URDU (/ˈʊərduː/ ;
Urdu : اُردُو
ALA-LC : _Urdū_ (_
listen ), or MODERN STANDARD URDU) is a persianized and standardised
register of the
Apart from specialized vocabulary , Urdu is mutually intelligible with Standard Hindi , another recognized register of Hindustani. The Urdu variant of Hindustani received recognition and patronage under British rule when the British replaced the local official languages with English and Hindustani written in nastaliq script, as the official language in north and northwestern India. Religious, social, and political factors pushed for a distinction between Urdu and Hindi in India, leading to the Hindi–Urdu controversy .
* 1 Origin * 2 Speakers and geographic distribution * 3 Official status
* 4 Dialects
* 4.1 Code switching
* 5 Comparison with Modern Standard Hindi
* 6 Phonology
* 6.1 Consonants * 6.2 Vowels
* 7 Vocabulary
* 7.1 Levels of formality
* 9 Literature
* 9.1 Prose
* 9.1.1 Religious * 9.1.2 Literary
* 9.2 Poetry
* 9.2.1 Terminology
* 9.2.2 Urdu poetry example
* 184.108.40.206 Transliteration * 220.127.116.11 Translation
* 10 Sample text
* 10.1 Urdu text * 10.2 Transliteration (ALA-LC) * 10.3 IPA transcription * 10.4 Gloss (word-for-word) * 10.5 Translation (grammatical)
* 11 See also * 12 Notes * 13 References * 14 Further reading * 15 External links
Main article: History of Hindustani
Urdu, like Hindi, is a form of Hindustani . It evolved from the medieval (6th to 13th century) Apabhraṃśa register of the preceding Shauraseni language , a Middle Indo-Aryan language that is also the ancestor of other modern Indo-Aryan languages, including the Punjabi dialects . Urdu developed under the influence of the Persian and Arabic languages, both of which have contributed a significant amount of vocabulary to formal speech. Around 99% of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit .
Although the word _Urdu_ itself 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 not genetically related to the Turkic languages . Urdu words originating from Chagatai and Arabic were borrowed through Persian and hence are Persianized versions of the original words. For instance, the Arabic _ta\' marbuta _ ( ة ) changes to _he _ ( ه ) or _te _ ( ت ). Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief, Urdu did not borrow from the Turkish language , but from Chagatai . Urdu and Turkish borrowed from Arabic and Persian, hence the similarity in pronunciation of many Urdu and Turkish words.
Arabic influence in the region began with the late first-millennium Muslim conquests of the Indian subcontinent . The Persian language was introduced into the subcontinent a few centuries later by various Persianized Central Asian Turkic and Afghan dynasties including that of Mahmud of Ghazni . The Turko-Afghan Delhi Sultanate established Persian as its official language, 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 the developing Hindustani.
With the advent of the
British Raj , Persian was no longer the
language of administration but Hindustani , still written in the
Persian script , continued to be used by both Hindus and Muslims. The
name _Urdu_ was first used by the poet Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi around
1780. (p18) From the 13th century until the end of the 18th century
Urdu was commonly known as Hindi. (p1) The language was also known by
various other names such as _Hindavi_ and _Dehlavi_. (pp21–22) The
communal nature of the language lasted until it replaced Persian as
the official language in 1837 and was made co-official, along with
Urdu was promoted in British
There have been attempts to "purify" Urdu and Hindi, by purging Urdu of Sanskrit loanwords, and Hindi of Persian loan words, and 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.
SPEAKERS AND GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION
There are over 100 million native speakers of
Owing to interaction with other languages,
Urdu has become localized
wherever it is spoken, including in
Urdu is mostly learned as a second or a third language
as nearly 93% of Pakistan's population has a native language other
than Urdu. Despite this,
Urdu was chosen as a token of unity and as a
lingua franca so as not to give any native Pakistani language
preference over the other.
Urdu is therefore spoken and understood by
the vast majority in some form or another, including a majority of
urban dwellers in such cities as
Skardu . It is written, spoken and used
in all provinces/territories of
Although most of the population is conversant in Urdu, it is the
first language of only an estimated 7% of the population who are
mainly Muslim immigrants (known as Muhajir in Pakistan) from different
South Asia . The regional languages are also being influenced
Urdu vocabulary. There are millions of Pakistanis whose native
language is not Urdu, but because they have studied in
schools, they can read and write
Urdu along with their native
language. Most of the nearly five million
Afghan refugees of different
ethnic origins (such as Pashtun , Tajik , Uzbek , Hazarvi , and
Turkmen ) who stayed in
A great number of newspapers are published in Urdu in Pakistan, including the _ Daily Jang _, _ Nawa-i-Waqt _, _ Millat _, among many others (see List of newspapers in Pakistan# Urdu language Newspapers ).
