|Native to||India and Pakistan|
|Ethnicity||Urdu-speaking people (Muslims of the Urdu Belt, the Deccani people and the Muhajir people)|
|68.62 million (2021)|
Total: 230 million (2021)
Official language in
|Regulated by||National Language Promotion Department (Pakistan)|
National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (India)
Areas in India and Pakistan where Urdu is either official or co-official
Areas where Urdu is neither official nor co-official
Urdu (; Urdu: , ALA-LC: Urd?) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in South Asia. It is the official national language and lingua franca of Pakistan. In India, Urdu is an Eighth Schedule language whose status, function, and cultural heritage is recognized by the Constitution of India; it has some form of official status in several Indian states.[note 1] In Nepal, Urdu is a registered regional dialect. Urdu has been described as a Persianised standard register of the Hindustani language. Urdu and Hindi share a common Indo-Aryan vocabulary base and very similar phonology and syntax, making them mutually intelligible in colloquial speech.
Urdu became a literary language in the 18th-century and two similar standard forms came into existence in Delhi and Lucknow; since 1947 a third standard has arisen in Karachi. Deccani, an older form used in the south, became a court language of the Deccan Sultanates in the 16th century.
Urdu was chosen as the language of East India Company rule across northern India in 1837 when the Company chose it to replace Persian, the court language of the Indo-Islamic empires. Religious, social, and political factors arose during the colonial period that advocated for a distinction between Urdu and Hindi, leading to the Hindi-Urdu controversy.
According to Nationalencyklopedin's 2010 estimates, Urdu is the 21st most spoken first language in the world, with approximately 66 million who speak it as their native language. According to Ethnologue's 2018 estimates, Urdu, is the 11th most widely spoken language in the world, with 170 million total speakers, including those who speak it as a second language.
Urdu, like Hindi, is a form of Hindustani. Some linguists have suggested that the earliest forms of Urdu evolved from the medieval (6th to 13th century) Apabhraa register of the preceding Shauraseni language, a Middle Indo-Aryan language that is also the ancestor of other modern Indo-Aryan languages.
In the Delhi region of India the native language was Khariboli, whose earliest form is known as Old Hindi. It belongs to the Western Hindi group of the Central Indo-Aryan languages. The contact of the Hindu and Muslim cultures during the period of Islamic administrative rule in India led to the development of Hindustani as a product of a composite Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. In cities such as Delhi, the Indian language Old Hindi began to acquire many Persian loanwords and continued to be called "Hindi" and later, also "Hindustani". In southern India (especially in Golkonda and Bijapur), a form of the language flourished in medieval India and is known as Dakhini, which contains loanwords from Telugu and Marathi. An early literary tradition of Hindavi was founded by Amir Khusrau in the late 13th century. From the 13th century until the end of the 18th century the language now known as Urdu was called Hindi, Hindavi, Hindustani, Dehlavi, Lahori, and Lashkari. By the end of the reign of Aurangzeb in the early 18th century, the common language around Delhi began to be referred to as Zaban-e-Urdu, a name derived from the Turkic word ordu (army) or orda and is said to have arisen as the "language of the camp", or "Zaban-i-Ordu" or natively "Lashkari Zaban". The Turko-Afghan Delhi Sultanate established Persian as its official language in India, a policy continued by the Mughal Empire, which extended over most of northern South Asia from the 16th to 18th centuries and cemented Persian influence on Hindustani. The name Urdu was first introduced by the poet Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi around 1780. As a literary language, Urdu took shape in courtly, elite settings. While Urdu retained the grammar and core Indo-Aryan vocabulary of the local Indian dialect Khariboli, it adopted the Nastaleeq writing system - which was developed as a style of Persian calligraphy.
Urdu, which was often referred to by the British administrators in India as the Hindustani language, was promoted in colonial India by British policies to counter the previous emphasis on Persian. In colonial India, "ordinary Muslims and Hindus alike spoke the same language in the United Provinces in the nineteenth century, namely Hindustani, whether called by that name or whether called Hindi, Urdu, or one of the regional dialects such as Braj or Awadhi." Elites from Muslim and Hindu religious communities wrote the language in the Perso-Arabic script in courts and government offices, though Hindus continued to employ the Devanagari script in certain literary and religious contexts while Muslims used the Perso-Arabic script. Urdu replaced Persian as the official language of India in 1837 and was made co-official, along with English. In colonial Indian Islamic schools, Muslims taught Persian and Arabic as the languages of Indo-Islamic civilisation; the British, in order to promote literacy among Indian Muslims and attract them to attend government schools, started to teach Urdu written in the Perso-Arabic script in these governmental educational institutions and after this time, Urdu began to be seen by Indian Muslims as a symbol of their religious identity. Hindus in northwestern India, under the Arya Samaj agitated against the sole use of the Perso-Arabic script and argued that the language should be written in the native Devanagari script, which triggered a backlash against the use of Hindi written in Devanagari by the Anjuman-e-Islamia of Lahore. Hindi in the Devanagari script and Urdu written in the Perso-Arabic script established a sectarian divide of "Urdu" for Muslims and "Hindi" for Hindus, a divide that was formalised with the partition of colonial India into the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan after independence (though there are Hindu poets who continue to write in Urdu, including Gopi Chand Narang and Gulzar).
