y:Üen:v:es:ýXi Aaôf em:eS:g:n:

Notes on <font size="+1" face="Xdvng">khiø</font> and the expression of fear

The use of  khiø 'lest' in constructions expressing fear or anxiety.

      In Hindi the conjunction  khiø 'lest' may be used to introduce a clause dependent on a verb or predicate expressing fear or anxiety. Typically such clauses have three additional features: 1. the subjunctive, 2. a compound verb, and 3. a negative element (often  n: ):
1.  us:ð l:g:n:ð l:g:a ek khiø y:h g:hn: p:Üra ka p:Üra us:kñ ev:v:aeht: j:iv:n: kað en:g:l: n: j:aO .
    'She began to fear that this dark star might swallow up her entire married life.'  (Sharma 1987:10)

2.  s:Øhan:a s:fr Aaòr y:h m:aòs:m: hs:iø.
   hm:ðø Rr hò hm: K:að n: j:aOú khiø
    'A pleasant journey and such beautiful weather.
     We are afraid we might lose our way!'

     (from the song by  S:òl:ðødÓ,  film  m:D:Øm:t:i )
       Notice that the negative particle  n: in (1) and (2) has no counterpart in the English translation. This is true of the negatives in almost all Hindi-Urdu fear clauses. A comparison might be made with the non-functional 'not' in: 'I wonder if that might not be him.' where deleting the 'not' seems to make no difference to the meaning of the sentence: 'I wonder if that might be him.' Unlike this English 'not', however, the negative in Hindi-Urdu fear clauses is usually not deletable.
      Since the subordinate clauses in these constructions usually express a feared action or event, the verbs in them are often accompanied by an attitudinal vector such as  b:òY or  Ral::
3.  m:ØJ:ð Rr l:g:t:a hò ek khiø b:n:ab:n:ay:a kam: eb:g:a_ n: b:òYÜú.
    'I am afraid that I might spoil a nearly done deal.'

4.  us:kñ )aN: s:ÜK:ð j:at:ð T:ð ek khiø es:ll:að s:b: kÙC kh n: Ral:ð .
    'He was terrified that Sillo might divulge everything.'   (from Premchand's  g:aðdan:. See
It is not unusual to find ek together with khiø. If present ek precedes khiø:

5.  Es: Rr s:ð ek khiø s:c:m:Øc: c:aðri n: hað j:aO,   v:h kÙC edn:aðö t:k p:rðS:an: rha.
    'He was upset for several days from the fear that there might really be a break-in.'  (Singh 1973:132)

6.  Rr T:a ek khiø eks:i b:adS:ahi m:Øl:aez:m: ka en:g:ah n: p:_ j:ay:, j:að b:ðkar m:ðö p:k_ j:ay:ú.
    'They were afraid that some employee of the king might catch sight of them,
     and because of that they would be caught needlessly.'

    (from Premchand's  S:t:røj: kð eK:l:a_i.)
However, the presence of  khiø  itself is optional if the other features are present:
7.  B:y: T:a t:< y:hi ek ePr b:ðXi n: hað j:ay: . . .
    'They were afraid that once again it would be a girl...'

    (from Premchand's  dÜD: ka dam:. See context.)
    Other features may be individually absent. For instance, if the verb in the fear-clause is a stative it will not be compound:

8.  y:h Rr B:i T:a ek n:iel:m:a n:ð m:ðri eXpp:N:i ka b:Øra n: m:an:a hað.
    'I was also afraid that Nilima might have resented my review.'   (Rakesh 1967:224)

The subjunctive may be absent:

9.  B:Òm: hað uYa ek khiø us:ka edm:a^: Q:rab: t:að n:hiø hað rha.
    'He suddenly had the illusion that he might be losing his mind.'   (Singh 1973:138)

Sometimes the introductory clause together with  khiø are absent. In such cases it is the presence of the compound verb in the subjunctive and a "non-functioning" negative particle that implicitly express the fear or anxiety:

10. j:a t:Ü m:ØÀa kañ dðK:.  K:aX p:r s:ð eg:r n: j:ay:.
    'Go and check on the baby. (I'm afraid that) he might fall off the bed.'

    (from Yashpal's story  g:v:ahi, page 1.)
On the other hand, 'May he not fall off the bed!' is equally plausible as an interpretation of the second clause, even if it is no longer idiomatic English.

Exercise on  khiø and the expression of fear.
Related notes on compound verbs in  b:òY  and the expression of misguided action.
To index of  m:lhar.

Posted on 5 Aug 1999.
Updated: 9 Aug 1999, 3 Sept 1999, 5 Sept 1999.
Augmented: 21 Mar 2001, 30 Nov 2001.