y:Üen:v:es:ýXi Aaôf em:eS:g:n:

 l:g:a eqsm:t: kaðs:n:ð :  Verb-left in repetitions, sallies and rejoinders

      The most common order of words in formal Hindi-Urdu has the subject of the clause on the left and the verb on the right:

 1.   ray: s:ahb: n:ð ePr eg:l:aòri-dan: en:kal:a Aaòr kI eg:l:aòery:aú en:kal:kr m:Øúh m:ðø B:r l:iø.
      'Rây Sâhab brought out the betel box again and taking several paans from it stuffed them into his mouth.'

   (from Chapter Two of  g:aðdan:.  See context.)
Casual styles of the modern colloquial language (as reflected in the plays of Mohan Rakesh) maintain the same order with one difference: Very often a noun or pronoun or adverbial phrase comes after the verb. Compare (2a) with (2b), (2c) and (2d):

 2a.  s*:i H  ekÀi kað dÜD: dð edy:a T:a ?
 2b.  p:Ø,\: H v:h m:ØJ:ð edK:i hi n:hiø Ab: t:k.
 2c.  s*:i H  edK:ð t:b: n: j:að G:r p:r rhð kaðI.
 2d.  p:Ø,\: H m:òø b:s: T:að_i dðr kñ el:O hi en:kl:a T:a b:ahr.
         Woman:  Did you give Kinni her milk?

         Man:       I haven't seen her yet.

         Woman:  You're not going to see her if you're not home.

         Man:       I only went out for a little while.

         (from  AaD:ð AD:Ürð  by  m:aðhn: rakðS: , p. 15 )
It seems that in casual styles second person pronouns are particularly apt to be put just after the verb in questions:

 3a.   ev:n:aðd ki m:aú H  Vy:a kr rhi T:iø t:Øm: ?
        Vinod's mother: What were you doing?'

        ( from dialog " dað p:_aðs:n:ðø " by  kÙs:Øm: j:òn: .  See context. )
 3b.   Vy:a kht:i hò t:Ü ?
        'What are you saying?'

       (from Chapter Ten of  g:aðdan:.  See context.)
         The departures from verb-right seen in Rakesh's plays leave the verb somewhere in the middle of its clause and (given their almost complete absence in Guleri or Premchand) may reflect a general, ongoing change in Hindi-Urdu word order. They are certainly worthy of further study. Our concern here, however, is with something more specific: 'Verb-left' or the occurrence of the verb on the left edge of its clause:

 4.   l:g:ð Aaòraðø ki t:rh t:Øm: B:i c:ap:l:Üs:i krn:ð.
       'There you go, just like the others, trying to flatter me.'

       (from Chapter Five of  g:aðdan:.  See context.)
Verb-left order is diametrically opposed to the normal verb-right order and is used by speakers who for one reason or another wish to dramatize or draw special attention to what they are saying. What are some of the reasons for their wishing to do this?
        Insistence: Putting the verb on the left may serve to underline a demand for a response. In (5c) and (6c) the speakers, feeling they are being put off, repeat the normal-order utterance of (5a) and (6a), but, the second time around, use verb-left:

 5a.  l:_ki H  Vy:a b:at: hò,  RòRi ?
 5b.    p:Ø,\: H  b:at: ?  . . .  b:at: kÙC B:i n:hiø.
 5c.  l:_ki H  hò t:að s:hi kÙC-n:-kÙC b:at:.
         Older Girl:  What's the matter, Daddy?
         Man:          Matter? Nothing's the matter.
         Older Girl:  I'm sure that something must be the matter.

         (from  AaD:ð AD:Ürð  by  m:aðhn: rakðS: , p. 23 )

 6a.  CaðXi l:_ki H  kÙC p:t:a n:hiø c:l:t:a y:haú t:að.
 6b.        s*:i H    Vy:a kh rhi hò t:Ü ?
 6c.  CaðXi l:_ki H  b:t:aAað, c:l:t:a hò kÙC p:t:a ?
         Younger Girl: I don't understand what's going on around here!

         Woman: What are you saying?

         Younger Girl: Tell me, do you understand what's going on?

        (from  AaD:ð AD:Ürð  by  m:aðhn: rakðS: , p. 31 )

In (7) the speaker, beside herself with anger, does not wait for a response before shifting from normal order  j:Üt:ð m:ar to verb-left  m:ar j:Üt:ð:

 7.   s:hs:a D:en:y:a n:ð es:ùhn:i ki B:aúet: J:p:Xkr hira kað Et:n:ð z:aðr s:ð D:Vka edy:a ek v:h D:m: s:ð eg:r p:_a Aaòr b:aðl:i --  khaú j:at:a hò ?  j:Üt:ð m:ar,  m:ar j:Üt:ð,  dðK:Üú t:ðri m:rdÜm:i !
         'Suddenly Dhaniya lunged like a lion and slamming into Hîrâ so hard that he crumpled to the ground said, "Where are you off to? Beat me with your shoe! Come on, shoe-beat me! Let's see how much of a man you are!"'