Urdu was chosen as an official language of Pakistan in 1947 as it was already the lingua franca for Muslims in north and northwest British India, although Urdu had been used as a literary medium for colonial Indian writers from the Bombay Presidency, Bengal, Orissa Province, and Tamil Nadu[clarification needed] as well. In 1973, Urdu was recognised as the sole national language of Pakistan - although English and regional languages were also granted official recognition. Following the 1979 Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent arrival of millions of Afghan refugees who have lived in Pakistan for many decades, many Afghans, including those who moved back to Afghanistan, have also become fluent in Hindi-Urdu, an occurrence aided by exposure to the Indian media, chiefly Hindi-Urdu Bollywood films and songs.
There have been attempts to purge Urdu of native Prakrit and Sanskrit words, and Hindi of Persian loanwords - new vocabulary draws primarily from Persian and Arabic for Urdu and from Sanskrit for Hindi. English has exerted a heavy influence on both as a co-official language. A movement towards the hyper-Persianisation of an Urdu emerged in Pakistan since its independence in 1947 which is "as artificial as" the hyper-Sanskritised Hindi that has emerged in India; hyper-Persianisation of Urdu was prompted in part by the increasing Sanskritisation of Hindi.[page needed] However, the style of Urdu spoken on a day-to-day basis in Pakistan is akin to neutral Hindustani that serves as the lingua franca of the northern Indian subcontinent.
Throughout the history of the language, Urdu has been referred with several other names: Hindi, Hindavi, Rekhta, Urdu e Muallah, Dakhini, Lahori, Gujjari, Moors, Lahori, and Dehlavi. Several works of Sufi writer like Ashraf Jahangir Semnani had used the same name for Urdu language. Shah Abdul Qadir was the first person who translated Quran into Urdu language and he used Hindi to for the language. Urdu is a Turkic word meaning Horde. During Shahjahan's time when the capital was relocated to Delhi he named it Shahjahanabad and the Bazar of the town was named as Urdu e Muallah. It was in the Akbar era when the word Rekhta was used for the language for the first time. It was originally a Persian word meant to create a mixture. A poem composed of both Indian and Persian vocabulary was called Rekhta. Khusru was the first person to use the same word for Poetry.
There are over 100 million native speakers of Urdu in India and Pakistan together: there were 50.8 million Urdu speakers in India (4.34% of the total population) as per the 2011 census; approximately 16 million in Pakistan in 2006. There are several hundred thousand in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Bangladesh. However, Hindustani, of which Urdu is one variety, is spoken much more widely, forming the third most commonly spoken language in the world, after Mandarin and English. The syntax (grammar), morphology, and the core vocabulary of Urdu and Hindi are essentially identical - thus linguists usually count them as one single language, while some contend that they are considered as two different languages for socio-political reasons.
Owing to interaction with other languages, Urdu has become localised wherever it is spoken, including in Pakistan. Urdu in Pakistan has undergone changes and has incorporated and borrowed many words from regional languages, thus allowing speakers of the language in Pakistan to distinguish themselves more easily and giving the language a decidedly Pakistani flavour. Similarly, the Urdu spoken in India can also be distinguished into many dialects such as the Standard Urdu of Lucknow and Delhi, as well as the Dakhni (Deccan) of South India. Because of Urdu's similarity to Hindi, speakers of the two languages can easily understand one another if both sides refrain from using literary vocabulary.
Although Urdu is widely spoken and understood throughout Pakistan, only 7% of Pakistan's population spoke Urdu as their native language around 1992. Most of the nearly three million Afghan refugees of different ethnic origins (such as Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazarvi, and Turkmen) who stayed in Pakistan for over twenty-five years have also become fluent in Urdu. Muhajirs since 1947 have historically formed the majority population in the city of Karachi, however. Many newspapers are published in Urdu in Pakistan, including the Daily Jang, Nawa-i-Waqt, and Millat.
No region in Pakistan uses Urdu as its mother tongue, though it is spoken as the first language of Muslim migrants (known as Muhajirs) in Pakistan who left India after independence in 1947. Urdu was chosen as a symbol of unity for the new state of Pakistan in 1947, because it had already served as a lingua franca among Muslims in north and northwest British India. It is written, spoken and used in all provinces/territories of Pakistan, although the people from differing provinces may have different native languages.
Urdu is taught as a compulsory subject up to higher secondary school in both English and Urdu medium school systems, which has produced millions of second-language Urdu speakers among people whose native language is one of the other languages of Pakistan - which in turn has led to the absorption of vocabulary from various regional Pakistani languages, while some Urdu vocabulary has also been assimilated by Pakistan's regional languages. Some who are from a non-Urdu background now can read and write only Urdu. With such a large number of people(s) speaking Urdu, the language has acquired a peculiar Pakistani flavour further distinguishing it from the Urdu spoken by native speakers, resulting in more diversity within the language.[clarification needed]
In India, Urdu is spoken in places where there are large Muslim minorities or cities that were bases for Muslim empires in the past. These include parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra (Marathwada and Konkanis), Karnataka and cities such as Lucknow, Delhi, Malerkotla, Bareilly, Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee, Deoband, Moradabad, Azamgarh, Bijnor, Najibabad, Rampur, Aligarh, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Agra, Kanpur, Badaun, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Aurangabad,[clarification needed] Bangalore, Kolkata, Mysore, Patna, Gulbarga, Parbhani, Nanded, Malegaon, Bidar, Ajmer, and Ahmedabad. Some Indian schools teach Urdu as a first language and have their own syllabi and exams. India's Bollywood industry frequently employs the use of Urdu - especially in songs.[page needed]
India has more than 3,000 Urdu publications, including 405 daily Urdu newspapers. Newspapers such as Neshat News Urdu, Sahara Urdu, Daily Salar, Hindustan Express, Daily Pasban, Siasat Daily, The Munsif Daily and Inqilab are published and distributed in Bangalore, Malegaon, Mysore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.
