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chhamiyaa

gay and playful woman, coquette

yaum-ul-baa's

the day of resurrection

jahez

the paraphernalia of a bride, vestments and furniture of every kind which a bride brings to her husband's house; bride's portion, a dowry

KHudaa ganje ko naaKHun na de

a great fortune in the hands of a fool is a great misfortune

qaazii jii ke ghar ke chuuhe bhii sayaane

even the servant of a wise man is not a fool

daaG-e-dil

(Metaphorically) sorrow, grief

marte dam tak

till death, till the last gasp

ziyaa.n

damage, loss, detriment, injury, hurt

KHafiif

small, little, slight, light

himmat

power, ability

mushtaaq

full of desire, desirous

shaanti

peace, tranquillity, serenity, calm

vuzuu-KHaana

place of sacred ablution performed before prayer, a place for ablution, washing face, hands and leg before the Islamic prayers

sajaavaT

decoration, ornamentation, adornment, arrangement

saa.np kaa kaaTaa rassii se Dartaa hai

one who has been bitten by a snake dreads a piece of rope, once bitten twice shy

qadam uThaanaa

step forward, go ahead (with), take a measure, to walk quickly, to take a quick step

azaan

adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, shout to call, Muslim summon to prayers (usually chanted from the turret of a mosque)

ism-e-giraamii

what is your name

jumla

expression, a sentence

tamolii

a caste whose business is to sell betel-leaf

Home / Blog / 5 Urdu words and how they are Really Pronounced!

5 Urdu words and how they are Really Pronounced!

by Rajat Kumar 03 December 2021 3 min Read

5 Urdu words and how they are Really Pronounced!

A word’s actual utterance getting vulgarized in our everyday speech, is just Uber-common.

Let’s take the word pronunciation itself, how often do we hear it as Pro-noun-ci-ation? 

Almost always! The little ‘nun’ nearly inevitably becomes ‘noun’. Why? 

Maybe it’s easier that way; or, the word ‘Pronounce’ drives us to do so; or, that’s how we’ve heard it and have simply picked it up!

Mostly, it’s the third reason – hearing – that’s what pronunciation, or Talaffuz, as they say in Urdu, is all about.

For today let’s scour through 5 such commonplace words that we’ve been uttering else-ways!

1. Tajraba

Meaning experience, and sometimes experiment, this word is pronounced, almost off-the-cuff, as Ta-Jar-Baa, however, its actual pronunciation is ‘Taj-ra-Ba’. 

Nowadays, even poets are getting it wrong, making their Ghazals out of meter. If you’re a budding poet and are trying to get along with prosody, you’ve got to know its uttered right. One little syllable here and there, and you’re off!

2. Ruj’haan

Ahh, this one’s really on the news anchors; ‘Chunaav ke Shuru’aati Rujhaanaat bataa rahe hain kih…’

The word means bent or inclination and unfortunately is inflected wrong. So, what’s wrong about it?

See the little apostrophe above, between J and H? Therein lies the error.

It’s an Arabic word with the root Raj’h, one which also gives us the word Tarjiih, or preference.

It is correctly spoken as ‘Ruj-Haan’, not ‘Ru-JHaan’. You see there is no ‘Jh’ (as in Jhankaar) in Arabic. The J and H are two different letters with their own distinct sounds.

A similar word is Mash’huur with SH and H having their own voice. Although, it too, is being mispronounced, we do sometimes hear the right utterance: ‘Mash-Huu-R’.

3. Su’aal

Another prototype error, however, no one can claim it!

This is our very own Sawaal, or question. Although it also means begging, it is rarely used in that sense anymore. Remember the Qawwali, ‘Shirdi wale Sai Baba, aaya hai tere dar pe Sawaalii’? Suaali there means beggar.

About the pronunciation, there is no ‘w’ sound in it, it has just tagged along since the script shows for it: سؤال

Earlier, people used to mark the vaav with a Hamza to show the little ‘u’ vowel sound. But soon that diacritic was dropped and Su’aal turned into Sawaal.

4. Pech-Kash

Yes, it’s Pech-Kash, not Pech-Kas!

How did we go astray on this one? Perhaps because of the Hindi verb Kasnaa or to tighten, for that’s what a screwdriver is supposed to do.

Pech means a twist or coil (screw), and the Kash comes from the Persian Kashidan meaning drawing, pulling, or carrying. Thus, Pech-Kash.

What a strange error it is, isn’t it? A Pech-Kash, literally screw-puller, becoming Pech-Kas, literally Screw-tightener.

The silver-lining with mispronunciations!

5. Zabaan

The bedrock of all languages, Zabaan or tongue, is often itself misspoken as Zubaan.

The ‘u’ vowel sound is actually quite a recent addition; perhaps brought forth by film songs, who knows?

Interestingly, the original word was Zafaan, and meant flame; that’s why we frequently come across the compound Zabaan-e-Sham’, or the tongue of the candle, in classical poetry. Because the flame looks like a tongue.

Gradually, the ‘F’ has changed into ‘B’, and now the vowels, too, are flickering “u-round”!

No apologies for the word punning.


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