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Urdu written in the Nastaliq calligraphic hand
SpeakersL1: 70 million (2011–2017)[4]
L2: 170 million (2020)[4]
Early forms
Indian Signing System
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
South Africa (protected language)[9]
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1ur
ISO 639-2urd
ISO 639-3urd
Map of the regions of India and Pakistan showing:
  Areas where Urdu is either official or co-official
  Areas where Urdu is neither official nor co-official
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Urdu (اُردُو, [ʊɾduː] ; ALA-LC: Urdū) is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in South Asia.[10][11] It is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan, where it is also an official language alongside English.[12] In India, Urdu is an Eighth Schedule language, the status and cultural heritage of which are recognised by the Constitution of India;[13][14] and it also has an official status in several Indian states.[note 1][12] In Nepal, Urdu is a registered regional dialect[15] and in South Africa it is a protected language in the constitution. It is also spoken as a minority language in Afghanistan and Bangladesh, with no official status.

Urdu has been described as a Persianised register of the Hindustani language;[16][17] Urdu and Hindi share a common Sanskrit- and Prakrit-derived vocabulary base, phonology, syntax, and grammar, making them mutually intelligible during colloquial communication.[18][19][20] While formal Urdu draws literary, political, and technical vocabulary from Persian,[21] formal Hindi draws these aspects from Sanskrit; consequently, the two languages' mutual intelligibility effectively decreases as the factor of formality increases.[22]

In 1837, Urdu became an official language of the British East India Company, replacing Persian across northern India during Company rule; Persian had until this point served as the court language of various Indo-Islamic empires.[23] Religious, social, and political factors arose during the European colonial period that advocated a distinction between Urdu and Hindi, leading to the Hindi–Urdu controversy.[24]

According to 2022 estimates by Ethnologue and The World Factbook, produced by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Urdu is the 10th-most widely spoken language in the world, with 230 million total speakers, including those who speak it as a second language.[25][26]


The name Urdu was first used by the poet Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi around 1780 for Hindustani language[27][28] even though he himself also used Hindavi term in his poetry to define the language.[29] Ordu means army in the Turkic languages. In late 18th century, it was known as Zaban-e-Urdu-e-Mualla زبانِ اُرْدُوئے مُعَلّٰی means language of the exalted camp.[30][31][32] Earlier it was known as Hindvi, Hindi and Hindustani.[28][33]


Urdu, like Hindi, is a form of Hindustani language.[34][35][36] Some linguists have suggested that the earliest forms of Urdu 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.[37][38]


In the Delhi region of India the native language was Khariboli, whose earliest form is known as Old Hindi (or Hindavi).[39][40][41][42] It belongs to the Western Hindi group of the Central Indo-Aryan languages.[43][44] The contact of Hindu and Muslim cultures during the period of Islamic conquests in the Indian subcontinent (12th to 16th centuries) led to the development of Hindustani as a product of a composite Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb.[45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][excessive citations]

In cities such as Delhi, the ancient language Old Hindi began to acquire many Persian loanwords and continued to be called "Hindi" and later, also "Hindustani".[41][33][53][28][43] An early literary tradition of Hindavi was founded by Amir Khusrau in the late 13th century.[54][55][56][57] After the conquest of the Deccan, and a subsequent immigration of noble Muslim families into the south, a form of the language flourished in medieval India as a vehicle of poetry, (especially under the Bahmanids),[58] and is known as Dakhini, which contains loanwords from Telugu and Marathi.[59][60][61]

From the 13th century until the end of the 18th century; the language now known as Urdu was called Hindi,[28] Hindavi, Hindustani,[33] Dehlavi,[62] Dihlawi,[63] Lahori,[62] and Lashkari.[64] The Delhi Sultanate established Persian as its official language in India, 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 Hindustani.[65][53]

Opening pages of the Urdu divan of Ghalib, 1821

According to the Navadirul Alfaz by Khan-i Arzu, the "Zaban-e Urdu-e Shahi" [language of the Imperial Camp] had attained special importance in the time of Alamgir".[66] By the end of the reign of Aurangzeb in the early 1700s, the common language around Delhi began to be referred to as Zaban-e-Urdu,[31] a name derived from the Turkic word ordu (army) or orda and is said to have arisen as the "language of the camp", or "Zaban-i-Ordu" means "Language of High camps"[30] or natively "Lashkari Zaban" means "Language of Army"[67] even though term Urdu held different meanings at that time.[68] It is recorded that Aurangzeb spoke in Hindvi, which was most likely Persianized, as there are substantial evidence that Hindvi was written in the Persian script in this period.[69]

During this time period Urdu was referred to as "Moors", which simply meant Muslim,[70] by European writers.[71] John Ovington wrote in 1689:[72]

The language of the Moors is different from that of the ancient original inhabitants of India but is obliged to these Gentiles for its characters. For though the Moors dialect is peculiar to themselves, yet it is destitute of Letters to express it; and therefore, in all their Writings in their Mother Tongue, they borrow their letters from the Heathens, or from the Persians, or other Nations.

In 1715, a complete literary Diwan in Rekhta was written by Nawab Sadruddin Khan.[73] An Urdu-Persian dictionary was written by Khan-i Arzu in 1751 in the reign of Ahmad Shah Bahadur.[74] The name Urdu was first introduced by the poet Ghulam Hamadani Mushafi around 1780.[27][28] As a literary language, Urdu took shape in courtly, elite settings.[75][76] While Urdu retained the grammar and core Indo-Aryan vocabulary of the local Indian dialect Khariboli, it adopted the Nastaleeq writing system[43][77] – which was developed as a style of Persian calligraphy.[78]

Other historical names

Throughout the history of the language, Urdu has been referred to by several other names: Hindi, Hindavi, Rekhta, Urdu-e-Muallah, Dakhini, Moors and Dehlavi.

In 1773, the Swiss French soldier Antoine Polier notes that the English liked to use the name "Moors" for Urdu:[79]

I have a deep knowledge [je possède à fond] of the common tongue of India, called Moors by the English, and Ourdouzebain by the natives of the land.

Several works of Sufi writers like Ashraf Jahangir Semnani used similar names for the Urdu language. Shah Abdul Qadir Raipuri was the first person who translated The Quran into Urdu.[80]

During Shahjahan's time, the Capital was relocated to Delhi and named Shahjahanabad and the Bazar of the town was named Urdu e Muallah.[81][82]

In the Akbar era the word Rekhta was used to describe Urdu for the first time. It was originally a Persian word that meant "to create a mixture". Amir Khusrau was the first person to use the same word for Poetry.[83]

Colonial period

Before the standardisation of Urdu into colonial administration, British officers often referred to the language as "Moors" or "Moorish jargon". John Gilchrist was the first in British India to begin a systematic study on Urdu and began to use the term "Hindustani" what the majority of Europeans called "Moors", authoring the book The Strangers's East Indian Guide to the Hindoostanee or Grand Popular Language of India (improperly Called Moors).[84]