Outside South Asia, it is spoken by large numbers of migrant South Asian workers in the major urban centres of the Persian Gulf countries. Urdu is also spoken by large numbers of immigrants and their children in the major urban centres of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Germany, Norway, and Australia. Along with Arabic, Urdu is among the immigrant languages with the most speakers in Catalonia.
Religious and social atmospheres in early nineteenth century British India played a significant role in the development of the Urdu register. Hindi became the distinct register spoken by those who sought to construct a Hindu identity in the face of colonial rule. As Hindi separated from Hindustani to create a distinct spiritual identity, Urdu was employed to create a definitive Islamic identity for the Muslim population in British India. Urdu's use was not confined only to northern India - it had been used as a literary medium for British Indian writers from the Bombay Presidency, Bengal, Orissa Province, and Tamil Nadu as well.
As Urdu and Hindi became means of religious and social construction for Muslims and Hindus respectively, each register developed its own script. According to Islamic tradition, Arabic, the language spoken by the prophet Muhammad and uttered in the revelation of the Qur'an, holds spiritual significance and power. Because Urdu was intentioned as means of unification for Muslims in Northern India and later Pakistan, it adopted a modified Perso-Arabic script.
Urdu continued its role in developing a Muslim identity as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was established with the intent to construct a homeland for Muslims of South Asia. Several languages and dialects spoken throughout the regions of Pakistan produced an imminent need for a uniting language. Urdu was chosen as a symbol of unity for the new state of Pakistan in 1947, because it had already served as a lingua franca among Muslims in north and northwest British India. Urdu is also seen as a repertory for the cultural and social heritage of Pakistan.
While Urdu and Islam together played important roles in developing the national identity of Pakistan, disputes in the 1950s (particularly those in East Pakistan, where Bengali was the dominant language), challenged the idea of Urdu as a national symbol and its practicality as the lingua franca. The significance of Urdu as a national symbol was downplayed by these disputes when English and Bengali were also accepted as official languages in the former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).
Urdu is the sole national, and one of the two official languages of Pakistan (along with English). It is spoken and understood throughout the country, whereas the state-by-state languages (languages spoken throughout various regions) are the provincial languages, although only 7.57% of Pakistanis speak Urdu as their first language. Its official status has meant that Urdu is understood and spoken widely throughout Pakistan as a second or third language. It is used in education, literature, office and court business, although in practice, English is used instead of Urdu in the higher echelons of government. Article 251(1) of the Pakistani Constitution mandates that Urdu be implemented as the sole language of government, though English continues to be the most widely used language at the higher echelons of Pakistani government.
Urdu is also one of the officially recognised languages in India and one of the five official languages of Jammu and Kashmir, one of the two official languages of Telangana and also has the status of "additional official language" in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the national capital, New Delhi. In the former Jammu and Kashmir state, section 145 of the Kashmir Constitution stated: "The official language of the State shall be Urdu but the English language shall unless the Legislature by law otherwise provides, continue to be used for all the official purposes of the State for which it was being used immediately before the commencement of the Constitution."
India established the governmental Bureau for the Promotion of Urdu in 1969, although the Central Hindi Directorate was established earlier in 1960, and the promotion of Hindi is better funded and more advanced, while the status of Urdu has been undermined by the promotion of Hindi. Private Indian organisations such as the Anjuman-e-Tariqqi Urdu, Deeni Talimi Council and Urdu Mushafiz Dasta promote the use and preservation of Urdu, with the Anjuman successfully launching a campaign that reintroduced Urdu as an official language of Bihar in the 1970s.
Urdu has a few recognised dialects, including Dakhni, Dhakaiya, Rekhta, and Modern Vernacular Urdu (based on the Khariboli dialect of the Delhi region). Dakhni (also known as Dakani, Deccani, Desia, Mirgan) is spoken in Deccan region of southern India. It is distinct by its mixture of vocabulary from Marathi and Konkani, as well as some vocabulary from Arabic, Persian and Chagatai that are not found in the standard dialect of Urdu. Dakhini is widely spoken in all parts of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Urdu is read and written as in other parts of India. A number of daily newspapers and several monthly magazines in Urdu are published in these states.
Dhakaiya Urdu is a dialect native to the city of Old Dhaka in Bangladesh, dating back to the Mughal era. However, its popularity, even amongst native speakers, has been gradually declining since the Bengali Language Movement in the 20th century. It is not officially recognised by the Government of Bangladesh. The Urdu spoken by Stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh is different from this dialect.
Many bilingual or multi-lingual Urdu speakers, being familiar with both Urdu and English, display code-switching (referred to as "Urdish") in certain localities and between certain social groups. On 14 August 2015, the Government of Pakistan launched the Ilm Pakistan movement, with a uniform curriculum in Urdish. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister of Pakistan, said "Now the government is working on a new curriculum to provide a new medium to the students which will be the combination of both Urdu and English and will name it Urdish."
