Urdu: "Poetic Licence" for apnaa

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Qureshpor

Senior Member
Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
We know that in Urdu/Hindi grammar there is a difference in using "meraa" and "apnaa". In the following sentence, "mere" is clearly wrong and should be replaced with "apne".

maiN mere bhaa'ii se puuchh kar bataa'uuN gaa.

I shall let you know once I have asked my brother.

But, poets seem to flout this rule regularly, or so it appears. Perhaps it is I who am at fault.

manzar ik bulandii par aur ham banaa sakte
'arsh se udhar hotaa kaashke makaaN
apnaa

(Ghalib)

Similarly from Faiz,

in kaa dam saaz apne sivaa kawn hai?

shahr-i-jaanaaN meN ab baa-safaa kaun hai?

Should we not have "hamaaraa" and "hamaare" (or "mere") respectively?
 
  • BP.

    Senior Member
    Urdu
    Maybe it's more than a poetic license, maybe it is or was used in this manner. I remember Iqbal using the opposite case i.e. meeraa instead of apnaa somewhere.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    I am re-booting this thread in the hope that newer members might have views on this topic.
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    I am re-booting this thread in the hope that newer members might have views on this topic.
    I'd nicely fit in within your understandable preference since this thread predates my membership, wouldn't I? Answering it appears more urgent than contributing to the one in which I've been having to respond to a post of yours the next day. Although I can see three threads treating many a question on the subject of "apnaa" – a couple of points are briefly postulated amongst others in the previous posts:

    Urdu: difference between میرا-میری-میرے and اپنا-اپنی-اپنے
    Urdu: apna/apni vs. meri/mera
    Urdu: apna/apni vs. meri/mera
    A very ambiguous answer, if I may so!:)
    Well, this is a very ambiguous question! See below:
    We know that in Urdu/Hindi grammar there is a difference in using "meraa" and "apnaa".
    In the following sentence, "mere" is clearly wrong and should be replaced with "apne".
    maiN mere bhaa'ii se puuchh kar bataa'uuN gaa.
    I shall let you know once I have asked my brother.
    But, poets seem to flout this rule regularly, or so it appears. Perhaps it is I who am at fault.
    manzar ik bulandii par aur ham banaa sakte
    'arsh se udhar hotaa kaashke makaaN
    apnaa
    (Ghalib)
    Similarly from Faiz,
    in kaa dam saaz apne sivaa kawn hai?

    shahr-i-jaanaaN meN ab baa-safaa kaun hai?
    There appears to be little relation between this rule and the couplets since you say first that the rule requires meraa become apnaa, then you proceed quoting evidence of poets using that very apnaa, but yet you claim that it's poets not following the rule. Perhaps a different rule should have been taken as the reference?
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ You may have misunderstood what I am saying, marrish SaaHib.

    In both Ghalib and Faiz couplets, according to my understanding of the rule, the lines should read as follows

    3arsh se udhar hotaa kaashke makaaN hamaaraa

    in kaa dam saaz hamaare sivaa kawn hai? I say "hamaare" because the poet goes onto say...

    raxt-i-dil baaNdh lo dil-figaaro chalo
    phir hamiiN qatl ho aa'eN yaaro chalo

    Platts writes...

    "apnaa" is sometimes found in connection with a substantive which is the subject of the proposition, but this is not to be imitated.

    apnaa bhii mizaaj bahak gayaa x

    Better to say, "meraa bhii mizaaj bahak gayaa""
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    I was only arguing that your post used wrong examples for a valid question, which is now clear. It might have been the reason why you needed to re-boot it.

    I understand that Ghalib didn't *make a mistake* and that the observation noted by Platts is also correct while his exhortation not to imitate it by students must have arisen out of caution, since using 'apnaa' is not the neutral, unmarked option to express the same.

    I don't agree with even a theoretical substitution of hamaaraa for apnaa in the Ghalib shi3r because in the first misra3 "ham" has already excluded such an option.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    manzar ik bulandii par aur ham banaa sakte
    3arsh se udhar hotaa kaashke makaaN apnaa


    The way I read it is this.

    agar hamaaraa makaaN 3arsh se udhar hotaa
    to ham ik aur manzar bulandii par banaa sakte
     

    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    No, the order of the pronouns is opposite: "ham... banaa sakte" has sufficiently established the personal pronoun for apnaa to appear in the second misra3.

    ham banaa sakte agar hamaaraa ... does not sound right to the ear.

