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Hindustānī, also known as Hindi-Urdu, comprises several closely related dialects in the northern, central and northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. It encompasses two standardized registers in the forms of the official languages Hindi and Urdu, as well as several nonstandard dialects. Because Hindustani is not an immediate descendant of Sanskrit, the origin of common Hindustani words can be obscure.
Standard Hindi derives much of its formal and technical vocabulary from Sanskrit while standard Urdu derives much of its formal and technical vocabulary from Persian. Standard Hindi and Urdu are used primarily in public addresses and radio or TV news, while the everyday spoken language is one of several varieties of Hindustani, whose vocabulary contains words drawn from Persian, Arabic, and Sanskrit. In addition, spoken Hindustani includes words from English, Dravidian Languages, and several other languages.
Hindustani developed over several centuries throughout India (including what comprises present day Pakistan). In the same way that the core vocabulary of English evolved from Old English (Anglo-Saxon) but assimilated a large number of words borrowed from French and other languages (whose pronunciations often changed naturally so as to become easier for speakers of English to pronounce), what may be called Hindustani can be said to have evolved from Sanskrit while borrowing many Persian and Arabic words over the years, and changing the pronunciations (and often even the meanings) of these words to make them easier for Hindustani speakers to pronounce. A large number of Persian words entered the Hindustani lexicon due to the influence of the Mughal rulers of north India, who followed a very Persianised culture and also spoke Persian. Many Arabic words entered Hindustani via Persian, which had previously been assimilated into the Persian language due to the influence of Arabs in the area. The dialect of Persian spoken by the Mughal ruling elite was known as 'Dari' and differs from modern day Farsi spoken in Iran. Therefore, Hindustani is the naturally developed common language of north India. This article will deal with the separate categories of Hindustani words and some of the common words found in the Hindustani language.
- 1 Traditional categorization of Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) words in Hindi pedagogy
- 2 Examples of Hindustani Word Derivations
- 3 Loan words
- 3.1 Loan words from Sanskrit
- 3.2 Loan words from Persian
- 3.3 Loan words from Turkic languages
- 3.4 Loan words from Arabic
- 3.5 Loan words from Portuguese
- 3.6 Loan words from English
- 4 References
Traditional categorization of Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) words in Hindi pedagogy
Words in Hindustani are analysed in traditional Hindi pedagogy as falling into the following categories:
- Tadbhava (तद्भव/تَدبهَو derived from): There are words that are derived from Sanskrit or Prakrit, but often with phonetic or morphological transformation.
- Tatsama (तत्सम/تَتسَم identical): Words which are spelled exactly the same in written Hindi as they are in standard Sanskrit.
- Deshaja (देशज/دیشَج local): Words that cannot be traced back to Sanskrit, and are of local origin.
- Videshi (विदेशी/وِدیشی): Loan words from non-Indian languages that include Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Portuguese, or English.
Urdu as spoken in Pakistan and some Indian states, and Hindi as spoken in India, other than using a different script, are often very similar. Generally Modern Standard Hindi incorporates vocabulary of Persian and Arabic origin found in Urdu, while Urdu has not been known to incorporate much of the vocabulary of Sanskrit origin found in Hindi.
Examples of Hindustani Word Derivations
Origin of hai (है ہے)
One of the most common words in Hindustani is hai "is". It originates from the following two sources:
- Sanskrit: asti ("is") / bhavati ("being") and from Prakrit hoi
- Prakrit: ahai (here a and i are pronounced separately)
The Sanskrit s sometimes becomes h in Prakrits.
Shortening of ahai produced hai. In some older works in Hindustani literature, one can find usage of ahai. For example, Bharatendu Harishchandra wrote: "निज भाषा उन्नति अहै, सब उन्नति को मूल" ("نِج بھاشا اُنّتی اہَے، سب اُنّتی کو مُول "). In Marathi the अ remained, and the cognate of hai is aahe (आहे). Similarly in Sindhi, the word for "hai" is aahe.
Derivation of jaataa (जाता جاتا) and gayaa (गया گیا)
The word jata ("goes") is from Sanskrit root yaa (yaati, yaata). ya often becomes "ja" in Prakrit.
The word gaya ("went") is from Sanskrit root gam (gachchhati), from gatah. Here t transforms to y in Prakrit.
Aajaa (आजा آجا) and daadaa (दादा دادا)
The word aajaa has also been used in Northern India and Pakistan for "grandfather". It is indeed derived from arya meaning "sir" in this case. Jains nuns are addressed either as Aryika or Ajji.
The word daadaa also has a similar meaning which varies in region. It is used in some regions for "father", in other regions for "older brother", or even for "grandfather" in other regions. This word is an amalgam of two sources:
- Sanskrit taata used to address intimate persons which means either "sir" or "dear".