Urdu was then promoted in colonial India by British policies to counter the previous emphasis on Persian.[85] In colonial India, "ordinary Muslims and Hindus alike spoke the same language in the United Provinces in the nineteenth century, namely Hindustani, whether called by that name or whether called Hindi, Urdu, or one of the regional dialects such as Braj or Awadhi."[86] Elites from Muslim communities, as well as a minority of Hindu elites, such as Munshis of Hindu origin,[87] wrote the language in the Perso-Arabic script in courts and government offices, though Hindus continued to employ the Devanagari script in certain literary and religious contexts.[86][77][88] Through the late 19th century, people did not view Urdu and Hindi as being two distinct languages, though in urban areas, the standardised Hindustani language was increasingly being referred to as Urdu and written in the Perso-Arabic script.[89] Urdu and English replaced Persian as the official languages in northern parts of India in 1837.[90] In colonial Indian Islamic schools, Muslims were taught Persian and Arabic as the languages of Indo-Islamic civilisation; the British, in order to promote literacy among Indian Muslims and attract them to attend government schools, started to teach Urdu written in the Perso-Arabic script in these governmental educational institutions and after this time, Urdu began to be seen by Indian Muslims as a symbol of their religious identity.[86] Hindus in northwestern India, under the Arya Samaj agitated against the sole use of the Perso-Arabic script and argued that the language should be written in the native Devanagari script,[91] which triggered a backlash against the use of Hindi written in Devanagari by the Anjuman-e-Islamia of Lahore.[91] Hindi in the Devanagari script and Urdu written in the Perso-Arabic script established a sectarian divide of "Urdu" for Muslims and "Hindi" for Hindus, a divide that was formalised with the partition of colonial India into the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan after independence (though there are Hindu poets who continue to write in Urdu, including Gopi Chand Narang and Gulzar).[92][93]

Urdu had been used as a literary medium for British colonial Indian writers from the Bombay, Bengal, Orissa,[94] and Hyderabad State as well.[95]


Before independence, Muslim League leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah advocated the use of Urdu, which he used as a symbol of national cohesion in Pakistan.[96] After the Bengali language movement and the separation of former East Pakistan,[97] Urdu was recognised as the sole national language of Pakistan in 1973, although English and regional languages were also granted official recognition.[98] Following the 1979 Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent arrival of millions of Afghan refugees who have lived in Pakistan for many decades, many Afghans, including those who moved back to Afghanistan,[99] have also become fluent in Hindi-Urdu, an occurrence aided by exposure to the Indian media, chiefly Hindi-Urdu Bollywood films and songs.[100][101][102]

There have been attempts to purge Urdu of native Prakrit and Sanskrit words, and Hindi of Persian loanwords – new vocabulary draws primarily from Persian and Arabic for Urdu and from Sanskrit for Hindi.[103][104] English has exerted a heavy influence on both as a co-official language.[105] According to Bruce (2021), Urdu has adapted English words since the eighteenth century.[106] A movement towards the hyper-Persianisation of an Urdu emerged in Pakistan since its independence in 1947 which is "as artificial as" the hyper-Sanskritised Hindi that has emerged in India;[107] hyper-Persianisation of Urdu was prompted in part by the increasing Sanskritisation of Hindi.[108][page needed] However, the style of Urdu spoken on a day-to-day basis in Pakistan is akin to neutral Hindustani that serves as the lingua franca of the northern Indian subcontinent.[109][110]

Since at least 1977,[111] some commentators such as journalist Khushwant Singh have characterised Urdu as a "dying language", though others, such as Indian poet and writer Gulzar (who is popular in both countries and both language communities, but writes only in Urdu (script) and has difficulties reading Devanagari, so he lets others 'transcribe' his work) have disagreed with this assessment and state that Urdu "is the most alive language and moving ahead with times" in India.[112][113][114][111][115][116][117] This phenomenon pertains to the decrease in relative and absolute numbers of native Urdu speakers as opposed to speakers of other languages;[118][119] declining (advanced) knowledge of Urdu's Perso-Arabic script, Urdu vocabulary and grammar;[118][120] the role of translation and transliteration of literature from and into Urdu;[118] the shifting cultural image of Urdu and socio-economic status associated with Urdu speakers (which negatively impacts especially their employment opportunities in both countries),[120][118] the de jure legal status and de facto political status of Urdu,[120] how much Urdu is used as language of instruction and chosen by students in higher education,[120][118][119][117] and how the maintenance and development of Urdu is financially and institutionally supported by governments and NGOs.[120][118] In India, although Urdu is not and never was used exclusively by Muslims (and Hindi never exclusively by Hindus),[117][121] the ongoing Hindi–Urdu controversy and modern cultural association of each language with the two religions has led to fewer Hindus using Urdu.[117][121] In the 20th century, Indian Muslims gradually began to collectively embrace Urdu[121] (for example, 'post-independence Muslim politics of Bihar saw a mobilisation around the Urdu language as tool of empowerment for minorities especially coming from weaker socio-economic backgrounds'[118]), but in the early 21st century an increasing percentage of Indian Muslims began switching to Hindi due to socio-economic factors, such as Urdu being abandoned as the language of instruction in much of India,[119][118] and having limited employment opportunities compared to Hindi, English and regional languages.[117] The number of Urdu speakers in India fell 1.5% between 2001 and 2011 (then 5.08 million Urdu speakers), especially in the most Urdu-speaking states of Uttar Pradesh (c. 8% to 5%) and Bihar (c. 11.5% to 8.5%), even though the number of Muslims in these two states grew in the same period.[119] Although Urdu is still very prominent in early 21st-century Indian pop culture, ranging from Bollywood[116] to social media, knowledge of the Urdu script and the publication of books in Urdu have steadily declined, while policies of the Indian government do not actively support the preservation of Urdu in professional and official spaces.[118] Because the Pakistani government proclaimed Urdu the national language at Partition, the Indian state and some religious nationalists began in part to regard Urdu as a 'foreign' language, to be viewed with suspicion.[115] Urdu advocates in India disagree whether it should be allowed to write Urdu in the Devanagari and Latin script (Roman Urdu) to allow its survival,[117][122] or whether this will only hasten its demise and that the language can only be preserved if expressed in the Perso-Arabic script.[118]

For Pakistan, Willoughby & Aftab (2020) argued that Urdu originally had the image of a refined elite language of the Enlightenment, progress and emancipation, which contributed to the success of the independence movement.[120] But after the 1947 Partition, when it was chosen as the national language of Pakistan to unite all inhabitants with one linguistic identity, it faced serious competition primarily from Bengali (spoken by 56% of the total population, mostly in East Pakistan until that attained independence in 1971 as Bangladesh), and after 1971 from English. Both pro-independence elites that formed the leadership of the Muslim League in Pakistan and the Hindu-dominated Congress Party in India had been educated in English during the British colonial period, and continued to operate in English and send their children to English-medium schools as they continued dominate both countries' post-Partition politics.[120] Although the Anglicized elite in Pakistan has made attempts at Urduisation of education with varying degrees of success, no successful attempts were ever made to Urduise politics, the legal system, the army, or the economy, all of which remained solidly Anglophone.[120] Even the regime of general Zia-ul-Haq (1977–1988), who came from a middle-class Punjabi family and initially fervently supported a rapid and complete Urduisation of Pakistani society (earning him the honorary title of the 'Patron of Urdu' in 1981), failed to make significant achievements, and by 1987 had abandoned most of his efforts in favour of pro-English policies.[120] Since the 1960s, the Urdu lobby and eventually the Urdu language in Pakistan has been associated with religious Islamism and political national conservatism (and eventually the lower and lower-middle classes, alongside regional languages such as Punjabi, Sindhi, and Balochi), while English has been associated with the internationally oriented secular and progressive left (and eventually the upper and upper-middle classes).[120] Despite governmental attempts at Urduisation of Pakistan, the position and prestige of English only grew stronger in the meantime.[120]

Demographics and geographic distribution

Geographical distribution of Urdu in India and Pakistan.

