Learning Indian...from others.

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by draqon, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. draqon Banned Banned

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    So one of my perks at the job is that I get to talk to Indian people sometimes. So I decided to ask them how to say "hello" and "thank you".

    They told me that "hello" is: camast'e
    and "thank you" is: cseczuriya

    SAM?

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    it just does not sound like indian language to me :shrug: so were they goofing me off or what language is that. (Yes I notice the closeness of "comestas" from spanish)
     
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  3. draqon Banned Banned

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    oh wait...they might have said..."namaste"...
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Namaste or Namashkar [formal] = welcome, hello, how de do

    Shukriya [Urdu] or Dhanyawad [Hindi] = Thank you

    note how similar Shukriya is to the Arabic Shukran [casual] or Ashkirk [formal] which also means Thank you.
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There is no such thing as "Indian." Dozens of regional languages are spoken in India. Some of them are sufficiently closely related that they might be called "dialects" except for political considerations. (By definition speakers of two dialects of the same language can understand each other with only a little effort.) But most are not that similar. Furthermore, these languages derive from two separate language families. Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Nepali, Romany (the language of the Gypsies) and most northwestern regional languages are in the Indic branch of the Indo-European family, closely related to the Balto-Slavic languages as well as to Farsi and Armenian. Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and many southeastern languages are in the Dravidian family, completely unrelated to the Indo-European tongues.

    So if you ask an Indian how to say something, make sure you ask him to say it in Hindi, because (second only to English), that is the one language that is spoken (or at least understood) as a second language by a large number of people from all over the country.
    All Indian languages do not sound alike. Look at how different French sounds from Spanish, or German from English, even though both pairs are very closely related.
    Doesn't namaste mean literally "I bow to you" in Sanskrit, and isn't it customarily said with the palms together in a cursory bowing gesture?

    In America I find that most Indian men appreciate having that said to them and it will increase your respect. Women, on the other hand, usually giggle when I say it.

    I recounted this experience on another thread a couple of years ago. I was riding the Washington subway late at night when the night-shift workers were going home. There were quite a few Indian men in my car, which is not unusual at any hour. A young American fellow was talking to a couple of them, telling them all of the interesting words he had once learned from an Indian friend. The words of course were crude and I could see the Indians cringing, but he didn't notice. (Take a hint, everybody: the absolute worst thing you can do in the eyes of a foreign people is to learn their profanity first.)

    I innocently asked him if he knew a standard greeting and he admitted that he didn't. I said, "In that case, there's only one word you really need to know: Namaste."

    Every Indian man in the car bowed his head, put his palms together, and said softly, Namaste. The kid looked up at me and said, "Gosh, thanks, mister." One small step for international peace and understanding.

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    Every language adopts a great many words from the formal language of its community's dominant religion. English is full of old Latin words because England was a Catholic country until the Reformation. Pakistan is a Muslim country so Urdu is full of Arabic words--as are Farsi, Turkish, Albanian, Malay, etc. In fact linguists regard Hindi and Urdu as two dialects of one language; they are only regarded commonly as separate languages for political reasons. Speakers of Hindi and Urdu can understand each other with about as much difficulty as a Brummy and an Alabaman, or a Dutchman and a Fleming, or a Serb and a Croat. Other than accent, the main difference is the assimilation of Arabic words into Urdu.

    Greetings in particular are often adopted from foreign languages for reasons that are difficult to track. The Swedes say Adjö for "goodbye," which is French Adieu. The Bulgarians use French Merci for "Thank you." In America (and perhaps England), Italian Ciao is often used for "Goodbye," and in the Southwest we often say Spanish Gracias for "Thank you."

    "Hello" is English, but variants of it are common greetings in many countries.
     
  8. kira Valued Senior Member

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    Ha! That's why I feel this is similar with Nepali. In Nepali, they also say namaste (welcome / bow to you) and dhanyawad (thank you), only it sounds like dhanyavad/dhanyabad.

