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Language Information


Urdu is the official language of Pakistan and is also widely spoken in India. In Pakistan it is the mother tongue of about 10 million people and is spoken fluently as a second language by perhaps 80 million more. In India, where it is spoken by some 50 million Moslems, it is one of the official languages recognized by the constitution.

Urdu is very similar to Hindi, the most important difference between them being that the former is written in the Perso-Arabic script, while the latter is written in the Sanskrit characters. Urdu also contains many words from Arabic and Persian, while Hindi makes a conscious effort to preserve the older Indian words.

Urdu by origin is a dialect of Hindi spoken for centuries in the neighborhood of Delhi. In the 16th century, when India fell under Moslem domination, a large number of Persian, Arabic, and Turkish words entered the language via the military camps and the marketplaces of Delhi. Eventually a separate dialect evolved, written in Arabic characters with additional letters supplied for sounds peculiar to Indian and Persian words. In time it came to be called Urdu ('~camp language") and after further Moslem conquest became the lingua franca over much of the Indian subcontinent.

After the partition of India in 1947, Hindi became the principal language of India, and Urdu of West Pakistan. The older term Hindustani, embracing both languages, has fallen into general disuse since partition.


Urdu is spoken/used in the following countries:
Fiji (Republic of), India, Mauritius, Pakistan.

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Indo-Iranian
Branch: Indic


Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.


Writing Sample


Writing Sample

Translation


Beyond the stars there are still other worlds;
There are other fields to test man's indomitable spirit.

Not devoid of life are those open spaces of heaven;
There are hundreds of other caravans in them as well.

Do not remain contented with this sensible world;
Beyond it there are other gardens and nests as well.

If thou hast lost one nest, what then?
There are other places for sighing and wailing as well.

Thou art an eagle; thy business is to soar in the empyrean;
Thou hast other skies in which thou canst range as well.

Be not entangled in this world of days and nights;
Thou hast another time anci space as well.

—MUHAMMAD IQBAL, Bal-e-Jibril