Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Aap, Tum and Tu

Came across this great piece from regular suspect Johnson in the Economist on how formal pronouns for 'you' are dying out in Europe.

Is the process being mirrored in India? Hindi-Urdu has a three-tiered pronoun system--tu, tum, aap. Is that ending?

Most people have stopped using the verb inflection associated with "aap" preferring to simplify things by using the one for "tum" ("aap aa'oge" instead of "aap aa'i'e'ga"). When I first moved to Delhi, out of habit, I stuck with the "correct" system for some time but then increasingly found myself mixing stuff up. Guess, it won't be long before 'aap' dies out completely much as 'thou' did in English. Something that might lead to much pain for chacha Ghalib who once complained:

Teri mehfil mein aakar bade be-aabroo hue

Aap se tum aur tum se tu hue

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