during the classic/medieval period when the predominant pronunciation was with dh in postvocalic positions and d elsewhere!
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2009
  11. lcfatima Senior Member

    In a teapot
    English USA
    Very fascinating.
  12. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    One of the etymologies for <ustād> I have is from Platts and he suggests a clear route into our language via Old Persian and Pahlavi. (There is no good etymological dictionary of Arabic words as yet though one is being discussed / underway at present in Egypt.) Classical Arabic also borrowed a number of other words from Persian like the one arsham mentioned as well as the word <xwān> (pronounced <xān>) = table. It also gave to Persian and Urdu a whole lot words.

    I also found a second source of <ustāz> etymology. Anthony Salmone’s Advanced Arabic Dictionary also states that this word is of Persian origin. Always my suspicion as there is no Semitic root associated with it! So a loan word.

    [BTW, the <zaal> in Classical Arabic is indeed pronounced something like <th> sound in <the> - Haywood and Nahmad (A New Grammar of Written Arabic) and others specifically mention this as a guide for pronouncing this letter. (In Farsi and Urdu, however, we produce <zaal> like a <z>.)]

  13. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    Here's the verse I was talking about, it's in Sa'di's divan not in golestan (it's a ruba'i):

    چون صورت خویشتن در آئینه بدید---و آن کام و دهان و لب و دندان لذیذ
    می گفت چنان که می توانست شنید---بس جان به لب آمد که بدین لب نرسید

    chon sūrat xwēshtan dar āyina beδīδ ..... v-ān kām o δahān o lab o δandān e laδīδ
    mē goft chonān ke mē tavānest shenīδ .... bas jān ba lab āmaδ ke baδ-īn lab ne rasīδ
  14. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    Other examples of early New Persian loanwords in Arabic include:

    فالوذ Pers. پالوده
    فولاذ Pers. پولاد
  15. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    پالوده--> Is that the sweet dish faluda?
  16. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    Yes, we also use faalude
  17. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Coming back to the topic <ustād استاد >, here is Omar Khayyām with his استاد and استادی

    یك چند بكودكی باستاد شدیم
    یك چند باستادی خود شاد شدیم
    پایان سخن شنو كه مارا چه رسید
    از خاك در آمدیم و برباد شدیم

    J'avais un maitre alors que j'etais un enfant

    Puis je devins un maitre et, par là, triomphant
    Mais écoute la fin: tout cela fut en somme
    Un amas de poussière emporté par le vent
  18. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Greetings all,

    Could someone comment if <ustānī> is the feminine singular or plural?

    And can anyone confirm if its (ustād) borrowing in Arabic is pre-islamic or post-islamic? Cherine, perhaps you may be able to shed some light on this one.

  19. akak Senior Member

    UK, India- English, Urdu, Hindi
    Jumping in to say what a fascinating discussion. Ustānī is singular. The plural I have heard is ustānīyā.n
  20. BP. Senior Member

    Yes, ustaanii is the feminine of ustaad.

    PG, do you mean the borrowing of this word into Persian and subsequently Urdu? That should be an aftermath of the Arab conquest of Persia.
  21. arsham Senior Member

    Persian - Iran
    ostaad is a post-islamic Persian loanword in Arabic!
  22. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Does asātizah function as an oblique plural too or does it have an "وں" ending?
  23. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Panjabigator Jii,

    No, asaatizah does not have an -oN ending.

    Here is a link to ustaad/ustaaz/asaatizah discussion on an Urdu poetry group. You, Fatima Sahiba and Faylasoof Sahib might find this of interest. At one time, in Early Classical Persian words with zaal were "common as muck", the zaal having the same sound as the Arabic zaal.


    Here is a "summary" of the issue.

    This is how I see the saga behind the "ustaadicization" of the word
    "ustaaz". Let us venture into the distant times, say from 644 AD when
    Persia came under Arab rule to around a century before the birth of
    Firdausi (Firdausi was born in 935 AD).During this time words like
    "ustaaz" (along with its natural plural "ustaazaan") and hundred of
    other zaal containing words were part of the every day language.
    During this time, Arabic took into its fold words like "ustaaz",
    "farmaan" and "dastuur" and formed their plurals adhering to the
    Arabic patterns resulting in "asaatizah"/"asaatiiz", "faraamiin" and
    "dasaatiir" I believe, by the time of Firdausi, almost all of the zaal
    words had lost their zaal and acquired a daal . As to the reason, I
    have no idea why this happened. It certainly had nothing to do with
    Arabic, which had its own zaal. However "asaatizah" managed to keep
    its zaal as it now could be considered as a purely Arabic word, its
    origins placed on the "taaq-i-nisyaaN". Having said this, their
    distant memory did not quite die off. "ustaaz" remains alive in Dari
    of Afghanistan today and, according to Lazard, in some Iranian
    dialects. Also, writers especially poets, tend to cling onto older
    usages and one should be able to cite examples of Firdausi and later
    poets and prose writers.

    > This is what I mean by saying that in Modern Persian, the status of
    > 'ustaaz' is that of an import from Arabic. The word is no longer
    > treated as a Persian-originated word. Otherwise, there would be a
    > Persian plural too (ustaazaan?)

