Urdu Language

What is Urdu Language?

Urdu is a language primarily spoken in South Asia. It is one of the two official languages of Pakistan, the other being English, and is also one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. Urdu holds a significant cultural and linguistic presence in these countries. It has many similarities with the Hindi language, and the two languages share a common script, known as the Devanagari script. However, the main difference between them is the script used for writing; Urdu is typically written in the Perso-Arabic script, while Hindi is primarily written in the Devanagari script.

Read more about Urdu Alphabet and Urdu Numbers

Urdu Language

History of Urdu Language

Early Development (6th to 13th Century):

Urdu evolved from the medieval Apabhraṃśa register of the Shauraseni language, known as Old Hindi in the Delhi region.

Formation of Hindavi (13th Century):

Amir Khusrau founded an early literary tradition of Hindavi in the late 13th century.

Dakhini and Persian Influence (14th to 17th Century):

A form of the language, Dakhini, flourished, with a significant Persian influence during the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire.

Zaban-e-Urdu (17th Century):

In the early 1700s, the language became known as Zaban-e-Urdu, reflecting its use in military camps and Persianized form.

Introduction of the Term “Urdu” (Late 18th Century):

The name “Urdu” was introduced around 1780 by Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi, marking a shift in identity.

Colonial Period (19th Century):

Urdu was promoted by British policies, replacing the previous emphasis on Persian.

Post-Independence Era (20th Century Onward):

Urdu became the sole national language of Pakistan in 1973, facing challenges related to script, vocabulary, and socio-economic status.

Throughout these periods, Urdu underwent linguistic and cultural transformations shaped by historical events and interactions.

Interesting Facts about Urdu Language

  1. Urdu is the official national language of Pakistan.
  2. Unlike English, Urdu is written from left to right in the Persian-Arabic script.
  3. Although there are many subtle differences between Urdu and Hindi, it can be challenging for non-native speakers to distinguish them.
  4. In terms of conversational flow, Hindi and Urdu are nearly interchangeable. The way they are written is where they diverge most.
  5. About 40% of the vocabulary in Urdu is also borrowed from Arabic and Persian.
  6. Nastaliq is the typeface used to write traditional Urdu; it is also used for Persian.
  7. Urdu is derived from the Turkish word “Urdo,” which means “army.”
  8. Several frequently used words from Urdu that are used in English are: khaki, pajamas, and cummerbund
  9. Urdu is a poetic language. 
  10. Nearly 5 million people in Afghanistan speak Urdu.

Urdu Speaking Countries

Urdu Speaking CountriesNumber of Speakers (Approx.)
India71 million
Pakistan18 million
Nepal0.8 million
Saudi Arabia0.7 million
United Arab Emirates0.1 million

Different Dialects of Urdu Language

Urdu DialectRegionsCharacteristics
Standard UrduNationwide in Pakistan and parts of IndiaFormal and literary form used in education, media, and official communication. Widely understood across Urdu-speaking regions.
Lahori DialectLahore and surrounding areasCharacterized by specific vocabulary, pronunciation nuances, and local expressions unique to Lahore and its neighboring regions.
Karachi DialectKarachi and nearby urban areasReflects the linguistic influence of the diverse population in Karachi, with variations in pronunciation, vocabulary, and idioms.
Punjabi-Urdu Hybrid DialectPunjab region, especially in rural areasExhibits a blend of Punjabi and Urdu elements, with unique expressions and vocabulary influenced by the cultural fusion in Punjab.
Hyderabadi DialectHyderabad and surrounding regionsFeatures distinctive vocabulary, pronunciation, and expressions specific to the linguistic traditions of Hyderabad and its vicinity.
Kashmiri-Urdu Hybrid DialectKashmir Valley and adjoining areasRepresents a fusion of Kashmiri and Urdu, incorporating regional vocabulary and pronunciation particular to the Kashmiri linguistic context.
Deccani DialectDeccan Plateau, including parts of TelanganaDisplays linguistic influences from the Deccan region, with unique vocabulary, pronunciation, and expressions specific to Deccani Urdu.
Dakhini DialectSouthern regions of IndiaCommonly spoken in Southern India, it features variations in vocabulary and pronunciation influenced by the linguistic landscape of the region.
Awadhi-Urdu Hybrid DialectAwadh region, including LucknowBlends elements of Awadhi and Urdu, showcasing unique vocabulary and pronunciation typical of the cultural amalgamation in the Awadh region.
Bihari-Urdu Hybrid DialectBihar and neighboring areasRepresents a fusion of Bihari languages and Urdu, incorporating regional expressions, vocabulary, and pronunciation specific to Bihar.

How to Learn Urdu Fast?

To learn Urdu quickly, practice with the fundamental Urdu vocabulary available on our ToolsNepal blogs. You can begin by learning the Urdu alphabet, numbers, and important words. Then move on to common phrases, create sentences, and improve your written and spoken skills. Once you’ve got the basics, you can use our Urdu translation tool, Urdu typing tool, and Urdu Keyboard for extra practice.

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