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 ,
Andhra Pradesh ,
cities such as
Najibabad , Rampur ,
Hyderabad , Aurangabad ,
Ajmer , and
Ahmedabad . Some Indian schools teach
Urdu as a first
language and have their own syllabi and exams. Indian madrasahs also
Arabic as well as Urdu.
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 , leading to fears of linguistic ghettos.
Urdu is the national and one of the two official languages of
Pakistan, along with English, and is spoken and understood throughout
the country, whereas the state-by-state languages (languages spoken
throughout various regions) are the provincial languages . Only 7.57%
of Pakistanis have
Urdu as their first language, but
Urdu is mostly
understood and spoken all over
Urdu is also one of the officially recognized languages in
Jammu and Kashmir , section 145 of the Kashmir Constitution
provides: "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." Overall, today
Urdu is the mother tongue of
over 100 million people in
Urdu has a few recognised dialects, including
Rekhta , and
Urdu (based on the
On 14 August 2015, the Government of
COMPARISON WITH MODERN STANDARD HINDI
Standard Urdu is often contrasted with Standard Hindi . 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 Devanāgarī and draws on Sanskrit . However, both have large numbers of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit words, and most linguists consider them to be two standardised forms of the same language, and consider the differences to be sociolinguistic , though a few classify them separately. Old Urdu dictionaries also contain most of the Sanskrit words now present in Hindi. Mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialized contexts that rely on educated vocabulary. Further, it is quite easy in a longer conversation to distinguish differences in vocabulary and pronunciation of some Urdu phonemes . 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, despite the numerous similarities between the two in a colloquial setting.
Main article: Hindustani phonology
Urdu consonant phonemes
BILABIAL Dental / Alveolar RETROFLEX PALATAL VELAR UVULAR GLOTTAL
NASAL PLAIN m n
VOICED ASPIRATED (mʱ) (nʱ)
Plosive / Affricate VOICELESS p t̪ ʈ tʃ k q (ʔ)
VOICELESS ASPIRATED pʰ t̪ʰ ʈʰ tʃʰ kʰ
VOICED b d̪ ɖ dʒ ɡ ɢ
VOICED ASPIRATED bʱ d̪ʱ ɖʱ dʒʱ ɡʱ
FRICATIVE VOICELESS f s
VOICED v z
APPROXIMANT PLAIN ʋ l
* Marginal and non-universal phonemes are in parentheses. * /ɣ/ is post-velar .
The oral vowel phonemes of Urdu according to Ohala (1999 :102)
FRONT CENTRAL BACK
SHORT LONG SHORT LONG SHORT LONG
CLOSE ORAL ɪ iː
NASAL ɪ̃ ĩː
CLOSE-MID ORAL (e) eː ə
OPEN-MID ORAL (ɛ) ɛː
DIPHTHONGS ORAL ɪeː ɪɑː iːoː iːɑː ʊiː ʊeː ʊoː ʊɑː eːoː əiː əuː əeː oiː oeː oːɪ oːiː oːeː oːɑː ɑːɪ ɑːiː ɑːʊ ɑːuː ɑːeː ɑːoː
NASAL ɪũː iːũː ɪːɑ̃ː ʊĩː ʊõː ʊɑ̃ː əĩː oːĩː oːũː oːẽː ɑːĩː ɑːũː ɑːẽː ɑːõː
TRIPHTHONGS ORAL oəiː oəuː oːiːeː ɑːiːeː
NASAL ʊɑːẽː ʊɑːõ
* Marginal and non-universal vowels are in parentheses.
See also: Hindustani etymology
Etymological origin of basic Urdu words Arabic 29.9%
Urdu's vocabulary has borrowings from various languages. A corpus-based quantitative survey of the etymological origins of basic Urdu vocabulary is shown in the adjacent table. 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 Chagatai , and Portuguese .
LEVELS OF FORMALITY
Urdu in its less formalised register has been referred to as a _rek̤h̤tah _ (ریختہ, ), meaning "rough mixture". The more formal register of Urdu is sometimes referred to as _zabān-i Urdū-yi muʿallá_ (زبانِ اُردُوئے معلّٰى ), the "Language of the Exalted Camp", referring to the Imperial army.
The etymology of the word used in the Urdu language for the most part decides how polite or refined one's speech is. For example, Urdu speakers would distinguish between پانی _pānī_ and آب _āb_, both meaning "water"; the former is used colloquially and has older Indic 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 grand. 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 grand. If a word is inherited from Sanskrit , the level of speech is considered more colloquial and personal. This distinction is similar to the division in English between words of Latin , French and Old English origins.