    Please take a look at this link below. Read lines 6 and 7 of the first
    paragraph only.

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
  24. panjabigator

    panjabigator Senior Member

    غریب الوطن
    Am. English
    Thanks Qureshpor.
  25. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    PG, Urdu uses both asātizah, an Arabic broken plural, as well as the Prakrit pluralisation for the singular ustaad, and it is only the latter that we decline - the former never!

    میں نے یہ اپنے استادوں سے سیكھا ہے

    میں نے یہ اپنے اساتذہ سے سیكھا ہے

    Both are of course correct, mean the same and in our speech used with equal frequency!

    From what I recall, Firdausi happens to use only the singular in at least three places. There may well be a plural from with -aan but I haven't read the whole Shahnameh! Here is just one of the three places - all singular - that I can recollect:

    ز روم و ز هند آنکه استاد بود
    وز استاد خویشش هنر یاد بود

    But Nizami did use the Persian plural form with -aan:

    ز گوهر سفتن استادان هراسند
    که قیمت مندی گوهر شناسند.
  26. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Thank you, Faylasoof Sahib. The question that was being asked of me was this. If ustaaz ااستاذ was indeed the original Persian word (as I was suggesting to members of the poetry group), then there ought to be a Persian plural too, namely ustaazaan استاذان. I was not successful in finding anything from Persian literature but I was able to provide a link to an Afghan group where this word was shown to be in use.

    Essentially my suggestion was that after the Arabs tookاستاذ into their language and formed the plural اساتذہ in due courseاستاذ and many many other Persian words with zaal lost the zaal and changed to daal words, hence استاد. However, اساتذہ with its zaal survived because it had taken an Arabic identity. If استاد had been the prototype, where would the zaal in اساتذہ have come from? The answer IMHO lies in the original word being استاذ, which is still alive and kicking not only in Arabic but also in Afghan Persian. Not only this, you will have come across استاذی (myاستاذ) as a title of respect within Urdu literature. Of courseاستادی in Urdu carries an altogether different connotation.
  27. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi

    Actually, in my post#6 above I refer to the etymology of ustaad from Old Persian, Avestan and Phalavi etc:

    The Pehlavi uśtāt changed to uśtād in Modern Persian. The daal to zaal in Arabic is a different discussion, I feel. But the original was Persian ending in t in Pahlavi.

    ....and as I mention in my immediately above post, Nizami does use the Persian plural - and with a daal, استادان , it appears:
    So it is not just in the Afghani dialect that we have the Persian -aan plural! Nizami's verse also uses it.

    The origin of the Arabic zaal form (ustaaz) is obscure and its "persistence" in Afghani dialect can just mean that it was never cured back to the original Persian ustaad. Whatever the case may be, it requires more research so I wouldn't hazard any guesses!

    استاذی (my ustaaz) is of course an Arabic borowing! ....and yes, استادی in Urdu does have quite a different connotation.
  28. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    The -aan plural that I was being asked to produce was not for ustaad but rather for ustaaz. ustaaz & ustaazaan are still current in Dari because Dari has kept some features of the language which modern day Iranian Persian has lost.

    You will no doubt be aware that Arabic has "asaatiid" as a plural too. This appears to be much more common in Persian than Arabic where asaatizah is the norm. Yes, this topic needs proper research but I do not believe a "zaal" was brought into ustaad from Arabic. Firstly the zaal sound was part of the Persian consonantal system already and secondly, if the original word was indeed ustaad which the Arabs inherited, why not just make a plural form from that? It seems rather odd to replace a consonant in a word first and then to make a plural!
  29. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    I realise that but the original word is of Persian etymology and that happens to be ustaad! The daal to zaal change is a separate discussion. I thought I made that clear! The point I was making was about the use of the Persian plural with -aan, whether this is added to ustaad or ustaaz is irrelevant. Since the original singular is ustaad the Persian plural would obviously be ustaadaaan, as Nizami uses. For the use of the latter (ustaaz and its Persian plural) in the Afghani dialect, I have given a possible reason above.

    We are all entitled to our opinions but facts based on evidence are soemthing else. Using the zaal sound argument in Persian here is, I feel, a little dubious if not plain wrong, because in Persian both zaal and ze sound the same! So why not ze? Quite how, when and why we had a daal to zaal change has not been worked out (as far as I know) and requires further research, as I said above.

    I sincerely hope we don't end up with a circular discussion!!

  30. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Reviving an ancient thread:
    Any idea about the etymology of "ustaanii"? Is it an Urdu (or subcontinental) derivation? Or does it exist in Persian/Arabic? (I'd guess - Urdu)

    The etymology of usted, I am familiar with, is from "vuestra* merced" ("your grace") through a colloquial contraction. Same etymology as Portuguese "você". Anyways, it's not a biggy as far as this thread is concerned.

