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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Haeraañ hooñ dil ko ro-ooñ ...

Taking time off from the back-breaking work I was engaged in (see previous post), I switched on the TV. Begum Nawazish Ali flashed (well, not quite) on the screen, extolling the qualities of her guest in her usual risqué manner. I am not a regular TV watcher and, so, have missed out on how the BNA Show has developed over the years. There didn't seem to be a change in format but I found that her tongue-in-cheekisms were nearer the bone now. Not a problem. The guest was Shehzad Roy - a young singer who has begun to devote his energies to Education. Not a problem, at all. Until the young man decided to inform us of the sorry state of Urdu. He was shocked, he told us, to find that there was no Urdu word for 'kick', having decided that 'laat' and 'thokar' could not be used (though he offered no explanation why). He pleaded with language specialists to take note, add new words to the language, make sure it remains alive by keeping it progressive. And to produce a suitable word for 'kick'! BNA mischievously added that there was no Urdu word for 'cake', either, but SR took the bait seriously, going on to say that while we could call it 'meetha', that really was not 'precise'. Urdu so needed attention. Dear Shehzad: I have before me 3 dictionaries open. Sangaji (1899) Platts (1930) and the more recent Shan-ul-Haq Haqqi tome from the Oxford University Press. And it is my mother tongue. Trust me - 'laat' and 'thokar' are alright, depending upon context. Football khayltay vaqt gaind ko laat maari jaatee hae aur raah chaltay huay theekree ko thokar say hataaya jaata hae. (Oh ... and will the English Language world please find words for 'Barfi' and 'Gulaab Jaamun' while the Muqtadirah and the Text Book Boards work on our most important needs of the hour).

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Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

Well, you could commend him for his earnestness, if nothing else, I suppose.


10 August, 2008 00:32

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have not seen the program but may be by 'kick' he meant the 'kick' one gains after consuming drugs or an amusement !!!

14 August, 2008 11:56

Blogger Zakintosh said...

He was talking about kicking a football.

As for the context you suggest, even in English this shade of meaning is a relatively later entry (with the Oxford Dictionary still classifying its usage as informal). However, an old cook at our house, more than 50 years ago, used to say (from personal experience): "afeem ki dolatti ka chaska lag jaavay to dil say kabhoo ütrat naaheeñ" (Once you've developed a desire for opium your heart can't ever let go"). So Urdu has that ground covered, too :-)

14 August, 2008 12:56

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Platts I am familiar with was published in 1884 ('A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English'). Or are you referring to something like a revised and updated edition? (Given that Platts Sahib was around in 1930.)

10 October, 2008 23:28

Blogger Zakintosh said...

I am referring to the Platts I own, which is the 1930 Edition (5th Impression),

There is now, of course, an online edition at

11 October, 2008 00:09

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please bear with me for my prodding: Do you have the 1899 Sangaji? Or its 1989 reprint?

I am asking this as I believe that you are very particular with details...

11 October, 2008 01:24

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Had 1947 not been so cruel the 1899 Sangaji would have been the one adorning the shelf. I bought the current volume I own very recently and it is the AES edition published only a couple of years ago.

I wish you were not commenting Anonymously as it would be good to know who it is with such an interest in dictionaries.

11 October, 2008 06:38

Anonymous rahmat masih said...

@anonymous: Interesting exchange, though Anonymity not only takes away from the pleasure but, as Zakintosh has written in a post or comment elsewhere, it causes confusion. Are you (the one discussing dictionaries) also the one who was suggesting that Mr. Roy may have been referring to the drug kick? Just curious.

@Zakintosh: I just realized, re-reading all this, that you missed out a key word in your translation of the cook's phrase. It should have read "Once you've developed a desire for the kick of opium your heart can't ever let go.".

Since we are all being so academic, may I also point out for the benefit of non-Native speakers (and young Pakistanis tragically unfamiliar with their own language) that dolatti is used for the powerful kicks that Equidae administer by using both hind legs simultaneously.

11 October, 2008 07:11

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Thanks, RM, for pointing out my oversight.

And Equidae! Hahaha. That should send people scurrying to Wikipedia or the OED.

11 October, 2008 07:43

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On anonymity:
@zakintosh: More than anyone else here, you know more about the adage which goes something like this: "On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog".

@RM: Please replace canidae with equidae.

Re RM's curiosity:
@RM: No, I am not the one who uses multiple exclamation marks with or without consuming drugs.

-- Anonymous Coward

12 October, 2008 00:56

Blogger Zakintosh said...

It is of no interest to me if the adage refers to one set of canidae. I think even a pseudonym is better than 'anonymous' ... and have explained the reason in the post RM refers to.

Dolatti IS connected to equidae: horses, mules, zebras and asses (I only add this lest your comment confuse the next reader).

12 October, 2008 01:18


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