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-stani

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

-stani

Postby Flaminius » Tue Feb 21, 2006 11:21 am

An article I read in a Japanese newspaper today set me wondering why people from Pakistan are called Pakistani but not Pakistanese, like Japanese and Portugese.

I quite realise -ī is an adjectivising suffix in Semitic languages. Does this mean Pakistanis themselves call Pakistanis after a Semitic language (perhaps Arabic) or is -ī come from some Indic source?

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Postby Andrew Dalby » Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:39 am

So far as I can see, the word form of 'Pakistan' is modelled on older forms such as 'Hindustan', an old-fashioned term for the whole subcontinent or the northern swathe of it. There are many such names in Iran and central Asia (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, etc.)

Hindustan is a Persian noun (meaning 'the land of Hind') and it is in Persian that you could make it into an adjective by adding -i. Why Persian? Because, in the 19th century and before, Persian was an official language in northern India. Persian isn't a Semitic language, of course, it's an Indo-European one, but it did borrow a lot of words and grammar from Arabic, and this suffix -i is one of the things that Persian borrows from Arabic. You're right, that's where it began.

I suppose, the -i form, although now familiar in English, seems appropriate for words of Arabic-Persian-Urdu form and origin (I have heard Malti as an alternative to Maltese)
but not others.
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Postby Flaminius » Fri Feb 24, 2006 10:23 am

Andrew Dalby wrote:Why Persian? Because, in the 19th century and before, Persian was an official language in northern India. Persian isn't a Semitic language, of course, it's an Indo-European one, but it did borrow a lot of words and grammar from Arabic, and this suffix -i is one of the things that Persian borrows from Arabic.


Persian sounds as diaglossic as Japanese then.

I suppose, the -i form, although now familiar in English, seems appropriate for words of Arabic-Persian-Urdu form and origin (I have heard Malti as an alternative to Maltese)
but not others.

Plus Hebrew Israeli. But this word has two equivalents in English: Israelite referring to Biblical people of Israel and Israeli referring to modern State of Israel. Perhaps other European languages have two words for them?

A bit back to the topic, Cypriot as the adjective form of Cyprus strikes me as odd too.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:54 pm

Portuguese: israelita (ancient/Jew), israelense (modern); Chipre -Cipriota.

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Postby Andrew Dalby » Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:30 am

Flaminius wrote:...
A bit back to the topic, Cypriot as the adjective form of Cyprus strikes me as odd too.


In origin this is an ancient Greek suffix. It was specially used, 2500 years ago, to denote the Greek inhabitants of overseas countries -- thus Italiotai 'Greeks of Italy', Sikeliotai 'Greeks of Sicily', Massaliotai 'Greeks of Marseille' etc. If it retained its original sense, therefore, Kypriotai = Cypriots would mean specifically the Greeks of Cyprus, not the Turks and others. But, yes, I think it's become the general term.
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Postby malachai » Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:00 am

Andrew Dalby wrote:Hindustan is a Persian noun (meaning 'the land of Hind') and it is in Persian that you could make it into an adjective by adding -i. Why Persian? Because, in the 19th century and before, Persian was an official language in northern India. Persian isn't a Semitic language, of course, it's an Indo-European one, but it did borrow a lot of words and grammar from Arabic, and this suffix -i is one of the things that Persian borrows from Arabic. You're right, that's where it began.


the -i suffix happens in Hindi too. So did Hindi borrow it from Persian which borrowed it from Arabic?
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Postby Palewriter » Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:56 am

But what I want to know is, why aren't the inhabitants of Afganistan known as Afganistanis?

And...should they actually be called Afganis or, as I've heard more and more often on CNN and other dubious sources, Afgans? Are we in the process of truncating such things? Will Cypriots soon be known as Cyprans or, even worse, the Cyprish?

I always thought that an Afgan was a kind of coat.

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Postby Garzo » Tue Aug 15, 2006 5:42 am

It's all a little bit Persian. The Old Persian word root stā- implied 'to set down, place', and with nouns 'the place for something'. Thus, it was used with ethnonyms to form names for a nations' homelands. The Afghan live in Afghanistan, and things to do with them or their country are Afghani. The Persians refered to the land of the Indus as Hindustan. The dominant language of Hindustan was called Hindustani, which, in time, developed into two distinct cultural streams: the Urdu that developed in the Mughal Empire, written in Perseo-Arabic script with many Persian loanwords (and loan-grammaticals), and Hindi written in Devanāgarī with less Persian influence.

The British Raj tried to control the border area between Afghanistan and Hindustan with little success (the exploits led to the most wonderful comic documentary Carry on up the Khyber). The British-controlled border area contained Punjab, part of eastern Afghanistan and Kashmir. Thus, Pakistan was named after the P-A-K of the regions it contained. Pakistan became independent from Britain and the rest of India in 1947. Naturally, Pakistani is not an ethnicity, but mixture of very different ones. The term Paki is sometimes used. It was particularly offensive when I was growing up, but I now see young Pakistanis in the UK embracing it as a slang name for themselves. Australian cricket commentators have got themselves into trouble here for using the word Paki. It's not considered to be offensive there, apparently, but just the nickname of the Pakistani cricket team.

Any questions?

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Postby Bailey » Tue Aug 15, 2006 8:05 am

afgans are knitted blankets my grandma makes for Everyone and my toes poke through [and are wa-a-y too small!]. I suppose it could be a coat too. Wrap yourself like an American Indian...A Coat!

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Postby Palewriter » Tue Aug 15, 2006 1:49 pm

Garzo wrote:the most wonderful comic documentary Carry on up the Khyber).


Carry On Up the Khyber a documentary? Haha.
Wonderful use of cockney rhyming slang, though. And with Kenneth Williams as the Khasi of Kalabar.

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