- Tau meaning "father's older brother" is derived from taata
Baṛā (बड़ा بڑا)
Loan words from Sanskrit
Many Sanskrit words which were loaned into Prakrits in the pre-modern age underwent phonetic alterations to facilitate ease of pronunciation. In spoken language, these include the merger of श and ष, as well as ऋ and रि. Other common alterations were sh (श / ش) becoming s (स / س)، v (व / و) becoming b (ब / ب) and y (य / ی) becoming j (ज / ج). Short vowel sounds were also sometimes introduced to break up consonant clusters. Such words fall under the tadbhav category.
|varś / वर्ष||baras / बरस / برس||year|
|desh / देश||des / देस / دیس||country|
|vāsī / वासी||bāsī / बासी / باسی||inhabitant|
|yantra / यंत्र||jantar / जंतर / جنتر||device|
|rātri / रात्रि||rāt / रात / رات||night|
|ardha / अर्ध||ādhā / आधा / آدھا||half|
|sūrya / सूर्य||sūraj / सूरज / سؤرج||sun|
|agni / अग्नि||āg / आग / آگ||fire|
Loan words from Persian
Persian loanwords not artificially added to Hindustani are derived from Classical Persian, which is a historical dialect, and not the same as modern-day Persian.
Examples of common Persian loanwords
|sāyā / साया / سایہ||shadow||sāyah / سایه|
|pareshān / परेशान / پریشان||distressed||parēshān / پرِیشان|
|hameshā / हमेशा / ہميشہ||always||hamēshah / همِیشه|
|ḳhushī / ख़ुशी / خوشی||happiness||khushī / خوشی|
|sabzī / सब्ज़ी / سبزی||vegetable||sabzī / سبزی|
|mehrbān / मेहरबान / مہربان||kind||mehrbān / مهربان|
|firdaus / फ़िर्दौस / فردوس||paradise||firdaus / فردوس|
|dīwār / दीवार / دیوار||wall||dīwār / دیوار|
|darwāzā / दरवाज़ा / دروازه||door||darwāzah / دروازه|
|tāzā / ताज़ा / تازه||fresh||tāzah / تازه|
|roz / रोज़ / روز||day||rōz / رُوز|
|shahr / शहर / شہر||city||shahr / شهر|
|dāstān / दासतान / داستان||story||dāstān / داستان|
|hind / हिंद / ہند||India||hind / هند|
|sharāb / शराब / شراب||alcohol||sharāb / شراب|
Some Hindustani words derive from the Present Stem of Persian verbs:
|par / पर / پر||wing||parīdan / پریدن - to fly|
|pasand / पसंद / پسند||liked||pasandīdan / پسندیدن - to prefer|
|ḳhāb / ख़्वाब / خواب||dream||khābīdan / خوابیدن - to sleep|
Others are derived from the Past Stem:
|āmad / आमद / آمد||arrival||āmadan / آمدن - to come|
|shikast / शिकस्त / شکست||defeat||shikastan / شکستن - to break|
|giraft / गिरफ़्त / گرفت||grip||giriftan / گرفتن - to take|
The Present Participles of some Persian verbs are used to describe something or someone that does the action indicated by the verb:
|āindā / आइन्दा / آینده||future||āyandah / آینده < āmadan / آمدن - to come|
|parindā / परिन्दा / پرنده||bird||parandah / پرنده < parīdan / پریدن - to fly|
|zindā / ज़िन्दा / زنده||alive||zindah / زنده < zīstan / زیستن - to live|
In a similar fashion, Past Participles are used to describe something which has done an action, or has had an action done to it, in the past:
|bastā / बस्ता / بستہ||bag||bastah / بسته < bastan / بستن - to close|
|pasandīdā / पसन्दीदा / پسندیده||favorite||pasandīdah / پسندیده < pasandīdan / پسندیدن - to prefer|
|murdā / मुर्दा / مُرده||dead||murdah / مرده < mordan / مردن - to die|
Some Hindustani verbs are formed directly from Persian verbs by changing the ending of the infinitive:
|Hindustani Infinitive||Meaning||Persian Infinitive|
|ḳharīdnā / ख़रीदना / خریدنا||to buy||kharīdan / خریدن|
|guzarnā / गुज़रना / گذرنا||to pass (intransitive)||guzashtan / گذشتن|
|guzārnā / गुज़ारना / گُذارنا||to pass (transitive)||guzāshtan / گذاشتن|
|laraznā / लरज़ना / لرزنا||to tremble||larzīdan / لرزیدن|
|nawāznā / नवाज़ना / نوازنا||to patronise||nawāḳhtan / نواختن|
Nouns formed by adding the ending '-ish' (इश / ـِش) to a verb stem are also used:
|parvarish / परवरिश / پرورش||care||parwardan / پروردن - to rear|
|koshish / कोशिश / کوشش||effort||kōshīdan / کوشیدن - to try|
|varzish / वर्ज़िश / ورزش||exercise||warzīdan / ورزیدن - to exercise|
|āzmāish / आज़माइश / آزمائش||test||āzmūdan / آزمودن - to test|
Loan words from Turkic languages
There are a very small number of pure Turkic words in Hindustani, numbering as little as 24 according to some sources. Other words attributed to Turkish are words which are common to Hindustani and Turkish, but which have other origins, mostly Arabic or Persian. Both languages also share mutual loans from English. Most notably, some honorifics and surnames common in the Hindustani belt originate from Turkish. This is most probably due to the influence of Mughal rulers, who were ethnically Turkish. Examples of honorifics include 'Ḳhānam' (ख़ानम خانم), 'Bājī' (बाजी باجی), and 'Begam' (बेगम بیگم). Common surnames include 'Ḳhān' (ख़ान خان), 'Chuġtāī' (चुग़ताई چغتائی), 'Pāshā' (पाशा پاشا), and 'Arsalān' (अर्सलान ارسلان). Some common Turkish words used in everyday Hindustani are 'Qainchī' (क़ैंची قینچی) - scissors, 'Annā' (अन्ना انّا) - governess, 'Tamġā' (तमग़ा تمغہ) - medal, and 'Chaqmaq' (चक़मक़ چقمق) - flint.