    Moreover, the poet refers to himself with "apnaa" for the sake of portraying his internal dialogue.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    No, the order of the pronouns is opposite: "ham... banaa sakte" has sufficiently established the personal pronoun for apnaa to appear in the second misra3.

    ham banaa sakte to hamaara ... does not sound right to the ear.

    Moreover, the poet refers to himself with "apnaa" for the sake of portraying his internal dialogue.
    Thank you for your interpretation. It would be good to get other friends' views.
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    Well, I think in some sense the answer to @Qureshpor jii's original question has already been answered in this thread and the other one, but perhaps I can distill some elements of other people's responses to clarify this. There are a number of uses of apnaa, but the two that are most relevant here are:

    (1) As a reflexive possessive pronoun (referring to the subject of the matrix verb).
    (2) As a first-person possessive pronoun (referring to the speaker/writer).

    For example:

    (1) If I say aasif apne ghar gayaa, the house belongs to Asif (the subject[*] of the matrix verb). If I instead said raam apne ghar gayaa, now the house now belongs to Ram. The reference of apnaa changes as the subject changes.

    (2) If I say ye apnaa ghar hai, the house belongs to me (the speaker), plus possibly other people I associate with myself (this usage of apnaa is first-person, but is agnostic about singular vs plural). It does not refer to the subject of the matrix verb (which is ye). If this same sentence was said by @marrish jii instead, the house would then belong to @marrish jii (and possibly other people that @marrish jii associates with himself). The reference of apnaa changes as the speaker changes, not as the subject changes.

    Now sometimes (1) and (2) can be hard to tell apart (when the subject of the matrix verb is itself a first-person pronoun), but in any case, it should be clear that these are both of these usages of apnaa exist. I think that (2) is the type of usage that @Dib jii refers to in this post.

    I haven't pored through standard Urdu-Hindi grammars to see what they say about apnaa, but based on the quote from Platts (and also this comment), it may be that usages of type (2) are regarded as less "correct" than those of type (1). But this seems to me to be entirely a prescriptivist injunction. From a descriptive perspective, usages of type (2) are by no means uncommon (in my experience, at least).

    I believe that usages of type (2) are also what is happening in the shers that @Qureshpor jii shared with us in the opening post. Let's look at them more closely to see this. First up, Ghalib:

    manzar ik bulandii par aur ham banaa sakte​
    'arsh se udhar hotaa kaashke makaaN apnaa
    The verbal clause in which the word apnaa appears (after reordering into a more "neutral" order) is apnaa makaan 'arsh se udhar hotaa. In fact, the phrase apnaa makaan is itself the subject of this clause. Interpreting apnaa here as a usage of type (1) would cause a circular reference (it would be a house that belongs to a house that belongs to a house that belongs to...!), so it only makes sense to interpret this as a usage of type (2). In other words, apnaa must refer back to the speaker/writer, ie, to Ghalib.

    Next up, Faiz:

    in kaa dam saaz apne sivaa kaun hai?​
    shahr-i-jaanaaN meN ab baa-safaa kaun hai?​
    The verbal clause in which apnaa appears (again, after reordering into a more "neutral" order) is apne sivaa kaun inkaa dam saaz hai. The subject of this clause is kaun. The apne sivaa in this clause does not mean "except for who," it means "except for me/us." Again, this is a usage of type (2).

    ---
    [*]: Identifying the "subject" of an Hindi-Urdu clause is not always so clear-cut (since different subjecthood criteria might disagree), but I think subjecthood seems fairly clear-cut in all of the examples above. Also, it may be that saying "subject of matrix verb" is not precisely the right thing (words like "c-command" might be important here), but it's perhaps enough for all of the examples above.
     
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    Alfaaz

    Senior Member
    English
    A few more examples:

    پہلے ہم سے کھیلا زمانہ کھیل چکا تو توڑا
    جب تک چاہا دل بہلایا پھر توڑا پھر جوڑا
    اب شکوہ کیسا ہوتا ہے ایسا ساتھ یہ سُلوک اپنے ہونا ہی تو ہے
    اپنا جیون شیشے کا کھلونا ہی تو ہے
    ہم کیوں نہ گائیں؟ کیوں نہ مسکرائیں؟ آنسوؤں کو پلکوں میں پرونا ہی تو ہے

    تسلیم فاضلی از پاکستانی اُردو فلم نَوکر ١٩٧٥

    ہر محفل اپنی محفل ہے ہر موڑ پہ اپنی منزل ہے
    آسان ہے سب پر جاں دینا کسی ایک پہ مرنا مشکل ہے
    ہے کیسا پیار اور کیسی وفاء مطلب سے مطلب رکھنا
    ہرجائی من اپنا

    تسلیم فاضلی یا ریاض الرحمٰن ساغر از پاکستانی اُردو فلم دل نے پھر یاد کیا‎ ١٩٨١

    اپنا افسانۂ شوقِ ناکام
    کوئی آغاز نہ کوئی انجام

    رضی ترمذی
    Qureshpor said:
    Platts writes...