    As for shukriya, it is similar with that in Arabic and Indonesian (syukur).
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Namaste is really a Sanskrit word that is used by modern people, not a word in their modern languages. Like et cetera: that's Latin, not Modern English. So the fact that both Hindi and Nepali use the word namaste does not tell us how closely Hindi and Nepali are related, but only that they both have adopted ancient words from Sanskrit for cultural and religious reasons. The word namaste is pure Sanskrit: it has not undergone the phonetic and grammatical shifts that characterize the evolution of Sanskrit into its daughter languages. If it had, it's very likely that the Hindi and Nepali words would be different, although recognizably related.
    Neither Hindi nor Indonesian are related to Arabic, which belongs to the Afro-Asiatic language family with Hebrew, Amharic, Berber and Egyptian. The influence of Islam resulted in Arabic words being borrowed into the languages of the countries that were converted.
     
  10. draqon Banned Banned

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    so they were urdu speaking Indians?

    I got it, its Shukriya
     
  11. kira Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks for the explanation Fraggle. I used to think why there are many similarities between my native language (Indonesian) and Nepali (and probably also Hindi). So apparently it is from Sanskrit. Some other worlds that are similar (between Indonesian and Nepali, and probably also Hindi): dunia (world), roti (bread), acar (pickles), dewi/ devi (goddes)...
     
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Its an Urdu word, but is spoken widely even by non-Urdu speakers. You can blame the Urdu dominant film industry for that
     
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Bollywood films are in Urdu???
     
  14. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah although now they feature a lot more crassness, Urdu was the language of the 50s 60s and 70s and still dominates much of the industry. Most writers were either Muslims [Salim-Javed] or non-Muslims who wrote in Urdu [Gulzar].

    Plus Muslims have dominated the film industry as actors [Dilip Kumar aka Yusuf Khan, Saira Banu, Madhubala, Nargis. Meena Kumari aka Mahjabeen, Suraiya all the way down to Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan] as singers [Talat Mehmood, Mohammad Rafi] as musicians and poets.

    In fact, I'd say its hard to go anywhere in Bollywood, without tripping over Urdu speakers. Its the language of love and poetry.

    Even Tom Alter our resident blond blue eyed actor reads his scripts in Urdu.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Wikipedia says Sampooran Singh Kalra ("Gulzar"), like many (most?) Punjabis, is from a Sikh family--hence the name "Singh." Since Sikhs have a rather stormy history with both Muslims and Hindus, did Sikhism arise independently or is it a spinoff of one of them? Do most Sikhs speak Urdu?
    Do they get the same crap that Jewish people get in the U.S. entertainment industry?

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    Since, apparently, the majority of Indians can understand these films, it supports what linguists say: Hindi and Urdu are two dialects (intercomprehensible by definition) of a single language called (academically) Hindustani.
     
  16. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Sikhism is a complicated religion to explain since a Hindu family can have one Sikh son and if he marries a Sikh woman, they can still have Hindu children. I'm not entirely certain myself how it works out but there is an element of parental choice. Sikhism is an independent religion, it is monotheistic and has a warrior culture, and Sikhs are known for their valour and humour [also their good looks, the women are exceptionally gorgeous]. Quite astoundingly, they are also the butt of "blond" jokes, astounding because they are intelligent and hardworking as a people. Punjab is one of the richest states in the union.

    Sikhs speak whatever language is local and since they are located in the NW, they speak Punjabi, Sindhi, Urdu, Pashto, whatever the regional language. They are considered Punjabis as an ethnicity. They are supposed to leave their hair uncut as a religious obligation and wear a turban, but even a cut Surd [Sardar being the nomenclature for a Sikh and cut Surd an abbreviation for one who has opted out of turbans] is recognisable by his iron bangle or kada. Its one of the five symbols of Sikhism [Kesh -hair, Kanga - comb, Kaccha -shorts, Kada - bangle, Kirpan -sword, although nowadays the "sword" is a small symbolic one]

    While not the same [see Shukriya vs Dhanyawad], Urdu is similar to Hindi. The thing is, because of so much exposure of Urdu through the film industry and Bollywood songs, people cannot tell which is which anymore. Or possibly, because they understand it, they don't care what it is. Urdu words are written in Hindi script as well since both languages are phonetic.

    So its all called Hindi and eventually, it will become Hindi. Urdu itself is dying out slowly, at least in my immediate vicinity because its being ruthlessly undermined by the Hindi brigade.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    This transition is virtually complete in American English, due to the much higher bandwidth of communication between regions made possible by electronics. People in Michigan (and even Alberta) listen to country music and become comfortable with the Southern accent, and people in Mississippi watch TV shows filmed in Los Angeles and New York, so they can keep pace with our faster cadence. The dialects are slowly leveling.

