A NOTE FOR DEVANAGARI READERS

 

[Note: For conceptual clarity, there is no marked Urdu/Devanagari script on this page, so the script bar at the bottom of the page will not cause any changes.]

As you look at the verses, you’ll notice many non-standard spellings. The biggest reason is that the basic transliteration system was designed to reflect Urdu spelling and pronunciation. Since we couldn't consistently generate modern standard Hindi spellings from it, rather than offer a kind of ‘halfway house’ version we decided to offer direct reproduction of the Urdu letters. Thus you’ll see ‘raastah’ rather than ‘raastaa’. At the price of not seeing what you’re used to, you’ll gain extra information (usable for metrical analysis and other purposes) about the letters that Ghalib actually wrote. Our system will bring you as close as possible to a direct experience of the ghazals as Ghalib composed them. In other words, it will be a transliteration—a scholarly study tool—like the roman (=English) script transliterations that are also provided.

Only a few very basic exceptions to this policy have been made, because they are so common and so ‘fixed’ in one’s mind: yih and vuh and nah all look as they do in modern standard Hindi.

NOTE: We’re still experimenting with all this, so you may also see some temporary oddities that have not yet been explained on this page. Please bear with us.

Above all, consider the vexed case of conjuncts. It is helpful to the transliteration-user to see that a word is pronounced faryaadii or ta;hriir with the far and ta;h as initial long syllables. And of course, it looks fine in Urdu script too. But in Devanagari, it turned out to generate absurdly many odd-looking conjuncts. To avoid this problem, we disabled the conjunct-forms in Devanagari, so that there are now no conjuncts, which is bad but still the lesser of two evils. The only way to really fix the problem would be to type in, say, naqsh on the one hand (which should have a conjunct), and farayaadii and ta;hariir on the other hand (which shouldn’t). But these latter forms look wildly un-Ghalibian; they look as if the word would begin with two short syllables, so they could be very misleading to the reader. Thus we show no conjuncts at all (which is the way things normally look in Urdu), as the least bad of the available choices.

Another intractable problem is the Urdu letter ((ain, which is pronounced as a kind of wild-card vowel and simply can’t be consistently rendered into Devanagari by any automated means. To be sure of getting everything right, it would be necessary to retype every word. Short of that, we’ve decided to actually display the ((ain character, so you can see where it’s operative. Right now it displays as ' ` ' but we may change that if we can find something better.

In Urdu, ;xvush (happy), ;xvushii (happiness), and ;xvud (oneself) all appear with a full vaa))o in them, so they may seem to have a long uu sound. This is just an artefact of the script; it’s a complex legacy from Arabic. Please ignore it; these words really have short vowels in pronunciation and scansion. Other such discrepancies between written (Urdu-based) spelling and actual pronunciation and scansion occur here and there in other cases too, as in the case of ;xvaahish (which is scanned without the vaa))o ).

The (very rare) letter zhe has no Devanagari representation in any of the fonts presently available, and so will appear as z.

Forms like miraa and tiraa (for meraa and teraa ) reflect the shortening of vowels for metrical purposes.

Traditional Urdu usage frequently has vuh and yih even in plural situations, where modern standard Hindi would have ve and ye .

There are also some minor technical glitches generated by different browsers. Sean has made our system strictly according to the Unicode standard, so it can be expected that these glitches will gradually be fixed. For more on technical issues, see Sean’s ‘more information’ page, which will be enhanced over time.

So please accept my apologies for the odd look of the text in Devanagari. I’m hoping that the advantage of receiving accurate, reliable information about what Ghalib actually wrote will more than compensate for the unusual-looking spellings. Count on me to keep an eye on the situation and try to figure out the best available options over time. For the present, just remember that you’re seeing a sort of transliteration of the Urdu, rather than an attempt at modern standard Hindi spelling.


 
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