Urdu (; "Urdu" . Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. ALA-LC: )—or, more precisely, Modern Standard Urdu—is a Persianised standard register of the Hindustani language.Rao, Chaitra, et al. "Orthographic characteristics speed Hindi word naming but slow Urdu naming: evidence from Hindi/Urdu biliterates." Reading and Writing 24.6 (2011): 679–695. It is the official and lingua franca of Pakistan. In India, it is one of the 22 official languages recognized in the Constitution of India, having official status in the six states of Jammu and Kashmir, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, as well as the national capital territory of Delhi. It is a registered regional language of Nepal.
Apart from specialized vocabulary, spoken Urdu is mutually intelligible with Standard Hindi, another recognized register of Hindustani. The Urdu variant of Hindustani received recognition and patronage under British Raj when the United Kingdom replaced the local official languages with English and Hindustani written in Nastaʿlīq script, as the official language in North India and Northwestern India.
According to Nationalencyklopedin's 2010 estimates, Urdu is the 21st most spoken first language in the world, with approximately 66 million speakers.Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin. Asterisks mark the 2010 estimates for the top dozen languages. According to Ethnologue's 2017 estimates, Urdu, along with Hindi and the languages of the Hindi Belt (as Hindustani), is the 3rd most spoken language in the world, with approximately 329.1 million native speakers, and 697.4 million total speakers.
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 peoples and Afghan dynasties including that of Mahmud of Ghazni.Sigfried J. de Laet. History of Humanity: From the seventh to the sixteenth century UNESCO, 1994. p 734 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 language influence on the developing Hindustani.
The name Urdu was first used by the poet Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi around 1780.
in Pollock (2003) The communal nature of the language lasted until it replaced Persian as the official language in 1837 and was made co-official, along with English. Hindustani was promoted in British India by British policies to counter the previous emphasis on Persian. This triggered a Hindu backlash in northwestern India, which argued that the language should be written in the native [[Devanagari]] script. This literary standard called "Hindi" replaced Urdu as the official language of [[Bihar]] in 1881, establishing a sectarian divide of "Urdu" for Muslims and "Hindi" for Hindus, a divide that was formalized with the division of India and Pakistan after independence (though there are Hindu poets who continue to write in Urdu to this day, with post-independence examples including Gopi Chand Narang and [[Gulzar]]).
There have been attempts to "purify" Urdu and Hindi, by purging Urdu of Sanskrit words, and Hindi of Persian loanwords, 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.
Owing to interaction with other languages, Urdu has become localized 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 like Dakhni (Deccan Plateau) of South India, and Khariboli of the Punjab region. Because of Urdu's similarity to Hindi, speakers of the two languages can easily understand one another if both sides refrain from using specialized vocabulary. The syntax (grammar), morphology, and the core vocabulary are essentially identical. Thus linguists usually count them as one single language and contend that they are considered as two different languages for socio-political reasons.e.g.
In Pakistan, 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 Karachi, Lahore, Okara District, Sialkot, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Jhang, Sargodha and Skardu. It is written, spoken and used in all provinces/territories of Pakistan although the people from differing provinces may have different indigenous languages, as from the fact that it is the "base language" of the country. For this reason, it is also taught as a compulsory subject up to higher secondary school in both English and Urdu medium school systems. This has produced millions of Urdu speakers from people whose native language is one of the other languages of Pakistan, who can read and write only Urdu. It is absorbing many words from the regional languages of Pakistan. This variation of Urdu is sometimes referred to as Pakistani Urdu.
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 parts of South Asia. The regional languages are also being influenced by Urdu vocabulary. There are millions of Pakistanis whose native language is not Urdu, but because they have studied in Urdu medium 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 people, Tajik, Uzbeks, Hazara people, and Turkmen people) who stayed in Pakistan for over twenty-five years have also become fluent in 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 and diversifying the language even further.
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), Karnataka and cities such as Lucknow, Delhi, Bareilly, Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee, Deoband, Moradabad, Azamgarh, Bijnor, Najibabad, Rampur, Aligarh, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Agra, Kanpur, Badaun, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mysore, Patna, Gulbarga, Parbhani, Nanded,Kochi, Malegaon, Bidar, Ajmer, and Ahmedabad. Some Indian schools teach Urdu as a first language and have their own syllabi and exams. Indian also teach Arabic language as well as Urdu. 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 (see List of newspapers in India).
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 language, Urdu is among the immigrant languages with the most speakers in Catalonia.
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 an Arabic script.
Urdu is also one of the officially recognized languages in India and the official language 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, Delhi.
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."
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 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 Devanagari 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 sociolinguistics, though a few classify them separately.The Annual of Urdu studies, number 11, 1996, "Some notes on Hindi and Urdu", pp. 203–208. 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.
|+ Urdu consonant phonemes|
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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 pānī and 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 language origin.
If a word is of Persian language or Arabic language 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 language and Old English origins.
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 & 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, Ashley Eden, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal abolished the use of the Persian alphabet in the law courts of Bengal and Bihar and ordered the exclusive use of Kaithi, a popular script used for both Urdu and Hindi.King, 1994. 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 अ (Devanagari a) with vowel signs to mimic contexts of ( ayin), 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.Ahmad, R., 2006.
A treatise on astrology was penned in Urdu by Pandit Roop Chand Joshi in the twentieth century. The book, known as Lal Kitab, is widely popular in North India among astrologers.
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, Rashid ul Khairi and Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi till Rahman Abbas. 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. However, Rahman Abbas has emerged as the most influential Urdu Novelist in 21st Century and he has raises the art of story-telling to a new level.
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. 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 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 persification formal language. The great early 20th century scholar Ala Hazrat, Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, who wrote many of the most well known nāts 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.
In the Urdu poetic tradition, most poets use a pen name called the . 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 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 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 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 () of each poem as a type of "signature".
Note: *('s) represents a possessive case that, when written, is preceded by the possessor and followed by the possessed, unlike the English "of".