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KHair-andesh

thinking well, well wisher

duudh-shariik bahan

foster sister

risaa.ii

related to grief and death, elegiac

zarf

vessel, vase, receptacle

tihaa.ii

one third, one-third part

laa'nat

curse, anathema, imprecation, reproach, reproof, rebuke

qahr Dhaanaa

to be wrathful, to rage

mazduur

a hired labourer, worker

chale na jaa.e aa.ngan Te.Dhaa

a bad workman blames his tools

aage naath na piichhe pagaa

heirless, lone, lone wolf

saahir

magician, sorcerer, wizard, conjuror

ku.Dmaa.ii

the celebration of of an engagement, betrothal, engagement

nazar-bhar dekhnaa

to look carefully

KHvaaja-e-taash

slaves of the same master in relation to one another, slave colleagues

maiyaa

kindness, mercy

qafas

cage for birds

husn-e-talab

a decent way of desiring, nice way of asking

basar

living, livelihood, course of life

basar-auqaat

state of just living a life (esp. with mediocre means), whiling away one's time means of livelihood, passing (one's) time, occupation, employment, subsistence, livelihood, means of living

muntashir

spread, wide-spread, dispersed, diffused, diffuse

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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