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|Plosive|| p |
| b |
| t̪ |
| d̪ |
| ʈ |
| ɖ |
| k |
| ɡ |
|Affricate|| tʃ |
| dʒ |
|Tap or Flap||ɾ|| (ɽ) |
Stops in final position are not released; /ʋ/ varies freely as [v], and can also be pronounced [w]; /ɾ/ can surface as a trill [r], and geminate /ɾː/ is always a trill, e.g. [zəɾaː] (ज़रा — زرا 'little') versus well-trilled [zəraː] (ज़र्रा — ذرّہ 'dust'). The palatal and velar nasals [ɲ, ŋ] occur only in consonant clusters, where each nasal is followed by a homorganic stop, as an allophone of a nasal vowel followed by a stop, and in Sanskrit loanwords. There are murmured sonorants, [lʱ, ɾʱ, mʱ, nʱ], but these are considered to be consonant clusters with /ɦ/ in the analysis adopted by Ohala (1999).
The palatal affricates and sibilant are variously classified by linguists as palatal or post-alveolar or palato-alveolar, hence the sound represented by grapheme श can be transcribed as [ʃ] or [ɕ], and the grapheme च can be transcribed as [tʃ], [cɕ], [tɕ] or even plosive [c]. However, in this article, the sounds are transcribed as [ʃ] and [tʃ] respectively. The fricative /h/ in Hindi-Urdu is typically voiced (as [ɦ]), especially when surrounded by vowels, but there is no phonemic difference between this voiceless fricative and its voiced counterpart (Hindi-Urdu's ancestor Sanskrit has such a phonemic distinction).
Hindi-Urdu also has a phonemic difference between the dental plosives and the so-called retroflex plosives. The dental plosives in Hindi-Urdu are pure dentals and the tongue-tip must be well in contact with the front teeth, and have no alveolar articulation like the /t/ and /d/ of English. The retroflex series is not purely retroflex; it actually has an apico-postalveolar (also described as apico-pre-palatal) articulation, and sometimes in words such as /ʈuːʈaː/ (टूटा — ٹُوٹا 'broken') it even becomes alveolar.
Loanwords from Sanskrit reintroduced /ɳ/ (marked orange in the chart) into formal Modern Standard Hindi. In casual speech it is usually replaced by /n/. It does not occur initially and has a nasalized flap [ɽ̃] as a common allophone.
Loanwords from Persian (including some words which Persian itself borrowed from Arabic or Turkish) introduced five consonants, /f, z, q, x, ɣ/. Being Persian in origin, these are seen as a defining feature of Urdu, although these sounds officially exist in Hindi and modified Devanagari characters are available to represent them. Among these, /f, z/, also found in English and Portuguese loanwords, are now considered well-established in Hindi; indeed, /f/ appears to be encroaching upon and replacing /pʰ/ even in native (non-Persian, non-English) Hindi words.
The other three Persian loans, /q, x, ɣ/, (marked green in the chart), are still considered to fall under the domain of Urdu, and are also used by many Hindi speakers; however, some Hindi speakers assimilate these sounds to /k, kʰ, ɡ/ respectively. The sibilant /ʃ/ is found in loanwords from all sources (English, Persian, Sanskrit) and is well-established. The failure to maintain /f, z, ʃ/ by some Hindi speakers (often non-urban speakers who confuse them with /pʰ, dʒ, s/) is considered nonstandard. Yet these same speakers, having a Sanskritic education, may hyperformally uphold /ɳ/ and [ʂ]. In contrast, for native speakers of Urdu, the maintenance of /f, z, ʃ/ is not commensurate with education and sophistication, but is characteristic of all social levels.
The plosives /ɖ, ɖʱ/ are realized as such initially, geminated, and postnasally; as flapped allophones [ɽ, ɽʱ] intervocally, finally, and before or after other consonants. However, the adoption of English loans with alveolar stops, which are identified with Hindi/Urdu retroflex rather than dental stops (cf. "bat" above), has led to the emergence of minimal environments (e.g. intervocalic and final [ɖ]), thus conferring marginal phonemic status to the flaps.
Being the main sources from which Hindi/Urdu draws its higher, learned terms– English, Sanskrit, Arabic, and to a lesser extent Persian provide loanwords with a rich array of consonant clusters. The introduction of these clusters into the language in fact contravenes an historical tendency within its native core vocabulary to eliminate clusters through processes such as cluster reduction and epenthesis. Schmidt (2003:293) lists distinctively Sanskrit/Hindi biconsonantal clusters of initial /kɾ, kʃ, st̪, sʋ, ʃɾ, sn, nj/ and final /t̪ʋ, ʃʋ, nj, lj, ɾʋ, dʒj, ɾj/, and distinctively Perso-Arabic/Urdu biconsonantal clusters of final /ft̪, ɾf, mt̪, mɾ, ms, kl, t̪l, bl, sl, t̪m, lm, ɦm, ɦɾ/.
Hindi-Urdu has a stress accent, but it is not so important as in English. To predict stress placement, the concept of syllable weight is needed:
Stress is on the heaviest syllable of the word, and in the event of a tie, on the last such syllable. However, the final mora of the word is ignored when making this assignment (Hussein 1997) [or, equivalently, the final syllable is stressed either if it is extra-heavy, and there is no other extra-heavy syllable in the word or if it is heavy, and there is no other heavy or extra-heavy syllable in the word]. For example, with the ignored mora in parentheses (Hayes 1995:276ff):
Content words in Hindustani normally begin on a low pitch, followed by a rise in pitch. Strictly speaking, Hindi-Urdu, like most other Indian languages, is rather a syllable-timed language. The schwa /ə/ has a strong tendency to vanish into nothing (syncopated) if its syllable is unaccented.
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