There are over 100 million native speakers of Urdu in India and Pakistan together: there were 50.8 million Urdu speakers in India (4.34% of the total population) as per the 2011 census;[1] and approximately 16 million in Pakistan in 2006.[123] There are several hundred thousand in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Bangladesh.[25] However, Hindustani, of which Urdu is one variety, is spoken much more widely, forming the third most commonly spoken language in the world, after Mandarin and English.[124] The syntax (grammar), morphology, and the core vocabulary of Urdu and Hindi are essentially identical – thus linguists usually count them as one single language, while some contend that they are considered as two different languages for socio-political reasons.[125]

Owing to interaction with other languages, Urdu has become localised 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 flavor. Similarly, the Urdu spoken in India can also be distinguished into many dialects such as the Standard Urdu of Lucknow and Delhi, as well as the Dakhni (Deccan) of South India.[126][59] Because of Urdu's similarity to Hindi, speakers of the two languages can easily understand one another if both sides refrain from using literary vocabulary.[18]


The proportion of people with Urdu as their mother tongue in each Pakistani District as of the 2017 Pakistan Census

Although Urdu is widely spoken and understood throughout all of Pakistan,[127] only 7% of Pakistan's population spoke Urdu as their native language around 1992.[128] Most of the nearly three million Afghan refugees of different ethnic origins (such as Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazarvi, and Turkmen) who stayed in Pakistan for over twenty-five years have also become fluent in Urdu.[102] Muhajirs since 1947 have historically formed the majority population in the city of Karachi, however.[129] Many newspapers are published in Urdu in Pakistan, including the Daily Jang, Nawa-i-Waqt, and Millat.

No region in Pakistan uses Urdu as its mother tongue, though it is spoken as the first language of Muslim migrants (known as Muhajirs) in Pakistan who left India after independence in 1947.[130] Other communities, most notably the Punjabi elite of Pakistan, have adopted Urdu as a mother tongue and identify with both an Urdu speaker as well as Punjabi identity.[131][132] Urdu was chosen as a symbol of unity for the new state of Pakistan in 1947, because it had already served as a lingua franca among Muslims in north and northwest British India. It is written, spoken and used in all provinces/territories of Pakistan, and together with English as the main languages of instruction,[133] although the people from differing provinces may have different native languages.[134]

Urdu is taught as a compulsory subject up to higher secondary school in both English and Urdu medium school systems, which has produced millions of second-language Urdu speakers among people whose native language is one of the other languages of Pakistan – which in turn has led to the absorption of vocabulary from various regional Pakistani languages,[135] while some Urdu vocabularies has also been assimilated by Pakistan's regional languages.[136] Some who are from a non-Urdu background now can read and write only Urdu. With such a large number of people(s) speaking Urdu, the language has acquired a peculiar Pakistani flavor further distinguishing it from the Urdu spoken by native speakers, resulting in more diversity within the language.[137][clarification needed]


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 and Konkanis), Karnataka and cities such as Hyderabad, Lucknow, Delhi, Malerkotla, Bareilly, Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Roorkee, Deoband, Moradabad, Azamgarh, Bijnor, Najibabad, Rampur, Aligarh, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Agra, Firozabad, Kanpur, Badaun, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Aurangabad,[15] Bangalore, Kolkata, Mysore, Patna, Darbhanga, Gaya, Madhubani, Samastipur, Siwan, Saharsa, Supaul, Muzaffarpur, Nalanda, Munger, Bhagalpur, Araria, Gulbarga, Parbhani, Nanded, Malegaon, Bidar, Ajmer, and Ahmedabad.[138] In a very significant amount among the nearly 800 districts of India, there is a small Urdu-speaking minority at least. In Araria district, Bihar, there is a plurality of Urdu speakers and near-plurality in Hyderabad district, Telangana (43.35% Telugu speakers and 43.24% Urdu speakers).

Some Indian Muslim schools (Madrasa) teach Urdu as a first language and have their own syllabi and exams.[139] In fact, the language of Bollywood films tend to contain a large number of Persian and Arabic words and thus considered to be "Urdu" in a sense,[140] especially in songs.[141]

India has more than 3,000 Urdu publications, including 405 daily Urdu newspapers.[142][143] 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.[144]


A trilingual signboard in Arabic, English and Urdu in the UAE. The Urdu sentence is not a direct translation of the English ("Your beautiful city invites you to preserve it") or Arabic (the same). It says, "apné shahar kī Khūbsūrtīi ko barqarār rakhié, or "Please preserve the beauty of your city."

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, New Zealand, Norway, and Australia.[145] Along with Arabic, Urdu is among the immigrant languages with the most speakers in Catalonia.[146]

Cultural identity

Colonial India

Religious and social atmospheres in early nineteenth century India played a significant role in the development of the Urdu register. Hindi became the distinct register spoken by those who sought to construct a Hindu identity in the face of colonial rule.[24] As Hindi separated from Hindustani to create a distinct spiritual identity, Urdu was employed to create a definitive Islamic identity for the Muslim population in India.[147] Urdu's use was not confined only to northern India – it had been used as a literary medium for Indian writers from the Bombay Presidency, Bengal, Orissa Province, and Tamil Nadu as well.[148]

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 of Muhammad and the Qur'an, holds spiritual significance and power.[149] Because Urdu was intentioned as means of unification for Muslims in Northern India and later Pakistan, it adopted a modified Perso-Arabic script.[150][24]


Urdu continued its role in developing a Pakistani identity as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was established with the intent to construct a homeland for the Muslims of Colonial India. Several languages and dialects spoken throughout the regions of Pakistan produced an imminent need for a uniting language. Urdu was chosen as a symbol of unity for the new Dominion of Pakistan in 1947, because it had already served as a lingua franca among Muslims in north and northwest of British Indian Empire.[151] Urdu is also seen as a repertory for the cultural and social heritage of Pakistan.[152]

While Urdu and Islam together played important roles in developing the national identity of Pakistan, disputes in the 1950s (particularly those in East Pakistan, where Bengali was the dominant language), challenged the idea of Urdu as a national symbol and its practicality as the lingua franca. The significance of Urdu as a national symbol was downplayed by these disputes when English and Bengali were also accepted as official languages in the former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).[153]

Official status


Urdu is the sole national, and one of the two official languages of Pakistan (along with English).[98] It is spoken and understood throughout the country, whereas the state-by-state languages (languages spoken throughout various regions) are the provincial languages, although only 7.57% of Pakistanis speak Urdu as their first language.[154] Its official status has meant that Urdu is understood and spoken widely throughout Pakistan as a second or third language. It is used in education, literature, office and court business,[155] although in practice, English is used instead of Urdu in the higher echelons of government.[156] Article 251(1) of the Pakistani Constitution mandates that Urdu be implemented as the sole language of government, though English continues to be the most widely used language at the higher echelons of Pakistani government.[157]


A multilingual New Delhi railway station board. The Urdu and Hindi texts both read as: naī dillī.

