Re: [INDOLOGY] Source of the post-position ने in Hindi

Lubin, Tim LubinT at
Sun Apr 12 18:38:21 UTC 2020

Dear Madhav,

In his 1991 book The Indo-Aryan Languages, beginning on p. 344, Colin Masica writes:

Where distinctive marking of the ergative Agent is retained , it has taken several
1. a direct phonological descendant of the Sanskrit Instrumental (-ena , --ina ,
-unā, -ayā, -yā; -aiḥ], -bhiḥ] , etc.) in the form of the common Oblique case into
which it has merged (different in Masculine and Feminine , and in singular and
plural) is the marker - in Sindhi and "Lahnda" (including Siraiki) , most forms of
Rajasthani (lost except as an alternate with 3rd person pronouns in the form of
Marwari studied by Magier 1983), Bhadarwahi , and several Dardic dialects; in
Kashmiri where the old cases are less completely merged, some declensions
preserve a recognizably Instrumental form (-an, -en) in the singular; in Kalasha
and Khowar, where. they are even better preserved, the ergative construction
does not exist (the old Preterite also having been preserved) , and the case retains
a purely instrumental function, primarily with inanimgte nouns (Morgenstierne
1947, 1965) ;
2. one (most common) direct phonological descendant (-ena > -e~ > -e) is
generalized for all genders and both numbers as an agglutinized marker — in
Gujarati , Assamese (with some East Bengali dialects and Bishnupriya [K. P .
Sinha 1981: 81]), and most West Pahari dialects (Kangri, Jaunsari, Baghati ,
Sirmauri, Kiunthali, Kului , Mandeali , Churahi, but Standard Chameali and
Bhadarwahi show gender variants) ; this suffix partly coincides with the Locative
(the Eastern languages attempt to keep them separate by means of new Locatives
in -t-), but new suffixes (G. -thī, A. -ere) compete for the properly "instrumental"
fun􀲆tion, leaving it almost as a distinctively "Agentive" case;
3. "reinforced" versions of an instrumental marker characterize Hindi, Punj abi,
and Marathi , distinct as Agentives from new Instrumentals in the first two (-ne vs.
H. se, P . -nāḷ) , retaining an instrumental function (and distinct singular/plural
forms) in Marathi (-ne, -nə/-nī) ;
4. "new" instrumental markers have usurped the agentive function in Nepali and
Kumauni (-Ie) , also partly in Shina (-s/se - possibly borrowed from the neighboring
Balti dialect of Tibetan) , with still newer markers coming in (N. -baṭa) to pick
up the ordinary instrumental function.
Many NIA languages have neutralized the Nominative/Agentive distinction in
1st and 2nd person pronouns , often in favor of the Agentive in the former: P.
mai~, Marw. mhe~ 'I (Nom/Ag)’ (vs. G. hu~/me~ 'I (Nom)/I (Ag)') . Hindi
pleonastically reinforces mai~, originally Agentive, as mai~-ne.


From: INDOLOGY <indology-bounces at> on behalf of INDOLOGY <indology at>
Reply-To: Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh at>
Date: Sunday, April 12, 2020 at 1:17 PM
To: INDOLOGY <indology at>
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Source of the post-position ने in Hindi

To me, it is clear that there is no direct link between the Sanskrit instrumental -ena and Modern Marathi forms like देवाने.  Old Marathi has देवें, and at some point -ने in singular and -नी in plural emerge.  It is unlikely that Marathi would be reverting directly to Sanskrit in this late phase.  The old Marathi inscription has चामुंडरायें करवियले, where Modern Marathi would have चामुंडरायाने करविले.  G. V. Tulpule in his यादवकालीन मराठी भाषा provides many forms that have a similar ending, i.e गंगराजें, दंडनाकें, सावंतें etc. and the plural forms like गुरवीं, पंडितीँ, म्हाइंभटीं etc.  The endings that appear in Modern Marathi are not there in the Marathi of the Yadava period.  But ज्ञानेश्वरी has a few forms like तेणे and जेणे and देवाचेनि, indicating that the endings ने/नि do exist at least marginally in Old Marathi.  Some have connected this to the influence of Kannada in the neighborhood.  However, the endings -ने/नी are to be seen in the Marathi of the Peshwa period and then they continue into Modern Marathi.

Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies

[Residence: Campbell, California, USA]

On Sun, Apr 12, 2020 at 9:06 AM Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh at<mailto:mmdesh at>> wrote:
Dear Indologists,

     What is the historical source for the post-position ने in Hindi and ने/नी  in Marathi?  I see some folks connect this directly with the instrumental ending -एन, as in फलेन.  At least in Marathi, I noticed Jules Bloch saying this this -एन simply becomes एं, as in देवें केले in Old Marathi.  But then what is the source of देवाने/देवांनी  in Modern Marathi and ने in राम ने?  Any suggestions?

Madhav M. Deshpande
Professor Emeritus, Sanskrit and Linguistics
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Senior Fellow, Oxford Center for Hindu Studies

[Residence: Campbell, California, USA]

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