            (from Chapter Four of  g:aðdan:.  See context.)
However, in this instance there is an additional motivation for using verb-left . . .
            Sarcasm: Putting the verb on the left may signal sarcastic intent. A wife, beside herself with impotent rage, demands that her home be burned:

 8.  . . . Ap:n:a es:r p:iXkr b:aðl:i --  l:g:a dð G:r m:ðø Aag:,  m:ØJ:ð Vy:a krn:a hò !  B:ag: PÜX g:y:a ek t:Üm:-j:òs:ð qs:aI kñ p:al:ð p:_i.  l:g:a dð G:r m:ðø Aag: !
            ' . . . pounding her head with her fists she said, "Go ahead.  Burn the house down!  What do I care!  It's my bad karma I fell into the clutches of a brute like you.  Go on, burn the house down!"'

            (from Chapter Four of  g:aðdan:.  See context.)
In the following exchange the man, trying to defend his actions, uses normal word order, while his wife, subjecting them to ridicule, puts the verb on the left:

 9a.  s*:i H  t:Ømhðø s:c:m:Øc: khiø j:an:a hò Vy:a ?  khaú j:an:ð ki b:at: kr rhð T:ð t:Øm: ?
 9b.  p:Ø,\: H s:aðc: rha T:a,  j:Øn:ðj:a kñ y:haú hað Aat:a.
 9c.  s*:i H  Aað||?  j:Øn:ðj:a kñ y:haú ! . . .  hað AaAað.
 9d.  p:Ø,\: H efl:hal: us:ð dðn:ð kñ el:O p:òs:a n:hiø hò,  t:að km:-s:ð-km: m:Øúh t:að us:ð edK:at:ð rhn:a c:aehO.
 9e.  s*:i H  haú||,  edK:a AaAað m:Øúh j:akr.
        Woman:  Do you really have to go someplace? Where was it you were saying you have to go?

        Man:       I was thinking of going over to Juneja's.

        Woman:  Oh? To Juneja's! Go ahead. Go.

        Man:       For the time being I don't have any money to give him, so I should at least keep showing my face.

        Woman:  Yes. Go. Show your face.

        (from  AaD:ð AD:Ürð  by  m:aðhn: rakðS:  )

One more exchange from Rakesh's famous play shows how verb-left, introduced in (9a) to express sarcasm, may be retained in the target's rejoinder:

 10a. s*:i H  Ab: j:Øn:ðj:a Aa g:y:a hò n: l:aòXkr,  t:að rha krn:a ePr t:in:-t:in: edn: G:r s:ð ^:ay:b:.
 10b. p:Ø,\: H t:Øm: ePr s:ð v:hi b:at: uYan:a c:aht:i hað ?  Ag:r rha B:i hÜú kB:i m:òø t:in: edn: G:r s:ð b:ahr,  t:að AaeQ:r eks: v:j:h s:ð ?
         Woman: Now that Juneja's back in town, go ahead and start disappearing from the house for three days at a time,
                       like you did before!

         Man:     You want to bring up that again?  And what if I did stay away from home sometimes for three days,
                      what after all was the reason for that?

         (from  AaD:ð AD:Ürð  by  m:aðhn: rakðS:, p. 19 )
         Derision and reproach. Finite forms of the auxiliary  l:g: 'begin (to V)' are not infrequently put on the left to create a tone of mockery or reproach:

 11.  m:òøn:ð kha --  khað t:að kl: ki t:Ømhari krt:Üt: K:aðl: dÜú p:eNRt: !   l:g:a haT: j:að_n:ð.
           'I said, "And if I reveal what you did yesterday, Pandit? What then?"
           And he began clasping his hands in supplication.'

            (from Chapter Five of  g:aðdan:.  See context.)

 12.  CaðXi l:_ki H  p:_a s:að rha T:a Ab: T:k.  m:òøn:ð j:akr j:g:a edy:a,  t:að l:g:a m:ðrð b:al: K:iøc:n:ð.
        Young Girl:  He was lying asleep till now.  When I went and woke him up, he started pulling my hair.

         (from  AaD:ð AD:Ürð  by  m:aðhn: rakðS:, p. 36 )
         Use of verb-left to express insistence, sarcasm, or reproach is an option available to speakers, not a rule of grammar or style that must be followed. A speaker can choose to be insistent or sarcastic without using it. Since verb-left is a marked order in Hindi-Urdu, whenever it occurs it indicates something special about the utterance. Thus, one would expect that speakers would rarely if ever use verb-left in a normal utterance and then switch to normal verb-right order to signal insistence or sarcasm or some other special attitude.

For more on Hindi-Urdu word order see studies by Vijay Gambhir.

To index of grammatical notes.

To index of  m:lhar.

Drafted and posted 21-24 Apr 2001.