Urdu is also one of the officially recognised languages in India and also has the status of "additional official language" in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Telangana and the national capital territory Delhi.[158][159] Also as one of the five official languages of Jammu and Kashmir.[160]

India established the governmental Bureau for the Promotion of Urdu in 1969, although the Central Hindi Directorate was established earlier in 1960, and the promotion of Hindi is better funded and more advanced,[161] while the status of Urdu has been undermined by the promotion of Hindi.[162] Private Indian organisations such as the Anjuman-e-Tariqqi Urdu, Deeni Talimi Council and Urdu Mushafiz Dasta promote the use and preservation of Urdu, with the Anjuman successfully launching a campaign that reintroduced Urdu as an official language of Bihar in the 1970s.[161] In the former Jammu and Kashmir state, section 145 of the Kashmir Constitution stated: "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."[163]


Urdu became a literary language in the 18th century and two similar standard forms came into existence in Delhi and Lucknow. Since the partition of India in 1947, a third standard has arisen in the Pakistani city of Karachi.[126][164] Deccani, an older form used in southern India, became a court language of the Deccan sultanates by the 16th century.[165][164] Urdu has a few recognised dialects, including Dakhni, Dhakaiya, Rekhta, and Modern Vernacular Urdu (based on the Khariboli dialect of the Delhi region). Dakhni (also known as Dakani, Deccani, Desia, Mirgan) is spoken in Deccan region of southern India. It is distinct by its mixture of vocabulary from Marathi and Konkani, as well as some vocabulary from Arabic, Persian and Chagatai that are not found in the standard dialect of Urdu. Dakhini is widely spoken in all parts of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Urdu is read and written as in other parts of India. A number of daily newspapers and several monthly magazines in Urdu are published in these states.[citation needed]

Dhakaiya Urdu is a dialect native to the city of Old Dhaka in Bangladesh, dating back to the Mughal era. However, its popularity, even amongst native speakers, has been gradually declining since the Bengali Language Movement in the 20th century. It is not officially recognised by the Government of Bangladesh. The Urdu spoken by Stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh is different from this dialect.[citation needed]

Code switching

Many bilingual or multi-lingual Urdu speakers, being familiar with both Urdu and English, display code-switching (referred to as "Urdish") in certain localities and between certain social groups. 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."[166][167][168]

Comparison with Modern Standard Hindi

Urdu and Hindi on a road sign in India. The Urdu version is a direct transliteration of the English; the Hindi is a part transliteration ("parcel" and "rail") and part translation "karyalay" and "arakshan kendra"

Standard Urdu is often compared with Standard Hindi.[169] Both Urdu and Hindi, which are considered standard registers of the same language, Hindustani (or Hindi-Urdu), share a core vocabulary and grammar.[170][17][18][171]

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,[172] whereas Standard Hindi is conventionally written in Devanāgarī and draws on Sanskrit.[173] However, both share a core vocabulary of native Sanskrit and Prakrit derived words and a significant amount of Arabic and Persian loanwords, with a consensus of linguists considering them to be two standardised forms of the same language[174][175] and consider the differences to be sociolinguistic;[176] a few classify them separately.[177] The two languages are often considered to be a single language (Hindustani or Hindi-Urdu) on a dialect continuum ranging from Persianised to Sanskritised vocabulary,[162] but now they are more and more different in words due to politics.[140] Old Urdu dictionaries also contain most of the Sanskrit words now present in Hindi.[178][179]

Mutual intelligibility decreases in literary and specialised contexts that rely on academic or technical vocabulary. In a longer conversation, differences in formal vocabulary and pronunciation of some Urdu phonemes are noticeable, though many native Hindi speakers also pronounce these phonemes.[180] At a phonological level, speakers of both languages are frequently aware of the Perso-Arabic or Sanskrit origins of their word choice, which affects the pronunciation of those words.[181] Urdu speakers will often insert vowels to break up consonant clusters found in words of Sanskritic origin, but will pronounce them correctly in Arabic and Persian loanwords.[182] 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 that they are distinct languages.

The grammar of Hindi and Urdu is shared,[170][183] though formal Urdu makes more use of the Persian "-e-" izafat grammatical construct (as in Hammam-e-Qadimi, or Nishan-e-Haider) than does Hindi.

Urdu speakers by country

The following table shows the number of Urdu speakers in some countries.

Country Population Native language speakers % Native speakers and second-language speakers %
 India 1,296,834,042[184] 50,772,631[185] 3.9 12,151,715[185] 0.9
 Pakistan 207,862,518[186] 14,700,000[187][188] 7 164,000,000[25] 77%
 Saudi Arabia 33,091,113[189] 2.3 930,000[185] -
   Nepal 29,717,587[190] 691,546[191] 2.3 -
 Afghanistan 38,347,000[192] 733,000[192] -
 Bangladesh 159,453,001[193] 300,000[194] 0.1 -
United Kingdom United Kingdom 65,105,246[195] 269,000[25] 0.4 -
 United States 329,256,465[196] 397,502[197] 0.1 -
 United Arab Emirates 9,890,400 300,000 [citation needed] 3.0 1,500,000[citation needed] 15.1
 Canada 35,881,659[198] 243,090[199] 0.6 -
 Australia 25,422,788[200] 111,873[200] 0.4
 Ireland 4,761,865 5,336[201] 0.1



Consonant phonemes of Urdu[202][203]
Labial Dental Alveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m م n ن ŋ ن٘
voiceless p پ t ت ʈ ٹ چ k ک (q) ق
voiceless aspirated پھ تھ ʈʰ ٹھ tʃʰ چھ کھ
voiced b ب d د ɖ ڈ ج ɡ گ
voiced aspirated بھ دھ ɖʱ ڈھ dʒʱ جھ گھ
Flap/Trill plain r ر ɽ ڑ
voiced aspirated ɽʱ ڑھ
Fricative voiceless f ف s س ʃ ش x خ ɦ ہ
voiced ʋ و z ز (ʒ) ژ (ɣ) غ
Approximant l ل j ی
  • Marginal and non-universal phonemes are in parentheses.
  • /ɣ/ is post-velar.[204]


Urdu vowels[205][206][202][203]
Front Central Back
short long short long short long
Close oral ɪ ʊ
nasal ɪ̃ ĩː ʊ̃ ũː
Close-mid oral ə
nasal ẽː ə̃ õː
Open-mid oral ɛ ɛː ɔ ɔː
nasal ɛ̃ː ɔ̃ː
Open oral (æː)
nasal (æ̃ː) ãː
  • This table contains a list of phones, not phonemes. In particular, [ɛ] is an allophone of /ə/ near /h/, and the short nasal vowels are not phonemic either.
  • Marginal and non-universal vowels are in parentheses.