Standard Urdu is often compared with Standard Hindi. Both Urdu and Hindi, which are considered standard registers of the same language, Hindustani (or Hindi-Urdu) share a core vocabulary and grammar.
Apart from religious associations, the differences are largely restricted to the standard forms: Standard Urdu is conventionally written in the Nastaliq style of the Persian alphabet and relies heavily on Persian and Arabic as a source for technical and literary vocabulary, whereas Standard Hindi is conventionally written in Devan?gar? and draws on Sanskrit. However, both share a core vocabulary of native Prakrit and Sanskrit words and large numbers of Arabic and Persian loanwords, with a consensus of linguists considering them to be two standardised forms of the same language and consider the differences to be sociolinguistic; a few classify them separately. The two languages are often considered to be a single language (Hindustani or Hindi-Urdu) on a dialect continuum ranging from Persianised to Sanskritised vocabulary. Old Urdu dictionaries also contain most of the Sanskrit words now present in Hindi.
Mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialised contexts that rely on academic or technical vocabulary. In a longer conversation, differences in formal vocabulary and pronunciation of some Urdu phonemes are noticeable, though many native Hindi speakers also pronounce these phonemes. At a phonological level, speakers of both languages are frequently aware of the Perso-Arabic or Sanskrit origins of their word choice, which affects the pronunciation of those words. Urdu speakers will often insert vowels to break up consonant clusters found in words of Sanskritic origin, but will pronounce them correctly in Arabic and Persian loanwords. As a result of religious nationalism since the partition of British India and continued communal tensions, native speakers of both Hindi and Urdu frequently assert them to be distinct languages.
The grammar of Hindi and Urdu is identical, though formal Urdu makes more use of the Persian "-e-" izafat grammatical construct (as in Hammam-e-Qadimi, or Nishan-e-Haider) than does Hindi. Urdu more frequently use personal pronouns with the "ko" form (as in "mujh-ko"), while Hindi more frequently use the contracted form (as in "mujhe").
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The following table shows the number of Urdu speakers in some countries.
|Country||Population||Urdu as a native language speakers||Native speakers or very good speakers as a second language|
|Nasal||m ?||n ?||?|
|voiceless||p ?||t ?||? ?||t? ?||k ?||(q) ?|
|voiced||b ?||d ?||? ?||d? ?||? ?|
|Flap/Trill||Plain||r ?||? ?|
|Fricative||voiceless||f ?||s ?||? ?||x ?||? ?|
|voiced||? ?||z ?||(?) ?||(?) ?|
|Approximant||l ?||j ?|
Syed Ahmed Dehlavi, a 19th-century lexicographer who compiled the Farhang-e-Asifiya Urdu dictionary, estimated that 75% of Urdu words have their etymological roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit, and approximately 99% of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit. Urdu has borrowed words from Persian and to a lesser extent, Arabic through Persian, to the extent of about 25% to 30% of Urdu's vocabulary. A table illustrated by the linguist Afroz Taj of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill likewise illustrates the amount of Persian loanwords to native Sanskrit-derived words in literary Urdu as comprising a 1:3 ratio.
The "trend towards Persianisation" started in the 18th century by the Delhi school of Urdu poets, though other writers, such as Meeraji, wrote in a Sanskritised form of the language. There has been a move towards hyper Persianisation in Pakistan since 1947, which has been adopted by much of the country's writers; as such, some Urdu texts can be composed of 70% Perso-Arabic loanwords just as some Persian texts can have 70% Arabic vocabulary. Some Pakistani Urdu speakers have incorporated Hindi vocabulary into their speech as a result of exposure to Indian entertainment. In India, Urdu has not diverged from Hindi as much as it has in Pakistan.
Most borrowed words in Urdu are nouns and adjectives. Many of the words of Arabic origin have been adopted through Persian, and have different pronunciations and nuances of meaning and usage than they do in Arabic. There are also a smaller number of borrowings from Portuguese. Some examples for Portuguese words borrowed into Urdu are cabi ("chave": key), girja ("igreja": church), kamra ("cámara": room), qam?z ("camisa": shirt).
Although the word Urdu is derived from the Turkic word ordu (army) or orda, from which English horde is also derived, Turkic borrowings in Urdu are minimal and Urdu is also not genetically related to the Turkic languages. Urdu words originating from Chagatai and Arabic were borrowed through Persian and hence are Persianised versions of the original words. For instance, the Arabic ta' marbuta ( ? ) changes to he ( ? ) or te ( ? ).[note 2] Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief, Urdu did not borrow from the Turkish language, but from Chagatai, a Turkic language from Central Asia. Urdu and Turkish both borrowed from Arabic and Persian, hence the similarity in pronunciation of many Urdu and Turkish words.
Urdu in its less formalised register has been referred to as a rek?h?tah (, [re:xta:]), meaning "rough mixture". The more formal register of Urdu is sometimes referred to as zab?n-i Urd?-yi mu?allá ( [z?ba:n erdu e: mo?lla:]), the "Language of the Exalted Camp", referring to the Imperial army or in approximate local translation Lashkari Zab?n ( ? [lk?:i: z?:b?:n]) or simply just Lashkari. The etymology of the word used in Urdu, for the most part, decides how polite or refined one's speech is. For example, Urdu speakers would distinguish between ? p?n? and ?b, both meaning "water": the former is used colloquially and has older Sanskrit origins, whereas the latter is used formally and poetically, being of Persian origin.