    ... but this is not to be imitated.
    If it would be appropriate to ask in this thread, what would the perception be about ہمرا/ہمرے? (Based on observation in literature and media portrayals: At least in modern Urdu, it seems to be associated with غیر فصیح speech.)
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    ^ Thank you Alfaaz SaaHib for the quote from Urdu poetry. I think this usage has become an "epidemic" soon to become "pandemic"!:)

    Regarding hamraa/hamre, I would associate its usage with a particular language community perhaps. But I would n't be able to pinpoint it. In relation to what is deemed correct Urdu, it would be regarded as wrong because even Mirza Ghalib in his time did not use hamraa/hamre.
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    I think this usage has become an "epidemic" soon to become "pandemic"!:)
    Here's another first-person (non-reflexive[*]) usage of apnaa — by none other than the khudaa-e-sukhan, Mir Taqi Mir.
    rote phirte haiN saarii saarii raat​
    ab yahii rozgaar hai apnaa

    Mir died in 1810, so this "epidemic" has been around at least 210 years...!

    [*]: One might attempt to argue that apnaa in Mir's sher above is reflexive, since the subject of the first line is a tacit ham. But I don't think this argument works. For instance, if I were to say "miir rote phirte haiN saarii saarii raat, ab yahii rozgaar hai apnaa," certainly this apnaa would not refer back to the subject of the first line, miir. (To me, this sounds like a non-sequitur, since it seems like the only way to parse this usage of apnaa is as a first-person usage, but why would I be saying that this is *my* rozgaar if it is *Mir* who is the one crying his way through the night?)
     
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    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Here's another first-person (non-reflexive[*]) usage of apnaa — by none other than the khudaa-e-sukhan, Mir Taqi Mir.
    rote phirte haiN saarii saarii raat​
    ab yahii rozgaar hai apnaa

    Mir died in 1810, so this "epidemic" has been around at least 210 years...!

    [*]: One might attempt to argue that apnaa in Mir's sher above is reflexive, since the subject of the first line is a tacit ham. But I don't think this argument works. For instance, if I were to say "miir rote phirte haiN saarii saarii raat, ab yahii rozgaar hai apnaa," certainly this apnaa would not refer back to the subject of the first line, miir. (To me, this sounds like a non-sequitur, since it seems like the only way to parse this usage of apnaa is as a first-person usage, but why would I be saying that this is *my* rozgaar if it is *Mir* who is the one crying his way through the night?)
    I would say Mir is talking about himself and the pronoun in question is "ham".

    Mir, ham rote phirte haiN saarii saarii raat
    ab yahii rozgaar hai hamaaaaaara apnaa

    Nuances of Urdu poetry. Urdu poets talk to themselves even after they are dead!!

    کی مرے قتل کے بعد اُس نے جفا سے توبہ
    ہائے اُس زود-پشیماں کا پشیماں ہونا

    غالب
     
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    marrish

    Senior Member
    اُردو Urdu
    Platts writes...

    "apnaa" is sometimes found in connection with a substantive which is the subject of the proposition, but this is not to be imitated.

    apnaa bhii mizaaj bahak gayaa x

    Better to say, "meraa bhii mizaaj bahak gayaa""
    The predecessor of Platts' Urdu grammar book (1874) is an identically titled work by John Dowson (1872), which appears to have offered Platts a classification structure, along the lines of which he went on to build his own revised and enlarged manual. Naturally Platts has thrown a new light on a range of issues which were not sufficiently known by Professors Monier Monier-Williams and J. Dowson, however Platts kept on referring to those books throughout his own Grammar if only to criticise them on divergent points.

    Dowson's Grammar used the same example but has perhaps more to say about it, and I quote after its third edition, 1907 (transliteration added by me):

    285. The word آپ 'self' is used alone, or it is added to the Nominative case of the personal pronouns, میں آپ، وہ آپ 'I myself,' 'he himself,' etc.
    The Persian خود is also used in the same way.

