Hindi: Gender of some city names

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Anatoli

Senior Member
Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
Hi,
Can someone suggest what the grammatical gender is for some city names:

वाशिंगटन, न्यूयॉर्क, अंकारा, अबू धाबी, मेलबोर्न, एथेंस, ऐम्स्टर्डैम, ऑकलैंड, ऑक्सफ़ोर्ड, ओटावा, ओसाका, क़ुस्तुंतुनिया, कार्डिफ़, कुआला लमपुर, केपटाउन, कैंब्रिज, कैनबरा, कैलगरी, क्योटो, क्राइस्टचर्च, गोल्ड कोस्ट, ग्रोनिंगन, ग्लासगो

Most will be masculine but are there any feminine city names among these?

If you don't know all, please let me know, which ones you're certain of!
If you worked it out, please also share your trick how you found out!

Thanks in advance
 
  • littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I don't think all these city names have any gender assigned to them: if someone were to say "merii aabuu dhaabii," nothing would be wrong! It's just that since "shaihar," "nagar," "kasbaa," "gaaoN" are all masculine words, people often use place names with masculine particles. Not always: people fondly say "merii dillii" for Delhi (maybe having the word "nagrii" in mind), though of course "meraa dillii" also exists and is not wrong.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    I don't think all these city names have any gender assigned to them: if someone were to say "merii aabuu dhaabii," nothing would be wrong! It's just that since "shaihar," "nagar," "kasbaa," "gaaoN" are all masculine words, people often use place names with masculine particles. Not always: people fondly say "merii dillii" for Delhi (maybe having the word "nagrii" in mind), though of course "meraa dillii" also exists and is not wrong.
    Thanks but I have specifically asked for those names, which are not easy to determine. I know that दिल्ली should grammatically be feminine. "मेरी दिल्ली" is much more common but I can't easily remove cases where "मेरा" in "मेरा दिल्ली" refers to something else in longer sentences.

    City names derived from पुर, गढ़, आबाद should all be masculine, do you agree? Like जोधपुर is undoubtedly masculine, isn't it?

    Would it be fair to say that many are dual gender, like अबू धाबी?

    Is there any grammatical reference (in Hindi or English) I could use supporting the opinion that many city names can be either masculine or feminine?
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I know that दिल्ली should grammatically be feminine. "मेरी दिल्ली" is much more common but I can't easily remove cases where "मेरा" in "मेरा दिल्ली" refers to something else in longer sentences.
    I don't know "grammatically," but yes because of phonetic association (ending with -i), it is used often as a feminine noun.

    City names derived from पुर, गढ़, आबाद should all be masculine, do you agree? Like जोधपुर is undoubtedly masculine, isn't it?
    Yes. Similarly city name ending in "nagar" or "shaihar."

    Would it be fair to say that many are dual gender, like अबू धाबी?
    I would say that going by the phonetic associations, it should again be feminine. But because it's a foreign city (with the words not meaning much in Hindi), many probably assign it as masculine.

    Is there any grammatical reference (in Hindi or English) I could use supporting the opinion that many city names can be either masculine or feminine?
    Probably other foreros could help you.
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    I suppose the grammatical gender of a city name is fairly unlikely to show up in the syntax of most sentences that use city names. The most natural clause that I was able to come up with that would show the gender of a city name X is something like: us zamaane ke/kii X meN.

    I would probably have used ke rather than kii in this setting for all of the X's in your list, which suggests all of them masculine for me. But it's not a terribly strong preference, and I'm not sure but I suspect it would have passed under my radar if I heard someone use kii instead for any of them.

    I couldn't come up with any feminine city names besides dillii (there's also naii dillii, puranii dillii, ...). That being said, even with dillii, I at least don't have strong unacceptibility feelings about masculine usages outside of fixed phrases like naii dilli (ie, I do feel like *nayaa dillii would be a little unusual, but I don't feel so strongly about ?us zamaane ke dillii meN).
     