    This influence even works across the oceans. Fifty years ago most of us had a very hard time understanding any British speech except R.P.--Received Pronunciation, the artificial BBC/Oxford dialect. After Monty Python, the Beatles, Masterpiece Theater and Duran Duran we can understand all but the most impenetrable regional dialects, and British slang has picked up American pronunciations like "wanna" for "want to" and "gonna" for "going to." And two of the biggest stars of country music are Shania Twain (Canadian) and Keith Urban (Kiwi now based in Australia).
    That's certainly not going to happen in Pakistan, where it's rapidly becoming the lingua franca! There will never be a shortage of material in Urdu.

    I would hazard a guess that any hostility toward the Urdu language in India is just a manifestation of the ancient Hindu-Muslim rancor that culminated in the war of partition, and endures in the troubled relations between Pakistan and India.
     
  18. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Haha, its actually a tussle with the South of India, where Hindi is not a lingua franca, as you say. The desire for purification of the language to its roots is just part of the process that occurs with such fundamentalism. When you want people to speak "your" language, you tend to want to make sure it is your language you are speaking. The decline of Urdu is just "collateral damages" from the political platform of the Saffron brigade and unhealed scars from the partition.

    [see The Politics of Language: Urdu/Hindi: An Artificial Divide; A House Divided by Amrit Rai; One Language Two Scripts by Christopher R. King; Hindi Urdu Tanazo (Hindi-Urdu controversy) by Dr Farman Fatehpuri]

    Currently the fight is on to make Hindi more popular than English - anyone with a brain can see how that will turn out
     
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    My Indian friends assure me that will never happen because it's the language of the capital region. Adopting it would make those people feel and seem more important. They'd rather speak the language of their conquerors than elevate the status of a single ethnic group.
     
  20. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Most of the nationalistic groups are dominated by Brahmins [BJP, VHP, RSS, Shiv Sena]. There is a kind of poetic justice for them to revert to roots when the Dalits are marching to a global tune.
     
  21. nirakar ( i ^ i ) Registered Senior Member

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    Websites saying what how to say thank you in Hindi seem rather evenly split on whether Hindi says Dhanyavad or Dhanyawad and my own ears did not help me much.

    I also have heard Dhanyabad but maybe the first person to teach me might have been Nepali or Bengali.

    S.A.M, does how do you pronounce the consonant that starts the third syllable of Dhanyawad?

    Regardless how I say Dhayawad I always feel like I am saying it wrong.

    An interesting chart with various Indian "hellos" "goodbyes" and thank yous"
    http://theboard.byu.edu/index.php?area=viewall&id=21859

    The above site has "Abhari Ahi" for thank you in Marathi. Is that oudated or do people in Maharashtra actually say Abhari Ahi.
     
  22. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    The word is written like this

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    Dh-nYa-Wa-Da

    The word "wa" is interchangeable with "va" since there is no other va or wa.

    I pronouce it as wa because that is how I learned it.

    In Marathi, gratitude = abhar आभार

    Mi abhari ahe, amhi abhari aho[t]

    Essentially means, [I am] we are grateful.

    Yeah all these words are present with the same meaning in Hindi. In Nepali, like Bengali sometimes va is pronounced as ba.
     
  23. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

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    That Urdu has declined in India is a fact. But saffron brigade to blame?

    Pre 47, lot many great Urdu poets were Hindus. In 47 a lot of muslim writers went to Pakistan. So much so that Sahir, poet laurate too went in 55 or so. Why? Fact is muslims gradually adopted Urdu as "their" language. Catch a muslim writing a letter in other than Urdu. Increasing fundamentalism saw that Urdu became more and more Persianised, and now Arabicised. Situation is so bad that father, BA in Farsi, finds it hard to comprehend "urdu" news bulletins. What would happen? Plus, Urdu is not considered as gauranteeing employment.

    An example will do a lot. From your post: Hindi Urdu Tanazo by Dr Farman Fatehpuri.

    Farman is a muslim. I don't know what TANAZO means! Could he not use an easier term like TANAO, TANAV etc? But no. Some Persian term he HAD to use. Then he would lament about the tensions!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010

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