Syed Ahmed Dehlavi, a 19th-century lexicographer who compiled the Farhang-e-Asifiya[207] Urdu dictionary, estimated that 75% of Urdu words have their etymological roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit,[208][209][210] and approximately 99% of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit and Prakrit.[211][212] Urdu has borrowed words from Persian and to a lesser extent, Arabic through Persian,[213] to the extent of about 25%[208][209][210][214] to 30% of Urdu's vocabulary.[215] A table illustrated by the linguist Afroz Taj of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill likewise illustrates the amount of Persian loanwords to native Sanskrit-derived words in literary Urdu as comprising a 1:3 ratio.[210]

The phrase zubān-e-Urdū-e-muʿallā ("the language of the exalted camp") written in Nastaʿlīq script[216]

The "trend towards Persianisation" started in the 18th century by the Delhi school of Urdu poets, though other writers, such as Meeraji, wrote in a Sanskritised form of the language.[217] There has been a move towards hyper Persianisation in Pakistan since 1947, which has been adopted by much of the country's writers;[218] as such, some Urdu texts can be composed of 70% Perso-Arabic loanwords just as some Persian texts can have 70% Arabic vocabulary.[219] Some Pakistani Urdu speakers have incorporated Hindi vocabulary into their speech as a result of exposure to Indian entertainment.[220][221] In India, Urdu has not diverged from Hindi as much as it has in Pakistan.[222]

Most borrowed words in Urdu are nouns and adjectives.[223] Many of the words of Arabic origin have been adopted through Persian,[208] and have different pronunciations and nuances of meaning and usage than they do in Arabic. There are also a smaller number of borrowings from Portuguese. Some examples for Portuguese words borrowed into Urdu are chabi ("chave": key), girja ("igreja": church), kamra ("cámara": room), qamīz ("camisa": shirt).[224]

Although the word Urdu is derived from the Turkic word ordu (army) or orda, from which English horde is also derived,[225] Turkic borrowings in Urdu are minimal[226] and Urdu is also not genetically related to the Turkic languages. Urdu words originating from Chagatai and Arabic were borrowed through Persian and hence are Persianised versions of the original words. For instance, the Arabic ta' marbutaة ) changes to heه ) or teت ).[227][note 2] Nevertheless, contrary to popular belief, Urdu did not borrow from the Turkish language, but from Chagatai, a Turkic language from Central Asia.[citation needed] Urdu and Turkish both borrowed from Arabic and Persian, hence the similarity in pronunciation of many Urdu and Turkish words.[228]


Lashkari Zabān title in Naskh script

Urdu in its less formalised register is known as rekhta (ریختہ, rek̤h̤tah, 'rough mixture', Urdu pronunciation: [reːxtaː]); the more formal register is sometimes referred to as زبانِ اُردُوئے معلّٰى, zabān-i Urdū-yi muʿallá, 'language of the exalted camp' (Urdu pronunciation: [zəbaːn ʊrdu moəllaː]) or لشکری زبان, lashkari zabān, 'military language' (Urdu pronunciation: [ləʃkəɾi: zəbɑ:n]), referring to the Imperial army[229] or simply Lashkari.[230] The etymology of the word used in Urdu, for the most part, decides how polite or refined one's speech is. For example, Urdu speakers distinguish between پانی, pānī and آب, āb, both meaning water. The former is used colloquially and has older Sanskrit origins; the latter is used formally and poetically, being of Persian origin.[citation needed]

If a word is of Persian or Arabic origin, the level of speech is considered to be more formal and grander. Similarly, if Persian or Arabic grammar constructs, such as the izafat, are used in Urdu, the level of speech is also considered more formal. If a word is inherited from Sanskrit, the level of speech is considered more colloquial and personal.[231]

Writing system

The Urdu Nastaʿliq alphabet, with names in the Devanagari and Roman scripts

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. Because of its thousands of ligatures, 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.[232] InPage, a widely used desktop publishing tool for Urdu, has over 20,000 ligatures in its Nastaʿliq computer fonts.

A highly Persianised and technical form of Urdu was the lingua franca of the law courts of the British administration in Bengal 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, Sir Ashley Eden, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal in colonial India abolished the use of the Persian alphabet in the law courts of Bengal and ordered the exclusive use of Kaithi, a popular script used for both Urdu and Hindi; in the Bihar Province, the court language was Urdu written in the Kaithi script.[233][234][235][236] 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.[237]

An English-Urdu bilingual sign at the archaeological site of Sirkap, near Taxila. The Urdu says: (right to left) دو سروں والے عقاب کی شبيہ والا مندر, dō sarōñ wālé u'qāb kī shabīh wāla mandir. "The temple with the image of the eagle with two heads."

More recently in India,[when?] 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.[citation needed] 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 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.[238]

Some poets from Bengal, namely Qazi Nazrul Islam, have historically used the Bengali script to write Urdu poetry like Prem Nagar Ka Thikana Karle and Mera Beti Ki Khela, as well as bilingual Bengali-Urdu poems like Alga Koro Go Khõpar Bãdhon, Juboker Chholona and Mera Dil Betab Kiya.[239][240][241] Dhakaiya Urdu is a colloquial non-standard dialect of Urdu which was typically not written. However, organisations seeking to preserve the dialect have begun transcribing the dialect in the Bengali script.[note 3][242][243]

See also


  1. ^ Urdu has some form of official status in the Indian states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, as well as the national capital territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.[12]
  2. ^ An example can be seen in the word "need" in Urdu. Urdu uses the Persian version ضرورت rather than the original Arabic ضرورة. See: John T. Platts "A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English" (1884) Page 749 Archived 25 February 2021 at the Wayback Machine. Urdu and Hindi use Persian pronunciation in their loanwords, rather than that of Arabic– for instance rather than pronouncing ض as the emphatic consonant "ḍ", the original sound in Arabic, Urdu uses the Persian pronunciation "z". See: John T. Platts "A dictionary of Urdu, classical Hindi, and English" (1884) Page 748 Archived 14 April 2021 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Organisations like Dhakaiya Sobbasi Jaban and Dhakaiya Movement, among others, consistently write Dhakaiya Urdu using the Bengali script.


  1. ^ Urdu is spoken and understood fluently by almost 90% of Pakistanis, but is only spoken by 7% as their only mother language (estimate and 2017 Census) and it is not native to any region of Pakistan, but was rather native to the Hindi-Urdu Belt and was the lingua franca of pre-partioned Northern India, what is now the region that is North India and Pakistan


