In Hindi it is possible to derive intransitive verbs from transitive by dropping the agent and making certain changes in the verb stem:
Transitive: K:aðl: dØkan:dar s:Øb:h AaY b:j:ð dØkan: K:aðl:t:a hò.
The shopkeeper opens his shop at 8AM.'
Derived Intransitive: K:Øl: dØkan: s:Øb:h AaY b:j:ð K:Øl:t:i hò.
'The shop opens at 8AM.'
In order to avoid confusion with derived transitives, we shall refer to derived intransitives as "antitransitives".
Transitive: D:að Vy:a n:aòkran:i n:ð kp:_ð Ab: t:k n:hiø D:aðO?
'Didn't the maid wash the clothes yet?'
Antitransitive: D:Øl: Vy:a kp:_ð Ab: t:k n:hiø D:Ùl:ð?
'Aren't the clothes washed yet'?
Transitive: b:n:a b:`I, Aap: kÙs:iü j:ldi hi b:n:a dðøg:ð, n:?
'Will you make the chair soon, Carpenter?'
Antitransitive: b:n b:`I, kÙs:iü j:ldi hi b:n: j:aOg:i, n:?
'Will the chair be done soon, Carpenter?'
Antitransitives are used when the speaker is not interested in who does something, but merely in the fact that it gets done. For example, in English, 'Has the mail come yet?' more accurately reflects what really matters to the speaker than does the fuller 'Did the mailman bring the mail yet?' even though they both describe the same event. In Hindi this strategy of expression is even more commonly used than it is in English: used not only when we are not interested in who does something, as in the examples given above, but also when the identity of the doer has been previously established. For example, a speaker is describing the activities of her mother:
VkÝl: s:ð AaO t:B:i c:ay: b:n:i ePr K:an:ð ka
Eøt:z:am: S:Ø- hað g:y:a . . .
us:kñ b:ad ePr Amm:aø . . . (Southworth tape H-3-121)
'As soon as the kids came home from school the tea was ready and then preparations for dinner began. After that Mother'
Since the entire passage concerns the actions of one agent the speaker feels free to vary the tone by sometimes describing these actions as if they occurred independently of the agent.
Such deliberate suppression of information can have powerful ironic effect. Antitransitives are often used by Hindi speakers to that end. For example, in Mohan Rakesh's play AaD:ð AD:Ürð a little girl is desperate for attention from her parents. She reproaches them for not having brought her the things she needs for school:
Aaòr t:Øm:n:ð kha T:a ¡Vk:p: Aaòr m:aðz:ð Es: hFt:ð j:-r Aa j:ay:ðøg:ð, Aa g:y:ð hòø? (page 35)
'And you said that you would surely bring me the clip and socks this week. Did you?'
Here, by purposely using the antitransitive Aa instead of the corresponding transitive l:a, and by dropping t:Øm:, the girl gives her words a sarcastic edge.
The antitransitive is useful to the Hindi speaker for another reason. It spares him from having to choose the most appropriate second person pronoun, a choice which is not always easy or obvious (and sometimes even dangerous) to make. For example, in the following, by using the antitransitive, a peasant woman is able not only to avoid choosing between t:Øm: and t:Ü, but also to maintain the appearance of not having directly addressed a strange male at all:
kaòn: b:aøs: kaXt:a hò? y:haú b:aøs: n: kXðøg:ð. ( g:aðdan: 31 )
'Who's cutting the bamboo? You're not to cut our bamboo!'
(literally: Here the bamboo will not be cut!)
One of the most important uses of the antitransitive, namely, the expression of incapacity, will be discussed in detail in NN.
Antitransitive verbs are derived from the transitives by rules which are similar to those used for the derivation of transitives from intransitives:
I. If the stem of the transitive has long I, U, or Aa, the stem of the antitransitive has the corresponding short vowel:
p:iX ---- beat ep:X ---- get a beating
kßX --- grind kÙX --- be ground
Cap: --- print Cp: --- be printed
II. An Aað in the stem is replaced by u; an O by E. If the stem of the transitive has only one syllable and ends in a vowel, a l: is often found in the antitransitive.
K:aðl: --- open (tr) K:Øl: --- open (intr)
D:að --- wash D:Øl: --- be washed
s:i --- sew, stitch es:l: --- be sewn, stitched
(NB: the polite imperative of s:i is s:iEy:ð or s:iej:y:ð.)