If a word is of Persian or Arabic origin, the level of speech is considered to be more formal and grander. Similarly, if Persian or Arabic grammar constructs, such as the izafat, are used in Urdu, the level of speech is also considered more formal and grander. If a word is inherited from Sanskrit, the level of speech is considered more colloquial and personal.
Urdu is written right-to left in an extension of the Persian alphabet, which is itself an extension of the Arabic alphabet. Urdu is associated with the Nasta?l?q style of Persian calligraphy, whereas Arabic is generally written in the Naskh or Ruq'ah styles. Nasta'liq is notoriously difficult to typeset, so Urdu newspapers were hand-written by masters of calligraphy, known as k?tib or khush-naw?s, until the late 1980s. One handwritten Urdu newspaper, The Musalman, is still published daily in Chennai.
A highly Persianised and technical form of Urdu was the lingua franca of the law courts of the British administration in Bengal and the North-West Provinces & Oudh. Until the late 19th century, all proceedings and court transactions in this register of Urdu were written officially in the Persian script. In 1880, Sir Ashley Eden, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal in colonial India abolished the use of the Persian alphabet in the law courts of Bengal and ordered the exclusive use of Kaithi, a popular script used for both Urdu and Hindi; in the Bihar Province, the court language was Urdu written in the Kaithi script. Kaithi's association with Urdu and Hindi was ultimately eliminated by the political contest between these languages and their scripts, in which the Persian script was definitively linked to Urdu.
More recently in India, Urdu speakers have adopted Devanagari for publishing Urdu periodicals and have innovated new strategies to mark Urdu in Devanagari as distinct from Hindi in Devanagari. Such publishers have introduced new orthographic features into Devanagari for the purpose of representing the Perso-Arabic etymology of Urdu words. One example is the use of ? (Devanagari a) with vowel signs to mimic contexts of ? ('ain), in violation of Hindi orthographic rules. For Urdu publishers, the use of Devanagari gives them a greater audience, whereas the orthographic changes help them preserve a distinct identity of Urdu.
Dhakaiya Urdu is a colloquial non-standard dialect of Urdu which was typically not written. However, organisations seeking to preserve the dialect have begun transcribing the dialect in the Bengali script.[note 3]
member of the Indo-Aryan group within the Indo-European family of languages. Urdu is spoken as a first language by nearly 70 million people and as a second language by more than 100 million people, predominantly in Pakistan and India. It is the official state language of Pakistan and is also officially recognized, or "scheduled," in the constitution of India.
An Indo-Aryan language of northern South Asia (now esp. Pakistan), closely related to Hindi but written in a modified form of the Arabic script and having many loanwords from Persian and Arabic.
Modern Standard Urdu, a register of the Hindustani language, is the national language, lingua-franca and is one of the two official languages along with English in Pakistan and is spoken in all over the world. It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages and officially recognized languages in the Constitution of India and has been conferred status of the official language in many Indian states of Bihar, Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and New Delhi. Urdu is one of the members of the new or modern Indo-Aryan language group within the Indo-European family of languages.
Bayly's description of Hindustani (roughly Hindi/Urdu) is helpful here; he uses the term Urdu to represent "the more refined and Persianised form of the common north Indian language Hindustani" (Empire and Information, 193); Bayly more or less follows the late eighteenth-century scholar Sirajuddin Ali Arzu, who proposed a typology of language that ran from "pure Sanskrit, through popular and regional variations of Hindustani to Urdu, which incorporated many loan words from Persian and Arabic. His emphasis on the unity of languages reflected the view of the Sanskrit grammarians and also affirmed the linguistic unity of the north Indian ecumene. What emerged was a kind of register of language types which were appropriate to different conditions. ...But the abiding impression is of linguistic plurality running through the whole society and an easier adaptation to circumstances in both spoken and written speech" (193). The more Persianized the language, the more likely it was to be written in Arabic script; the more Sanskritized the language; the more likely it was to be written in Devanagari.
Urdu, like Hindi, was a standardized register of the Hindustani language deriving from the Dehlavi dialect and emerged in the eighteenth century under the rule of the late Mughals.
The national language of India and Pakistan 'Standard Urdu' is mutually intelligible with 'Standard Hindi' because both languages share the same Indic base and are all but indistinguishable in phonology.
With the consolidation of the different linguistic bases of Khari Boli there were three distinct varieties of Hindi-Urdu: the High Hindi with predominant Sanskrit vocabulary, the High-Urdu with predominant Perso-Arabic vocabulary and casual or colloquial Hindustani which was commonly spoken among both the Hindus and Muslims in the provinces of north India. The last phase of the emergence of Hindi and Urdu as pluricentric national varieties extends from the late 1920s till the partition of India in 1947.
Historically, Urdu developed from the sub-regional language of the Delhi area, which became a literary language in the eighteenth century. Two quite similar standard forms of the language developed in Delhi, and in Lucknow in modern Uttar Pradesh. Since 1947, a third form, Karachi standard Urdu, has evolved.