    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    Information from the perspective of Urdu:

    Two different opinions are given:

    مذکر غیر حقیقی کی پہچان
    ...
    4. ملکوں اور شہروں کے نام مذکر ہیں، بشرطیکہ ان کے آخر "ی" نہ ہو، جیسے ایشیا، افریقہ، عرب، ہندوستان، کلکتہ، ڈھاکہ وغیرہ۔ اور جن کے آخر "ی" ہو وہ مؤنث ہیں، جیسے دہلی، راولپنڈی وغیرہ
    ۔
    Transliteration: muzakkar Ghair Haqiiqii kii pahchaan
    ...
    4. mulkoN aur shahroN ke naam muzakkar haiN, bashartekeh un ke aaxir meN "y/i" nah ho, jaise eshyaa, afriiqah, 3arab, hindustaan, Dhaakah, waGhairah. aur jin ke aaxir "y/i" ho woh mu2annas haiN, jaise dillii, raawalpinDii, waGhairah.
    تذکیر و تانیث - مذکر اور مونث کے بنیادی اصول

    تمام ملکوں، شہروں اور براعظموں کے نام مذکر ہیں جیسے پاکستان، لاہوراورایشیا البتہ دلی کو مونث بولا جاتا ہے لیکن دہلی کو مذکر ہی بولتے ہیں۔
    Transliteration: tazkiir-o-tanees - muzakkar aur mu2annas ke bunyaadii uSuul

    tamaam mulkoN, shahroN aur barr-e-a3zamoN ke naam muzakkar haiN jaise paakistaan, laahaur, aur eshiyaa. albattah dillii ko mu2annas bolaa jaataa hai lekin dehlii ko muzakkar hii bolte haiN.


    Based on observation, all names of countries and cities seem to be treated as masculine. Other forum members could hopefully share their experiences as well.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    While dillii (f.) "Delhi" has been mentioned several times as feminine, what about Chennai, Ranchi, Jhansi, Puri, Amravati, Shivpuri? Which one do they follow, Delhi (f.) or Mumbai (m.)?
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    While dillii (f.) "Delhi" has been mentioned several times as feminine, what about Chennai, Ranchi, Jhansi, Puri, Amravati, Shivpuri? Which one do they follow, Delhi (f.) or Mumbai (m.)?
    Mumbai both m. and f. I have never heard feminine usage for cities such as Chennai or Puri, but if someone uses it, I wouldn't find it odd or wrong.
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    While dillii (f.) "Delhi" has been mentioned several times as feminine, what about Chennai, Ranchi, Jhansi, Puri, Amravati, Shivpuri? Which one do they follow, Delhi (f.) or Mumbai (m.)?
    @marrish saahib, kyaa aap in shaharoN ko muannas bolte yaa muzakkar?
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    ... dehlii ko muzakkar hii bolte haiN.
    Like desi4life, I am also surprised to read this. I used to catch trains from New Delhi railway station to Calcutta (2005-2012), and I distinctly remember that on many of the display boards, including in big letters at the entrance, the Urdu version of the name used the form "dihlii" while other boards used "dillii". It must have been "na'ii dihlii", because I'd remember if it was "nayaa dihlii". Unfortunately, it seems, the spelling has been made uniform in recent times to "dillii", because google image search throws up only that version.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Mumbai both m. and f. I have never heard feminine usage for cities such as Chennai or Puri, but if someone uses it, I wouldn't find it odd or wrong.
    Great, and I didn't know Mumbai could be either gender.
    What about "Shivpurii"? Like, "shivpurii rahne ke liye [insert here "achchhaa/achchhii" in the right gender] hai?
    @marrish saahib, kyaa aap in shaharoN ko muannas bolte yaa muzakkar?
    aevynn SaaHib: in kaa zikr karuuN to inheN iHtiyaatii taur par muzakkar hii kahuuN gaa – lekin agar Hindi meN ba3ze mu'annas bhii aate hoN to ma3um ho saktaa hae kih Alfaaz SaaHib kii pesh kardah do muxtalif aaraa' meN kaun sii SaHiiH hae.
     

    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    desi4life said:
    This is interesting. Per forum members’ experiences, is the pronunciation “dehlii” usually masculine and is it usually “nayaa dehlii” and “puraanaa dehlii”?
    Dib said:
    Like desi4life, I am also surprised to read this. ...
    Here are a few examples of both masculine and feminine:
    دُلاّبھٹی، ساندل بار کا جھومر
    از، ڈاکٹر شاہد صدیقی

    ... ساندل بار سے کئی کوس دور دہلی تھا جو مغلوں کے سب سے طاقت ور بادشاہ جلال الدین اکبر کا دارالحکومت تھا ۔
    ...
    Transliteration:

    Dulla Bhatti, Sandal Bar kaa jhuumar
    az: Dr. Shahid Siddiqi


    ... Sandal Bar se ka'ii kos duur dehlii thaa jo muGhaloN ke sab se taaqat-war baadshah jalaal-ud-diin akbar kaa daar-ul-Hukuumat thaa. ...