Loan words from Arabic
Some of the most commonly used loanwords from Arabic include 'Waqt' (वक्त وقت)-time, 'Qalam' (कलम قلم)-pen 'Kitāb' (किताब کتاب)-book, 'Qarīb' (करीब قریب)-near, 'Sahī' (सही صحیح)-correct, 'Gharīb' (गरीब غریب)-poor, 'Amīr' (अमीर امیر)-rich, Duniyā (दुनिया دنیا)-world, 'Hisāb' (हिसाब حساب)-calculation, 'Qudrat' (कुदरत قدرت)- nature, 'Nasīb' (नसीब نسیب)-fate, 'Ajīb' (अजीब عجیب)-unusual, 'Qānūn' (कानून قانون)-law, 'Khabar' (खबर خبر)-news, Akhbār (अखबार اخبار)-newspaper, 'Qilā' (किला قلعہ)-fort, 'Kursī' (कुर्सी کرسی)-chair, 'Sharbat' (शर्बत شربت)-drink/beverage, 'Qamīs' (कमीस قمیص)-shirt, 'Zarūrī (जरूरी ظروری)-necessary, etc.
Loan words from Portuguese
A small number of words were assimilated from Portuguese due to interaction with colonists. These include the following:
|Anannās / अनन्नास / اننّاس||Pineapple||Ananas|
|Pādrī / पाद्री / پادری||Priest||Padre|
|Bāltī / बाल्टी / بالٹی||Bucket||Balde|
|Chābī / चाबी / چابی||Key||Chave|
|Girjā / गिर्जा / گرجا||Church||Igreja|
Loan words from English
Loan words were borrowed from English into Hindustani through interaction with the British East India Company and later British rule. English-language education for the native administrative and richer classes during the period of British rule accelerated the adoption of English vocabulary in Hindustani. Many technical and modern terms were borrowed from English, such as doctor (डॉक्टर ڈاکٹر), taxi (टैक्सी ٹیکسی), and kilometer (किलोमीटर کلومیٹر). The influence of English and assimilation of new loan words continues to the present day.
Some loan words borrowed from English undergo significant phonetic transformation. This can be done either intentionally, in order to nativize words or to make them sound more authentic or less 'English', or it can happen as a natural process. Words often undergo phonetic change in order to make them easier for native speakers to pronounce. Other words are changed due to corruption, where an alternate pronunciation becomes an accepted norm and overtakes the original as the most used pronunciation. Altered pronunciations may also be the result of a lack of English education, or incomplete knowledge of English phonetics.
|Bottle||botal / बोतल / بوتل|
|Pistol||pistol / पिस्तौल / پستول|
|Fees||fīs / फ़ीस / فیس|
|Dozen||darjan / दर्जन / درجن|
|Treasury||tijorī / तिजोरी / تجوری|
|Cabinet||kābīnā / काबीना / کابینہ|
|January||janvarī / जनवरी / جنوری|
- History and Evolution of Hindi Language: Extended resource compiled by Abhinav Bhatele, with phonological, morphological, and lexical
development in Hindi, with many period extracts. (Accessed Mar 16, 2006).
- Hindi Language and Literature, a site about Hindi's usage, dialects, and history by Dr. Yashwant K. Malaiya, Professor at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.
- Hindi Language Resources A comprehensive site on the Hindi language built by Yashwant Malaiya
- Indian Department of Official Language
- Dua, Hans R. (1994a). Hindustani. In Asher (Ed.) (pp. 1554)
- Liberman, Anatoly. (2004). Word Origins ... and How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone. Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-561643-X.
- Rai, Amrit. (1984). A house divided: The origin and development of Hindi-Hindustani. Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-561643-X.
- Kuczkiewicz-Fraś, Agnieszka. (2003). "Perso-Arabic Hybrids in Hindi. The Socio-linguistic and Structural Analysis". Delhi: Manohar. ISBN 81-7304-498-8.
- Kuczkiewicz-Fraś, Agnieszka. (2008). "Perso-Arabic Loanwords in Hindustani. Part I: Dictionary". Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka. ISBN 978-83-7188-161-9.
- Kuczkiewicz-Fraś, Agnieszka. (2012). "Perso-Arabic Loanwords in Hindustani. Part II: Linguistic Study". Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka. ISBN 978-83-7638-294-4.