FOUR == IRREGULAR WORDS

*4.1 == Orthography versus pronunciation*
*4.2 == Irregular Persian words*
*4.3 == Irregular Indic words*
*
4.4 == Irregular Arabic words*

 


4.1 == Orthography versus pronunciation

In Urdu, orthography and pronunciation correspond quite closely. Orthography is thus a tremendous help in scanning: many words can be scanned simply by dividing their letters into groups of one or two in such a way that as many groups as possible start with a consonant, without knowing their correct pronunciation at all. Our method is based as much as possible on orthography, which is more concrete and thus more accessible to the student who is not a native speaker. Linguistically and theoretically this is not the most sophisticated approach, as we are well aware; however, in practice it works remarkably well as a teaching tool for English-speakers, and that is our chief concern here.

Moreover, in a few cases involving word-final (( [((ain], orthography alone provides an accurate scansion, while modern pronunciation does not. Words of this kind include shuruu(( [shu-ruu-((], mau.zuu(( [mau-.zuu-((], nau(( [nau-((], mataa(( [ma-taa-((], ijtimaa(( [ij-ti-maa-((], ta.sdii(( [ta.s-dii-((], and a number of others; all are scanned with an extra word-final short syllable which can be clearly and regularly deduced from the orthography but can almost never be heard in modern pronunciation. These words form a small and special group, an exception to the general rule that pronunciation prevails over orthography.

Certain three-letter three-consonant Arabic words like shahr [shah-r], sham((a [sham-((a], farq [far-q], etc. also seem to be scanned in ways that reflect their Persian and Arabic backgrounds rather than their modern pronunciation; these have been discussed in Section 1.4. Both the word-final- (( words and these three-consonant words are of course quite regular from the point of view of our own system, and in fact serve to point up its virtues.

Above all, however, Urdu poetry is designed for oral recitation. Where orthography and pronunciation differ, therefore, scansion normally follows pronunciation. This fact gives rise to a category of words which are NOT scanned as they (orthographically) should be. These words which are written one way and pronounced another, and scanned as they are pronounced, we will call irregular words. We mean, of course, irregular from the point of view of our orthography-based system. There are several main groups of such words. They are presented here roughly in order of their frequency of occurrence in poetry.


4.2 == Irregular Persian words

CONSONANT-CLUSTER WORDS: A very common type of irregular Persian word consists of or terminates in the following pattern: a consonant, followed by a long vowel, followed by two consonants which are pronounced as a conjunct and are scanned as though they were one single letter. Most of the words in this pattern terminate in the following way:

consonant + long vowel + s or sh + t

Examples include common words like dost [do-st], ziist [zii-st], raast [raa-st], bardaasht [bar-daa-sht], gosht [go-sht]. The last two syllables of such words are nearly always scanned (= -), instead of (= =) as our system would suggest. VERY rarely, especially in archaic poetry, such four-letter groups may be found scanned as (= - -) or even as a single (=). But NEVER are they scanned with word-final (= =).

When such clusters are not word-final, however, they break up in the normal scansion process, and the word is scanned quite regularly: dost [do-st] is (= -), but the (Persian) plural form dostaa;N [do-s-taa;N] is (= - =), and the abstract noun dostii [do-s-tii] is (= - x). Words ending in such clusters are also scanned normally when followed by [i.zaafat] or by o as an independent conjunction: dost-e [do-s-te] is scanned (= - x), and dost o [do-s-to] is scanned (= - x).

Some Persian words contain the same kinds of clusters, but involving different consonants: koft [ko-ft], taa;xt [taa-;xt], kaard [kaa-rd], paars [paa-rs]. While much less common than the { s / sh + t } words, they too are scanned (= -), and behave as described above.

This word-final pattern "consonant + vowel + consonant cluster" appears chiefly in Persian words. It is impossible in Arabic. But it is not quite confined to Persian words: a few Indic ones can be found as well, such as maarg [maa-rg], shuudr [shuu-dr], bhiishm [bhii-shm]. It also occurs in adopted English words: gaar;D [gaa-r;D], paark [paa-rk]. Though these words are not common in poetry, the same scansion considerations would apply to them as well.

SUPPRESSED- o WORDS: Another important type of Persian-derived irregular word contains a largely suppressed o which is mostly ignored in pronunciation, and entirely ignored in scanning. These suppressed- o forms occur only after the letter ;x . Depending on what follows the { ;x + o }sequence, the words fall into several sub-groups.

