January 7, 2013

The Suffix -कार

The suffix –कार in Hindi is an agentive suffix, i.e., it converts a noun to a related noun that describes a person.

Here are some examples:

कला (art) + कार = कलाकार (artist)
उपन्यास (novel) + कार = उपन्यासकार (novelist)
पत्र (letter / document / etc.) + कार = पत्रकार (journalist, etc.)
गीत (song) + कार = गीतकार (songwriter)
संगीत (music) + कार = संगीतकार (composer)

Thus we see that it acts like English agentive suffixes such as -ist, -er, -or, etc.

The suffix –कारी is similar:

प्रदर्शन (demonstration / protest) + कारी = प्रदर्शनकारी (demonstrator / protestor)

The suffix –कारी can make adjectives too:

आज्ञा (command) + कारी = आज्ञाकारी (compliant / obedient)

  • Aletheia O’Brien

    Are any of these ist suffixes close to the ist as in socialist or capitalist?

    • That’s a good question. The suffix -कार is related to करना (“to do”) and कार्य (“action”), etc. So, it literally means “doer”. Thus, we can interpret words like संगीतकार as “doer of music”, etc. The words “socialist” and “capitalist” can be used as adjectives (e.g. “a socialist country”) or as nouns (e.g. “he was a prominent socialist”). Such words do not use the -कार suffix, because a socialist is not a “doer of society”, but someone who “sympathizes with society” (linguistically at least). Likewise, a “capitalist” is someone who “supports finance” (linguistically) and a feminist is someone who “sympathizes with women” (linguistically). For such words, the suffix -वादी is typically used. समाजवादी is “socialist” (समाज = “society”), पूंजीवादी is “capitalist” (पूंजी = “finance”), नारीवादी = “feminist” (नारी = “woman”), स्त्री अधिकारवादी = “feminist” (स्त्री = “woman”, अधिकार = “rights”), in Hindi. The vague idea is that someone endorses or advocates something, etc.