    Quotes from this (Iqbal Academy) article's references section (nayaa dehlii and na'ii dehlii, respectively):
    اقبال بھارتیرکوی (اقبال بھارتی شاعر): سیّد مظفر حسین برنی، ترجمہ دیوی پراشاد بندوپدہیائے، نیا دہلی، شاہتیا اکادمی، ۱۹۹۸ء
    ۲۱۔مقالہ : اقبال کا کچھ غیرمتداول کلام
    مقالہ نگار : اکبر حیدری کاشمیری
    مجلہ : سہ ماہی ’’فکر و تحقیق‘‘ جنوری تا مارچ ۲۰۰۵ء
    قومی کونسل برائے فروغِ اردو، نئی دہلی
    صفحات : ۲۱ تا ۴۰
    marrish said:
    ... to ma3um ho saktaa hae kih Alfaaz SaaHib kii pesh kardah do muxtalif aaraa' meN kaun sii SaHiiH hae.
    Apart from Dehli (which seems to be a possible exception), what are you views on the other example given in the quote (Rawalpindi) regarding city names ending in ی? Which would you prefer in the following?
    • kuchh hii der meN Rawalpindi/Karachi/Tripoli/Cincinnati/Helsinki/Nagasaki/Djibouti/etc. aa rahaa or rahii hai.
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Thank you, Alfaaz saahib, for the interesting examples. However, I think, there is a problem in the "nayaa dihlii" example from Iqbal Academy:

    اقبال بھارتیرکوی (اقبال بھارتی شاعر): سیّد مظفر حسین برنی، ترجمہ دیوی پراشاد بندوپدہیائے، نیا دہلی، شاہتیا اکادمی، ۱۹۹۸ء
    You probably didn't pay a lot of attention to it, but the line is actually about a Bengali book (translated from Urdu, I suppose). In Bengali, "nayaa dilli" is a standard name for New Delhi. Bengali, after all, has no gender distinction. Of course, the text writes "dihlii" à la Urdu, rather than "dilli" as is proper in Bengali, but the transcription of the other Bengali names/words is also pretty approximate and somewhat Hindi/Urdu-influenced, like "kavii" for "kobi". So, I think, this "nayaa dihlii" is most likely just an ad-hoc transcription of Bengali "nayaa dilli".
     

    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    Dib said:
    Thank you, Alfaaz saahib, for the interesting examples. However, I think, there is a problem in the "nayaa dihlii" example from Iqbal Academy: ... You probably didn't pay a lot of attention to it, but the line is actually about a Bengali book (translated from Urdu, I suppose).
    Thanks for this additional information! (I wasn't able to recognize many of the words and names, which is why I did not provide a transliteration. Your explanation that it is in Bengali explains the difficulty.)
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    What about "Shivpurii"? Like, "shivpurii rahne ke liye [insert here "achchhaa/achchhii" in the right gender] hai?
    I would say "achchhaa" only, but as I said earlier, I wouldn't find any fault with someone's "achchhii."

    Apart from Dehli (which seems to be a possible exception), what are you views on the other example given in the quote (Rawalpindi) regarding city names ending in ی? Which would you prefer in the following?
    • kuchh hii der meN Rawalpindi/Karachi/Tripoli/Cincinnati/Helsinki/Nagasaki/Djibouti/etc. aa rahaa or rahii hai.
    I think the question was meant for @marrish jii, but if I may add my answer, too, for me, all of them would be "aa rahaa hai," but again, no problem if someone were to use "rahii," especially for Rawalpindi and Tripoli (which somehow sound quite well with feminine, but Karachi doesn't!).
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Apart from Dehli (which seems to be a possible exception), what are you views on the other example given in the quote (Rawalpindi) regarding city names ending in ی? Which would you prefer in the following?
    • kuchh hii der meN Rawalpindi/Karachi/Tripoli/Cincinnati/Helsinki/Nagasaki/Djibouti/etc. aa rahaa or rahii hai.
    I will definitely use a masculine verb, on the pattern of "raaste meN dihlii pahle aataa hae." The same with, Italy achchaa hae yaa France?

    But echoing littlepond jii I must say I wouldn't be surprised about feminine for Rawalpindi as "pinDii merii jaan" comes to mind. But a feminine marker for Karachi would catch my attention for sure.

    How interesting it would be to know how such names are treated in the local languages or varieties of cities/villages ending in -ii !!!
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    For what is worth, the Spanish substantive for "city" is "ciudad", which is feminine.
    And Lima is the capital city of Perú.