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 Nastaʿlīq 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 _kātib_ or _khush-nawīs_, until the late 1980s. One handwritten Urdu newspaper, The Musalman , is still published daily in Chennai .
Urdu has also historically been written in the Kaithi script. A highly Persianized and technical form of Urdu was the _lingua franca_ of the law courts of the British administration in Bengal , Bihar , and the North-West Provinces font-family: 'Jameel Noori Nastaleeq', ' Urdu Typesetting', 'Noto Nastaliq Urdu', 'Noto Nastaliq Urdu Draft', 'Hussaini Nastaleeq', 'AlQalam Taj Nastaleeq', IranNastaliq, 'Awami Nastaliq', 'Awami Nastaliq Beta4', 'Awami Nastaliq Beta3', 'Awami Nastaliq Beta2', 'Awami Nastaliq Beta1', 'Nafees Nastaleeq', 'Nafees Nastaleeq v1.01', 'Pak Nastaleeq', 'PDMS_Jauhar', 'Alvi Lahori Nastaleeq';">ع (_‘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.
Main article: Urdu literature
Urdu has become a literary language only in recent centuries, as Persian was formerly the idiom of choice for the Muslim courts of North India. However, despite its relatively late development, Urdu literature boasts of some world-recognised artists and a considerable corpus.
Urdu holds the largest collection of works on Islamic literature and Sharia . These include translations and interpretation of the Qur\'an as well as commentary on _ Hadith _, _ Fiqh _, history , and Sufism . A great number of classical texts from Arabic and Persian have also been translated into Urdu. Relatively inexpensive publishing, combined with the use of Urdu as a lingua franca among Muslims of South Asia , has meant that Islam-related works in Urdu far outnumber such works in any other South Asian language. Popular Islamic books are also written in Urdu.
It is interesting to note that a treatise on Astrology was penned in
Pandit Roop Chand Joshi in the eighteenth century. The book,
Lal Kitab , is widely popular in North
Secular prose includes all categories of widely known fiction and non-fiction work, separable into genres. The _dāstān_, or tale, a traditional story that may have many characters and complex plotting. This has now fallen into disuse.
The _afsāna_ or short story is probably the best-known genre of Urdu fiction. The best-known _afsāna_ writers, or _afsāna nigār_, in Urdu are Munshi Premchand , Saadat Hasan Manto , Rajinder Singh Bedi , Krishan Chander , Qurratulain Hyder (Qurat-ul-Ain Haider), Ismat Chughtai , Ghulam Abbas , and Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi . Towards the end of last century Paigham Afaqui's novel Makaan appeared with a reviving force for Urdu novel resulting into writing of novels getting a boost in Urdu literature and a number of writers like Ghazanfer, Abdus Samad, Sarwat Khan and Musharraf Alam Zauqi have taken the move forward. Munshi Premchand, became known as a pioneer in the _afsāna_, though some contend that his were not technically the first as Sir Ross Masood had already written many short stories in Urdu. Novels form a genre of their own, in the tradition of the English novel . Other genres include _saférnāma_ (travel story), _mazmoon_ (essay), _sarguzisht_ (account/narrative), _inshaeya_ (satirical essay), _murasela_ (editorial), and _khud navvisht_ (autobiography).
Urdu poetry Further information:
Urdu poets Mir
Taqi Mir (1723–1810) (
Urdu : میر تقی میر) was the
Urdu poet of the 18th century in the courts of Mughal Empire
Nawabs of Awadh An illustrated manuscript of one of Amir
Khusrau 's (1253–1325 CE) Persian poems Allama
, the national poet of
Urdu has been one of the premier languages of poetry in South Asia for two centuries, and has developed a rich tradition in a variety of poetic genres. The Ghazal in Urdu represents the most popular form of subjective music and poetry, whereas the Nazm exemplifies the objective kind, often reserved for narrative, descriptive, didactic or satirical purposes. Under the broad head of the Nazm we may also include the classical forms of poems known by specific names such as Masnavi (a long narrative poem in rhyming couplets on any theme: romantic, religious, or didactic), Marsia (an elegy traditionally meant to commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali , grandson of Muhammad, and his comrades of the Karbala fame), or Qasida (a panegyric written in praise of a king or a nobleman), for all these poems have a single presiding subject, logically developed and concluded. However, these poetic species have an old world aura about their subject and style, and are different from the modern Nazm, supposed to have come into vogue in the later part of the nineteenth century. Probably the most widely recited, and memorised genre of contemporary Urdu poetry is nāt —panegyric poetry written in praise of Muhammad . _Nāt_ can be of any formal category, but is most commonly in the _ghazal_ form. The language used in Urdu _nāt_ ranges from the intensely colloquial to a highly persified formal language. The great early 20th century scholar Ala Hazrat , Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi , who wrote many of the most well known _nāt_s in Urdu (the collection of his poetic work is Hadaiq-e-Baqhshish), epitomised this range in a _ghazal_ of nine stanzas (_bayt_) in which every stanza contains half a line each of Arabic, Persian, formal Urdu, and colloquial Hindi.