Modern Urdu is a fairly homogenous language. An older southern form, Deccani Urdu, is now obsolete. Two varieties however, must be mentioned viz. the Urdu of Delhi, and the Urdu of Lucknow. Both are almost identical, differing only in some minor points. Both of these varieties are considered 'Standard Urdu' with some minor divergences.
The basis of that shift was the decision made by the government in 1837 to replace Persian as court language by the various vernaculars of the country. Urdu was identified as the regional vernacular in Bihar, Oudh, the North-Western Provinces, and Punjab, and hence was made the language of government across upper India.
Historically, Hindustani developed in the post-12th century period under the impact of the incoming Afghans and Turks as a linguistic modus vivendi from the sub-regional apabhramshas of north-western India. Its first major folk poet was the great Persian master, Amir Khusrau (1253-1325), who is known to have composed dohas (couplets) and riddles in the newly-formed speech, then called 'Hindavi'. Through the medieval time, this mixed speech was variously called by various speech sub-groups as 'Hindavi', 'Zaban-e-Hind', 'Hindi', 'Zaban-e-Dehli', 'Rekhta', 'Gujarii. 'Dakkhani', 'Zaban-e-Urdu-e-Mualla', 'Zaban-e-Urdu', or just 'Urdu'. By the late 11th century, the name 'Hindustani' was in vogue and had become the lingua franca for most of northern India. A sub-dialect called Khari Boli was spoken in and around Delhi region at the start of 13th century when the Delhi Sultanate was established. Khari Boli gradually became the prestige dialect of Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) and became the basis of modern Standard Hindi & Urdu.
...Hindustani, Rekhta, and Urdu as later names of the old Hindi (a.k.a. Hindavi).
Hindi and Urdu developed from the "khari boli" dialect spoken in the Delhi region of northern India.
Historically speaking, Urdu grew out of interaction between Hindus and Muslims. He noted that Urdu is not the language of Muslims alone, although Muslims may have played a larger role in making it a literary language. Hindu poets and writers could and did bring specifically Hindu cultural elements into Urdu and these were accepted.
Educated Muslims, for the most part supporters of Urdu, rejected the Hindu linguistic heritage and emphasized the joint Hindu-Muslim origins of Urdu.
Urdu emerged as the language of contact between Hindu inhabitants and Muslim invaders to India in the 11th century.
Persian became the court language, and many Persian words crept into popular usage. The composite culture of northern India, known as the Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb was a product of the interaction between Hindu society and Islam.
... more words of Sanskrit origin but 75% of the vocabulary is common. It is also admitted that while this language is known as Hindustani, ... Muslims call it Urdu and the Hindus call it Hindi. ... Urdu is a national language evolved through years of Hindu and Muslim cultural contact and, as stated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, is essentially an Indian language and has no place outside.
The "Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb" is one such instance of the composite culture that marks various regions of the country. Prevalent in the North, particularly in the central plains, it is born of the union between the Hindu and Muslim cultures. Most of the temples were lined along the Ganges and the Khanqah (Sufi school of thought) were situated along the Yamuna river (also called Jamuna). Thus, it came to be known as the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, with the word "tehzeeb" meaning culture. More than communal harmony, its most beautiful by-product was "Hindustani" which later gave us the Hindi and Urdu languages.
The beginning of the language, now known as Urdu, should therefore, be placed in this period of the earlier Hindu Muslim contact in the Sindh and Punjab areas that took place in early quarter of the 8th century A.D.
The primary sources of non-IA loans into MSH are Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, Turkic and English. Conversational registers of Hindi/Urdu (not to mentioned formal registers of Urdu) employ large numbers of Persian and Arabic loanwords, although in Sanskritised registers many of these words are replaced by tatsama forms from Sanskrit. The Persian and Arabic lexical elements in Hindi result from the effects of centuries of Islamic administrative rule over much of north India in the centuries before the establishment of British rule in India. Although it is conventional to differentiate among Persian and Arabic loan elements into Hindi/Urdu, in practice it is often difficult to separate these strands from one another. The Arabic (and also Turkic) lexemes borrowed into Hindi frequently were mediated through Persian, as a result of which a thorough intertwining of Persian and Arabic elements took place, as manifest by such phenomena as hybrid compounds and compound words. Moreover, although the dominant trajectory of lexical borrowing was from Arabic into Persian, and thence into Hindi/Urdu, examples can be found of words that in origin are actually Persian loanwords into both Arabic and Hindi/Urdu.
It might be useful to recall here that Old Hindi or Hindavi, which was a naturally Persian- mixed language in the largest measure, has played this role before, as we have seen, for five or six centuries.
Although it has borrowed a large number of lexical items from Persian and some from Turkish, it is a derivative of Hindvi (also called 'early Urdu'), the parent of both modern Hindi and Urdu. It originated as a new, common language of Delhi, which has been called Hindavi or Dahlavi by Amir Khusrau. After the advent of the Mughals on the stage of Indian history, the Hindavi language enjoyed greater space and acceptance. Persian words and phrases came into vogue. The Hindavi of that period was known as Rekhta, or Hindustani, and only later as Urdu. Perfect amity and tolerance between Hindus and Muslims tended to foster Rekhta or Urdu, which represented the principle of unity in diversity, thus marking a feature of Indian life at its best. The ordinary spoken version ('bazaar Urdu') was almost identical to the popularly spoken version of Hindi. Most prominent scholars in India hold the view that Urdu is neither a Muslim nor a Hindu language; it is an outcome of a multicultural and multi-religious encounter.
