Urdu is a standardized register of the Hindustani language. Urdu is historically associated with the Muslims of the region of Hindustan. It is the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan, and an official language of five Indian states and one of the 22 scheduled languages in the Constitution of India. Apart from specialized vocabulary, Urdu is mutually intelligible with Standard Hindi, which is associated with the Hindu community. Since the end of the Mughal period in the nineteenth century, varieties of Hindustani have been the lingua franca for much of South Asia.

Urdu and Hindi are nearly identical in basic structure and grammar, and at a colloquial level also in vocabulary and phonology. If considered the same language, the population of Hindi-Urdu speakers is the fourth largest of the languages of the world, after Mandarin Chinese, English and Spanish.

Speakers and geographic distribution[edit | edit source]

See also: Languages of Pakistan and Languages of IndiaThere are between 60 and 70 million native speakers of Urdu: there were 52 million in India per the 2001 census, some 6% of the population; 13 million in Pakistan in 2008, or 8%; and several hundred thousand in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Bangladesh, where it is called "Bihari". However, a knowledge of Urdu allows one to speak with far more people than that, as Hindi-Urdu is the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world, after Mandarin, English, and Spanish. Because of the difficulty in distinguishing between Urdu and Hindi speakers in India and Pakistan, as well as estimating the number of people for whom Urdu is a second language, the estimated number of speakers is uncertain and controversial.

Dialects[edit | edit source]

Urdu has a few recognised dialects, including Dakhni, 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 Turkish that are not found in the standard dialect of Urdu. Dakhini is widely spoken in all parts of Maharashtra, 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. In terms of pronunciation, the easiest way to recognize a native speaker is their pronunciation of the letter "qāf" (ق) as "ḵẖe" (خ).

The Pakistani variant of the language becomes increasingly divergent from the Indian dialects and forms of Urdu, as it has absorbed many loan words, proverbs and phonetics from Pakistan's indigenous languages such as Pashto, Punjabi and Sindhi. Furthermore, due to the region's history, the Urdu dialect of Pakistan draws heavily from the Persian and Arabic languages, and the intonation and pronunciation are more formal compared with corresponding Indian dialects.

Vocabulary[edit | edit source]

See also: Hindustani etymologyUrdu has a vocabulary rich in words of Middle Eastern origins. The language's Indo-Aryan base has been enriched by borrowing from Persian and Arabic. There are also a smaller number of borrowings from Chagatai, Portuguese, and more recently English. Many of the words of Arabic origin have been adopted through Persian and have different pronunciations and nuances of meaning and usage than they do in Arabic.

Urdu text[edit | edit source]

دفعہ ۱: تمام انسان آزاد اور حقوق و عزت کے اعتبار سے برابر پیدا ہوئے ہیں۔ انہیں ضمیر اور عقل ودیعت ہوئی ہے۔ اس لئے انہیں ایک دوسرے کے ساتھ بهائی چارے کا سلوک کرنا چاہئے۔

Transliteration (ALA-LC)[edit | edit source]

Dafʿah 1: Tamām insān āzād aur ḥuqūq o-ʿizzat ke iʿtibār se barābar paidā hūʾe haiṉ. Unheṉ ẓamīr aur ʿaql wadīʿat hūʾī hai. Is liʾe unheṉ ek dūsre ke sāth bhāʾī chāre kā sulūk karnā chāhiʾe.
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