Of all the Persian words which begin with {;x + o + consonant }, MOST are pronounced and scanned as though the o were absent and were replaced by a mere [pesh]. Common words of this kind include ;xvud [;xud], scanned (=); ;xvush [;xush], scanned (=); ;xvurshiid [;xur-shii-d], scanned (= = -), and ;xvushaamad ['xu-shaa-mad], scanned (- = =). It should be noted, however, that a certain number of common words beginning with {;x + o + consonant are pronounced and scanned quite normally: ;xuub [;xuu-b], (= -); ;xuu [;xuu-n], (= -); ;xauf [;xau-f], (= -); ;xuu [;xuu], (=); ;xojah [;xo-jah], (= x). These are exceptions to the more common pattern.

Other Persian words of the suppressed- o type contain the group { ;x + o + a [alif]}. Wherever this sequence occurs, the o is suppressed and the { ;x + o + a [alif]} sequence is pronounced and scanned as though it consisted of ;xaa only. Examples: ;xvaahm;xvaah [;xaa-h-m-;xaa-h], scanned (= - - = -); tan;xvaah [tan-xaa-h], scanned (= = -); ;xvaahish [;xaa-hish], scanned (= =); ;xvaar [;xaa-r], scanned (= -). Note, however, that the ;xvaa [;xavaa] of a few Arabic plural forms is scanned quite normally and should not be confused with the Persian ;xvaa. Examples: ;xavaa.s [;xa-vaa-.s], scanned (- = -); ;xavaatiin [;xa-vaa-tii-n], scanned (- = = -); i;xvaan [i;x-vaa-n], scanned (= = -).

There are also a few Persian words containing the group { ;x + o + e }, most of which contain the suppressed, unscanned o . Examples: ;xve [;xe], scanned (=); ;xvesh [;xe-sh], scanned (= -). But not quite all are of this irregular type: ;xved [;x-ve-d] is scanned normally, (- = -). Words containing this { ;x + o + e } sequence are few and rare in any case.

Although it's a Persian word, piyaalah is sometimes scanned as though it contained a consonant cluster--i.e., [pyaa-lah] (= x). But this is rare; more often it is scanned normally, as [pi-yaa-lah] (- = x).


4.3 == Irregular Indic words

A group of irregular words of Indic origin contain conjunct consonants that are scanned as though they were a single consonant. Many such clusters are possible; the most common ones include the letter ye [y] as the second consonant in the luster. Examples: byaah [byaa-h], pyaar [pyaa-r], dhyaan [dhyaa-n], gyaan [gyaa-n], etc., all of which are scanned (= -) regardless of their initial conjunct consonants. Since it is hard to generalize about such conjunct consonants within the framework of Urdu poetry, a good many examples are listed in the Glossary.

The interrogative monosyllables kyaa [kyaa] and kyuu;N [kyuu;N], and the relative pronoun jyuu;N [jyuu;N], also belong to this group: they are always scanned long (=). Although they are treated for metrical purposes as though they contained only one consonant, they are almost never used as flexible syllables.

The perfect forms of honaa [honaa}--namely, huu))aa , huu))e , huu))ii , huu))iiN --are all scanned as they are pronounced, (- x), rather than as they are spelled. The familiar possessive forms tumhaaraa , tumhaare , tumhaarii are all scanned (- = x), as though the h in them were an aspirator [do-chashmii he]. Similarly, the familiar ko form tumhe;N [tumhe;N] and the emphatic form tumhii;N [tumhii;N] are both scanned (- x), though they are usually written with h (that is, gol he ) rather than [do-chashmii he].

Once in a while such consonant clusters may be scanned normally, as two separate consonants. But this is quite rare.


4.4 == Irregular Arabic words

al CONSTRUCTIONS: Some words of Arabic origin are extraordinarily irregular. Many such words begin with either baa [baa] or fiil [fiil] in their written forms, though the long vowels are not reflected in pronunciation; two of the most common, for example, are baalkul and fiil;haal , pronounced as though they were written [bilkul] and [fil;haal]. Words like these are really specially constructed phrases joined by the particle al [al]. They have been discussed in Section 3.4.

WORDS ENDING WITH [tanviin]: Some Arabic adverbs used in Urdu end in tanviin [tanviin], a mark which consists of two small diagonal [zabar]-like slashes following just atop an a [alif]. Words which have the [tanviin] are pronounced and scanned as though instead of a [alif] they ended with the syllable an [an]. Common examples include faura:n, yaqiina:n, :zaahira:n , pronounced and scanned as [fau-ra:n], [ya-qii-na:n], and [:zaa-hi-ra:n].