  1. ^ a b "Data Tables". Census of India. 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  2. ^ "Languages - The World Factbook". www.cia.gov. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  3. ^ "Population Monograph of Nepal Volume II (Social Demography)" (PDF).
  4. ^ a b Urdu at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
  5. ^ "Urdu second official language in Andhra Pradesh". Deccan Chronicles. 24 March 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  6. ^ "Bill recognising Urdu as second official language passed". The Hindu. 23 March 2022. Retrieved 1 April 2022.
  7. ^ "Urdu is Telangana's second official language". The Indian Express. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Urdu is second official language in Telangana as state passes Bill". The News Minute. 17 November 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  9. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 - Chapter 1: Founding Provisions". www.gov.za. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  10. ^ Urdu language, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 5 December 2019, retrieved 17 October 2020, member of the Indo-Aryan group within the Indo-European family of languages. Urdu is spoken as a first language by nearly 70 million people and as a second language by more than 100 million people, predominantly in Pakistan and India. It is the official state language of Pakistan and is also officially recognized, or "scheduled," in the constitution of India.
  11. ^ Urdu (n), Oxford English Dictionary, June 2020, retrieved 11 September 2020, An Indo-Aryan language of northern South Asia (now esp. Pakistan), closely related to Hindi but written in a modified form of the Arabic script and having many loanwords from Persian and Arabic.
  12. ^ a b c Muzaffar, Sharmin; Behera, Pitambar (2014). "Error analysis of the Urdu verb markers: a comparative study on Google and Bing machine translation platforms". Aligarh Journal of Linguistics. 4 (1–2): 1. Modern Standard Urdu, a register of the Hindustani language, is the national language, lingua-franca and is one of the two official languages along with English in Pakistan and is spoken in all over the world. It is also one of the 22 scheduled languages and officially recognized languages in the Constitution of India and has been conferred the status of the official language in many Indian states of Bihar, Telangana, Jammu, and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and New Delhi. Urdu is one of the members of the new or modern Indo-Aryan language group within the Indo-European family of languages.
  13. ^ Gazzola, Michele; Wickström, Bengt-Arne (2016). The Economics of Language Policy. MIT Press. pp. 469–. ISBN 978-0-262-03470-8. Quote: "The Eighth Schedule recognizes India's national languages as including the major regional languages as well as others, such as Sanskrit and Urdu, which contribute to India's cultural heritage. ... The original list of fourteen languages in the Eighth Schedule at the time of the adoption of the Constitution in 1949 has now grown to twenty-two."
  14. ^ Groff, Cynthia (2017). The Ecology of Language in Multilingual India: Voices of Women and Educators in the Himalayan Foothills. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 58–. ISBN 978-1-137-51961-0. Quote: "As Mahapatra says: "It is generally believed that the significance for the Eighth Schedule lies in providing a list of languages from which Hindi is directed to draw the appropriate forms, style and expressions for its enrichment" ... Being recognized in the Constitution, however, has had significant relevance for a language's status and functions.
  15. ^ a b "National Languages Policy Recommendation Commission" (PDF). MOE Nepal. 1994. p. Appendix one. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2023. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  16. ^ Gibson, Mary (13 May 2011). Indian Angles: English Verse in Colonial India from Jones to Tagore. Ohio University Press. ISBN 978-0821443583. Bayly's description of Hindustani (roughly Hindi/Urdu) is helpful here; he uses the term Urdu to represent "the more refined and Persianised form of the common north Indian language Hindustani" (Empire and Information, 193); Bayly more or less follows the late eighteenth-century scholar Sirajuddin Ali Arzu, who proposed a typology of language that ran from "pure Sanskrit, through popular and regional variations of Hindustani to Urdu, which incorporated many loan words from Persian and Arabic. His emphasis on the unity of languages reflected the view of the Sanskrit grammarians and also affirmed the linguistic unity of the north Indian ecumene. What emerged was a kind of register of language types that were appropriate to different conditions. ...But the abiding impression is of linguistic plurality running through the whole society and an easier adaptation to circumstances in both spoken and written speech" (193). The more Persianized the language, the more likely it was to be written in Arabic script; the more Sanskritized the language; the more likely it was to be written in Devanagari.
  17. ^ a b Basu, Manisha (2017). The Rhetoric of Hindutva. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107149878. Urdu, like Hindi, was a standardized register of the Hindustani language deriving from the Dehlavi dialect and emerged in the eighteenth century under the rule of the late Mughals.
  18. ^ a b c Gube, Jan; Gao, Fang (2019). Education, Ethnicity and Equity in the Multilingual Asian Context. Springer Publishing. ISBN 978-981-13-3125-1. The national language of India and Pakistan 'Standard Urdu' is mutually intelligible with 'Standard Hindi' because both languages share the same Indic base and are all but indistinguishable in phonology.
  19. ^ Yoon, Bogum; Pratt, Kristen L., eds. (15 January 2023). Primary Language Impact on Second Language and Literacy Learning. Lexington Books. p. 198. In terms of cross-linguistic relations, Urdu's combinations of Arabic-Persian orthography and Sanskrit linguistic roots provides interesting theoretical as well as practical comparisons demonstrated in table 12.1.
  20. ^ "Ties between Urdu & Sanskrit deeply rooted: Scholar". The Times of India. 12 March 2024. Retrieved 8 May 2024. The linguistic and cultural ties between Sanskrit and Urdu are deeply rooted and significant, said Ishtiaque Ahmed, registrar, Maula Azad National Urdu University during a two-day workshop titled "Introduction to Sanskrit for Urdu medium students". Ahmed said a substantial portion of Urdu's vocabulary and cultural capital, as well as its syntactic structure, is derived from Sanskrit.
  21. ^ Kiss, Tibor; Alexiadou, Artemis (10 March 2015). Syntax - Theory and Analysis. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. p. 1479. ISBN 978-3-11-036368-5.
  22. ^ Clyne, Michael (24 May 2012). Pluricentric Languages: Differing Norms in Different Nations. Walter de Gruyter. p. 385. ISBN 978-3-11-088814-0. With the consolidation of the different linguistic bases of Khari Boli there were three distinct varieties of Hindi-Urdu: the High Hindi with predominant Sanskrit vocabulary, the High-Urdu with predominant Perso-Arabic vocabulary and casual or colloquial Hindustani which was commonly spoken among both the Hindus and Muslims in the provinces of north India. The last phase of the emergence of Hindi and Urdu as pluricentric national varieties extends from the late 1920s till the partition of India in 1947.
  23. ^ Metcalf, Barbara D. (2014). Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900. Princeton University Press. pp. 207–. ISBN 978-1-4008-5610-7. The basis of that shift was the decision made by the government in 1837 to replace Persian as court language by the various vernaculars of the country. Urdu was identified as the regional vernacular in Bihar, Oudh, the North-Western Provinces, and Punjab, and hence was made the language of government across upper India.
  24. ^ a b c Ahmad, Rizwan (1 July 2008). "Scripting a new identity: The battle for Devanagari in nineteenth-century India". Journal of Pragmatics. 40 (7): 1163–1183. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2007.06.005.
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  26. ^ "World", The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency, 20 November 2023, retrieved 27 November 2023
  27. ^ a b Faruqi, Shamsur Rahman (2003), Sheldon Pollock (ed.), A Long History of Urdu Literary Culture Part 1, Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions From South Asia, University of California Press, p. 806, ISBN 978-0-520-22821-4