III. A nasal vowel in the stem of the transitive is sometimes answered by a nasal short in the antitransitive; sometimes by a plain short:
b:aøX --- divide b:úX ( b:X ) --- be divided
K:iøc: --- pull eK:øc: ( eK:c: ) --- be pulled
s:ðøk --- heat es:øk ( es:k ) --- be heated
IV. There are a few transitive verbs that have short vowels to begin with. Their antitransitives are homonymous:
B:r --- fill B:r --- get filled
b:dl:n:a --- to change (tr) b:dl:n:a --- to change (intr)
b:Øn: --- weave b:Øn: --- be woven
V. One or two polysyllabic stems give antitransitives by dropping a final Aa :
b:n:a --- make b:n: --- be made
m:n:a --- celebrate m:n: --- be celebrated
In most cases, however, the stem with Aa is derived and the stem without Aa is basic.
There are many exceptions to these rules. One set includes verbs of destruction:
Pað_ --- burst (tr) PÝX --- burst (intr)
t:að_ --- break (tr) XÜX --- break (intr)
Pa_ --- tear (tr) PX --- tear (intr)
Cað_ --- leave behind CÜX --- be left behind
Others show few if any regularities:
b:ðc: --- sell eb:k --- be sold
s:m:ðX --- collect es:m:X --- be collected
Transitive expressions formed with kr have antitransitive counterparts in hað :
kam: krn:a t:Øm:n:ð kam: kr el:y:a ? 'Did you do it?'
kam: hað kam: hað g:y:a ? 'Did it get done?'
Eøt:z:am: kr m:òøn:ð Eøt:z:am: n:hiø eky:a. 'I didn't make the arrangement.'
Eøt:z:am: hað Eøt:z:am: n:hiø hØAa. (ditto)
Sometimes such antitransitives in hað are kað-expressions and as such allow the expression of an agent:
Eøt:z:ar krn:a Vy:a t:Øm: eks:i ka Eøt:z:ar kr rhi hað ? 'Are you waiting for somebody?'
Eøt:z:ar hað Vy:a (t:Øm:kað) eks:i ka Eøt:z:ar hò ?
Not every transitive verb yields an antitransitive. In particular very few "reflexives" have them: K:a, p:i, p:k_, Q:rid, etc. Those that do exist are usually kað-expressions:
dðK: --- to see edK:aI dð --- to be seen, be visible
s:Øn: --- to hear s:Øn:aI dð --- to be heard, be audible
Vy:a us: s:iX s:ð Aap:kað V#:in: edK:aI dð rha hò ?
'Can you see the screen from that seat ?
m:ðrð dadaj:i kað Ab: eb:l:kÙl: s:Øn:aI n:hiø dðt:a.
'My grandfather has completely lost his hearing.'
In general all verbs expressing jobs or tasks have antitransitive counterparts: s:i 'sew' -- es:l:; m:aøj: 'scour' -- m:øj:; b:aøD: 'tie up' -- b:øD:, etc.
There are a few other transitive-antitransitive pairs which are highly idiosyncratic (and which do not play a role in the expression of incapacity):
B:ðj: --- send j:a --- go, be sent
l:a --- bring Aa --- come, be brought
Ral: --- put in, pour in p:_ --- be put in, poured in
Vy:a t:Øm:n:ð n:m:k Ral:a hò ? Vy:a n:m:k p:_a hò ?
'Have you put in the salt?' 'Has the salt gone in?'
As must be clear from this last example an antitransitive can sometimes be indistinguishable from an underived intransitive. It is only from context and from a knowledge of the speaker's intentions that one can be sure that he or she means 'Has the salt been added?' and not 'Has the salt fallen?' It follows from this that there is nothing in principle to prevent the derivation of antitransitives from transitives which are themselves derived from intransitives. For example, in:
m:z:dÜraðø n:ð pl:ðXfam:ü eg:ran:ð ki kaðeS:S: ki p:r v:h n:hiø eg:ra.
'The workers attempted to knock down the platform but it wouldn't come down.'
the verb in the second clause is not the basic intransitive eg:r 'fall' but the antitransitive eg:r 'be knocked down' derived from the transitive eg:ra 'knock down' which in turn is derived from basic eg:r. Another example:
ez:ndg:i m:aòt: kað Q:Üb: m:n:at:i hò p:r m:aòt: n:hiø m:n:at:i.
'Life tries to bring Death around but Death doesn't listen.'
It is even possible to derive an antitransitive from the derived transitive form of an ingesto-reflexive:
B:I, b:cc:i t:Øm:s:ð dhi n:hiø K:aOg:i.
'You won't be able to feed the child her yogurt.'
Here K:aOg:i is not a form of basic K:a but an antitransitive derived from eK:l:a. (For the use of s:*ð see NN )
To index of grammatical notes.
To index of m:lhar.
Keyed in by ev:v:ðk Ag:rv:al: Aug 2001. Posted 1-2 Sept 2001.