In a few words the [tanviin] sits atop a taa-e mudavvarah [taa-e mudavvarah] rather than an a [alif]. In such words the [taa-e mudavvarah] and the [tanviin] join to become a word-final syllable pronounced and scanned as tan [tan]. Words of this kind include ishaarata:n [i-shaa-ra-ta:n] and iraadata:n [i-raa-da-ta:n].

WORDS WITH dagger-[alif]: Dagger-[alif] when it appears over a consonant in certain Arabic words, as in ra;hm;aan [ra;hm;aan], is only orthographically different from ordinary [alif]. It looks like a small suspended dagger, and the [alif] sound follows the consonant it sits over. It is scanned and pronounced as though it were a normal [alif].

Dagger-[alif] also occurs over ii (that is, the letter chho;Tii ye ). In this case the dagger-[alif] and the ii together form one letter, a vowel, as in lail;aa [lail;aa]. This vowel is usually pronounced and scanned as though it were an [alif]. When a word-final vowel of this kind is followed by an [i.zaafat], however, it is sometimes scanned as though it were equivalent to ii rather than to [alif]. See Section 3.2 for discussion of [i.zaafat] following ii .

WORD-FINAL [hamzah]: Some Arabic words ending in a [alif] may be written with a )) [hamzah] after the [alif]. This [hamzah] is usually omitted entirely; even if it is written, it is VERY rarely pronounced or scanned. If it is ever scanned, it becomes an independent short syllable. Words like umaraa)) [u-ma-raa))] or ((ulamaa)) [((u-la-maa))] may have this kind of [hamzah]. A list of words which may have this word-final [hamzah] appears in .sih;h;hat-e alfaa:z , pp. 56-57.

In a few Arabic words, o or a [alif] may (rarely) occur within the word as a "chair" for )) [hamzah], but it is ignored when scanning. Such words include the following; they are pronounced and scanned as though the long vowels were merely [zabar] or [pesh]: taa))'a;s;sur [ta-))a;s-;sur]; taa))'ssuf [ta-))as-suf]; taa))'ammul [ta-))am-mul];muu))'a;s;sir [mu-))a;s-;sir]; muu))'addab [mu-))ad-dab]; muu))'a;z;zin [mu-))a;z-;zin], all scanned (- = =); mutaa))'a;s;sir [mu-ta-))a;s-;sir], scanned (- - = =); jur))at [jur-))at], scanned (= =).

In each of these words the )) [hamzah] begins a new syllable, thus observing our rule that [hamzah] can never be the second letter in a syllable. Nowadays, however, the [hamzah] in such words is sometimes not even written, though its effects on scansion are still very much there.

In a few other words containing a [alif] as a chair for [hamzah] within the word, it is the [hamzah] that drops out of pronunciation, scansion, and often orthography too, while plain [alif] remains. These words include: maa))xu;z [maa))-xu;z] scanned (= =); and maa))muun [maa))-muu-n] scanned (= = -).

WORDS WITH [kha;Rii zer]: The very few Arabic words with kha;Rii zer [khaRii zer], a tiny vertical slash the size of ordinary [zer] under word-final h [chho;Tii he], are pronounced and scanned as though the word-final h with the [kha;Rii zer] under it were equivalent to hii [hii]. The VERY few words with do zer [do zer], two tiny slashes, under their word-final consonants, are pronounced and scanned as though the word-final consonant were followed by in [in].

Most of the words described in this section are quite RARE in Urdu poetry, and are mentioned mainly for the sake of completeness, so that the student who comes upon one unexpectedly for the first time will not be dismayed. The student should also remember that the great name of God, all;aah [al-l;aa-h], is always written in stylized orthography, and may be scanned either (= = -) or, less commonly, (= =).

In dealing with such irregular words, it is often helpful to have a feel for which language a given strange word is likely to come from. Remember that the eight letters ;s , ;z , .s , .z , :t , :z , (( , q [;s, ;z, .s, .z, :t, :z, ((, q] originate mostly in Arabic. By contrast, the three letters p , ch , g [p, ch, g] are not found in Arabic, and words containing them will not be Arabic. The letter zh , [zh] quite rare in Urdu, originates only in Persian. The three retroflex consonants ;T , ;D , ;R [;T, ;D, ;R] come only from the Indic side, as do all aspirated sounds except that of sh [sh].

 


 
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