  28. ^ a b c d e Rahman, Tariq (2001). From Hindi to Urdu: A Social and Political History (PDF). Oxford University Press. pp. 1–22. ISBN 978-0-19-906313-0. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
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  30. ^ a b Dictionary, Rekhta (5 April 2022). "Meaning of Urdu". Rekhta dictionary. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  31. ^ a b Clyne, Michael G. (1992). Pluricentric Languages: Differing Norms in Different Nations. Walter de Gruyter. p. 383. ISBN 9783110128550.
  32. ^ "Meaning of urdu-e-mualla in English". Rekhta Dictionary. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  33. ^ a b c Bhat, M. Ashraf (2017). The Changing Language Roles and Linguistic Identities of the Kashmiri Speech Community. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 72. ISBN 978-1-4438-6260-8. Although it has borrowed a large number of lexical items from Persian and some from Turkish, it is a derivative of Hindvi (also called 'early Urdu'), the parent of both modern Hindi and Urdu. It originated as a new, common language of Delhi, which has been called Hindavi or Dahlavi by Amir Khusrau. After the advent of the Mughals on the stage of Indian history, the Hindavi language enjoyed greater space and acceptance. Persian words and phrases came into vogue. The Hindavi of that period was known as Rekhta, or Hindustani, and only later as Urdu. Perfect amity and tolerance between Hindus and Muslims tended to foster Rekhta or Urdu, which represented the principle of unity in diversity, thus marking a feature of Indian life at its best. The ordinary spoken version ('bazaar Urdu') was almost identical to the popularly spoken version of Hindi. Most prominent scholars in India hold the view that Urdu is neither a Muslim nor a Hindu language; it is an outcome of a multicultural and multi-religious encounter.
  34. ^ Dua, Hans R. (1992). Hindi-Urdu is a pluricentric language. In M. G. Clyne (Ed.), Pluricentric languages: Differing norms in different nations. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-012855-1.
  35. ^ Kachru, Yamuna (2008), Braj Kachru; Yamuna Kachru; S. N. Sridhar (eds.), Hindi-Urdu-Hindustani, Language in South Asia, Cambridge University Press, p. 82, ISBN 978-0-521-78653-9, archived from the original on 24 January 2020
  36. ^ Qalamdaar, Azad (27 December 2010). "Hamari History". Hamari Boli Foundation. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Historically, Hindustani developed in the post-12th century period under the impact of the incoming Afghans and Turks as a linguistic modus vivendi from the sub-regional apabhramshas of north-western India. Its first major folk poet was the great Persian master, Amir Khusrau (1253–1325), who is known to have composed dohas (couplets) and riddles in the newly-formed speech, then called 'Hindavi'. Through the medieval time, this mixed speech was variously called by various speech sub-groups as 'Hindavi', 'Zaban-e-Hind', 'Hindi', 'Zaban-e-Dehli', 'Rekhta', 'Gujarii. 'Dakkhani', 'Zaban-e-Urdu-e-Mualla', 'Zaban-e-Urdu', or just 'Urdu'. By the late 11th century, the name 'Hindustani' was in vogue and had become the lingua franca for most of northern India. A sub-dialect called Khari Boli was spoken in and around the Delhi region at the start of the 13th century when the Delhi Sultanate was established. Khari Boli gradually became the prestige dialect of Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) and became the basis of modern Standard Hindi & Urdu.
  37. ^ Schmidt, Ruth Laila. "1 Brief history and geography of Urdu 1.1 History and sociocultural position." The Indo-Aryan Languages 3 (2007): 286.
  38. ^ Malik, Shahbaz, Shareef Kunjahi, Mir Tanha Yousafi, Sanawar Chadhar, Alam Lohar, Abid Tamimi, Anwar Masood et al. "Census History of Punjabi Speakers in Pakistan."
  39. ^ Mody, Sujata Sudhakar (2008). Literature, Language, and Nation Formation: The Story of a Modern Hindi Journal 1900-1920. University of California, Berkeley. p. 7. ...Hindustani, Rekhta, and Urdu as later names of the old Hindi (a.k.a. Hindavi).
  40. ^ English-Urdu Learner's Dictionary. Multi Linguis. 6 March 2021. ISBN 978-1-005-94089-8. ** History (Simplified) ** Proto-Indo European > Proto-Indo-Iranian > Proto-Indo-Aryan > Vedic Sanskrit > Classical Sanskrit > Sauraseni Prakrit > Sauraseni Apabhramsa > Old Hindi > Hindustani > Urdu
  41. ^ a b Kesavan, B. S. (1997). History Of Printing And Publishing in India. National Book Trust, India. p. 31. ISBN 978-81-237-2120-0. It might be useful to recall here that Old Hindi or Hindavi, which was a naturally Persian- mixed language in the largest measure, has played this role before, as we have seen, for five or six centuries.
  42. ^ Sisir Kumar Das (2005). History of Indian Literature. Sahitya Akademi. p. 142. ISBN 978-81-7201-006-5. The most important trend in the history of Hindi-Urdu is the process of Persianization on the one hand and that of Sanskritization on the other. Amrit Rai offers evidence to show that although the employment of Perso-Arabic script for the language which was akin to Hindi/Hindavi or old Hindi was the first step towards the establishment of the separate identity of Urdu, it was called Hindi for a long time. "The final and complete change-over to the new name took place after the content of the language had undergone a drastic change." He further observes: "In the light of the literature that has come down to us, for about six hundred years, the development of Hindi/Hindavi seems largely to substantiate the view of the basic unity of the two languages. Then, sometime in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, the cleavage seems to have begun." Rai quotes from Sadiq, who points out how it became a "systematic policy of poets and scholars" of the eighteenth century to weed out, what they called and thought, "vulgar words." This weeding out meant "the elimination, along with some rough and unmusical plebian words, of a large number of Hindi words for the reason that to the people brought up in Persian traditions they appeared unfamiliar and vulgar." Sadiq concludes: hence the paradox that this crusade against Persian tyranny, instead of bringing Urdu close to the indigenous element, meant in reality a wider gulf between it and the popular speech. But what differentiated Urdu still more from the local dialects was a process of ceaseless importation from Persian. It may seem strange that Urdu writers in rebellion against Persian should decide to draw heavily on Persian vocabulary, idioms, forms, and sentiments. . . . Around 1875 in his word Urdu Sarf O Nahr, however, he presented a balanced view pointing out that attempts of the Maulavis to Persianize and of the Pandits to Sanskritize the language were not only an error but against the natural laws of linguistic growth. The common man, he pointed out, used both Persian and Sanskrit words without any qualms;
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  44. ^ "Two Languages or One?". hindiurduflagship.org. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015. Hindi and Urdu developed from the "khari boli" dialect spoken in the Delhi region of northern India.
  45. ^ Farooqi, M. (2012). Urdu Literary Culture: Vernacular Modernity in the Writing of Muhammad Hasan Askari. Springer. ISBN 978-1-137-02692-7. Historically speaking, Urdu grew out of interaction between Hindus and Muslims. He noted that Urdu is not the language of Muslims alone, although Muslims may have played a larger role in making it a literary language. Hindu poets and writers could and did bring specifically Hindu cultural elements into Urdu and these were accepted.
  46. ^ King, Christopher Rolland (1999). One Language, Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India. Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-19-565112-6. Educated Muslims, for the most part supporters of Urdu, rejected the Hindu linguistic heritage and emphasized the joint Hindu-Muslim origins of Urdu.
  47. ^ Taylor, Insup; Olson, David R. (1995). Scripts and Literacy: Reading and Learning to Read Alphabets, Syllabaries, and Characters. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 299. ISBN 978-0-7923-2912-1. Urdu emerged as the language of contact between Hindu inhabitants and Muslim invaders to India in the 11th century.