    For us Spanish speakers Lima is feminine, doubly so because words ending in -a are overwhelmingly feminine, and because the category that comes to mind is "ciudad".

    But some years ago I asked and Indian friend visiting Lima if he considered "Lima" being feminine or masculine, and he said masculine.

    My take of all this is that cities have no inherent gender, and that the speaker will assign one guided both by the ending, if it helps, and by the gender of the encompassing substantive.


    Furthermore, I would assume pretty much the same would occur for any object having a proper name so well known, that can be named without its categorizing substantive, and said categorizing substantive has a gender different from the proper name.

    For example, assuming that he word for a painting is tasviir, feminine, but the name for a watch is pahraa, masculine.
    How would you say:

    Rembrandt painted "The Night Watch".

    Screen Shot 2020-09-03 at 1.51.17 PM.png

    ("De Nachtwacht", in English "The Night Watch") -

    raimbraaNRT ne "raatrikaaliin pahraa" chitrit .... ?
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    For what is worth, the Spanish substantive for "city" is "ciudad", which is feminine.
    And Lima is the capital city of Perú.

    For us Spanish speakers Lima is feminine, doubly so because words ending in -a are overwhelmingly feminine, and because the category that comes to mind is "ciudad".

    But some years ago I asked and Indian friend visiting Lima if he considered "Lima" being feminine or masculine, and he said masculine.
    What "ciudad" is in Spanish wouldn't matter to the speaker of another language! Moon is feminine in French but masculine in Hindi-Urdu ("chandramaa, chaand, chandaa," etc.). Again, words for a city such as "shaihar," "nagar," and "pur" are all masculine, and Lima is a "shaihar" for us, not a "ciudad"!

    ... the speaker will assign one guided both by the ending, if it helps, and by the gender of the encompassing substantive.
    Not really: see all the posts above. If the ending were to guide it, for both me and @marrish jii, Karachi would have taken a feminine gender only.

    For example, assuming that he word for a painting is tasviir, feminine, but the name for a watch is pahraa, masculine.
    How would you say:

    Rembrandt painted "The Night Watch".
    ("De Nachtwacht", in English "The Night Watch") -

    raimbraaNRT ne "raatrikaaliin pahraa" chitrit .... ?
    Well, "tasviir" is feminine (which is a word I would use for an image or a photograph, not a painting) but "chitr" (which is the usual word used in Hindi for a painting) is masculine, so your question is flawed. And so it is for all such examples: some synonyms are masculine, some are feminine, and the speaker may have anything in their mind. So, I don't see anything right or wrong here: any gender could be used in your sentence (and that has nothing to do with the painting's name). I personally use the English word painting as a feminine noun in Hindi (just like all the -ing words), and hence I would use "... chitrit kii" (regardless of what the title of the painting is).
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Karachi would have taken a feminine gender only.
    Well, Karachi's name seems to have been originally Kolachi-jo-Goth, (the "Village of Kolachi", some sort of local heroine).

    From Wikipedia:

    Modern Karachi was reputedly founded in 1729 as the settlement of Kolachi-jo-Goth.[27] The new settlement is said to have been named in honour of Mai Kolachi, whose son is said to have slain a man-eating crocodile in the village after his elder brothers had already been killed by it.[27] The name Karachee, a shortened and corrupted version the original name Kolachi-jo-Goth, was used for the first time in a Dutch report from 1742 about a shipwreck near the settlement.[49][50]

    "goTh" is masculine, it means "village, settlement"
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    I don't think people think about etymologies, even if they were to know them, when feeling something instinctively as masculine or feminine!
    I am not sure what "feeling something instinctively as masculine or feminine" means, but if so many people consider Karachii masculine, as opposed to many other cities ending in -ii, there has to be historical reasons, and I think I offered a plausible one.

    Also, it is the gender assigned by the language to the object what shapes our perception of the object, not the other way around.
    I recommend to watch the short and very interesting Ted talk "How language shapes the way we think", by Lea Boroditsky.
    (@Dib especially might enjoy it, since it has many examples in German).
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I am not sure what "feeling something instinctively as masculine or feminine" means, but if so many people consider Karachii masculine, as opposed to many other cities ending in -ii, there has to be historical reasons, and I think I offered a plausible one.
    One, me and marrish jii are not "so many people." Two, I (and maybe marrish jii) will use the masculine for Puri, Bareilly, Chennai, etc. There are no historical factors at play, especially given that I don't even have any consciousness of why Karachi is named Karachi! Using masculine with any city name - even Delhi - is instinctive: one does hear feminine being used with certain city names, such as Delhi or Rawalpindi, and hence tolerates them too.