    معلوم ہوا کہ آپ ہی ہیں 'it was discovered that it was they their very selves.' ma3luum hu'aa kih aap hii haiN
    جب تک وہ ما[ں] باہمنوں کی آپ تیرے پاس نہ آوے 'until that mother of the brahmins herself comes to you.' jab tak wuh maaN baahmanoN kii aap tere paas nah aawe
    .وہ خود تیرے نزدیک آوے گی 'she herself will come to you.' wuh xud tere nazdiik aawe gii
    مٹی کمھار کے یہاں خود بہ خود برتن نہیں بنتی 'clay is not itself made into dishes at the potter's abode.' miTTii kumhaar ke yahaaN xwud bah xwud bartan nahiiN bantii
    وہ آپ ہی آپ آیا 'he himself came.' wuh aap hii aap aayaa
    286. آپ is also used with a personal pronoun in the Accusative.
    آپ کو قاضی سا بنانا 'to make myself like a judge.' aap ko qaazii saa banaayaa
    ایک درویش آپ کو دنیا کی زحمت سے بچا کر 'a darwesh having rescued himself from the troubles of the world.' ek darwesh aap ko dunyaa kii zaHmat se bachaa kar

    But this is rare, and the form in common use is the inflected genitive اپنے apne with the affix تَئِیں ta'iiN.

    اپنے تئیں کہا 'he said to himself. 'apne ta'iiN kahaa
    اپنے تئیں ہلاک کیا 'he killed himself.' apne ta'iiN halaak kiyaa
    اپنے تئیں حلم و بردباری کے زیور سے سنوارے 'he should adorn himself with the jewels of mercy and forbearance.' apne ta'iiN Hilm-o-burd·baarii ke zewar se saNwaare
    کہ اپنے تئیں گرا دوں 'that I might throw myself down.' kih apne ta'iiN giraa duuN
    جو بات اپنے پر نہ پسند کرے 'that matter which pleases not one's self.' jo baat apne par nah pasaNd kare

    287. This is a possessive pronoun which is used for all three persons and both numbers. It represents the subject in the objective part of the sentence, or, in other words, it is a pronoun used with the noun governed by the verb, as teh representative of the Nominative or Agent; but it cannot be employed in conjunction with the Nominative or Agent as the subject of a verb : Thus, in such a sentence as the man saw his son, the his is ambiguous in English, it may mean the man's own son or another person's son ; but no such doubt can exist in Hindūstānī, because if the man's own son is intended, اپنا will be used, if another person's son, اُس کا must be employed. Again, اپنا is used because the words ' his son ' are the object of the sentence, and are governed by the verb ; but in the sentence ' a man and his son saw a tiger,' اُس کا must be used, and not اپنا, because it here occurs with the subject of the verb.

    پہلا درویش اپنی سیر کا قصہ کہنے لگا 'the first darwesh began to tell the story of his (own) adventures. paihlaa darwesh apnii sair kaa qissah kaihne lagaa
    میں اپنے گھر بیٹھا تھا 'I was seated (in) my house.' maiN apne ghar baiTha thaa
    اپنے گھر کی راہ لو 'take the road to your house (go home).' apne ghar kii raah lo
    ایک شیر اور ایک مرد نے اپنی تصویر دیکھی 'a tiger and a man saw their picture.' ek sher aur ek mard ne apnii taswiir dekhii

    288. But though اپنا cannot be used in conjunction with the Nominative, it is used at the beginning of a sentence with the Nominative for its object.

    اپنا بھی مزاج بہک گیا apnaa bhii mizaaj baihak gayaa 'my own mind also was perverted.'
    اپنے نوکر و رفیقوں نے جب یہ غفلت دیکھی apne naukar-o-rafiiqoN ne jab yih Ghaflat dekhii 'my own servants and companions when they saw this negligence.'
    اپنا وقر اپنے ہاتھ میں ہے apnaa waqr apne haath meN hae 'one's honour is in one's own hands.'

    290. اپنا is used substantively for ' one's friends.'

    اپنوں کے پاس آیا 'he came to his own.' apnoN ke paas aayaa

    291. The Persian pronoun خود 'self' is sometimes used instead of اپنا.

    یہ ماجرا بچشمِ خود دیکھا '(I) saw this circumstance with my own eyes' yih maajraa bachashm-e-xud dekhaa.
     
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