  48. ^ Dhulipala, Venkat (2000). The Politics of Secularism: Medieval Indian Historiography and the Sufis. University of Wisconsin–Madison. p. 27. Persian became the court language, and many Persian words crept into popular usage. The composite culture of northern India, known as the Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb was a product of the interaction between Hindu society and Islam.
  49. ^ Indian Journal of Social Work, Volume 4. Tata Institute of Social Sciences. 1943. p. 264. ... more words of Sanskrit origin but 75% of the vocabulary is common. It is also admitted that while this language is known as Hindustani, ... Muslims call it Urdu and the Hindus call it Hindi. ... Urdu is a national language that evolved through years of Hindu and Muslim cultural contact and, as stated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, is essentially an Indian language and has no place outside.
  50. ^ "Women of the Indian Sub-Continent: Makings of a Culture - Rekhta Foundation". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved 25 February 2020. The "Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb" is one such instance of the composite culture that marks various regions of the country. Prevalent in the North, particularly in the central plains, it is born of the union between the Hindu and Muslim cultures. Most of the temples were lined along the Ganges and the Khanqah (Sufi school of thought) were situated along the Yamuna river (also called Jamuna). Thus, it came to be known as the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, with the word "tehzeeb" meaning culture. More than communal harmony, its most beautiful by-product was "Hindustani" which later gave us the Hindi and Urdu languages.
  51. ^ Zahur-ud-Din (1985). Development of Urdu Language and Literature in the Jammu Region. Gulshan Publishers. p. 13. The beginning of the language, now known as Urdu, should therefore, be placed in this period of the earlier Hindu Muslim contact in the Sindh and Punjab areas that took place in early quarter of the 8th century A.D.
  52. ^ Jain, Danesh; Cardona, George (2007). The Indo-Aryan Languages. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-79711-9. The primary sources of non-IA loans into MSH are Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, Turkic and English. Conversational registers of Hindi/Urdu (not to mentioned formal registers of Urdu) employ large numbers of Persian and Arabic loanwords, although in Sanskritised registers many of these words are replaced by tatsama forms from Sanskrit. The Persian and Arabic lexical elements in Hindi result from the effects of centuries of Islamic administrative rule over much of north India in the centuries before the establishment of British rule in India. Although it is conventional to differentiate among Persian and Arabic loan elements into Hindi/Urdu, in practice it is often difficult to separate these strands from one another. The Arabic (and also Turkic) lexemes borrowed into Hindi frequently were mediated through Persian, as a result of which a thorough intertwining of Persian and Arabic elements took place, as manifest by such phenomena as hybrid compounds and compound words. Moreover, although the dominant trajectory of lexical borrowing was from Arabic into Persian, and thence into Hindi/Urdu, examples can be found of words that in origin are actually Persian loanwords into both Arabic and Hindi/Urdu.
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  208. ^ a b c Ahmad, Aijaz (2002). Lineages of the Present: Ideology and Politics in Contemporary South Asia. Verso. p. 113. ISBN 9781859843581. On this there are far more reliable statistics than those on population. Farhang-e-Asafiya is by general agreement the most reliable Urdu dictionary. It was compiled in the late nineteenth century by an Indian scholar little exposed to British or Orientalist scholarship. The lexicographer in question, Syed Ahmed Dehlavi, had no desire to sunder Urdu's relationship with Farsi, as is evident even from the title of his dictionary. He estimates that roughly 75 per cent of the total stock of 55,000 Urdu words that he compiled in his dictionary are derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit, and that the entire stock of the base words of the language, without exception, are derived from these sources. What distinguishes Urdu from a great many other Indian languauges ... is that it draws almost a quarter of its vocabulary from language communities to the west of India, such as Farsi, Turkish, and Tajik. Most of the little it takes from Arabic has not come directly but through Farsi.
  209. ^ a b Dalmia, Vasudha (31 July 2017). Hindu Pasts: Women, Religion, Histories. SUNY Press. p. 310. ISBN 9781438468075. On the issue of vocabulary, Ahmad goes on to cite Syed Ahmad Dehlavi as he set about to compile the Farhang-e-Asafiya, an Urdu dictionary, in the late nineteenth century. Syed Ahmad 'had no desire to sunder Urdu's relationship with Farsi, as is evident from the title of his dictionary. He estimates that roughly 75 percent of the total stock of 55.000 Urdu words that he compiled in his dictionary are derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit, and that the entire stock of the base words of the language, without exception, are from these sources' (2000: 112–13). As Ahmad points out, Syed Ahmad, as a member of Delhi's aristocratic elite, had a clear bias towards Persian and Arabic. His estimate of the percentage of Prakitic words in Urdu should therefore be considered more conservative than not. The actual proportion of Prakitic words in everyday language would clearly be much higher.
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  211. ^ "Urdu's origin: it's not a "camp language"". dawn.com. 17 December 2011. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 5 July 2015. Urdu nouns and adjective can have a variety of origins, such as Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Pushtu and even Portuguese, but ninety-nine per cent of Urdu verbs have their roots in Sanskrit/Prakrit. So it is an Indo-Aryan language which is a branch of Indo-Iranian family, which in turn is a branch of Indo-European family of languages. According to Dr Gian Chand Jain, Indo-Aryan languages had three phases of evolution beginning around 1,500 BC and passing through the stages of Vedic Sanskrit, classical Sanskrit and Pali. They developed into Prakrit and Apbhransh, which served as the basis for the formation of later local dialects.
  212. ^ India Perspectives, Volume 8. PTI for the Ministry of External Affairs. 1995. p. 23. All verbs in Urdu are of Sanskrit origin. According to lexicographers, only about 25 percent words in Urdu diction have Persian or Arabic origin.
  213. ^ Versteegh, Kees; Versteegh, C. H. M. (1997). The Arabic Language. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231111522. ... of the Qufdn; many Arabic loanwords in the indigenous languages, as in Urdu and Indonesian, were introduced mainly through the medium of Persian.
  214. ^ Khan, Iqtidar Husain (1989). Studies in Contrastive Analysis. The Department of Linguistics of Aligarh Muslim University. p. 5. It is estimated that almost 25% of the Urdu vocabulary consists of words which are of Persian and Arabic origin.
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  230. ^ Aijazuddin Ahmad (2009). Geography of the South Asian Subcontinent: A Critical Approach. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 120–. ISBN 978-81-8069-568-1. The very word Urdu came into being as the original Lashkari dialect, in other words, the language of the army.
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  233. ^ Pandey, Anshuman (13 December 2007). "Proposal to Encode the Kaithi Script in ISO/IEC 10646" (PDF). Unicode. Retrieved 16 October 2020. Kaithi was used for writing Urdu in the law courts of Bihar when it replaced Perso-Arabic as the official script during the 1880s. The majority of extant legal documents from Bihar from the British period are in Urdu written in Kaithi. There is a substantial number of such manuscripts, specimens of which are given in Figure 21, Figure 22, and Figure 23.
  234. ^ King, Christopher Rolland (1999). One Language, Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India. Oxford University Press. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-19-565112-6.
  235. ^ Ashraf, Ali (1982). The Muslim Elite. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 80. The court language however was Urdu in 'Kaithi' script in spite of the use of English as the official language.
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