    Also, it is the gender assigned by the language to the object what shapes our perception of the object, not the other way around.
    Irrelevant, since there is no clear-cut gender "assigned" to any of the cities: if you had read the thread so far, you would've known it.

    (Also, gender is assigned to an object based on its sounds -- phonetics -- except those cases where one has to distinguish between words having different meanings [e.g. le livre -- book -- and la livre -- pound -- in French] -- you cannot have something "-aiyaa" as masculine, for example; and rather than "gender," it is sounds -- how the word sounds like -- which shape perceptions of an object, including the object's gender. The sound of "kuTil" produces a sensation in the universe of a Hindi speaker which corresponds to a certain roughness or sharpness ("k" and "T" close by) -- it was not some out-of-the-world coincidence that a film was titled "Kerry on Kutton.")
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    Also, gender is assigned to an object based on its sounds -- phonetics -- except those cases where one has to distinguish between words having different meanings [e.g. le livre -- book -- and la livre -- pound -- in French] -- you cannot have something "-aiyaa" as masculine, for example; and rather than "gender," it is sounds -- how the word sounds like -- which shape perceptions of an object, including the object's gender.
    While both of these factors are true, etymology is also a very strong reason, e.g. that is why Hindi "motii" (pearl) is masculine, despite its very feminine-y phonetic shape (and even possibly nice rounded smooth "feminine" feel to the object too). It's simply because it comes from Sanskrit "mauktika-" (neuter). For the same reason, "raat" (< Skt. raatri-, feminine) and "baat" (< Skt. vaartaa-, feminine) are feminine but "paat" (< Skt. patra-, neuter) is masculine. The speakers, of course, do not know the etymology, and they do not need to. The grammatical gender (i.e. grammatical agreement and declension class) of the "old" words like these got determined thousands of years ago, and the language simply preserved them - except that in case of Hindi, neuter and masculine genders became identical in their grammatical behaviour, and are thus now considered a single gender, called "masculine" by convention.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    The grammatical gender (i.e. grammatical agreement and declension class) of the "old" words like these got determined thousands of years ago, and the language simply preserved them - except that in case of Hindi,
    except that the common Urdu-Hindi language *has adjusted* the gender at times and differs from the Hindi in this respect, see recent Hindi,Urdu: dhaare, other, maalaa, rachnaa, ma(a)mtaa.
    dahii (m.) to the contrary follows the old gender in Urdu whereas in Hindi I think it can be feminine, perhaps additionally to (m.), am I right?
     
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    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    ^ dahii can be masculine or feminine in Hindi as well as Urdu. It’s a regional variation. The Sanskrit and Prakrit etymon is dadhi, which is neuter in gender.
     
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    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    ^ dahii can be masculine or feminine in Hindi as well as Urdu. It’s a regional variation. The Sanskrit and Prakrit etymon is dadhi, which is neuter in gender.
    Thanks a lot! That explains my confusion about Hindi but I am yet to come across (f.) dahii in Urdu. Must be regional indeed.
     

    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    except that the common Urdu-Hindi language *has adjusted* the gender at times and differs from the Hindi in this respect, see recent Hindi,Urdu: dhaare, other, maalaa, rachnaa, ma(a)mtaa.
    Well, phonetics is a powerful factor, as I also mentioned. Therefore versions of Hindi-Urdu with less "systematic" Sanskrit-influence may treat borrowed -aa words as masculine according to their inherited patterns, though there are exceptions like "adaa". On the other hand, Sanskrit feminine ending -aa, which was lost in Hindi through its normal evolution (like vaartaa > baat), has been reintroduced directly from Sanskrit "systematically" by Sanskrit-savvy authors/speakers. This is now well-established in standard Hindi, and has trickled down to spoken Hindi to varying degrees. In either case, I'd argue that there was no "adjustment" of gender in Urdu-Hindi, it was rather a matter of *assigning* gender to borrowed nouns.

    dahii (m.) to the contrary follows the old gender in Urdu whereas in Hindi I think it can be feminine, perhaps additionally to (m.), am I right?
    This is truly a matter of power struggle between phonetics and history - so to say.

    I am yet to come across (f.) dahii in Hindi too!
    I have heard this - I am not absolutely certain from whom, but I think, from someone from Indore.
     
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