Another important genre of Urdu prose are the poems commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala , called noha (نوحہ) and marsia . Anees and Dabeer are famous in this regard.
_AS̱ẖʿāR_ (اشعار, verse, couplets): It consists of two hemistiches (lines) called _Miṣraʿ_ (مصرع); first hemistich (line) is called مصرعِ اولٰى (_Miṣraʿ-i ūlá_) and the second is called (مصرعِ ثانی) (_Miṣraʿ-i s̱ānī_). Each verse embodies a single thought or subject (singular) شِعر _shiʿr _.
In the Urdu poetic tradition, most poets use a pen name called the _takhalluṣ_. This can be either a part of a poet's given name or something else adopted as an identity. The traditional convention in identifying Urdu poets is to mention the _takhalluṣ_ at the end of the name. Thus Ghalib, whose official name and title was Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan, is referred to formally as Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, or in common parlance as just Mirza Ghalib. Because the _takhalluṣ_ can be a part of their actual name, some poets end up having that part of their name repeated, such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz.
The word _takhalluṣ_ is derived from Arabic, meaning "ending". This is because in the ghazal form, the poet would usually incorporate his or her pen name into the final couplet (_maqt̤aʿ_) of each poem as a type of "signature".
Urdu Poetry Example
This is Ghalib 's famous couplet in which he compares himself to his great predecessor, the master poet Mir :
ریختہ کے تمہی استاد نہیں ہو غاؔلب
کہتے ہیں اگلے زمانہ میں کوئی مؔیر بھی تھا
_Reḵẖtah ke tumhī ustād nahīṉ ho G̱ẖālib_ _Kahte haiṉ agle zamānih meṉ ko'ī Mīr bhī thā_
You are not the only master of _ Rekhta _, Ghalib (They) say that in the past there also was someone (named) Mir.
See also: Hindi § Sample text
دفعہ ۱: تمام انسان آزاد اور حقوق و عزت کے اعتبار سے برابر پیدا ہوئے ہیں۔ انہیں ضمیر اور عقل ودیعت ہوئی ہے۔ اس لئے انہیں ایک دوسرے کے ساتھ بھائی چارے کا سلوک کرنا چاہئے۔
_DAFʿAH 1: Tamām insān āzād aur ḥuqūq o ʿizzat ke iʿtibār se barābar paidā hūʾe haiṉ. Unheṉ ẓamīr aur ʿaql wadīʿat hūʾī hai. Is liʾe unheṉ ek dūsre ke sāth bhāʾī cāre kā sulūk karnā cāhiʾe_.
D̪əFɑː EːK: t̪əmɑːm ɪnsɑːn ɑːzɑːd̪ ɔːr hʊquːq oː ɪzzət̪ keː et̪ɪbɑːr seː bərɑːbər pɛːd̪ɑː ɦuːeː ɦɛ̃ː. ʊnɦẽː zəmiːr ɔːr əql ʋəd̪iːət̪ huːiː hɛː. ɪs lieː ʊnɦẽː eːk d̪uːsreː keː sɑːt̪ʰ bʱaːiː t͡ʃɑːreː kɑː sʊluːk kərnɑː t͡ʃɑːɦieː.
ARTICLE 1: All humans free and rights and dignity *('s) consideration from equal born are. Them to conscience and intellect endowed is. This for, they one another *('s) with brotherhood *('s) treatment do should.
ARTICLE 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience. Therefore, they should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
NOTE: _*('s) represents a possessive case that, when written, is preceded by the possessor and followed by the possessed, unlike the English "of"._
* Urdu portal
List of Urdu-language poets
List of Urdu-language writers
National Translation Mission (NTM)
Persian and Urdu
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* Narang, G. C. and D. A. Becker. 1971. Aspiration and nasalization
in the generative phonology of Hindi-Urdu. _Language_, _47_,
* Ohala, M. 1972. Topics in Hindi-
Urdu phonology. (PhD dissertation,
University of California, Los Angeles).
* "A Desertful of Roses", a site about Ghalib's
Urdu ghazals by Dr.
Frances W. Pritchett, Professor of Modern Indic Languages at Columbia
University, New York, NY, USA.
* Phukan, S. 2000. The Rustic Beloved: Ecology of
Hindi in a
Persianate World, The Annual of
Urdu Studies, vol 15, issue 5, pp.
* The Comparative study of
Urdu and Khowar. Badshah Munir Bukhari
National Language Authority
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