Quite different group of nouns occurring with the ending -a in the dir. plural consists of words of Arabic or Persian origin borrowed by the Old Hindi with their Persian plural endings.
After the conquest of the Deccan, Urdu received the liberal patronage of the courts of Golconda and Bijapur. Consequently, Urdu borrowed words from the local language of Telugu and Marathi as well as from Sanskrit.
Under the liberal patronage of the courts of Golconda and Bijapur, Urdu borrowed words from the local languages like Telugu and Marathi as well as from Sanskrit, but its themes were moulded on Persian models.
The Mohammedans of the Deccan thus called their Hindustani tongue Dakhani (Dakhini), Gujari or Bhaka (Bhakha) which was a symbol of their belonging to Muslim conquering and ruling group in the Deccan and South India where overwhelming number of Hindus spoke Marathi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil.
Urdu did not get its present name till late 18th Century and before that had had a number of different names - including Hindi, Hindvi, Hindustani, Dehlvi, Gujri, Dakkani, Lahori and even Moors - though it was born much earlier.
Whilst the Muhammadan rulers of India spoke Persian, which enjoyed the prestige of being their court language, the common language of the country continued to be Hindi, derived through Prakrit from Sanskrit. On this dialect of the common people was grafted the Persian language, which brought a new language, Urdu, into existence. Sir George Grierson, in the Linguistic Survey of India, assigns no distinct place to Urdu, but treats it as an offshoot of Western Hindi.
Hindi and Urdu are generally considered to be one spoken language with two different literary traditions. That means that Hindi and Urdu speakers who shop in the same markets (and watch the same Bollywood films) have no problems understanding each other -- they'd both say yeh kitne kaa hay for 'How much is it?' -- but the written form for Hindi will be and the Urdu one will be ? Hindi is written from left to right in the Devanagari script, and is the official language of India, along with English. Urdu, on the other hand, is written from right to left in the Nastaliq script (a modified form of the Arabic script) and is the national language of Pakistan. It's also one of the official languages of the Indian states of Bihar and Jammu & Kashmir. Considered as one, these tongues constitute the second most spoken language in the world, sometimes called Hindustani. In their daily lives, Hindi and Urdu speakers communicate in their 'different' languages without major problems. ... Both Hindi and Urdu developed from Classical Sanskrit, which appeared in the Indus Valley (modern Pakistan and northwest India) at about the start of the Common Era. The first old Hindi (or Apabhransha) poetry was written in the year 769 AD, and by the European Middle Ages it became known as 'Hindvi'. Muslim Turks invaded the Punjab in 1027 and took control of Delhi in 1193. They paved the way for the Islamic Mughal Empire, which ruled northern India from the 16th century until it was defeated by the British Raj in the mid-19th century. It was at this time that the language of this book began to take form, a mixture of Hindvi grammar with Arabic, Persian and Turkish vocabulary. The Muslim speakers of Hindvi began to write in the Arabic script, creating Urdu, while the Hindu population incorporated the new words but continued to write in Devanagari script.
In the nineteenth century in north India, before the extension of the British system of government schools, Urdu was not used in its written form as a medium of instruction in traditional Islamic schools, where Muslim children were taught Persian and Arabic, the traditional languages of Islam and Muslim culture. It was only when the Muslim elites of north India and the British decided that Muslims were backward in education in relation to Hindus and should be encouraged to attend government schools that it was felt necessary to offer Urdu in the Persian-Arabic script as an inducement to Muslims to attend the schools. And it was only after the Hindi-Urdu controversy developed that Urdu, once disdained by Muslim elites in north India and not even taught in the Muslim religious schools in the early nineteenth century, became a symbol of Muslim identity second to Islam itself. A second point revealed by the Hindi-Urdu controversy in north India is how symbols may be used to separate peoples who, in fact, share aspects of culture. It is well known that ordinary Muslims and Hindus alike spoke the same language in the United Provinces in the nineteenth century, namely Hindustani, whether called by that name or whether called Hindi, Urdu, or one of the regional dialects such as Braj or Awadhi. Although a variety of styles of Hindi-Urdu were in use in the nineteenth century among different social classes and status groups, the legal and administrative elites in courts and government offices, Hindus and Muslims alike, used Urdu in the Persian-Arabic script.
British language policy both resulted from and contributed to the larger political processes which eventually led to the partition of British India into India and Pakistan, an outcome almost exactly paralleled by the linguistic partition of the Hindi-Urdu continuum into highly Sanskritized Hindi and highly Persianized Urdu.
There have been and are many great Hindu poets who wrote in Urdu. And they learned Hinduism by readings its religious texts in Urdu. Gulzar Dehlvi--who nonliterary name is Anand Mohan Zutshi (b. 1926)--is one among many examples.
In the 1980s and '90s, at least three million Afghans--mostly Pashtun--fled to Pakistan, where a substantial number spent several years being exposed to Hindi- and Urdu-language media, especially Bollywood films and songs, and being educated in Urdu-language schools, both of which contributed to the decline of Dari, even among urban Pashtuns.
Most Afghans in Kabul understand and/or speak Hindi, thanks to the popularity of Indian cinema in the country.
