Urdu

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Urdu
اُردُو
Urdu example.svg
Pronunciation[ˈʊrd̪u] (About this soundlisten)
RegionSouth Asia (native to the Hindi-Urdu Belt)
EthnicityNone
Native speakers
50.7 million in India[1]
16 million in Pakistan[2] (2007 & 2017)
Official status
Official language in
 Pakistan (national and official)
 India (official as per the 8th Schedule of the Constitution and in the following states/union territories)

Official:

Secondary Official:

   Nepal (Registered Regional Language)
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-1ur
ISO 639-2urd
ISO 639-3urd
Glottologurdu1245[9]
Linguasphere59-AAF-q
Urdu official-language areas.png
     Areas where Urdu is either official or co-official      Areas where Urdu is neither official nor co-official
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Urdu, or Lashkari[10], is the name of one of the major languages spoken in South Asia. It is the national language of Pakistan. It is spoken in Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir and is the official language of the country. It is also an official language in India. It is spoken all over India, particularly in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

History[change | change source]

The origin of the name Urdu is the Chagatai language's word for army, Ordu. Urdu is spoken the same as present-day Hindi, but Hindi uses the traditional Devanagari script (from Sanskrit), whereas Urdu uses the Persio-Arabic alphabet. The poet Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi coined the term Urdu for this language in 1780. However, this began to alienate the two major cultures in India/Pakistan, the Muslims and Hindus. Hindus began to speak and write Hindi, whereas Muslims would begin to speak Urdu. This also lead to a need to "cleanse" Urdu of all its Sanskrit words and lead Hindi speakers to want to be rid of Persian words that remained in their language.

Relations to Persian[change | change source]

Differences[change | change source]

The letters in Urdu are derived from the language Persian/Farsi, which is derived from the Arabic language. The additional letters that are found in Urdu include ٹ ,ڈ ,ڑ (ṫ, ḋ, ṙ). To make the language more enriched two letters were created for sounds ه (h) and ی (y). By adding these alphabets to the existing Persian alphabets the Urdu language became more suitable for the people of North India and Pakistan.

Similarities[change | change source]

Urdu is written right to left like Farsi script. Urdu is also written in the Nasta’ liq style of Persian Calligraphy. Nastaliq style is a cursive script invented by Mīr ʿAlī of Tabrīz, a very famous calligrapher during the Timurid period (1402–1502).

Levels of formality[change | change source]

Lashkari Zabān ("Hordish language") title in Nastaliq script

Informal[change | change source]

Urdu in its less formalized register has been called a rekhta (ریختہ, ), meaning "rough mixture". The more formal register of Urdu is sometimes called zabān-e-Urdu-e-mo'alla (زبان اردو معلہ [zəbaːn eː ʊrd̪uː eː moəllaː]), the "Language of Camp and Court."

In local translation, it is called Lashkari Zabān (لشکری زبان‎ [lʌʃkɜ:i: zɑ:bɑ:n])[11] meaning "military language" or "military tongue" or "Hordish language". This can be shortened to Lashkari.

The etymology of the word used in the Urdu language for the most part decides how nice or well done your speech is. For example, Urdu speakers would distniguish between پانی pānī and آب āb, both meaning "water" for example, or between آدمی ādmi and مرد mard, meaning "man." The first in each set is used colloquial and has older Hindustani origins, while the last in the set is used formally and poetically.

If a word is of Persian or Arabic origin, the level of speech is thought to be more formal. If Persian or Arabic grammar constructs, such as the izafat, are used in Urdu, the level of speech is also thought more formal and correct. If a word is inherited from Sanskrit, the level of speech is thought more colloquial and personal.[12]

Formal[change | change source]

Urdu is supposed to be a well formed language; many of words are used in it to show respect and politeness. This emphasis on politeness, which comes from the vocabulary, is known as adab and to sometimes as takalluf in Urdu. These words are mostly used when addressing elders, or people with whom one is not met yet.

Poetics[change | change source]

Two very respected poets who are not only celebrated in the Indian subcontinent but are famous in many other communities worldwide are Mirza Ghalib and Sir Mohammad Iqbal. 

Mirza Ghalib[change | change source]

Ghalib (1797-1869) is famous for his classic satire and sarcasm as seen in the following verse;

(Latin/Roma alphabet):

Umer bhar hum yun hee ghalati kartey rahen Ghalib

Dhool ch-herey pei thee aur hum aaina saaf karte rahe

(translation):

O Ghalib (himself) all my life I kept making the same mistakes over and over,

I was busy cleaning the mirror while the dirt was on my face. 

Sir Mohammad Iqbal[change | change source]

Iqbal (1877-1938) was a poet, and an active politician. He focused his poetry on bringing out the plight of the suffering Muslim community. In his poetry he very boldly highlighted the missing virtues and values in the morally corrupt society. Despite much opposition in the beginning, he ended up leaving a huge impact. He is also called the “Poet of the East” and the “Poet of Islam”. His work is displayed in the following verse;

(Latin/Roma Alphabet):     

Aapne bhe khafa mujh sei beganey bhe na khush

Mein zeher -e-halal ku kabhi keh na saka qand

(translation):

I could not keep happy either my loved ones nor the strangers,

as I could never call a piece of poison a piece of candy.  

Iqbal is considered by many an inspirational poet. He played a large role in the Pakistan Movement, with many claiming that he was the one to spark it.

Common Words/Phrases in Urdu[change | change source]

English Urdu (Pronunciation through Latin Alphabet)
good acha
Bad Bura

Kharab

Happy Khush
Sad Odaas
Hello

(Peace Be Upon You- from Arabic)

as-salam-alaikum  
How are you? Aap kaisey hein?
I am fine mein sahin hu
Okay acha

sahee

Can you speak English? 

(when you speak to a man)

Aap angreezi bool saktein hein?
Can you speak English?

(when you can speak to a female)

Aap angreezi bol sakteen hein?
The weather is good today. Aaj mausam ach ha hei.
Where is the airport ?     hawai adda kidr hei?
Where is the nearest McDonalds? Sub sey kareeb McDonalds kidr hey?

References[change | change source]

  1. "Scheduled Languages in descending order of speaker's strength - 2011" (PDF). Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India. 29 June 2018.
  2. "POPULATION BY MOTHER TONGUE | Pakistan Bureau of Statistics". www.pbs.gov.pk. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Hindustani (2005). Keith Brown (ed.). Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4.
  4. Gaurav Takkar. "Short Term Programmes". punarbhava.in. Archived from the original on 15 November 2016. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  5. "Indo-Pakistani Sign Language", Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics
  6. "Urdu is Telangana's second official language". The Indian Express. 2017-11-16. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  7. "Urdu is second official language in Telangana as state passes Bill". The News Minute. 2017-11-17. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  8. "The World Fact Book". Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on 16 July 2017.
  9. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Urdu". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  10. Aijazuddin Ahmad (2009). Geography of the South Asian Subcontinent: A Critical Approach. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 120–. ISBN 978-81-8069-568-1.
  11. Khalid, Kanwal. "LAHORE DURING THE GHANAVID PERIOD."
  12. "About Urdu". Afroz Taj (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2008-02-26.

Other sources[change | change source]