Hindustani etymology

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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.

Traditional categorization of Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) words in Hindi pedagogy[edit]

Words in Hindustani are analysed in traditional Hindi pedagogy as falling into the following categories:[1]

  • 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.

The use of tatsama words was much less common in Apabhramsha.[citation needed] The most common words in Hindustani are tadbhava and are derived through Prakrit and Apabhramsha.[citation needed]

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[edit]

Origin of hai (है ہے)[edit]

One of the most common words in Hindustani is hai "is". It originates from the following two sources:

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)[edit]

The word jata ("goes") is from Sanskrit root yaa (yaati, yaata). ya often becomes "ja" in Prakrit.[citation needed]

The word gaya ("went") is from Sanskrit root gam (gachchhati), from gatah.[citation needed] Here t transforms to y in Prakrit.

Aajaa (आजा آجا) and daadaa (दादा دادا)[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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".[citation needed]
  • Tau meaning "father's older brother" is derived from taata[citation needed]

too.

Baṛā (बड़ा بڑا)[edit]

The word "baṛā" ("older/bigger") is derived from the Sanskrit vridhha through Prakrit vaḍḍha.

Loan words[edit]

The vocabulary of Hindustani includes loan words from Sanskrit, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Portuguese, English, and Dravidian Languages.

Loan words from Sanskrit[edit]

Phonetic Alterations[edit]

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.

Sanskrit Hindustani English Translation
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[edit]

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[edit]

Hindustani Meaning Persian
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

Present Stem[edit]

Some Hindustani words derive from the Present Stem of Persian verbs:

Hindustani Meaning Persian Root
par / पर / پر wing parīdan / پریدن - to fly
pasand / पसंद / پسند liked pasandīdan / پسندیدن - to prefer
ḳhāb / ख़्वाब / خواب dream khābīdan / خوابیدن - to sleep

Past Stem[edit]

Others are derived from the Past Stem:

Hindustani Meaning Persian Root
āmad / आमद / آمد arrival āmadan / آمدن - to come
shikast / शिकस्त / شکست defeat shikastan / شکستن - to break
giraft / गिरफ़्त / گرفت grip giriftan / گرفتن - to take

Present Participle[edit]

The Present Participles of some Persian verbs are used to describe something or someone that does the action indicated by the verb:

Hindustani Meaning Persian Root
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

Past Participle[edit]

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:

Hindustani Meaning Persian Root
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

Loaned Verbs[edit]

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

Derived Nouns[edit]

Nouns formed by adding the ending '-ish' (इश / ـِش) to a verb stem are also used:

Hindustani Meaning Persian Root
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[edit]

There are a very small number of pure Turkic words in Hindustani, numbering as little as 24 according to some sources.[2] 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[edit]

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[edit]

A small number of words were assimilated from Portuguese due to interaction with colonists. These include the following:

Hindustani Meaning Portuguese
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[edit]

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.

Phonetic Alterations[edit]

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.

English Hindustani
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

References[edit]

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.