Desexualizing campaigns dovetailed with the attempt to purge Urdu of Sanskrit and Prakrit words at the same time as Hindi literateurs tried to purge Hindi of Persian and Arabic words. The late-nineteenth century politics of Urdu and Hindi, later exacerbated by those of India and Pakistan, had the unfortunate result of certain poets being excised from the canon.
The style of Urdu, even in Pakistan, is changing from "high" Urdu to colloquial Urdu (more like Hindustani, which would have pleased M.K. Gandhi).
The everyday speech of well over 50,000,000 persons of all communities in the north of India and in West Pakistan is the expression of a common language, Hindustani.
Two forms of the same language, Nagarai Hindi and Persianized Hindi (Urdu) had identical grammar, shared common words and roots, and employed different scripts.
Urdu is closely related to Hindi, a language that originated and developed in the Indian subcontinent. They share the same Indic base and are so similar in phonology and grammar that they appear to be one language.
Hence Urdu and High-Hindi are really the same language ; they have an identical grammar and differ merely in the vocabulary, the former using as many foreign words, the latter as few as possible.
On this there are far more reliable statistics than those on population. Farhang-e-Asafiya is by general agreement the most reliable Urdu dictionary. It was compiled in the late nineteenth century by an Indian scholar little exposed to British or Orientalist scholarship. The lexicographer in question, Syed Ahmed Dehlavi, had no desire to sunder Urdu's relationship with Farsi, as is evident even from the title of his dictionary. He estimates that roughly 75 per cent of the total stock of 55,000 Urdu words that he compiled in his dictionary are derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit, and that the entire stock of the base words of the language, without exception, are derived from these sources. What distinguishes Urdu from a great many other Indian languauges ... is that it draws almost a quarter of its vocabulary from language communities to the west of India, such as Farsi, Turkish, and Tajik. Most of the little it takes from Arabic has not come directly but through Farsi.
On the issue of vocabulary, Ahmad goes on to cite Syed Ahmad Dehlavi as he set about to compile the Farhang-e-Asafiya, an Urdu dictionary, in the late nineteenth century. Syed Ahmad 'had no desire to sunder Urdu's relationship with Farsi, as is evident from the title of his dictionary. He estimates that roughly 75 percent of the total stock of 55.000 Urdu words that he compiled in his dictionary are derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit, and that the entire stock of the base words of the language, without exception, are from these sources' (2000: 112-13). As Ahmad points out, Syed Ahmad, as a member of Delhi's aristocratic elite, had a clear bias towards Persian and Arabic. His estimate of the percentage of Prakitic words in Urdu should therefore be considered more conservative than not. The actual proportion of Prakitic words in everyday language would clearly be much higher.
Urdu nouns and adjective can have a variety of origins, such as Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Pushtu and even Portuguese, but ninety-nine per cent of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit/Prakrit. So it is an Indo-Aryan language which is a branch of Indo-Iranian family, which in turn is a branch of Indo-European family of languages. According to Dr Gian Chand Jain, Indo-Aryan languages had three phases of evolution beginning around 1,500 BC and passing through the stages of Vedic Sanskrit, classical Sanskrit and Pali. They developed into Prakrit and Apbhransh, which served as the basis for the formation of later local dialects.
All verbs in Urdu are of Sanskrit origin. According to lexicographers, only about 25 percent words in Urdu diction have Persian or Arabic origin.
... of the Qufdn; many Arabic loanwords in the indigenous languages, as in Urdu and Indonesian, were introduced mainly through the medium of Persian.
It is estimated that almost 25% of the Urdu vocabulary consists of words which are of Persian and Arabic origin.
The Urdu vocabulary is about 30% Persian.
Professor Gopi Chand Narang points out that the trends towards Persianization in Urdu is not a new phenomenon. It started with the Delhi school of poets in the eighteenth century in the name of standardization (meyar-bandi). It further tilted towards Arabo-Persian influences, writes Narang, with the rise of Iqbal. 'The diction of Faiz Ahmad Faiz who came into prominence after the death of Iqbal is also marked by Persianization; so it is the diction of N.M. Rashid, who popularised free verse in Urdu poetry. Rashid's language is clearly marked by fresh Iranian influences as compared to another trend-setter, Meeraji. Meeraji is on the other extreme because he used Hindized Urdu.'
That Bollywood and Hindi television daily soaps are a hit in Pakistan is no news. So, it's hardly surprising that the Urdu-speaking population picks up and uses Hindi, even the tapori lingo, in its everyday interaction. "The trend became popular a few years ago after Hindi films were officially allowed to be released in Pakistan," said Rafia Taj, head of the mass communication department, University of Karachi. "I don't think it's a threat to our language, as it is bound to happen in the globalisation era. It is anytime better than the attack of western slangs on our language," she added.
The very word Urdu came into being as the original Lashkari dialect, in other words, the language of the army.
Kaithi was used for writing Urdu in the law courts of Bihar when it replaced Perso-Arabic as the official script during the 1880s. The majority of extant legal documents from Bihar from the British period are in Urdu written in Kaithi. There is a substantial number of such manuscripts, specimens of which are given in Figure 21, Figure 22, and Figure 23.
The court language however was Urdu in 'Kaithi' script in spite of the use of English as the official language.
The language of learning and administration in Bihar before the East India Company was Persian, and later it was replaced by English. The court language, however, continued to be Urdu written in Kaithi script.
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