    *It could be "vostra" though. I am not sure when the accented o>ue sound change took place in Spanish.
  31. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    My understanding is that it is simply ustaad + nii > ustaadnii > ustaanii.
  32. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Well, thanks. But, you'd guess what my next question would be. :D
    Whatever happened to the d? Do you know any other example of this -dnV > -nV simplification? (V = vowel) Is this regular or just sporadic in this case?
  33. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Dib Jii, I don't have any knowledge or expertise in the field of etymology. A similar example (at least similar in my simplistic thinking) would be:..

    raajaa > raajnii > raanii (And by backformation...raanii ...raanaa)
  34. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Actually it's an interesting example, though probably not relevant here as jn had already become (geminate) palatal n in Prakrit quite early (around 1st century BC or earlier, if I remember correctly). But interesting, nonetheless. Thanks a lot.

    And I realize, I shouldn't have posted this question in this thread probably, because it's off-topic. So, if there's enough interest, maybe a new thread can be started.
  35. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Your memory is indeed admirable if it goes as far back as 1st century BC or earlier! :)I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday!

    Here is what Platts says. P H
    استانی ustānī [ustād+ = S. aff. इनी or आनी], s.f. Schoolmistress, preceptress, teacher (of reading, writing and embroidery).
  36. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)


    Thanks for the Platts reference.
  37. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    I could find the following:

    چاندني चांदनी chāṅd'nī, chānnī, n. f. S. चन्द्रिका Pr. chandimā; Pālī, chandikā. 1. Moonlight; moonbeams.
  38. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Interesting. I have never heard this chānnī pronunciation. Have you? I wonder where he got this from.
  39. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    As a side note, in Punjabi it is the chaannii. But the second n is retroflex.
  40. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    He got it from colloquialisms as recorded more or less 150 ago and I gave it for i think it is more relevant to your question than the instances of a Chandni called Channo or Channii nowadays. It is what my friends of Delhi said to me and it is perhaps less relevant to this etymology question than QP SaaHib's contribution about Punjabi.
  41. Dib Senior Member

    Bengali (India)
    Sorry, I didn't respond to this thread before, because I was unsure how to evaluate this. But thanks, both of you, for your comments. In any case, I think it is then reasonable to conclude that "ustaanii" is an Urdu/native formation based on the Persian/Arabic ustaad.
  42. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Yes, indeed! ustaanii is Indic (Urdu) derivation of the original Persian/ Arabic borrowing.
  43. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    This post is linked to fdb SaaHib's following post which has acted as a trigger of a sort for me.
    If Arabic ­fūlāδ فولاذ came from Persian pōlāδ پولاذ why is not possible for Arabic ustaaδ اُستاذ to have its origins in Persian اُستاذ ? Faylasoof SaaHib has indicated that this word's etymology does not have a final ذ but it is in fact a د. My problem is that if in olden times the word was indeed ustaad اُستاد then why did the Arabs feel the need to change the د to a ذ as is apparent in the Arabic words ​اُستاذ and اساتذہ ?
  44. eskandar

    eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    By the same token, we might ask: if the original Persian word was استاذ as you suggest (which I do not believe was the case), why would the ذ change to a د in Persian when we have, to my knowledge, no other examples of such a sound change? Persian کاغذ and گذشتن for example retained their original ذ and did not change it to a د .

    When Arabic loanwords enter Persian, the spelling almost never changes, which is why there are literally thousands of Arabic loanwords in Persian that are still spelled according to their Arabic pronunciation, despite the lack of differentiation between ض and ز in Persian pronunciation for example. However, Arabic changes the sounds of words it imports as loanwords quite frequently, where an original [t] ت might become an emphatic [T] ط , an original [k] ك can become a pharyngealized [q] ق , an original س can become an emphatic ص and many other changes (not to mention altering sounds that don't exist in Arabic such as ch, p, etc.) You can see many examples of what I'm talking about here. Therefore, it would be not be unusual for Arabic to change the sound of a word it has borrowed from another language.

    Finally as you know, in the time period where these borrowings were taking place, dots were mostly unwritten, which I posit as one possible explanation as to how a د can get reanalyzed as a ذ in Arabic.
  45. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    This has been a very long discussion and most of what I have to say has already been said. Let me repeat just this much: In early New Persian (roughly 10th to 13th century) etymological /d/ is realised as /δ/ in post vocalic position within the same morpheme. Thus Middle Persian awestād ‘craftsman’ becomes New Persian ōstāδ, written اوستاذ. Later /δ/ shifts back to /d/ in Persian words, but becomes /z/ in Arabic words, though there are a few exceptions where Persian /δ/ is given the Arabic treatment. Persian /δ/ is normally represented by ذ in Arabic loanwords such as استاذ. Some of the words in question were borrowed into Urdu in their Arabic form with /δ/, others in their (later) Persian form with /d/.

    When you are reading classical Persian poets please remember that these texts have been edited by modern editors according to the modern orthography. The only thing that is relevant in this context is the rhymes, not what is printed in the editions. In classical poets Persian /δ/ rhymes with Arabic /δ/ and not with Arabic /d/.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014
  46. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    So, fdb SaaHib, would I be understanding your post correctly if I said that the δ in the Arabic plural (asaatiδah) comes from the δ of the Persian ōstāδ (which I have been writing ustaaδ)?

Share This Page